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Fill a melon or a pitcher with flowers

Luckily, summer offers more than the uncomfortable heat. A surprising number of flowers thrive in the hot sun. Among them: angelonia, zinnia, sunflower, black-eyed Susan, cleome, purple coneflower, gomphrena, lilies, orange cosmos, salvias, torenias and pentas. And all are suitable for cutting to enjoy indoors in arrangements.

To supplement what lies beyond the back door, flower stands, florists and food markets are filled with huge assortments -- from callas to liatris to exotic tropicals -- for every vase and space in the home.

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The Netherlands Flower Bulb Information Center in New York keeps an eye on floral design trends. Americans, according to the center, are taking advantage of the abundance of summer blooms, treating themselves to fresh-cut flowers each week, European style.

Here are a few floral designs the center suggests for a quick, creative summer look:

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* Melon magic -- Make your own vase from a watermelon with about a third cut from one end. Carve out the center in zigzag fashion to help support the flowers. Be careful not to puncture the shell, or you'll have a leaky vase. Save the fruit for a cool salad.

Rinse the shell and fill with water. Add several stems of brightly colored Asiatic lilies and red or orange crocosmia for a natural, airy look.

* Peek above -- Why not discard the "one-third to two-thirds rule" of classic floral design that states an arrangement should be one-third vase and two-thirds blooms? Instead, try a contemporary design that features flowers massed at the lip of the vase, peeking out from the rim.

A clear vase that shows stems submerged in water looks best. Asiatic lilies work well, or try brightly colored gerbera daisies.

You can go even lower. Display your bouquet loosely completely inside the clear vase.

* Sassy colors -- Fill a solid-colored jug, crock or pitcher with water and add a bundle of brightly colored blooms -- lilies, gerbera daisies, zinnias, sunflowers, snapdragons or liatris.

* Low bowl -- You want to see your dinner guests across the table, so forget that tall arrangement. Select an attractive low bowl, and anchor water-soaked floral foam in the center. Insert recut flower stems to form an all-around mass of color. Consider a mass of hot pink dahlias or a mix of red, yellow and orange callas, lilies and proteas.

* Singular sensations -- Here's an easy example of less is more. Take identical vases, fill with water and place a single identical stem of flowers in each. Architectural blooms such as Oriental lilies are most striking. A pair of vases is great -- three or five even better.


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