1. Start with the "line" materials, which establish overall width and height; add dominant materials, such as lilies, irises and peonies, finish with smaller flowers, fillers and greens to add texture.
"I start with the stars and fill in with the supporting players," said Terri Lewin.
2. Have the necessary supplies -- oasis foam, a frog, floral tape, wire, sharp clippers.
3. Consider placement -- low for a dinner party, high for a hallway, and a contrasting color if it's going to be placed against a wall.
4. Experiment. "I'm never finished with a flower," said Lewin. "If you screw up and cut it too short, just get a shorter vase."
Use an elephant ear hosta leaf as a backdrop. Tie pieces of striped grass to create a "frame" in which the rest of the arrangement sits. Strip leaves off a branch to show off the berries. Use dappled willow, with its red stems and green and white leaves, as an accent. Clip ivy from the outside of your house to spill over a bowl's edge.
5. Don't "overbuild" -- the finished arrangement should be 1 1/2 times the size of the vase.