I am a natural-born forager. As often as I can, I will harvest the foliage I use in my arrangements from within ten miles of my location. I've hunted camellias in South Carolina, jasmine in northern California, and mock orange on route to a wedding in New York City. My rules for foraging are straightforward. If a plant is invasive, orgrowing on the side of the road (think grapevine or Queen Anne'slace), I'll happily do some "civic pruning." If what I'm looking for is on someone's property, I'll knock and ask permission politely, even offering to pay for my finds. Often, the homeowner is willing, even delighted, to make a deal.Because I believe in the value and the pleasure of growing your own, I've included a section is this book on how to turn your garden into a source for your own flower arranging. You'll find suggestions for perennial and annual flowers that are easy to grow, and you'll find a list of woody shrubs that will flourish in many a backyard.As with my last book, The Flower Workshop, I've included detailed instructions on how to recreate the thirty-nine floral designs includedin this book. But don't be a slave to recipes. You should consider mycreations as inspiration for your own. If you understand my philosophy of using tone-on-tonecolors, if you look for texture and variety in your foliage, and if you learn to forage in your own backyard, you'll come away with a point of view that can be applied to any occasion. However ephemeral, I see each arrangement I compose as a reflection of the world around me. I use the same color theory and sense ofproportion in assembling a bouquet that an artist would in paintinga watercolor. The great joy of my profession is that I get to immerse myself in the beauty of nature. I hope this book will inspire you to do the same. In creating seasonal flower arrangements, time and place are your first considerations. A tiny vase of muscari surely announces the spring, just as summer means roses in abundance. The dahlia is autumn's queen, and winter begs for berries and pine when Christmas is in the air. As to place, look around you. If you live in the South, magnolias and crape myrtle are your gifts. If you dwell in more northern climes, it's lilacs and apple blossoms that signal your geography. If your home is in California, lucky you. Chances are there's jasmine growing wild in your own backyard. Speaking of backyards, those of us who are fortunate enough tohave them can often grow our own flower arrangements. On pages 30-38, I've provided a list of flowers that will flourish in a well-tended plot. If gardening is not your thing, find a nearby flower farmer. Most farmers' markets make sure to host flower growers who gather their blossoms in the early morning and sell them on the same day. What can be easier or more inspiring than that? Whenever I'm on location for a workshop, I visit local plant nurseries to take advantage of whatever they have in bloom. This offers a twofold benefit: I can clip blossoms at their peak for my arrangements, then plant what remains to see it bloom again next season. If you have no access to a local grower, there's always the supermarket or, in some cities, the corner store. I am often amazed at the variety of blossoms available right next to the spinach and broccoli. I've seen more and more of these flowers labeled "American Grown,"which is heartening. But many are grown in South America, which accounts for their relatively low cost and seasonal variety. There's nothing wrong with a dozen tulips coming home with your weekly groceries. But for readers who would like to anchor those blossoms in a sense of place, I suggest you look around. It's foliage, more than anything that defines the worlds we live in. For example, I know my witch hazel blooms in early March, just about the time tulips are coming into the market. I often trim some branches and, when paired with just the right shade of yellow tulip, I have something personal, and local, to light up my dinner table. Last autumn,I bought champagne-colored carnations at the store and then while taking a walk, I spotted some golden fall leaves that complemented their color perfectly. The combination became the basis of my Cascades of Gold arrangement on page 150. I always grow sugar snap peas in my garden, an easy and early summer crop. Since they appear at the same time my 'Festiva Maxima' peonies bloom, those pea vines, dripping with fruit, become the foliage that takes a simple arrangement and makes it spectacular. Add a few branches of mock orange culled from a neighbor's shrub (you trade them for some peonies), and you bring the whole arrangement back to home base. Excerpted from Seasonal Flower Arranging: Fill Your Home with Blooms, Branches, and Foraged Materials All Year Round by Ariella Chezar All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.