Impromptu bouquets

Create something special with what looks interesting today

For Sunset test garden coordinator Bud Stuckey, bouquet making is effortless -- something to accomplish between daily chores such as weeding, watering, planting, and picking spent blooms. His secret: A weathered table is nestled among the plants to serve as an instant work surface, and a collection of rugged vases sits by a hose bibb, ready to fill. Bud always has clippers with him, usually tucked in a pocket.

Before starting to work, he fills a vase with water and sets it on the table. Then as he moves from one chore to another, he clips whatever materials look interesting that day, whether ornamental grasses, vines, shrubs, or perennials, dropping them a bunch at a time into the vase. By the time he's done with his chores, so is his bouquet -- for a patio table (or some lucky editor's desk).

Easy garden bouquet contains red and apricot dahlias, blue delphiniums, and sunflowers, all fringed with lacy 'Plum Passion' nandina foliage, feathery purple fountain grass, and sprays of white-flowered potato vine.