One way to celebrate the bountiful harvest from your vegetable garden is to use vegetables as part or all of a flower arrangement. While the ultimate destination of your vegetables may be the dinner plate, the forms, colors and shapes of your homegrown beauties deserve to be admired as much as their delicious tastes. From spring to fall, vegetable flower arrangements enhance your table and your guests' appetites as well. Combine vegetables with flowers, use vegetables alone, or turn them into flowers for unique arrangements.
Use glass containers to display your vegetables at their best. Wood bowls, baskets, and ceramic ware make equally good arrangements, but glass will let your guests admire your vegetables from "tip to tail."
Celebrate spring with a cylindrical container tall enough to hold early baby carrots. Let their feathery tops serve as additional foliage for a handful of white daisies. Fill a rose-bowl with early peas and their pods, and top them with blooming sweet peas. Radishes can fill the same rose-bowl all by themselves. A single head of lettuce, washed roots and all, makes a spectacular centerpiece--and can still make a great salad the following day.
Use small vases to show off broccoli sprouts in early summer. Their bluish-green color makes a great foil for flowers in all shades of yellow, and a cluster or line of small containers on your table lets you use smallish side shoots from your plants. Cut clusters of beans along with leaves and vine to arrange in a taller vase with snapdragons; allow enough vine to support beans trailing down the side of the vase.
Explore larger containers for summer harvest vegetables. Their thin skins do not welcome water, so keep them dry while providing water for flowers. Fill a bowl or platter with tomatoes and summer squashes, leaving room to tuck in a small vase of zinnias, salvia or other summer blooms. Put a plate under a vase filled with herbs, and create a surrounding ring of cherry tomatoes. Accompany a low bowl of summer squashes with a few of their blossoms, placed in shot glasses full of water.
Welcome fall with late-harvest vegetable arrangements. Kales and cabbages offer splendidly sculpted shapes for arranging. Let a handsome cabbage, outer leaves and all, provide a large centerpiece; trim the stalk and set in a plate or low bowl of water. Let the varied bluish, green and purple tones of kale leaves serve as a foil for fall-toned mums and late zinnias. You can add small branches of early-turning fall leaves for even more varied color. Potatoes, onions, beets and turnips all have fall color to contribute to arrangements. A tall glass container filled with washed and trimmed root vegetables marks the end of the growing season; no water, please. If your garden includes nut trees, display them the same way, or fill a low bowl and tuck in a small vase of late marigolds.
Address an unusable surplus harvest with whimsy and a sharp knife during any part of the harvest season. While the ideas above assume that you have other culinary uses for your vegetables, you may wish to try your hand at sculpting excess vegetables to add to arrangements. Anyone who has ever eaten a radish-rose knows the power of ice-cold water on cut vegetables. Make frequent downward cuts, leaving the root intact, on a peeled onion. Immerse in water for several hours, and see your onion-mum bloom. Scallion-fans require cutting off the root and slicing toward the tightest bond of the clustered green leaves. Cut pepper-flower petals toward the stem end and immerse till they flare into floral shapes. Cut toward the stem end of baby turnips and beets. Use toothpicks or bamboo skewers to give them new stems, and add them to flowers arranged in floral foam.