Not a lot I can tell you really, just - be inventive. I like to put the leaves and biggest flowers in first, and build the arrangement up from there.
A vase is a vase, is a vase...not. Before it is time to display your flower arrangement (be it for a table setting, sideboard garland, competition entry etc.) take a moment to check the stability of the vase.
Some vases will hold only a single bloom, provided it is cut to a certain length. Any taller and they topple over. If you have one of these vases, one - see if your flower looks okay at the shorter length, or two - add ballast.
Ballast is a tricky thing, sometimes weight alone will not help. You may have to broaden the width of the vases base as well. How? Well, by hot gluing a bit of cardboard to the bottom, or maybe a piece of plyboard.
Shapes for the plyboard are important, don't be to clever, a square or triangle may do. Circles are hard to find the balanced middle of. Actually, the nicest touch would be to buy one of those cutout wooden shapes like a heart or a flower, you could even paint them the same colour as the vase.
Just to add weight to a vase you can fill the bottom with sand, marbles, plasticine, clay or rocks. Just be sure that whatever it is doesn't effect the flowers any.
It looks nice to link the vase/bowl etc and the colour of the flowers together, using either complimentary or contrasting colours. And matching the shades of green / brown in the filler leaves and the flower stems helps too.
Talking of stems, they do not all stay standing upright and proud like you would wish them to. They droop. But we can cheat, and using a wooden skewer and florist tape in green or brown (depending on the stems natural colour) bind the flower upright. It will need to be anchored at the bottom with that green florist foam or plasticine.
If in doubt, add more flowers.
Here is my first prize winning floating table arrangement. In the center is an open Sunflower, around it floats several closed Sunflower buds, little pink Geraldton Wax flowers and yellow flowers from a flowering succulent. There are glass stones at the bottom of the container.
And this is my second place winning Sunflower (from the section, 'Any other single bloom not listed'). By the end of the day the poor little thing looked quite wilted. Better than the one I entered that I forgot to bring a bottle for. Craftily my mum had cut the top and bottom off an orange and skewered the Sunflower in place through the middle. Unfortunately the acidic nature of oranges does not do good things to a flower, and it had sagged limply within the half hour! :(
Sunflowers are the theme flowers for Geraldton's Sun City Festival, the whole town gets plastered in them. And they just look good, anytime, anywhere.
When presenting an arrangement of cactus, be sure to clear the pot plant soils surface of dead leaves, twigs etc. I thought of that stuff as 'natural mulch', but judges don't like it. So clean the area and pick any stuff out of the spines as well.
Small pot plant critters and tiny statuettes are okay to put in, so long as there are not to many, but those stuck on googly eyes, pom poms, mini hats and stuff that you see on cactus in shopping centers are not received well except in the kids section.
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