Western style arrangements typically consist of a free form assemblage of flowers in a container. In contrast, Ikebana is more of a disciplined form of art, governed by well_defined rules, principles and techniques. For example, certain precepts regulate elements like the light and the shadows. There is also what is known as the three points of balance _ shin_fuku_tai in Japanese _ which symbolize man, heaven and earth, respectively, and that have to be in harmonious equilibrium in order to give true life to an Ikebana flower arrangement. This and the fact that stems and branches are used in addition to flowers, are perhaps the most obvious differences with western_style flower arrangement.
Locally_grown flowers currently in season will generally prove to be the most cost effective for you. If you have your eye on some rare flower only available for a few weeks each year from the Mediterranean, you will pay considerably more than those farm_fresh roses or daisies. With that in mind, there are several flowers that are always in season and a fabulous bet for the floral bargain hunter. These include roses, daisies and carnations. While these may seem a bit "mainstream" for your tastes, you may be surprised when you start investigating the design and color possibilities that will turn these flowers from common to chic. For instance, a tightly_packed, single_color carnation centerpiece makes a striking and elegant statement for your cocktail or dinner party. Or, choose some boldly_colored roses and cut the stems short to place in a bud vase to add style and grace to your tables.