This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
If a single spray of cattleyas is placed among the roses and "valley," the effect is enriched wonderfully. Magnolia and leucothoe leaves are also used extensively for wreaths, but this foliage is heavier and less pleasing than galax. However, the buying public is tiring of the galax, and the retailer is searching the continents for something to replace it. Boxwood also makes a rich and attractive wreath. Wreaths made principally of flowers are often in demand, and when varieties are carefully selected, the results are pleasing. Fig. 1242 (redrawn from American Florist).
Fig. 1242. A floral design.
In selecting the flowers for any design, certain rules must be observed. In the first place, a designer must realize that, as in all other flower-arrangement, a lavish use of material is not essential to good effects. A flower has an individuality of its own, and this should be just as pronounced in a design as in a loose vase arrangement. At no time should the material be crowded. When an inscription is to be placed over the flowers, as, for example, in a pillow when carnations are to be the background, even then each carnation should show its form and the background should not be a mass of petals without definite shape. As a general thing, it is best to place the flowers in position first, after having covered the mossed frame with green, and then to work the foliage among the flowers where it is needed for the best effects. This method requires fewer flowers, and the effect is more artistic. In making a design, it must be remembered that there may be contrast of forms as well as colors. As a rule, there should not be over three contrasts of forms and two contrasts of colors, although there may be variations to this rule in special cases.
As regards shapes and forms, it is quite essential that larger, heavier blooms, such as lilies and roses, should be contrasted with sprays of a light and graceful character, like lilies-of-the-valley and Roman hyacinths. The larger flowers are to be placed low in the arrangement, and the finer sprays higher. Often the center of a design is made of one particular species, as, for example, pink roses with their foliage; and the borders of the design are filled with sprays of lighter flowers, like lilies-of-the-valley with their foliage or that of the maidenhair fern. If in the arrangement of the larger flowers a few buds of the species used are added, the effectiveness of form is increased.
In selecting colors for designs, the lighter shades are the most desired, although in recent years there has come to be a freer use of darker colors. For example, a large wreath of Richmond or other red roses contrasted with lilies-of-the-valley or white Roman hyacinths, is very effective and is not considered out of place for a funeral design. The amateur should, however, avoid striking contrasts or to endeavor to harmonize unusual forms in flowers. The experienced designer may bring these together with pleasing effects, but this ability comes only after years of study and experience. Large designs are more easily arranged than small ones, and in them may be used a wider range of colors. The most striking colors are, however, widely separated, and between these the flowers should be of such tints that they assist in blending.
Flowers with a strong fragrance should not be used in designs if they can be avoided. They are especially objectionable if they are to be used in a dwelling-house where the rooms are often crowded. In a church or other large room, the fragrance is less noticeable. Polyanthus narcissi, tuberoses and freesias are especially objectionable. The more delicate odors of violets, lilies-of-the-valley and Roman hyacinths are less so.
The funeral designs most frequently ordered by the immediate family are pillows and casket-covers. Both of these demand careful treatment in making, the pillow being especially difficult. The smaller the pillow, the harder it is to produce a pleasing result. The flowers should be of a rich character, and it shows better judgment to select a less expensive wreath as a floral tribute than to purchase a pillow made of cheap flowers. Casket-covers should also be made of expensive flowers. These covers are not lasting, for they must of necessity be light in character; and moss, which is so necessary to retain moisture and freshness in the flowers, cannot well be used. Light wire of a fine mesh, such as mosquito netting, is cut of the desired size and the flowers which are usually of one species, like Easter lilies or roses, are wired to this with sufficient foliage or other green to cover the wire. A flower of some contrasting color may be used for a border; or a rich outline of smilax is effective.
The construction of many fraternal emblems in a pleasing, artistic way, demands all the fine points of the professional designer's skill. Often all rules of flower-arrangement have to be disregarded. Special emblems have to be made of special colors; and when an emblem must be made which calls for definite parts to be blue, others to be yellow, red, white and green, the problem to harmonize these is a serious one. The designer has no choice in such a case, and can meet this demand only with an attempt to reduce to the minimum these clashing contrasts in color.
As has been stated, formal designs in the arrangement of cut-flowers are a necessity, and for these there will probably always be a demand. The designer should have in mind, however, that it is possible to arrange flowers in a pleasing way and still emphasize the formal lines. Artists in this line of work are just as truly "born, not made," as in any other branch of art; and unless one has a genuine love for flowers and the artist's skill in their arrangement, the making of formal designs should not be attempted.
E. A. White.