This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
The use of flowers for the table is, we are glad to know, exciting general attention among the more tasteful of our community; even though they be those residing in cottages and setting but simple tables.
What, indeed, has wealth or grandeur to do with this subject of flowers? Those sweet and refreshing, those silent messengers,which whisper to the weary, toil-worn, working man or woman, of peace and rest!
We say, therefore, to that large middle class, composing the majority of our American homes, never set a table without giving it that last dainty touch - a vase, basket, or stand of flowers, or if not flowers, the"bit o' green," which imparts such a charming grace.
Now, during the Summer season, it is supposed that any lady may be able to secure her pretty ornament for each meal, by merely running into yard or garden, there to gather the treasures so dear to most women's hearts; the buds and dowers, feathery sprays and plumes of green which form the most effective of table adornment. In order to help those inexperienced in this class of floral arrangement, we will make a few suggestions that will perhaps aid in the work; which, once commenced, will so grow upon the taste, that the tasteful housewife will as readily relinquish the table meats and napkins as the more charming addition of flowers or greenery.
The variety of " stands," baskets, vases, etc, exhibited in our china and fancy-stores for this class of ornament is " legion," and one becomes confused in the very effort to select the most' beautiful, where all are striking.
In this day, even the humble may array their tables tastefully, with glass and china; for though it may not be " cut" in the one instance, nor " Sevres" in the other, still very cheap; " fruit sets" of glass, if carefully polished, and simple white china, entire and quite pure in its color, will impart that air of refinement which even the costly articles fail to do, where rough-handed " Mary Anns" have charge of the dinning room.
We advise, therefore, that whether of richest " cut-glass" or simple crystal of domestic manufacture, glass should form in a large measure the table adornment, especially the receptacles for flowers.
Pretty glass baskets, long trumpet-shapedi vases, and slender little specimen glasses, may be purchased for various sums, from twenty-five cents to as many dollars; and nothing can have (especially in Summer) a cooler or more satisfactory effect. The pretty Parian baskets - with open work or perforated walls, lined with amber, crimson, blue or green glass (which is strongly effective, gleaming through the creamy-white exterior), are equally charming and within the reach of all; as even in the " dollar stores" we have picked up a few designs faultlessly perfect in manufacture and artistic in design.
The March-stand, consisting of a lower tazza of size about two-thirds larger than an upper one, with which it is connected by a slender stem. The stands may be purchased in various sizes, but are easily imitated by a " home-made" affair, far less expensive.
In the upper tazza, it is our custom to place a slender trumpet-shaped vase, the taller and more slender, the prettier in our opinion. Again, by making such a stand of tin, neatly painted, then filling with damp sand, or even soil, we may possess a living ornament of surprising beauty. We had such an one made at trifling cost, consisting of a circular tin pan, eight inches in diameter, connected with an upper one, of five inches, by a rod twelve inches long, which has been a charming object all Winter. Filling the pans with damp sand, (kept constantly wet), we inserted in the lower pan cuttings of Tradescantia aquatica, several variegated Ivies with delightful foliage, and a root of Madeira vine; in the upper, the faithful old Lysimachia, and two little boxes well covered with Linaria cymbalaria, which have grown on and keep bubbling over the edges in billowy masses, beautiful to behold. Of course the stem is covered, and mosses make a close carpet on the surface. Now there is no sameness about this one stand of the season; for be it known, we insert cut flowers all through the surface, while in the top tazza or pan, we place various pretty arrangements, sometimes a tall trumpet of cut flowers, or a Parian vase of rosebuds; again, a little basket filled with moss and any treasure we can secure, or indeed (tell it not in Gath), very often a fine grown Sweet-Potato vine, which has elicited more praise than any other addition to our home-made stand.
We could go on and on, describing the varied means used in our own flower-loving families, for embellishing the table for each meal - " the girls" taking turns in this pleasant duty, of which the little individual vases at each plate is considered the dearest, most enviable act of all; for, if by any means, the special rose-bud admired by the dear paterfamilias, the waxy-white Hyacinth always loved by"mother," or the drooping bells of the young sister's Lily of the Valley, can be forced to bloom, the Winter through, and gathered each day from the garden bed, then indeed are the successful florists happy beyond measure.
We would, in conclusion, ask our sister friends, are not such teachings worth much to the rising generation of 1878 ? I would suggest for you that perhaps Mr. R. of Columbus, 0., alludes to " Floral Decorations for the Dwelling House, an English work by Annie Hassard," published here by McMillan & Co., N. Y.