Most gardens can boast of arabis, either single or double, forget-me-nots, woodruff, London Pride, wallflowers, and the English flag iris, and with these few common plants very pretty effects may be obtained.
Forget-me-nots, being poisonous, are usually best alone, but if gathered with roots on (the stalks being uncut, and thoroughly washed, they will be free of much of their impurity, and will last for a long time. Woodruff is equally long lived, and nothing looks more delightful than a large, open bowl of this sweet-scented little flower, mixed with forget-me-nots.
Arabis is inexhaustively useful - the double kind, with its long, graceful infloresence, being most decorative. Arabis mixes well with any other flowers, and lasts nearly a fortnight.
Freshly picked wallflowers are perfectly delicious in a room, but unless the precautions I have already given (page 1551, Vol. 3) in respect to cruciferae are taken, they will not long remain so. Stocks belong to the same tribe, and, in order to remain sweet, must likewise have all foliage stripped off their stems to the point of immersion, and the water changed daily. They look best when not mixed with other flowers.
The old-fashioned "Solomon's Seal" is exceedingly useful in all stages of its growth. It looks particularly well boldly arranged with purple irises in large bowls or vases, and lasts a week to ten days.
When cutting pansies for indoor use, be sure to cut not only the bloom but the whole shoot, with foliage and buds attached. This not only simplifies the process of arranging, but doubles the life of the flower. Pansies should be arranged in wide-mouthed bowls.
No one with limited material for their floral decorations can afford to despise the charming flowering shrubs and trees, some of which abound in almost every suburban garden. Large vases may be handsomely furnished with lilac, laburnum, guelder rose, spiraea, may, etc.
Wild harebells gathered early in the morning when the dew is on them will last three days in water and the bods will open
All last wonderfully well if their stems are slit up and the bark peeled off a few inches before putting in water. Being hardwooded, they naturally have more difficulty in absorbing moisture than have soft-stemmed flowers.
All plants with hollow, jointed stems, such as bamboos and reeds, should have a notch cut in the upper part of each joint that goes below water.
Rhododendrons look fine in a room when cut long and arranged boldly in large jars. An old wine-cooler makes an excellent receptacle.
Many persons object to wild flowers, on the ground that they fade too quickly to be worth the trouble of arranging. This is unfair, however, to the flowers, for if properly treated they will last a long time. The mistake generally made is not putting them in water as soon as gathered. People will carry them in their warm hands for miles, perhaps, in the hot sun, possibly leave them lying about some time before arranging them, and are then surprised if very soon they are found to die. But this is not the fault of the flowers. These who have to go some distance for their wild flowers should take a deep basket for them, and if this has not got a lid, should place a piece of brown paper over the top as a protection from the wind and sun. Immediately on arrival home, place all the flowers in a big bowl of warm water, and leave them for some hours before arranging in vases. In this way they will last as well as any other flowers.
Whenever it is possible, wild flowers should be picked in the early morning with the dew still on them. Primroses have their lives doubled if, immediately, they are put in water up to their necks.
The value of foliage is underestimated by many people, yet very much can be done with a few flowers if a little discrimination is exercised with regard to a suitable setting.
A wealth of beautiful foliage is to be gleaned from the hedgerows. As early as March we have the wild arum (or lords and ladies, as it is commonly called), the leaves of which look exceedingly well with any of the long-stalked spring flowers. Before being set up, however, they must be plunged into a deep pail of water, and left several hours. This will ensure their living well.
Wild parsley is charming arranged with flowers; it is fern-like and decorative. It will soon droop if left out of water, but if given a good preparatory soaking, will last fresh a long while.
Purple iris with laburnum foliage. These are held firmly by a lead coil at the bottom of the bowl
Nothing is more welcome to the town dweller than a box of flowers straight from the country. Whether they be culled from the garden or from the fields, they are equally acceptable, provided they are fresh. But the condition of flowers arriving by post or rail is so dependent on the packer that a few hints on the subject may not be thrown away.
Although flowers are usually best gathered in the early morning, for transit it is better to pick them overnight, so that the stems may stand in water several hours previous to packing. By the morning they will have imbibed sufficient moisture to last them on their journey. Leaves should be left on the stalks, and it is essential in nearly all cases that the bloom should be quite dry. The exceptions to this rule are lilac and laburnum, both of which should be plunged bodily into water, and then packed wet. Treated thus, they will arrive at their destination perfectly fresh, and last for over a week.
Orchids, ama-r y 11 i s , malmaisons, etc., all require special care when being packed, but the majority of flowers travel quite well without any padding whatever. It is a great mistake to use cotton-wool.
Wild cherryblossom from the hedges should be placed in large low vases
A strong, airtight box is the chief necessity, lined with stout paper, and this should be packed full enough to prevent the flowers moving or getting shaken up during transit. A layer of lettuce-leaves or newly mown grass at the bottom of the box helps to keep flowers moist and yet dry.
When sending sweet-peas, the latter should be cut with only one bloom open, and, after the preparatory overnight immersion of the stems, be tied up in small bunches, each of which should be wrapped in paper. In this way they travel well, and if unpacked immediately on arrival and put into warm water, will quickly revive and last fresh a week or ten days. Flowers that have arrived after a journey are naturally in a low state of vitality, and need special treatment before being arranged in vases. Even the most faded-looking blooms can usually be restored if they are stood in hot water deep enough to submerge half the stem.