This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
BUT few seem to understand that there is any difference between a button-hole bouquet and a coat flower; yet there is, and a very great difference too, the flower being, as the word signifies, a single bloom, whereas a bouquet means a number of flowers arranged according to taste. Many papers have appeared in different horticultural periodicals on the arrangement of cut flowers, and yet, with few exceptions, they have excluded button-hole'bouquets, probably because, being small, people imagine that they must necessarily be easy to make. Just let them try, and I do not hesitate to say that they will find themselves much mistaken, as no combination of flowers requires to be put together with more taste, or to be more lightly done, than a properly made button-hole bouquet. Flowers selected for this purpose should always be good, particularly those for mounting singly, which should, in fact, be specimens of whatever kind is chosen. Ferns I always like to see in such bouquets, and also along with coat flowers, provided these are stove or greenhouse kinds; but hardy flowers I like best mounted with their own foliage alone.
Nearly all flowers for bouquets of any sort should be wired; indeed, many could not be used for that purpose at all, were they not mounted on wire, as, for example, the pips of white Hyacinths, which, in winter, are among the most useful flowers which we have. There are, however, other ways of mounting flowers besides wiring them. Let us take, for example, a Gardenia. The center petals of this flower - indeed all except the outside row - are very even and lovely; but their beauty is sometimes marred by the outer ones, which look twisted. Now to remedy this evil, and to make them look all even, proceed as follows: Take a common Laurel leaf, and cut a piece out of it about an inch square; with a pair of scissors trim round the corners, so as to almost make it circular; then cut a cross in the middle, and down through that push the stem of the Gardenia until the flower and Laurel leaf are pressed tightly together; then hold it upside down, and through the stem, close to the leaf, pass a "stub" wire (which will keep the leaf in its place); bend the ends down and fasten them together with a little binding wire so as to form a stem.
The petals of the flower can be then arranged out in their proper places, and the piece of Laurel leaf being so tight to the flower that they will remain wherever they are placed. There is also another point to which I would wish to direct attention, and that is, the foundation of the buttonhole bouquets, which is generally a piece of Maiden-hair Fern; but that is not stiff enough in itself to form a good support for the other flowers. To remedy this, the best plan is to back the Fern with a small Camellia leaf, wired, which will keep the whole bouquet firm and in shape. The following arrangement is that most often seen: at the back is a spray of Fern; next some long light flower, so as to form a kind of point or finish at the top; then a Camellia bud, or Rose, or some such flower, and then Maiden-hair Fern and whatever other small flowers are at hand. I made one a short time ago of a half-open white Camellia bud, spray of Hoteia (Spiraea) japonica, and a few pips of white Hyacinth, mixed with a little Maiden-hair, and many remarked that it was very light and elegant looking.
That which took the first prize at the Royal Horticultural Society's Show at Birmingham, last summer, was composed of a yellow Rose-bud, mounted with blue Forget-me-Not, a pip of Kalosanthes coccinca, and one of Bouvardia. I have seen one made of the Lily of the Valley, a blush-colored Rose bud, and the same shade of Hyacinth pips, with a little Fern worked through it, which was a very neat-looking little bouquet; another consisted of a spray of Lily of the Valley, a yellow Rose bud, and a few pips of rich purple Cineraria, which came out well against the deep color of the Marechal Niel bud. I could give descriptions of many others, but think that those which I have mentioned will suffice to show the best shape and style in which such bouquets should be made. - A. H., in the Garden.