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.
These I like associated with fronds of Maiden-hair Ferns, that is if the Fern is an indoor one; as what, for instance, looks so elegant with a Gardenia as a bit of Fern, the bright green spray of which sets off white blossoms of all kinds to much advantage. The coat flower to which was awarded the second prise at Birmingham last year consisted of a small spray of red Combretum, backed with a frond of Maiden-hair. There are numbers of flowers suitable for such an arrangement as this, but care should be taken that such as are selected are good specimens of their respective kinds, and be a little shrouded in the Fern, as many coat flowers I have seen were quite spoiled by having only one spray of Fern, against which was laid the flower; the latter, under such circumstances, looking hard and stiff. Now. had there been another small piece to fill up the space at the base, and a tiny bit drawn across the flower, the effect would have been much enhanced. This should always be done if the flower used is of a bright or glaring color. I always like to see a Rose with a leaf belonging to itself behind it, and a few sprays of the young brown-colored growth around it.
Such an arrangement may seem easy to manage, but this is not the case, as the Rose leaf must be wired, and that is one of the most difficult of all things to do properly. Take a Rose-leaf, and lay it face downwards on a table. It will then represent a stem with two or three small leaflets on each side, and one at the top. Down the centre of each of these small leaves or leaflets is a comparatively thick midrib, with slighter ones branching off from it. Take a piece of fine wire and pass it through the leaf (always selecting the top leaflet first), under one of these slight ribs, and bring it up on the opposite side of the ribs. Subject two or three of the ribs to this operation, always keeping close to the centre rib: in fact, work as if you were sewing through the leaf, having the long stitches, if I may so call them, on the wrong side, and it will be found to take great care and practice to keep them from being seen on the right side. The wire should be cut off at the top, so as not to let it appear above the point of the leaf. The other part should then be drawn down the long stem, and given a twist here and there; but take care to keep the wire from being visible.
The little side leaves should be done in the same manner, the only difference being that the wire is cut off at each end, and not brought down the long stem like the top one. To do all this well takes some little time and trouble; but a Rose-leaf, if not mounted as just described, is liable to get out of shape, and to hang down; if wired, however, it keeps stiff, and can be bent back and arranged according to fancy, just as one would adjust an artificial leaf. - The Garden.