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.
ONE important rule in the grouping and arrangement of flowers will bear frequent repetition. It is this: green gives character, white gives brilliance. With plenty of green there will be more distinctness, higher individuality, and greater clearness of idea, together with a general expression of quiet and rest; while an abundance of white gives more splendor and brilliance, and a diffuseness of sentiment, which, unless displayed by airy figures and graceful postures, dazzle and weary the beholder.
And, further, it should be remembered that groups and collections of small flowers, even if of varied forms and their hues ever so judiciously mingled, are never effective. But serving unobtrusively- to bring the magnificence of their queenly sisters into high relief they gain from such companionship reflected glory and power.
The most tasteful of room decorations are long garlands of flowers or of verdure festooned along the walls, around pictures, about the doorways, or from each corner to the center, and looped gracefully around the lights. At each looping or festoon should be placed a hanging bouquet, a cluster of loosely arranged drooping flowers, or an individual rose, lily, or camellia, in company with a spray or two of some vine with its wandering branchlets and curling tendrils. Braided evergreen or a stout rope covered with lycopodium and kalmia leaves forms an elegant festooning. Leaves of the camellia and myrtle and sprigs of box add to its beauty. Lycopodium should be cut in pieces three inches long, the leaves, in twos and threes, taken with this as little bouquets, placed upon the rope and bound securely around it with a stout twine or cord, in such a manner as to form an ever continuous line of verdure, the leaves projecting slightly from the lycopodium. To expedite the work, the rope should be stretched its entire length, and each end securely fastened before the green is tied upon it. If a floral garland is desired it is best to prepare the verdure in this way, but to keep the flowers fresh the rope and cord should be dampened, and wet moss used among the green.
Flowers are easily inserted between the bits of verdure, particularly if their stems are lengthened by wire or twigs, as is often necessary when using short-stemmed blossoms; moreover, when the flowers have withered they are more readily removed and their places filled with fresh relays.
A hanging bouquet is prettiest composed of a few choice flowers, with small,fern leaves or other light foliage. Take camellias, roses, azaleas, lilies, and the like, for the more prominent individuals, with panicles of eupatorium or stevia, and bouvardia; or heliotrope and acacia, or deutzia or verbena, as companions. They should be loosely connected, at the base of their stalks tied together firmly, however, but in such a manner as to give a globular appearance to the group. Hence it is necessary to graduate the length of the -stalks; and it is best, if possible, to use flowers upon their own stems. If wired stems are used, as is often the case with camellias, the wire must be wound about with green moss or lycopodium. If a bit of wet cotton or wicking is wound around the end of the stalks and then covered with damp moss the bouquet will retain its freshness longer.
Alternating with these hanging bouquets - at the looping of garlands - clusters of fuchsias, begonias, calceolarias, or other flowers of similar habit, are very beautiful - regard being paid to the proper contrasts and harmony in their tints; or, as above mentioned, sprays of some luxuriant vine, with a blossom - rose, lily,-etc. - to crown their beauty.
Hanging baskets of plants or of flowers, are fine ornaments for alcoves or doorways. If filled with growing plants, flowers may be inserted in the damp soil with good effect, on special occasions, but care roust be taken not to overload them. With too profuse display of blossoms (these baskets being generally of rustic design) they appear " loud " and vulgar. Even in hanging baskets designed especially for flowers there is danger of this. An abundance of vines and trailing shrubs, with a moderate supply of flowers to brighten them, is more appropriate. Almost any round or oval basket will answer for this purpose. It should be lined with tinfoil or thick paper and then filled with damp sawdust, the sawdust heaping a little in the center to form a slightly rising mound of the whole. Green moss should then be spread over the surface, and in this the foliage and flowers inserted by their stems. Fir-evergreen, or lycopodium, and box may be used for foliage - arbor vitae, kalmia or camellia leaves forming the border of the basket, or, rather, the edging of the floral mound.
But green of a tenderer tone and tissue is more desirable; and flowering vines - mimulus, petunia, maurandia, cobea, ipomea, adlumia, and the like, are much prettier wandering at will from the edge and twining up the handles. Ivies are especially beautiful for basket foliage, and sprays of the passion-flower vine or of clematis, springing from a basket, form a graceful festooning for an alcove, window, or doorway.
These baskets, without handles, placed on small stands around which the vines are allowed to stray are exceedingly attractive as parlor ornaments. A common wicker stand, used for sewing materials, is a nice receptacle for such an arrangement of flowers. Instead of sawdust damp bog-moss may be used. Procure clumps of this (if a few wild vines or small plants are growing among the moss they will add interest to the flowers); fill a line'd basket with these or place them in a deep dish set within the basket, then arrange the flowers as directed for the hanging basket. The bog-moss retains moisture a long time; the flowers may be removed when they decay and others fill their places; the moss and the wild plants being occasionally watered will remain green and grow through several months.
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