This section is from the book "The Florists' Manual", by William Scott. Also available from Amazon: The Florist's Manual.
I can't be expected to exhaust the full list of the many plants, both foliage and flowering, that are useful in decorating. There are few plants but what have a distinct beauty if well grown. And you will have many tastes and many grades of purses to accommodate.
No plants should go to a decoration unless they are clean and in good order. No dirty pots should ever go, never mind whether they are to be hidden or not. It's enough to turn the hostess against you when she sees them enter her door.
One very important thing is this: All plants that are taken out and expected to keep their heads up and look well all the afternoon arid evening should be well watered an hour or two before they are packed for their dress parade, which the entertainment is to them.
We find it unwise to mix up the palms and dracaenas that we use for decorations with the stock that is kept for sale. However careful you are some little marring will be sure to occur, and if you are not careful your whole collection, perhaps a fine one to look at in the aggregate, will be hurt, and when you want a perfect kentia, green to the very tips, you won't find it among those that have been out visiting.
Let the line be drawn between those you loan and those you want to sell, and if you do much decorating you will want every summer a good house cleanings
An Exhibition Group of Decorative Plants.
Give your worn-out palms to the nearest botanic garden, or to the rubbish pile when beyond a certain degree of shabbi-ness. It is most unprofitable to occupy space with useless old runts.
As most of our orders for decorations come during late fall, winter and spring, seldom can we use our native flowers. When you can don't despise them. We have used the kalmia very largely at weddings in June. Also our native haw-thorne, and beautiful it is. If the season suited, the common field daisies would make a fine decoration, and for a summer occasion sprays and branches of Rambler roses are gorgeous.