Table Decoration And Flowers In Season
Graceful arrangement--How to manage thick-skinned
stems--Colour-schemes--Bad colours for artificial light--Preserving
and resuscitating--Table of flowers in season.
The fashion of decorating tables to the extent now done is of
comparatively recent date. When the duties
were taken off the importation
of foreign flowers, they became so much lower in price that the great
middle-class could afford to buy some even in mid-winter. In the British
Isles themselves, too, the carriage of flowers is much cheaper and more
expeditious, though there is plenty of room for improvement still in that
respect. =The manner of arranging= them has much altered, for, instead of
cramming a clumsy vase to its utmost limits with a dozen different flowers
of as many shades, only one, two, or at most three, kinds are now used,
and these are set out in as =graceful and airy= a manner as possible.
=Plain glass vases=, as a rule, show the blossoms off best, though pale
green or ruby occasionally looks very well. The water need not be changed
every day in all cases; it depends on the flower; wall-flowers, for
instance, turn the water putrid very soon, while it keeps fresh much
longer where roses are concerned. =The vases should, however, be filled up
once a day=, as the stems suck up moisture rapidly. Hard-wooded flower
stalks should receive special attention, or they will droop directly.
=STEM-SPLITTING.= Lilac, when cut and placed in water will absorb no more
moisture than a lead pencil, unless the stems are split up; this can be
done either with a hammer or a knife or both. As many leaves as possible
should be left on the stems, for when under water they largely help to
make the blossoms last well; it is only where the stalks are nearly
leafless that the splitting and peeling is necessary.
=Maidenhair fern may be made to last= much longer if the end of the black,
wiry stem is hammered for about an inch up.
It must not be forgotten that =cutting from a plant strengthens it=, and
induces it to continue sending up flower-stalks. People often seem chary
of cutting their roses with any length of stem, I suppose because it has
leaves and shoots all the way up, but this is an error; they should be cut
with about eight or ten inches of stalk; pansies and violas also look
much more natural when a portion of the shoot is cut along with each
=BY PARCEL POST.= On hot summer days, when flowers are to be sent by post,
=they should be picked early in the morning=, several hours before they
are to be sent off, and placed in bowls of water; then, if they are packed
close together in tin, wood, or even card-board boxes they will arrive
quite fresh at their destination, where otherwise they would be hopelessly
faded. When a box of flowers is received, the contents should be put =in
luke-warm water= in a dim light for an hour or so; they can then be
re-arranged in the vases they are intended to occupy.
=BLUE--A DAYLIGHT COLOUR.= Some colours respond to artificial light much
better than others. =Most shades of blue are not suitable for decorating
dinner tables=, because they turn almost brown, or at best a dull mauve.
In choosing violets, therefore, for evening wear, it will be found that
the blossoms which have thin, rather washed-out petals of the lightest
purple will look best, the full blue not being nearly so effective. =For
luncheon=, an arrangement of purple clematis in vases on the palest pink
ground is lovely, but does not look quite so well by gas-light, though
here again if the least velvety flowers are chosen for evening, a good
effect can be obtained.
=Yellow is a splendid evening colour=, but must be bright, or it will look
merely cream. A dining-room panelled in light oak, adorned with yellow
marguerites alone, is very pleasing to the eye. In the spring, =laburnum
makes a novel dressing for a dining-table=; care, however, must be
exercised with this flower, as the pods are poisonous. Blue also looks
well with brown in the day-time; larkspurs, forget-me-nots, plumbago,
campanulas, nemophilla, etc., all look very well. We know how artistic
blue porcelain is on oak shelves, and, if the flowers have a white eye or
are veined with white, the effect is somewhat the same. =Scarlet is a good
gas or electric light colour=, but it must be used judiciously, and as a
rule only be mixed with white, just as the ladies at a regimental ball are
generally only allowed to robe themselves in this pure shade.
=SIMPLICITY.= Now-a-days the decorations are rarely made so high that one
cannot see the other side of the table. Though this arrangement might
occasionally be useful in hiding the face of an enemy, on the whole it was
found inconvenient; accordingly they have climbed down; the "bazaar-stall"
fashion is also disappearing, and flat table-centres are used instead, or
none at all. Simplicity is the great cry now, and though of course it may
be costly, a charming effect is obtained with fewer flowers than was
formerly considered correct, and is moreover easily imitated by an
artistic eye in less expensive blossoms.
Some of the flowers to be had in each respective season are enumerated on
p. 86. It will be noticed that where plenty of out-door blossoms are to be
had, the hot-house varieties are omitted.
TABLE OF NATURAL AND FORCED FLOWERS FOR EACH MONTH.
Violet, single and double.
Lily of the valley.
Lilies of the valley.
Poet's eye narcissus.
Lilies of the valley.
Gladiolus (scarlet and white).
Flag iris and other iris.
St. John's wort.
Poppies (to be picked in the bud).
Erigeron (like an early Michaelmas daisy).
Physalis (or Cape gooseberry).
The gladwin iris (berries).
Lilies of the valley.
Narcissus in variety.
=The cost of a flower is always in proportion to its blooming time.= If
lilies of the valley are wanted in August, they must be paid for heavily,
as retarded bulbs (those which have been kept in ice) are used to produce
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