The public interest in decorating with flowers is tremendous in this country today, aroused in great part by visual demonstration of the beauty which may be created through imaginative grouping of blooms and other plant materials in suitable color combinations and designs. Flower arrangements displayed in flower shows, in florists' show windows, as decorations in hotel lobbies and other public places, as well as in private homes, have impressed millions of men and women with the results which may be achieved. For many it is a form of artistic expression, modeling in plant materials instead of in clay.
Elements of flower arranging
The various elements of flower arranging include relation of plant material to container, color, proportion, balance, and focus. These combine to yield an effect of unity which is an all-important aspect of the completed work.
Relation of plant material to container
You may start with the flowers or with the container, but there should always be a definite relationship between the two. The simplest example is white flowers in a white container. The two may be related through color, form, or texture. For example, a zinnia is much coarser than a rose, and a heavy pottery container is more suitable for a zinnia, while the rose calls for a fine texture such as is found in porcelain or glass. In many instances, the form of the plant material may be repeated in the container, but this is a subtler and more difficult relationship to achieve.
Have a definite color scheme in mind. You may decide on strongly contrasting colors, such as red and blue, or yellow and purple, or a quieter blending of shades of one color. There is an enormous variety of color schemes from which to choose, but when one is adopted for an arrangement, it should be followed through.
Proportions in flower arrangement
This is the size of the flower group in relation to the size of the container. A basic rule of minimum proportion is: If the container is upright, make the arrangement at least 1 1/2 times the container's height; if it is flat, make the arrangement at least 1 1/2 times the width of the container. These proportions may be exaggerated for effect, but not to the point at which they become unwieldy or outsize.
This is often the most difficult goal to achieve. Balance means that the apparent weight on both sides of a central axis must be equal. There are two kinds of balance-symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical design means that the outline of the part on one side of the central axis must exactly mirror the, outline of the part on the other side. Asymmetrical design means that the parts on either side of the central axis do not mirror each other. An asymmetrical design, however, may be a balanced design provided the details on either side of the central axis are of equal interest and apparent weight. in determining apparent weight remember that
The focal point is the center of interest, the bull's-eye, on which the glance of the viewer first comes to rest. It is the point at which all elements of the arrangement are pulled together, as if it were the spot from which a single plant emerged from the soil. All lines of the design should radiate from the focal point, which should usually be just above the center of the composition. Make it interesting. Place the largest, most conspicuous at this point.
Tips for flower arrangement
Let a leaf or a flower drape itself over the rim of the container to break its bard outline., This has the effect of binding container and plant material together. Do not, however, conceal the rim entirely. Do not cross stems and do not hide one flower behind another. Give each one a chance to show. Don't sandwich colors and don't array flowers on the same level, creating a stilted, methodical appearance. Use simple containers, simple shapes and simple colors. Avoid decorated containers, the patterns of which compete with the flowers. If you must use a decorated container, however, carry out in the arrangement the principal colors of the pattern.
Collecting containers, a valuable hobby
Collecting containers is a hobby of many persons., After acquiring a few good ones, many may be added which cost nothing. They may include an old battery jar, a grease cup from a Conestoga wagon, part of a palm trunk, hollowed stone, drain pipe, part of a root, a piece of fungus. An excellent many-purpose container is one about 9 inches high and 4 or 5 inches at the mouth, with a small base. A leaded flower holder gives it plenty of bottom weight and it can hold the longest stemmed flowers and all except the shortest stems. Then add a vase 18 inches high, for the branches of lilacs and other woody plants, a 4 or 5 inch vase for sweet peas, petunias, pansies, and violets, and a flat bowl. Wood, metal and pottery are excellent all-purpose materials.
Flower arrangement stands
Stands often add a great deal of style and stability to arrangements. They should be unobtrusive and of a texture and size that unites, with the container.
Plant material is not limited to flowers but includes anything that grows, attractive leaves, weeds, vegetables, fruits, seed pods. Keep a look out for unusual material and new forms of already familiar material. The calyx of a flower often is beautiful in itself. Leaves may be found that grow in a specific manner, to the left or to the right.
One of the most important considerations in putting together decorations of flowers is the relation of the decoration to the space it occupies. It must be appropriate to the room, the position it adorns, and the occasion for which it is to be used. The decorative and architectural trend of present-day homes is toward simplicity, toward lighter and more airy effect, away from the overstuffed heaviness of the 1880's.