For years, even centuries, people never consideredin anything other than vessels specially designed to hold them. Indeed, there have been eras when a great deal of contemporary art was engaged in the production of beautiful vases of china, glass and metal for this purpose and so lavish were they that many of them still can stand alone, without flowers, delightful decorations in their own right. In fact the vases became so gorgeous that they dominated the flowers. This no doubt was one factor in the cause of their decline in popularity.
It was the custom that flowers and vases or special flower bowls went together. Nothing else would do. Even pitchers, in which wild and garden flowers and foliage look so delightful and which now seem old fashioned though still acceptable, were once considered ‘modern’ and a trifle daring and unconventional by some people.
Now we are much less rigid in our attitudes, so much so that only a few of the vessels that many modern flower arrangers use were originally intended to hold flowers. Today almost anything is acceptable so long as it is waterproof and suits both its contents and its setting.
Obviously the most important thing is that anyshould be capable of holding sufficient water to nurture the flowers, and it is this fact that has had such a restricting influence on flower arrangement. Because it has always been assumed that the more water we could give flowers the longer they would last, traditional vases tend to be large, often much too ungainly for modern homes if they are to be used as was originally intended. However, it has been proved that once the materials have been prepared and are turgid (that is, firm and tense by distension with water), deep water is not essential for them. In fact too great a depth of water will shorten the lives of some flowers such as and gladioli. And so long as the base is never allowed to become dry it would appear that in some cases the continual evaporation of moisture immediately around the flowers is as beneficial as static water.