Combining Plants and Ornaments

Ornaments can highlight the colour and shape of plants, and in turn, the addition of one or two compatible plants to a collection of favourite objects can either soften or strengthen the arrangement, depending on the plants used.

Where to display

  • An arrangement of items on a table, or on a shelf, or in a fireplace, looks most effective if the items are chosen and arranged carefully to form an artistic ‘still life’ display.
  • On low tables — coffee tables, for instance — all the items need to be kept low so that people can see each other over the top.

Table size

Bear the scale of the table in mind too; a small and delicate table needs an arrangement of small and delicate plants and ornaments, and these would look lost on a larger surface.Combining Plants and Ornaments

If the surface is regularly used it is best to allow plenty of space for all the necessary clutter like mugs, glasses, books and magazines. Keep grander displays for shelves or side tables where space is not at a premium and arrangements will not be disturbed.

Choosing a background

It is often a good idea to start off by choosing a large item to form the background of the group. This does not necessarily have to be the plant. A picture, mirror on the wall or a lamp can all form very effective backgrounds, with other items grouped in front or slightly to one side. Plants are ideal for softening the hard outlines of the larger items mentioned above.

Balancing scale

To balance the scale of the background, pick plants of about half its height. Group these to partially break up this background and then finally include a group of similar-sized, smaller elements. These could be a collection of boxes, glassware, bowls, paper-weights, old china cups and other favourite items.

Using colour and tone

A cohesive effect is created by a group that involves items in the same colour or the same depth of tone. For instance, the colour in a collection of blue and white china would be shown up by the addition of a bowl of clear blue Hyacinths. In the same way, a collection of wood boxes would look very effective backed by a warm, gold-coloured Chrysanthemum in a brass container. Alternatively, contrast vibrant flower and pot colours for impact.

Sympathetic groupings

Choose items to form a group that have one aspect in common. This could be colour, material, place of origin, identical items from different periods or different items from the same period. Here are some ways to combine them with flowering or green plants.

By colourOrnaments can highlight the colour and shape of plants

Arrange a collection of coloured glass, and t Ise one of the larger items as a container q 1,.ithery fern, or a flowering or green plant that picks up on the glass colour. You could try an arrangement using colourful patterned china or ceramics.

By material

Arrange a mixed collection of brass items with a bowl of fruit in golden tones, and add a group of Christmas Peppers, Tom Thumb plants or Chrysanthemums in yellow, orange and red.

By place of origin

For oriental simplicity, place a small black table in front of a white paper blind or a plain wall, and add a group of simple-shaped and plain-coloured oriental bowls, one containing a bright red Flamingo plant or an Azalea, or float a water-lily in one of the bowls.

By type

Intersperse a collection of boxes or other curios on a shelf with small, simple-shaped plants like Mind-Your-Own-Business, to maintain the symmetry but add softness.

By period

Group a collection of art nouveau items with a lamp or mirror of the period, and include a howl of flowering Lily plants.

Natural accessories

Plants grouped in terracotta pots or rustic baskets ask for the addition of natural, rather than man-made, materials as accessories. Often this grouping is most effective if the plants and accessories chosen are found in the same sort of environment in the wild.

  • Plants of the woods, like ferns, lend themselves to the use of a rough basket as a container. For accessories add a length of gnarled wood, cones or nuts, even dried fungi.
  • Plants from bleak or desert areas, such as some cacti or bonsai, can be shown off in stone or terracotta pots
  • with a few interestingly shaped rough stones, fossils or softly coloured and rounded pebbles.
  • The seaside can be evoked with a group of shells. This sort of display is particularly effective when used with plants in the bathroom.
  • Country garden flowers like Hydrangeas, Lilies or Primroses could be enhanced by a floral container and a bowl of pot-pourri.

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