Combining plants with cut flowers

An arrangement of green or flowering plants can be brought to life with the addition of a few cut flowers. When choosing the flowers to add to an arrangement, consider the colour scheme, the most suitable container and the use of some simple accessories.

Change and display

Adding cut flowers to a plant grouping gives you the opportunity to change the display frequently, and this will give constant interest to an arrangement that might otherwise be taken for granted. Choose the height, size and quantity of flowers to balance with other items in the group.

Colour co-ordination

When you are choosing the plants, flowers and containers for an arrangement, you should always consider them in relation to the colour scheme of the room. Simple surroundings of white or natural textured materials are best matched by plain, uncluttered groups like the arrangement with daffodils.

Container choice

Take trouble to find a container for the cut flowers that matches the plant holders in colour or materials. This is an enormous help in holding the group together.

Combining plants with cut flowersAdding accessories

It is always a good idea to try to highlight your arrangement with a few carefully chosen objects, in order to make a still-life or living picture. The kind of effect that can be created is shown in the arrangement in the picture to the right where a tiny bowl of dried flower heads and one golden pebble have been used to enhance an arrangement of tall chrysanthemums, a bowl with a Maidenhair Fern and an African Violet, and a small, square trough containing a succulent.

Winter colour

In winter, when fresh flowers are in short supply and expensive, consider using dried flowers instead. Most flower and seed heads are very simple to dry.

Air-drying

This is suitable for most flowers. Strip the leaves from the stem, then tie the flowers in bunches using elastic bands, as the stems will contract as they dry. Hang the bunches in a warm, dry place and leave until dry and crisp to the touch.

Drying in a container

Flowers with large or delicate heads, such as hydrangeas, are best dried upright. Place the flowers in a vase or jug with a little water, and then leave them until they are completely dry.

Preserving in dessicants

This method is suitable for very delicate flowers and is often used with roses, whose petal colours tend to fade when they are air-dried. You will need an airtight container (such as an old biscuit tin or plastic food box) and some silica gel crystals for the dessicant .

First heat the dessicant to remove any moisture and then spread it over the base of the container to a depth of 2.5cm (1 in). Put some wire netting on top of this. Choose the flowers you want to dry, remembering to dry flowers of the same type together. Cut off the flower stems, leaving about 2cm (3/4in), and push the stems through the netting so the flower heads rest on the netting. The flowers should not touch each other. Sieve more dessicant over the flower heads, to a depth of about 2cm (3/4in). Seal the container and leave it in a warm, dry place for 4-14 days. Attach wire to dried stems.

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