Larch branches, so prettily studded with tiny nodules and flower-like cones are highly decorative, especially if you can find some which are smudged jade-green or grey with lichen. Larch can be used with individual larger cones of all kinds in a wooden mixture, the larch playing the role of the longdefining the outline of the arrangement while the larger cones fill in the centre and act as blooms. The larch branches may need a little shaping and grooming. The cones will need mounting on false stems if they are to be handled effectively.
This is easily done if you use florist’s wires. Place the wire against the cone about 1 in. above its base and pull it down among the scales so that it is hidden, leaving roughly equal portions of wire on each side. Bring these two ends around the cone, still down in between the scales, then bend them down below its base. This might make aof suitable length, but should you need a longer stem fasten the wire to a small cane or twig.
Cones look well with contrasting gleaming leathery brown. Together they are good materials to arrange in heavy metal vessels or in deep brown glazed pottery. One texture complements the other. And speaking of cones, these do not have to be arranged in the strict sense of the word. They can simply be piled on a dish. The secret lies in choosing the right . One of my favourite decorations of this kind (and incidentally so long lasting that it is vacuum cleaned regularly!) is a scoop-shaped piece of modern Irish copper filled with a mixture of large pods and cases of all shapes, mostly from African trees but including also some dark brown lotus seed pods bought from the florist’s sundriesman, two alligator pears now dried hard as wood, large cones and gourds. Visitors are fascinated by this little collection and they love to examine and even handle the contents.
Mixed gourds in a variety of shapes and colours look particularly rich and satisfying heaped in bowls about the house. For special occasions they can be arranged on a bed of, with perhaps more foliage and even a few such as dahlias, , roses or carnations placed among them. Water-soaked blocks of owns wrapped in plastic or foil will hold the stems and keep them moist. These can be hidden by the fruit or foliage.
Driftwood fits in attractively with manyof dried materials. It can be used as a base or to give height, width or even style. Or it can be merely used as a convenience and used to hide the mechanics of the composition. In this respect small pieces can be arranged to hide any small vessel or block of plastic which is holding the stems. Shells, pebbles, sea fans bought from a pet shop can also be introduced, just as they are in fresh flower .