Equipment For Flower Arranging

Whilst it isn’t necessary to have large numbers of vases or complicated equipment to arrange flowers, there are a few accessories which would be helpful: scissors, wire netting, pin holders, `Florapak’, ‘Oasis’, Plasticine, sand, as well as disguises for them — leaves, moss, bark, stones, shells — watering can with long, thin spout, dust sheet.

SCISSORS

Like any other kind of scissors, have a habit of disappearing — they sometimes get lost amongst the stalks and leaves that are cut away from the flowers. It is more than likely that many pairs find their way into dustbins or rust their lives away on compost heaps. Once put down on a table for a minute, when one is doing the flowers, in no time at all they.get tidied up and lost for ever. For this reason I try to have at least one spare pair and when that pair is brought into service, get another in their place.

The point about using stub scissors is that they are strong and unlike ordinary kitchen scissors, will also cut wire (the small crescent in one of the blades is for this purpose). Thus they have a double purpose.

Equipment For Flower Arranging

PIN HOLDERS, WIRE NETTING, ‘FLORAPAK’ OR ‘OASIS’ AND PLASTICINE

These are all suitable methods of anchoring flowers under various conditions (sometimes one is appropriate, at other times another). If wire netting is used, it should be large mesh in three layers. This provides an efficient anchorage for flowers without too much restraint. The wire netting must be fixed firmly in position, for if it slides about at the beginning, all is lost. It is hopeless to trust to the weight of the flowers to hold the wire netting down. This never seems to happen.

In large pedestal groups (the weight of the tall stems often tends to lever the wire netting out of the vase, especially if the group happens to stand against a wall and most of the flowers are leaning forward) it sometimes helps to weight the wire netting down with either a small bag of sand or of lead shot.

Ordinary chicken wire is less obvious if painted a soft green. It can also be bought, at extra cost, covered in plastic.

PIN HOLDERS

These come in different forms.

They are made either of metal— solid and heavy, with sharp needles, or of plastic—softer and not quite as sharp, or they may have a plastic base which acts on the principle of suction. (It should be realised that certain flowers just will not survive on pin holders — these include forget-me-nots, anchusa, lilies-of-the-valley and love-in-a-mist.) Pin holders are often obtainable in a reasonably good leaf green, which I think most preferable to the glaring unpainted metallic ones which show so unpleasantly, catching and reflecting any gleams of sunlight or electric light.

Pin holders, like wire. Netting, must be fixed firmly in position before the arrangement is begun, and one of the best methods of doing this is to wedge them down with pieces of Plasticine. This must, of course, be done before any water is poured into the container, otherwise the Plasticine will simply slide about and lose all its us-efulness as an anchorage. A soft pliable Plasticine is essential and green is a good colour when there are any leaves in the arrangement.

Another essential factor when using a pin holder is to make sure that the water comes well over the top of its base — so that the stems are in no danger of being without water. This sounds simple enough, but it is sometimes difficult to see exactly where the level of the water is.

FLORAPAK

Florapak or Oasis are both used a great deal for certain types of arrangements. For instance when the container is porous (as in the case of sea shells), or, in a basket of flowers (already arranged) if one is taking them to a patient in hospital, to eliminate the possibility of spilling water en route.

WATERING CAN

A small watering can with a long and narrow spout is invaluable for topping up the water supply where flowers have been already arranged. This does its job efficiently and without disturbing the flowers.

The point of using a dust sheet is obvious, but it becomes even more essential if one is bold enough to do the flowers in the position where they will stand finally.

Leaves are the obvious method of disguising pin holders etc. in most arrangements, but it is important that they become an integral part of the group and are not just pushed in at the last minute. Some of the most useful leaves are those of bergenia, cyclamen, geranium and ivy. Moss and bark are both usually available in copses or woodland and it is wise, whenever one is in the country to look out for suitable pieces and shapes of bark (two or three attractively shaped pieces are useful to have as a standby when they are needed) or clumps of velvety moss. (The moss can be kept damp when it is brought home.) It is often difficult to find either of these at a moment’s notice.

Stones and shells are, of course, usually to be found beside the sea, and any expedition to the seashore can be an excuse for collecting suitable stones or shells, quite apart from the fun of finding them. (I like to have a dish in which I keep some of the prettiest and most clearly marked of these which we have found on our expeditions.)

While still at the seashore it may be as well to look out for a suitable piece of driftwood (this can sometimes be an asset to an arrangement, but it can be difficult to find the correct shape, and when found it should be used with discretion).

At a flower lecture being given in a private house I heard the hostess offering to lend the demonstrator any of her own containers or equipment. ‘You may borrow anything at all which will be useful’, she said, ‘that is, anything except my piece of driftwood’. Having once found an attractive shape after a good deal of seaching I can understand how she felt.

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