Flower Arranging With Baskets

If there were no other containers available for arranging flowers, we could perhaps manage, in most circumstances, with baskets. These vary not only in shapes and sizes, but also in texture and to such an extent that there is usually something suitable, somewhere.

There are baskets made from Suffolk or Kentish reeds—with a soft grey-blue-green colouring— or from Norfolk willows, dark brown interlaced with pale buff; baskets in highly varnished materials, less sympathetic in outline but perhaps suggesting a more formal appearance; closely woven baskets, and ones with openwork designs, some in a large mesh and others in minutely worked patterns which almost give the feeling of fine needlework. From China there are delicate circular baskets as light as the proverbial feather — and finally in complete contrast are the sturdy brightly coloured baskets from Andorra:

From the point of view of flower arrangement a very important aspect of a basket is its handle. In some types of shapes a spreading arrangement is indicated, and when this is the case, the handle can become a focal point, being most useful for twining branches — especially in the case of plants with graceful stems, such as summer jasmine, hop, periwinkle and clematis. In any case, the handles should be allowed to show clearly, otherwise the shape of the basket will not be complete.

Containers holding the water must, of course, fit into the basket as neatly as possible. These may consist of Pyrex cooking dishes, biscuit tins or lids, baking tins (sandwich, cake, or loaf baking tins are especially suitable), and jam jars. The tins will be less noticeable if they are painted a soft colour. This also applies to the large mesh wire netting that will act as an anchorage for the flowers.Flower Arranging With Baskets

One of the soundest considerations for . using a basket is that it can serve a dual purpose. Bread baskets, flat baskets, wine carriers, baskets to hold house plants, sewing baskets, log baskets, shopping baskets, etc. — these can all be used for different types of arrangements.

It could be suggested that a basket is not suitable for the sophisticated type of flower arrangement needed to fit in with sophisticated furnishings. My answer to this would be that I have used a basket for a dried arrangement in such surroundings and that it did fit in. The design was good and the texture unfussy and simple but it was a sophisticated type of basket, and the dried material chosen was unusual and had a certain dignity.

I think that it is true to say that the colour and texture of many baskets is especially suitable for dried flowers. The colours of dried flowers are soft — there is nothing strident or unsympathetic about them — coming either in the tones and shades that are associated with a Corot or a Brueghel — or in the deep velvet colours of van Dyck or in aubergine, tawny buffs, grey-blues, olive, off white and pale pinks. All these combine well with the material used in baskets.

Finally, because there is no need for water, the stems of dried flowers can be arranged directly into the basket, and in some cases an even more natural effect can be obtained by actually fixing them through the weave.

The most useful of all baskets is probably the `trug’ basket. Everyone knows the usefulness of these baskets for gardening, and this is amplified by the fact that trugs come in a variety of sizes. A large one is invaluable for weeding or collecting cut flowers for the house, and the smaller ones for holding string, scissors, wall nails, secateurs, and all the paraphernalia required for tidying up the garden.

A trug basket also makes an attractive container for holding house plants, e.g. geraniums, tradescantia etc., and for those living in the country with open log fires it is an ideal receptacle for kindling wood.

Many types of baskets are suitable for holding flowers to give as gifts to patients in hospital. Some are manufactured in a close white wickerwork, equipped with a green tin lining and these come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some with handles and others without. One type of basket is even made with a lid.

With some of the smaller posy baskets it is sometimes better to have damp moss or sand for the flowers than to trust to a little jar of water. These so easily get spilt and the arrangement will have a very short life. If all the stems are safely anchored in a larger area of moss or sand they have more chance of absorbing moisture and of keeping fresh. But if you decide on water it is as well to fill up on arrival at the hospital so as to ensure that one does not have a dripping basket.

A much larger basket of quite a different type is the most useful for a pedestal arrangement to decorate a marquee or dance hall. These are baskets constructed specifically to hold flowers or plants, and are usually fitted with tin linings. They are sometimes painted in gold or silver and often have tall curved handles which give ample scope for trailing effects. This is the kind of basket used for presentations to visiting diplomats, V.I.P.s, Royalty, and other distinguished members of the community. If one of these is attempted by an amateur it may be as well to give a word of warning. These baskets are deceptive in size. The actual space to hold the flowers does not seem very large, but they do, in fact, take a quantity of flowers, and can work out to be rather expensive decorations. Also, considering the number of flowers they contain, these baskets do not hold a large amount of water, and so the tin container must be kept well filled to the brim.

A last suggestion, for another type of basket — the punnets. These, too, may either be filled with damp moss or else fitted with a small glass container. They are most suitable, I think, for primroses, gentians, etc., and may provide one of the first steps in flower arrangement for a child. If the punnet is filled with wet moss it will have to stand on a plate or saucer so that there will be no leaks on polished furniture.

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