Grouping plants in flower arrangments

When choosing flowering plants to put together, try to get a good contrast of shapes without a great mixture of colours. Shade and sun-loving plants are not good partners nor should one include fast growers which will soon swamp their neighbours. Decide whether you want them to flower simultaneously or in succession. For a fairly small bowl, a threesome may be the most to aim for – one tall, one spreading, and one trailing low in the foreground. Large tubs or urns demand plants with some stature. In troughs, try alternating short and tall plants, with most of the height in the centre; a small trellis standing against a wall could be added for a climber at the back of the trough. Here are some possible groupings:

For a painted tub or urn in a cool light hall: a white Marguerite with trailing white ivy-leaved Pelargonium peltatum (Geraniums) at its feet makes a striking summer display. For a trough in a warm, dry room: Bromeliads, Clivia, Hibiscus and Hoya Carnosa, a climber – the pinks and reds make a dramatic summer show. Shade-loving plants for a wide bowl in a warm room: red Anthurium with white African Violets at its feet and a red Columnea trailing over the edge. These all have flowers which should be at eye-level for their detail to be appreciated.

A spring group for a cool, shady spot: line a bread basket with plastic and plant yellow Calceolarias, yellow and blue Primulas and some Ivy. For a bookcase, a tray of pebbles and water with a row of pots containing trailing flowers, such as Campanula isophylla, Tradescantia and Columnea. For a permanent room divider, a decorative screen of bamboo trellis set in a trough filled with plants. Suitable climbers such as Passiflora (Passion Flower), Jasmine and Bougainvillea can be intermingled with foliage creepers such asCissusantarctica,Testrastigma, Monstera deliciosa and Rhoicissus rhom-boidea (Grape Ivy), all of which are evergreen. Below could go a permanent covering of plants such as Tradescantia, Saxifraga sarmentosa, Helxine soleirollii and Fittonia, with flowering plants in pots added from time to time.

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