Mirrors for flower arrangement

The use of mirrors might appear almost to be too obvious to need mentioning. But it is not as easy as it looks to make good use of them. They can, in fact, be a snare and a delusion if certain points are not considered carefully. If, for instance, the arrangement is too big and solid, with too much material in it there will be no reflection and the mirror will be very little help, then the flowers might just as well stand against a plain wall. It is only when the flowers are arranged as separately as possible, with plenty of space between each flower, that the mirror really multiplies. I once did decorations for a large room which contained two fireplaces immediately opposite to each other. Over these were two enormous mirrors. If I was successful with the flowers their reflections could be seen across the room in each of the mirrors there, then reflected each other again and again, so that one got the effect of a hall of mirrors filled with flowers. But it was very easy to muddle this effect, and it took a good deal of extra thought to make it work out as I intended. The final effect should be such that it is difficult to tell which flowers are actually in the vase and which are reflected in the mirror. When this happens a mirror is not only an added attraction to the flower but it also becomes a real economy measure.

Mirrors for flower arrangement

The position of the mirror will dictate the type and shape of arrangement. For example, if the mirror is over a mantelpiece (as so often happens in Georgian fireplaces) the flowers should be, selected, remembering that not only the flowers but much of the room will also be seen through the mirror. The object lesson is to be careful not to block out too much of this reflection with the arrangement. If the mirror is a small one over a wall bracket there will probably not be quite the same amount of reflection and it is only the arrangement which will be reflected. In these two cases a line arrangement is almost certainly indicated.

It is essential when arranging flowers in front of a mirror to do them in the position where they will eventually stand, since one can only tell after each flower is put into the vase how the reflection is going to show up. I imagine that it might be quite impossible to get the required effect if they had to be done elsewhere and then carried through. The same point applies even more when flowers are being arranged so that they stand on a piece of mirror for a table decoration, for one must remember the flowers which will be most reflected are those nearest to the brim of the vase or those hanging over it. The flowers at the top may not be seen in the reflection at all.

A piece of mirror used as a table decoration is invaluable, since it increases the feeling of size by the reflection it gives. Only quite a small strip down the centre of a dining table is needed and it is remarkably effective. It must be washed and polished well, especially after the flowers have been standing on it for a day or two, as so many drop pollen etc. which shows up at once on the mirrored surface. But whatever trouble it takes to keep the mirror clean, it is worthwhile.

All containers to be used in front of mirrors need careful selection, but even more so those which stand on a piece of mirror. This must be realised, because if the dimensions of the container are not reasonably narrow, little will be seen of the flowers in reflection.

For instance, I have used with some success a white basket-work bowl for flowers. It is low and rather wide, and although I have found it most attractive for the usual flower requirements it was quite a different matter when I needed it to stand on a mirror. The width of the bowl obstructed the view of the flowers into the mirror, and almost all that was seen was the underside of the vase.

Again, if a container which is too tall is used the flowers will completely disappear from sight in the mirror reflection, and only an elongated view of the base of the container will be seen. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to try out the vase beforehand, thus ensuring that the flowers get their share of ‘double vision’.

There are certain flowers which are more suitable than others for this tricky business of reflection, and the majority of these I have found from experience are the more simple uncomplicated shapes.

First of all there are the single flowers, rather than clusters, like some of the better shaped roses, lilies, ranunculus, carnations and gladioli. Although the gladioli strictly speaking does not come into the category of single flowers, the spikes are well covered with colour once most of the flowers are out and they do have a distinctive shape. This mention of shape brings to mind some of the flowering shrubs like forsythia and Chilean gum box ( Escallonia), but these must be used with restraint so that the outline is clearly seen and the flowers are given a chance to appear at their best advantage. I remember one dramatic arrangement which was reasonably successful and consisted of two or three bird of paradise flowers (Strelitzia). Perhaps this was due more to their shape than to their colour.

Another arrangement had an outline composed of large green arum leaves which were arranged with a few clivia. But the best of all I think was one which consisted of large white marguerites which seemed to take kindly to being reflected.

Where mirrors are concerned—as at any other time — interesting shapes in foliage are most helpful in getting a good outline. Iris leaves, bergenia, horse chestnut, Magnolia grandiflora and rhododendron (these last two must be carefully trimmed to remove overlapping leaves which would give a muddled effect) are invaluable.

The guiding principle, when arranging flowers in front of mirrors, should be to use much less material than would ordinarily seem to be necessary.

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