Tall Flower Arrangements

Tall flower arrangements need not necessarily be edifices of great height and vast proportions. On the occasions when a vertical effect is required in a room, height can be achieved by merely using a tall, thin container. This is the usual method employed and some flowers lend themselves especially well to this sort of arrangement. In this category one could probably include without exception all lilies (they grow so straight and tall in their natural habitat). Iris is another upright plant, as are delphiniums, gladioli and foxgloves.

Another way to achieve a tall effect is by using a perfectly flat dish or plate, which does not in itself give any height. The floral arrangement in this case might only need the addition of two or three spear like leaves or flowers to give an appearance of height to a rather squat, squarish group. This is a more difficult type of arrangement to arrange, I think, but it can be effective in its way if done well, and it also allows the material to be spread out at the base in a manner which would be impossible in a tall, thin vase. The question of balance is a difficult one but one well worth studying, for width at times seems to be an essential counterpart to height. If a flat container is used, the width of the dish helps to give balance and the large leaves at the base will also add weight when dealing with tall arrangements.

Returning to the previous point of tall containers, when using a tall container a great deal must depend on the amount of material to be arranged. For only a few stems there is nothing better, to my mind, than a decanter. This is usually an attractive shape, and its narrow neck acts as an excellent holder for the flowers.Tall Flower Arrangements

An important fact to remember is that water soon disappears down this narrow neck and that unless the stems are all safely reaching down into the bowl, the water level must always be very carefully watched.

A tall jug, a coffee pot or certain early pewter tea urns are also excellent. (The spouts of these can be removed and the hole soldered over.)

Here is a selection of tall flowers and foliage:

A few stems of the already tall Peruvian lily Alstroemeria aurantiaca when arranged in a decanter can be given extra height. This plant, comes in many beautiful soft shades of pink, salmon and pinky-yellow. It flourishes, once established, to such a degree that it has to be trimmed occasionally to keep it within bounds.

The alstroemeria, known as the Peruvian lily, is a native of South America. In England it flowers in the open from late June onwards.

The flowers of the Lenten roses, Helleborus orientalis, and their hybrids are delightful for decoration, although sometimes inclined to droop their heads, but their foliage is always rewarding.

Dramatic foliage in a tall group may be provided by the iris, gladioli, hosta, and .hellebore plants. The contrast here is one rather more of shape than colour.

In Flowers in House and Garden Mrs. Constance Spry writes about the dark gleaming foliage of Helleborus corsicus. ‘This is a magnificent species with its dark shining holly like leaves and clean strong stems carrying quantities of flowers’. The flowers are especially attractive, they come in clusters of a clear, pale green, always an unusual and difficult colour to find in cut flowers. Helleborus produce flowers of a shape (large and drooping, or small tight clusters) and colour (white, mauve and mauve-green, and pale lime green) rarely equalled. They are certainly plants to be cherished, as much for their decorative value in the garden as in the house.

Both iris and gladioli have rather similar spear like leaves, invaluable in an arrangement, but sometimes their wide, rather fat stems are difficult to fix in position, though once they are firmly in place they will last for a long time without showing any signs of wavering. Two other leaves which give the same kind of clear outline, but which are even more solid and definite, are those of the New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax) green streaked with yellow, and clivia, dark and gleaming. The gladioli flowers themselves are perhaps one of the most valuable for giving height with a spire effect and more solid colour lower down their stems.

Hostas, or funkias as they are still sometimes called, also come in a great variety. They like a cool, shaded position in the garden and are especially suitable as clumps towards the edge of a shrubbery. Hosta fortunei and H. sieboldii are among the most decorative of all. Apart from their rather lovely colouring — either pale green, dark green or green and yellow, or green and white, their shape is a good clear cut and simple.foliage in a tall group

When leaves on the older plants have grown to a good size and have a stem over one foot long, hostas are tremendously useful in large pedestal arrangements. They will last well, especially if they are given a good deep drink before they are arranged.

Branches of trees will provide the extra height needed in certain tall arrangements, and flowers can be arranged inside a framework of such branches as beech, silver birch, prunus (copper), Persian iron wood ( Parrotia persica), whitebeam and hazel. Delphiniums will give height but not with quite such a tapering effect as gladioli. False goat’s beard ( Astilbe) or bush spiraeas are also valuable and well worth growing specially for such arrangements. (Any of the flowers or flowering shrubs mentioned are reliable and are not in any way difficult to anchor in position.) To me the best flower of all for height must surely be the Eremurus robustus.

It can grow to a height of about eight feet, and in this case the stem is sometimes so stout and heavy that it becomes very difficult to fix it firmly in a group of flowers. However, the extra height and size of E. robustus makes it almost indispensable for especially tall arrangements. The smaller fox-tail lilies (Eremurus) are not nearly so tall or solid of stem, and will present few problems.

Tall larkspur are often helpful in introducing colour and giving a clear outline. Certain lilies can also be of great value. Lilium candidum and L. longiflorum are both excellent, and are often used for wedding decorations.

Finally, there is a way of making tall arrangements even taller, but it must be done with great care. This means using tin containers in the shape of cornets, and painting them dark green. These are then attached by wire on to thin sticks, which are inserted into the flower arrangement, with the stem of the stick going into the water and being fixed in the wire netting underneath. The tin cornet is now filled with water, after which the flowers may be arranged in it, thus giving them an extra height, approximately the length of the stick from the base of the cornet to where it touches the water. It is essential to put only flowers that look as though they could possibly achieve this height into this device otherwise the falseness of the apparatus will be seen at a glance. For example, most gladioli, delphiniums, larkspur, etc. would be a safe choice, but something which is naturally much shorter such as a stock, or snapdragon, or marigold, would look absurd. This may seem only a small point, but it is worth remembering since using the wrong flowers can spoil the whole effect.

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