Those who have not yet begun to build up a collection of containers need not go to great expense. They are likely to find that there are many everyday things as well as pretty ornaments and bygones which seem to cry out for. If these are not waterproof it is often a simple matter to make them so. A strong plastic sheet or bag, or alternatively cooking foil, to line the and a -holder which will not pierce it are all that is necessary.
One needs a selection of low containers for various styles of. I find that I tend to use the shallow types more in winter than in summer and obviously the supply of materials at one’s command will have some influence. A sturdy branch of sticky horse chestnut buds being forced to open needs a different from a dainty branch of summer blossom, even though both may be roughly the same in size and shape. Textures are important and the glaze or the rough finish will make all the difference to the atmosphere of certain arrangements.
Decorations which are to remain in the centre of a table during a meal need to be low enough to allow one to see across the table. Nothing is more irritating than to have to talk round a flower piece. A low arrangement can easily be raised to bring it to the level of greater importance when the table is cleared by using a comport or cake stand to act as a pedestal.
From plates to ash trays
There are many suitable containers for this purpose, not the least of which are the vegetable dishes which are part of the table china. One of the plates can be used this way also. I use a number of plates about the house for a variety of arrangements. Many of them have subdued patterns, colours and textures which suit thebetter than deeper containers and one can always leave a large expanse of the plate to show and so gain extra colour.
It is usually necessary to use a supplementary container with plates and similar shallow vessels. This holds the stem-holder, usually a pin-holder, and the water. Since this will not show, or should not, when the arrangement is finished, it can be quite humble. I use shallow food tins, though deep enough to hold sufficient water which is topped up daily, and wide enough to take the pin-holder.
However, because of modern introductions even this is not always necessary, for if one uses a block of water-retentive foamed plastic, such as OASIS, this can simply sit on the plate. All that is necessary is that it shall be kept moistened. A little water can be poured into the plate each day.
Many oriental styled arrangements and those which I call ‘picture stories’ need shallow dishes. It is possible to buy some from shops which specialise in lkebana accessories, but one can equally well find them in kitchen shops or local potteries, vessels designed for food rather than flowers. Often a junk shop or stall will yield a fine selection of lidless tureens, plates and so on.
Some of my favourites are outsize ashtrays. The clean lines of modern vessels call out for individually tailored flower arrangements and are specially suitable for those who have to buy their flowers. A modern container will show off a handful of distinctive seedheads, flowers orin a manner that a traditional vase seldom can equal.