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Flowers And Plants For Decorative Purposes

( Originally Published 1923 )

The chief attractive feature of any decorative work with flowers is freshness of material. Withered flowers are most depressing. That they may better retain their freshness, flowers should be gathered in the cool hours of the day when the tissue is filled with moisture. Keeping qualities vary considerably and in growing different species of plants for cut flowers, one should select those species which have the best keeping qualities. Most outdoor species wither more quickly than those grown under glass; hence, the former require special care to properly prepare them for decorative use.

Flowers keep best when cut with a sharp knife. Scissors crush the tissue and a dull knife tears it so it does not absorb water readily. After cutting, the material should be plunged into a deep receptacle filled with water, and left for a few hours in a cool place. The water should be deep enough to come well up to the flowers and the receptacle should be sufficiently large so the stems are not crowded, but the petals should never be submerged. Flowers freshly gathered and immediately arranged in the rooms often wither quickly and are disappointing. When left in water in a cool room overnight, or at least for a few hours, the plant tissue becomes filled with water, the stems are stiff and erect, and the flowers are better able to withstand the dry atmospheric conditions of the room in which they are placed.

A few species are especially difficult to cut and arrange without wilting, among which are Heliotropes, Dahlias and Mignonette. If the stems of these species are cut with a sharp knife and the ends plunged into boiling water for about a minute, then placed in cold water, the keeping qualities will be increased in a remarkable degree. The hands should be held about the flowers to protect them from the hot steam, otherwise they will blacken. Later the flowers may be arranged and they will keep fresh for several days. Cutting flowers from the parent plant under water will also prolong their keeping qualities, or if this cannot be done conveniently, the flowers may be taken into the house and cut a second time under water; the same effect is obtained. Clean receptacles should be used and if the water is changed daily, the lasting qualities will be increased.

Flowers should be taken from warm rooms and placed in a cool room during the night, and if somewhat withered, they will revive if laid in deep water. Laundry tubs and the bathtub are excellent places for them. It does not harm the flowers if they float on the water, and often they revive much more satisfactorily when so placed.

Preliminary to the arrangement, some acquaintance with plant material is necessary. Foliage, flowers and fruits make excellent decorative effects, if selected care-fully. Combinations of flowers and fruits of the same species are rarely attractive. They seldom occur in Nature, and Nature has been proved a dependable guide. The plant's natural habit of growth governs, in a large degree, the attractiveness of the material. Some species are so irregular in their habit of growth that it is almost impossible to make a pleasing, massed arrangement, but may be utilized if a single branch be the decorative element.


I—Material Native in Fields and Woodlands

The decorative value of this material is often over-looked because it is so common. Frequently we fail to see the interesting character of line or mass in native plants, until our attention is called to it particularly by one who has an artistic eye.

Native material may be used for some occasions when it would not be appropriate for others. For example, I once had occasion to decorate the stage of an auditorium for a recital of Indian songs and folklore, given by an Indian princess. A setting of palms and other greenhouse material would hardly have been appropriate. Fortunately, it was a season of the year when outdoor material of decorative value was obtainable. Four medium-sized Pines were secured from a forest area in need of thinning, as were also a considerable number of small Spruces from a forest nursery. These formed a background for the stage. In front were two banks of native material, one of Goldenrod and one of Queen Anne's Lace, Daucus Carota, and a third bank of Shasta Daisies. The wild flowers were not arranged in large masses, but were so placed in fruit jars as to give the appearance of flowers growing in the field. Back of the flowers were Ostrich Ferns, Onoclea Struthiopteris, and in front were low receptacles filled with Spinulose Wood Fern, Aspidium spinulosum. The whole made a very natural and decorative effect for an Indian recital, but would not have been appropriate for a recital by a Metropolitan opera singer.

A Christmas decoration of Hemlock wreaths and balls, with Hemlock, Laurel or Lycopodium festooning is another decoration both pleasing and appropriate.

Acer rubrum, Red Maple.—Flowers and fruit. March and April.

Actea alba, White Baneberry.—Flowers, May; fruit, June,

Actea spicata, var. rubra, Red Baneberry.—Flowers, April. and May; fruit, June and July.

*Adiantum pedatum, Maidenhair Fern.—Foliage, Summer.

Adlumia cirrhosa, Climbing Fumitory.—Flowers and foliage June and October.

*Alnus incana, Speckled Alder.—Staminate flowers, April.

Amelanchier canadensis, Shad-bush.—April.

Andromeda mariana, Stagger-bush.—May.

Anemone nemorosa, Wind Flower.—April and May.

Anemone pennsylvanica, Summer Anemone.—June to August.

Anemonella thalictroides, Rue Anemone.—April and May.

*Apios tuberosa, Wild bean.--July.

**Aquilegia canadensis, Wild Columbine.—April to June.

*Arethusa bulbosa, Arethusa.—June.

*Ascelepias incarnata, Swamp Milkweed.—July.

*Asclepias purpurascens, Purple Milkweed.—July.

*Asclepias tuberosa, Butterfly Weed.—July.

*Aspidium marginale, Marginal Shield Fern.—Foliage, all the year.

*Aspidium spinulosum, Wood Fern.—Foliage, all the year.

*Asters, many species.—August, September and October.

Baptisia tinctoria, Wild Indigo: July

*Benzoin odoriferum, Spice Bush.—March and April.

*Berberis vulgaris, European Barberry.—Fruits in Fall and Winter.

*Boltonia latisquama, Boltonia.—September and October

Brassica nigra, Black Mustard.—Summer.

Caltha palustris, Marsh Marigold—April and May.

Campanula rotundifolia, Harebells.—June.

Carex, Sedge, various species.—Summer and Fall.

Castilleja coccinea, Scarlet Painted Cup.—June.

*Ceanothus americanus, New Jersey Tea.—June and July.

*Celastrus scandens, Bittersweet.—Fruits in Fall.

*Cercis canadensis, Red Bud.—June.

Chelone glabra, Turtle Head.—July and August.

Chimaphila maculata, Spotted Wintergreen: June.

Chimaphila umbellata, Pipsissewa.—June.

*Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, Ox-eye Daisy.—June and July.

Cimicifuga racemosa, Black Snakeroot.—July.

*Clematis virginiana, Virgin's Bower.—July and August. Fruit in Fall.

Clethra alnifolia, Sweet Pepper Bush.—July and August.

Clintonia borealis, Clintonia.—Flowers, May; fruit, June.

Corydalis glauca, Corydalis.—May and June.

*Corpus florida, Flowering Dogwood.—April and May.

**Cypripedium acaule, Stemless Lady's Slipper.—June.

**Cypripedium spectabile, Showy Lady's Slipper.—July.

*Daucus Carota, Queen Anne's Lace.—August and September.

Dentaria diphylla, Pepper Root.—May.

**Epigæa repens, Trailing Arbutus.—April.

*Epilobium angustifolium, Great Willow Herb.—July and August.

Eryngium yuccæfolium, Button Snakeroot.—July and August.

Erythronium americanum, Dog-tooth Violet.—May.

*Eupatorium ageratoides, White Snakeroot.—July.

*Gaillardia lanceolata, Blanket Flower.—August.

Gaura biennis, Gaura.—August.

**Gentiana Andrewsii, Closed Gentian—September.

Gerardia purpurea, Purple Gerardia.—July and August.

Hamamelis virginiana, Witch Hazel.—Late Autumn and Winter.

*Helenium autumnale, Sneezeweed.—September.

Helianthemum canadense, Frost Weed.—June and August.

*Helianthus, various species, Sunflowers.—July and September.

*Heliopsis lævis, Ox-eye.—August.

* *Helonias bullata, Helonias.—June.

Hepatica triloba, Hepatica.—April.

Hesperis matronalis, Dame's Violet.—June.

*Hibiscus Moscheutos, Swamp Rose Mallow—August and September.

Hypericum prolificum, Shrubby St. Johnswort.—July.

Hypoxis erecta, Star Grass.—June.

Ilex verticillata, Black Alder.—Flowers, June; fruit, Fall. and Winter.

*Iris versicolor, Large Blueflag—May and June.

*Juniperus communis, Juniper.—Evergreen.

Juniperus virginiana, Red Cedar. Winter fruit.

**Kalmia latifolia, Mountain Laurel.—June.

Liatris spicata, Spiked Liatris.—July.

Liatris squarrosa, Blazing Star.—July.

*Lilium, all species, especially philadelphicum, superbum, and canandense.—July.

Linaria vulgaris, Butter and Eggs.—Summer.

*Lobelia cardinalis, Cardinal Flower.—July, August and September.

Lobelia spicata, Spiked Lobelia.—Throughout Summer.

*Lobelia syphilitica, Great Lobelia—July.

*Lupinus perennis, Lupine.—June.

*Lycopodium clavatum, Club Moss.—Evergreen.

*Lycopodium complanatum, Ground Pine. Evergreen.

*Lycopodium lucidulum, Shiny Ground Pine: Evergreen.

**Lygodium palmatum, Climbing Fern.—Summer.

*Lythrum salicaria, Spiked Loosestrife.—June.

Maranthemum canadense, Maranthemum.—May.

*Mertensia virginica, Bluebells.—June.

*Monarda didyma, Oswego Tea.—July and August.

*Monarda fistulosa, Horsemint.—July.

Myosotis palustris, Forget-Me-Not.—Summer.

Myrica carolinensis, Bayberry. Winter fruits.

*Nymphaea odorata, Sweet Scented Water Lily.—July and August.

OEnothera fruticosa, Sundrops.—June.

*Onoclea Struthiopteris, Ostrich Fern.—Summer.

**Orchis spectabilis, Showy Orchis.—May.

*Osmunda cinnamomea, Cinnamon Fern.—Summer.

*Osmunda Claytoniana, Interrupted Fern.—Summer.

*Osmunda regalis, Royal Fern.—Summer.

Parnassia parviflora, Grass of Parnassus.—June.

Physostegia virginiana, False Dragonhead.—July.

Pyrola elliptica, Shinleaf.—June.

*Ranunculus acris, Tall Buttercup.—June and August.

Ranunculus fasicularis, Early Crowfoot.—April and May.

Rhexia virginica, Meadow Beauty.—July and August.

*Rhododendron maximum, Great Laurel.—July.

*Rhododendron viscosum, Clammy Azalea.—June and July.

Rosa rubiginosa, Sweetbriar.—June.

Rosa setigera, Prairie Rose.—June.

*Rudbeckia, various species, Cone Flowers.—July, September.

Sabatia angularis, Angle-stemmed Sabatia.—July.

Sabatia stellaris, Sabatia.-July.

*Salix, various species, Pussy Willows.—Spring.

*Sambucus canandensis, Common Elderberry.—June.

*Sambucus racemosa, Red-berried Elder.—Fruit, July.

Sanguinaria canadensis, Bloodroot—April.

Sisyrinchium angustifolium, Blue-eyed Grass.—July.

*Smilacina racemosa, False Solomon's Seal.—May and June.

*Solidago, various species, Goldenrod.—Fall.

Spiranthes cernua, Ladies' Tresses.—September and October.

*Thalictrum polygamum, Tall Meadow Rue.—July and September.

*Thalictrum purpurascens, Purple Meadow Rue.—May and June.

Tiarella cordifolia, False Mitrewort.—May.

*Trillium erythrocarpum, Painted Trillium.—May.

*Trillium grandiflorum, White Trillium.—May.

*Tsuga canandensis, Hemlock.—Evergreen.

*Typha latifolia, Cattail.—July and August.

Viola pedata, Bird's-foot Violet.—June, most other long-stemmed Violets.

*Viburnum lantanoides, Hobble Bush.—May. Foliage in Fall.

*Viburnum Opulus, Mt. Cranberry.—June and July. Fruit in Fall.

*Veronica virginica, Culver's Root.—July and August.

*Good for large decorations, as for churches and halls.

**Those which should be gathered sparingly to avoid extermination.

II. Cultivated Ornamental Shrubs and Vines Which Have

Special Decorative Value

Cultivated shrubs and vines are especially valuable for decorative effects when the areas are large. Often the value of a decoration is lost or much more labor is involved because the size of the material used is not in proportion to the area. Large branches of the following species may usually he cut from the shrubs without detriment to their decorative value on the lawn. Quite often, if the work is done carefully, this removal of the material takes the place of Spring or Fall pruning and is therefore beneficial.

AEculus Hippocastanum, Horse Chestnut.—May.

Ampelopsis quinquefolia, Virginia Creeper.—Foliage in Fall.

Berberis Thunbergii, Japanese Barberry.—Fruit in Fall and Winter.

Chionanthus virginica, White Fringe.—May.

Clematis paniculata, Star Clematis.—September, Fruit plumose in October.

Cornus candidissima, White-fruited Dogwood.—Fruit in Fall.

Cratægus coccinea, Thorn.—Flowers, May. Fruit, Fall.

Cydonia japonica, Japanese Quince. June.

Deutzia scabra, Rough-stemmed Deutzia.—June.

Deutzia gracilis, Slender Deutzia.—May and June.

Diervilla florida, Weigela.—June.

Diervilla hybrida, Hybrids of Weigelas.—June.

Forsythia viridissima, Upright Golden Bell. April.

Forsythia suspensa var. Fortunei, Drooping Golden Bell. April.

Hydrangea paniculata, var. grandiflora, Large Flowered Hydrangea.—September and October.

Ilex opaca, Holly, from South.—Fruits Fall and Winter.

Ligustrum Ibota, Japanese Privet.—Fruit, Winter.

Lonicera tatarica, Tartarican Honeysuckle.—May and June. Fruit, Fall.

Lonicera flava, Yellow Honeysuckle.—May and June. Fruit, Fall.

Nyssa sylvatica, Sour Gum.—Fall coloring.

Oxydendrum arboreum, Sorrel Tree.—Fall coloring.

Philadelphus coronarius, Mock Orange.—May and June.

Philadelphus Lemoinei, Lemoine's Hybrid, Mock Orange. May.

Pieris floribunda, Lily of the Valley Shrub.—May and June.

Prunus triloba, Flowering Plum.—May.

Pyracantha coccinea, Evergreen Thorn.—Fruit in Fall.

Pyrus angustifolia, Bechtel's Double-flowering Crab.—May.

Pyrus floribunda, Flowering Crab.—May.

Rhododendrum calendulacea, Flame Azalea.—June.

Rhododendron catawbiense, Hybrid Rhododendron.—June.

Rhododendron Gandavensis, Ghent Azalea.—May and June.

Rhododendron Vaseyi.—June.

Rhus glabra, Smooth Sumach.—Fall foliage and fruit.

Rosa, Most climbing varieties.—June.

Rosa rugosa, Japanese Rose.—Summer.

Spiraea Thunbergii, Thunberg's Spiraea.—April and May.

Spiraea Vanhouttei, Van Houtte's Spiraea.—May and June.

Symphoricarpos racemosus, Snowberry.—Fruit in Fall.

Syringa persica, Persian Lilac.—May and June.

Syringa, hybrids, named varieties.—May and June.

Tamarix parviflora, African Tamarisk.—April and May.

Viburnum lantana, Wayfaring Tree.—May and June. Fruit in Fall.

Wistaria chinensis, Chinese Wistaria.—May

Wistaria multijuga, Large Flowered Wistaria.—May.

III. Garden Flowers Excellent for Cut Flower Decorative Effects

The majority of garden flowers are suited for indoor decorations, but some are better than others because of color or form character, or because of better keeping qualities. As a rule, annual species are more profuse and constant in their flowering characters.

A —Bulbs and Bulb-like Plants

Anemone japonica, Japanese Windflower.—September and October.

Convallaria majalis, Lily of the Valley.—May.

Dahlia rosea, many named varieties.—Late Summer and Fall.

Gladioli, many named varieties.—Summer.

Iris germanica, German Iris.—June.

Iris Kaempferi, Japanese Iris.—June and July.

Iris Xiphium, Spanish Iris.—May and June.

Iris xiphioides, English Iris.—June and July.

Lilium candidum, Madonna Lily.—June and July.

Lilium elegans, Thunbergian Lily.—June and July.

Lilium regale, Regal's Lily. :June.

Muscari botryoides, Grape Hyacinth.—April.

Narcissus incomparabilis, named varieties of short cupped Narcissi.—May.

Narcissus poeticus, var. ornatus, Poet's Narcissus.—May.

Narcissus jonquilla, Jonquils.—May.

Narcissus Pseudo-Narcissus, large cupped varieties.—May. Pseonia, Peony, named varieties.—June.

Tulipa, Gesneriana, late flowering varieties, called May flowering, Darwins and Breeders.


Alyssum maritimum, Sweet Alyssum.

Antirrhinum majus, Tall and Dwarf Snapdragon. Calendula officinalis, Pot Marigold.

Callistephus hortensis, China Asters, many types. Centaurea Cyanus, Bachelor's Button.

Cheriranthus Cheiri, Wallflowers.

Chrysanthemum carinatum, Summer Chrysanthemum.

Chrysanthemum segetum, Corn Marigold.

Chrysanthemum, named hybrids of singles, anemones and pompons; also early flowering types.

Coreopsis cornuta, Annual Coreposis.

Coreopsis Drummondii, Golden Wave.

Cosmos bipinnatus, Cosmos.

Delphinum Ajacis, Annual Larkspur.

Dimorphotheca aurantiaca, Cape Marigold.

Eschscholtzia californica, California Poppy.

Gaillardia pulchella, var. picta, Blanket Flower.

Gypsophila elegans, Baby's Breath.

Heliotropium peruvianum, Heliotrope.

Iberis umbellatus, Candytuft.

Iberis amara, var. coronaria, Rocket Candytuft.

Lathyrus odoratus, Sweet Peas.

Matthiola incana var. annua, Ten-Weeks Stocks.

Nigella damascena, Love-in-a-Mist.

Phlox Drummondii

Reseda odorata, Mignonette.

Salvia splendens, Scarlet Sage.

Schizanthus pinnatus, Butterfly Flower.

Tagetes patula, French Marigold.

Tagetes erecta, African Marigold.

Tagetes signata, Mexican Marigold.

Tropaeolum majus,

Tall Nasturtium.

Tropaeolum majus var. nanum,

Tom Thumb Nasturtium.

Verbena hybrida, Verbena.

Viola tricolor, Pansy.

C—Herbaceous Perennials

Achillea Ptarmica, var. The Pearl, Double White Yarrow.—Summer.

Alyssum saxatile, Golden Tuft.—April.

Anchusa italica var. Dropmore, Alkanet.—June to September.

Anthemis tinctoria, Chamomile.—June to August.

Aquilegia cærulea, Rocky Mt. Columbine.—April to June.

Aquilegia chrysantha, Golden-spurred Columbine.—May, Aug.

Aquilegia vulgaris, European Columbine.—April, June.

Arabis albida, Rock Cress.—April, May.

Aster, hardy varieties of many species.

Astilbe japonica, Spiræa.—June and July.

Baptisia australis, Indigo.—July.

Bellis perennis, English Daisy.—April and May.

Boltonia asteroides, False Chamomile.—September, October.

Buddleia Davidii, Summer Lilac.—August, September.

Calluna vulgaris, Heather.—August.

Campanula, various species, Bellflower.—June and July.

Centranthus ruber, Red Valerian.—June to August.

Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, Leadwort.—September.

Chelone Lyonii, Turtlehead.—August and September.

Chrysanthemum coccineum, Pyrethrum.—June and July.

Coreopsis grandiflora, Tickseed.—Summer.

Coreopsis lanceolata, Coreopsis.—Summer.

Delphinium formosum, Larkspur.—June and July.

Delphinium grandiflorum var. chinense, Chinese Larkspur.—July.

Delphinium hybridum, Tall Larkspur.—June to August.

Dianthus barbatus, Sweet William.—June and July.

Dianthus deltoides, Grass Pink.—May and June.

Dianthus plumarius, Scotch Pink.—June

Dicentra spectabilis, Bleeding Heart.—May and June.

Digitalis purpurea, Foxglove.—June and July.

Echinacea purpurea, Purple Coneflower.—August to October.

Echinops Ritro, Globe Thistle.—July and August.

Eryngium amethystinum, Sea Holly.—July and August.

Fritillaria imperialis, Crown Imperial.—April and May.

Gaillardia aristata, Blanket Flower.—Summer.

Gypsophila paniculata, Baby's Breath.—July and August.

Helenium autumnale, var. grandiflorum, Sneezewort.—August and September.

Helianthemum Chamæcistus, var. vulgare, Sun Rose.—June and July.

Helianthus, various species, Sunflower.—July to September.

Heliopsis lævis, Ox-eye.—July to September.

Hemerocallis flava, Lemon Lily.—June and July.

Hesperis matronalis, Sweet Rocket.—June to August.

Heuchera sanguinea, Coral Bells.—June to September.

Hibiscus Moscheutos, various named Hibiscus.—July.

Iberis saxatile, Hardy Candytuft.—May and June.

Kniphofia uvaria, various varieties, Tritoma, Poker Plant.—August to October.

Liatris spicata, Blazing Star.—August and September.

Lythrum Salicaria var. roseum superbum, Purple Loosestrife.—July and August.

Lupinus polyphyllus, Garden Lupine.—June and July.

Lychnis chalcedonica, London Pride.—June and July.

Mertensia virginica, Lungwort.—April and May.

Miscanthus sinensis, Japanese Pampas Grass.—October.

Papaver nudicaule, Iceland Poppy.—May, August.

Papaver orientale, Oriental Poppy.—June and July.

Pentstemon, various species and varieties, Beard Tongue. June and July.

Physalis Franchetii, Chinese Lantern Plant.—Fruits, Fall.

Platycodon grandiflorum, Balloon Flower.

Polygonatum giganteum, Giant Solomon's Seal.—Foliage throughout Summer.

Primula Polyantha, Polyanthus Primroses.—Spring.

Rudbeckia, various varieties, Coneflower.—July and September.

Salvia azurea, var. grandiflora, Blue Sage.—August and September.

Statice latifolia, Sea Lavender.—July to September.

Ulmaria palmata, Herbaceous Spiræa.—June and July.

Valeriana officinalis, Garden Heliotrope.—June.

Veronica, various species, Speedwell.—May to August.

IV. List of Greenhouse Plant Material Best for Decorative Cut Flower Effects

A —Bulb and Bulb-like Plants

Anemone coronaria, Poppy-flowered Anemone.

Astilbe japonica, Japanese Spiraea. Convallaria majalis, Lily of the Valley.

Cyclamen persicum, Cyclamen.

Freesia refracta alba, Freesia.

Gladiolus Colvillei, Early flowering Gladiolus.

Gladiolus, garden varieties, Late flowering Gladiolus.

Hyacinthus orientalis var. albulus, Roman Hyacinths.

Iris Xiphium, Spanish Iris.

Lilium candidum, Madonna Lily.

Lilium elegans, Thunbergian Lily.

Lilium longiflorum and its varieties, Easter Lily.

Lilium speciosum and its varieties, Spotted Lily.

Narcissi as listed in Section III, A.

Ranunculus asiaticus, Persian Ranunculus.

Tulipa suaveolens, Tulips, Early flowering varieties.

Zantedeschia æthiopica and its varieties, Calla Lily.

Zantedeschia Elliottiana, Golden Calla Lily.

B —Flowering Plants Not Included in Section A

Acacia pubescens, Hairy Wattle.

Antirrhinum majus, Snapdragon.

Anthurium Andræanum, Smaller Tail Flower.

Anthurium Scherzerianum, Larger Tail Flower.

Bouvardia triphylla, Bouvardia.

Calendula officinalis, Pot Marigold.

Chrysanthemums, especially single, anemone and pompon varieties.

Dianthus caryophyllus, Carnation.

Lathyrus odoratus, Sweet Pea.

Myosotis palustris, Forget-me-not.

Orchids, various species and varieties, such as Cattleyas, Laelias, Dendrobiums, Oncidiums, Cypripediums and Vandas. Piqueria trinervia, Stevia.

Roses, Hybrid Teas, also such Polyanthas as George Elgar and Cecile Brunner.

Swainsona galegifolia, Swainsona.

Viola odorata, Violets, single and double.

C —Foliage to Use with Cut Flowers

Adiantum, various species, Maidenhair Fern.

Asparagus plumosus, Climbing Asparagus.

Asparagus Sprengeri, Trailing Asparagus.

Asparagus asparagoides, Smilax.

Various Ferns.

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