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Sex In Flowers And Trees

( Originally Published 1913 )

THE Japanese are fond of applying a distinction of sex to inanimate things. They distinguish between male and female rocks and stones, maIe and female waterfalls, etc., and this same distinction is carried out in flower arrangement. All flowers and grasses in general belong to the in - female sex - while the trees belong to the yo or male. These distinctions are also applied between different forms of flowers. The buds are female; fully opened and perfect flowers are male; and the over-blown and withered again return to female. They even distinguish between the front and the back of leaves, though it is merely a contrast of color. The front of a leaf is male and the back female. If two Ieaves grow together, as shown in the cut, the outside leaf is masculine and the inside is feminine.

Leaves growing in the shade gain Iuster, while the sunny side becomes iusterless; then the side of the leaf in the shade with luster is in and the duller side yo. Flowers shaded by another flower or leaf are also in.

This may seem merely a poetic fancy, but much commonsense is back of these apparently whimsical ideas, and one finds that the turning of the Ieaves to different sides gives as much freshness and variety as turning the flowers in different directions. Applying such distinctions gives expression and feeling and helps in producing the effect of a growing plant.

When a flower by its form, or a leaf by the side presented, represents the masculine, it can be put in a more conspicuous place than a flower or leaf which is feminine - with the exception of buds, which, though feminine, must in most cases be placed in the top of the arrangement, as that is the natural way the plant grows.

Follow the nature of your flower's growth, and if it buds at the top have a half-open flower for Heaven, with a tiny bud above it. This bud should be free from leaves, as a bud or flower behind a leaf is always in.

The Man branch should almost always be made of the full-blown flower, unless the flowers are very Iarge. In such cases, as the peony, always put the fuIIest blown flower in the lowest or Earth position. The peony is so heavy that a Iong stem would droop into bad shape with a fully opened flower, whereas the short stem of Earth will hold it in position.

These rules are very flexible in application, and whenever you are uncertain, follow the natural growth of the plant from which your flowers have been gathered. If the flowers have been given you and you are ignorant of their natural tendency, bear in mind that variety is one of your chief aims. If you have only three flowers, do not put the bud at the top, the half-open one for Man, and the full-blown for Earth; but if you start with a bud, mix up the flower forms in some way. As has been already explained, there are two styles in one or the other of which every arrangement of flowers must be made. These styles are also distinguished by the names of in and yo. The colors of flowers are given this same distinction. Purple, red, pink, and variegated colors are classified as masculine, whereas yeIIow, white, and blue are feminine. This guides one in arranging flowers of different colors in the same vase, the masculine colors always taking the most important and highest position in the group. The one exception to this rule is white flowers. White flowers of every variety hold the highest rank.

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