Water Growing Bulbs
( Originally Published 1913 )
LEAD rings and metal flower holders are used in place of the wooden supports for water-growing plants, and always in the flat, low receptacles. These holders are made in many shapes and of Iead, iron, and bronze. The commonest are of Iead, usuaIIy of two or three circles, each forming openings for the flowers; and in the shape of turtles, fish, etc. An attractive holder is a bronze crab holding the group of flowers in his claws at one side of the receptacle.
The finger openings of the scissors used for cutting flowers may also be employed as a holder when no other is to be had. Or a metal chain placed around the group of flowers and - tied in a loose knot with the ends pulled out makes an exceIIent holder.
Use your own ingenuity and see if you cannot find amongst your possessions something which can be utilized. You could not better succeed in pleasing the Japanese than by happening on some form of holder never used by them.
Before you commence remember that you are not merely trying to arrange a group of flowers suitable to the low vase, and which will appear weII in it, but that you are endeavoring to represent the conditions in which the plant grew. Should the plant have been growing in or near the water in its natural habitat, make the flowers and Ieaves occupy the smaller part of the vase at side or corner and the water predominate.
This gives the refreshment of the actual out-of-doors in the locaIity where the plant was growing.
When ready to arrange the flowers, select them as before, according to the three principles of Heaven, Man, and Earth. But in these flat vases it is better to make a separation in the groups. Put your Heaven and Man in one opening of the holder, placing Man in front of Heaven, and Earth in an opening by itself, with at Ieast one opening intervening between it and the Heaven group. This better represents the growth of water plants in clumps or clusters. These Iead rings were devised with the idea of leaving openings between the groups of flowers so that the gold fish, so frequently used with the water arrangements, could swim in and out beneath the cool shade of the leaves.
Such openings left for the fish are known as sakana-michi, or fish highways.
It is not correct in these arrangements to let any of the groups hang over the edge of the vase. The edge is considered. as the frame of the picture, and nothing should be allowed to pass beyond it. A branch or spray in these water-growing arrangements may, however, bend over and touch the water, pass under it, and come out again, pointing upwards.
Flowers Arranged in Holders are Easier for a Beginner
The holder stands up of itself, and after placing it in the vase you can at once begin work. Then, too, the Iines in these arrangements are more simple and upright and are arranged according to relative height and position, only very little bending being required. To my thinking there is no arrangement of flowers more beautiful than these in the Iow vases, and nothing can be accomplished more quickly.
This style of Japanese flower arrangement is easily adapted to Western table decoration. There is no end to their variety. The low, broad proportions of these arrangements make them more suitable than the high groups generaIIy used, cutting off those seated on one side of the table from those on the other, which is not conducive to conversation.
In these flat, open vases even a few grasses wiII make an attractive arrangement. Use perhaps nine grasses for your Heaven, seven for Man, and five or three for Earth. If you are unable to get any sedge or reeds, which would naturaIIy grow at the water's edge, use the foliage of daffodils or narcissi, and you will find the result as pleasing as if you had used flowers.
In these vases stones and rocks used to simulate a river bed make an effective decoration. On the bottom of the vase place small stones fitted together closely so that the bottom is hidden. On top of these smaII stones place three quite Iarge ones; one, as with the flowers, representing the Heaven element, the second that of Man, and the third the Earth. The stones should be something Iike these. Place the Heaven and Man stones near together, the Earth stone at a little distance, spacing like the water-growing plants. A bit of moss on the tops of these stones, or a tiny bit of cedar or hemlock trimmed into a tree shape and put at the side of the taIIest or Heaven rock, makes a charming arrangement when no flowers are to be had.