Autumn Flowers for Flower Arranging
This time of year has its own intrinsic beauties; the magic of a frosty morning, the grandeur of a leafless tree and the smell of wood smoke. The garden, though now beginning to look sleepy, may still be a source of autumn ideas. A few late fruits of crab-apple, seed heads and latemay prove an inspiration for a flower and fruit group.
The valuable, and often dramatic, contrasts of form made by the inclusion of berries and fruits in flower arrangements, afford limitless possibilities; provided, of course, that such an association is pleasant and not incongruous. Sometimes one sees fruit arranged with flowers in a way that seems forced rather than natural. Grapes with evergreens, for example, or withor any spring flowers can seem unsympathetic and irrelevant.
Together with dried bracken, vine leaves and the fallen brown leaves of the Himalayan rhododendron, the berries made a pleasant arrangement. But it was not until the fruits were added at the base that the result became satisfying. There are five tawny-yellow fruits from the japonica, two egg-shaped fruits of the tree tomato and a trail of charming outdoor vine.
The japonica fruits came from a plant of Chaenomeles japonica. The tree tomato (Cyphomandra betacea) is not a garden plant and, although ours stays out all summer in its wooden tub, .in winter it is brought into a warm glasshouse. It may be grown from seed in the warmth, and then flowers in its second year. Our plant grew readily from cuttings.
The vine is Vitis vinifera purpurea. Its already wine-red leaves take on, in autumn, even richer tints of purple and the tightly-packed bunches of dark grapes add a wonderful quality to this plant. It is a slow grower, but well worth waiting for.
I like best to see a limited number of blooms set in a well-considered back-ground of material which emphasizes their beauty. For this purpose there is a whole range of colourings to be derived from plants like eucalyptus, New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax), the bare branches of red dogwood, dramatic branches of elm, black-budded grey-stemmed ash and the incense plant (Humea elegans).
From these and other subjects it is possible to construct a fine framework for three or five flowers which, given the proper preliminary treatment and continually replenished with water, will last for weeks.