Perhaps it is the fault of the Victorians that we in England make so little use of the graceful, beautiful ivy. They trailed it round windows, doors and even settees . . . but we have had time to recover from the surfeit. We might well use it far more in all its forms.
It is not always easy to find an effective way of using pot plants indoors. Set on a table they often look out of proportion, and the question of suitable containers is always a problem. When, however, they are arranged on the floor or on low stools, they can be put in shallow baskets or zinc-lined wooden trays. Then, as one looks down on them, one sees plant without an undue proportion of container—not always the case when they are arranged at a higher level.
A good group of variegated ivies is Hedera canariensis foliis variegatis, with large leaves beautifully marked in cream and green; and the smaller-leaved H. helix Glacier with white-margined, silvery-grey leaves. Being variegated, these plants need to be in a clearer light than others with entirely green leaves.
For a position with less light, there is nothing prettier than the small-leaved H. helix Chicago. Put it where it can be allowed to cascade, with all its grace and vigour. It grows readily and likes reasonable moisture.
Sparmannia africana (African hemp): This is one of those obliging plants which, if treated reasonably, will flourish permanently indoors. It will grow to as much as 6 or 8 ft. in height and bears large pale green leaves and, now and then, will even produce delicate white.
All through the long and cold winter, I have a group of foliage plants set apart on a small, low table. It has proved an effective and economical means of making the room look alive.
The top of the table is protected by a tray, fitted with a specially-cut, thin sheet of metal. Pot holders and empty, upturned plant pots were used to give variations in height, so that the whole outline was graceful.
The plants used included a tall Monstera deliciosa borsigiana, Scindapsus aureus, Philodendron scandens, Hedera canariensis foliis variegatis, a dark red Begonia rex, a silvery-leaved scented geranium (Pelargonium crispum variegatum), trailing ivy and tradescantias.
The whole effect was lightened and enhanced by a trick. Among the plants I concealed a tallish glass vase, and towards the front I concealed a jam pot. In these two containers I put a few cut tulips, a few stems of clivia—whatever suitable cut flowers came my way.