Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Small Arrangements For Temporary Decorations

By Keith Markensen

Like cut-flower arrangements, making table-top compositions with vines and all kinds of containers offers a challenging chance to express originality and creative artistry. But behind the creativity there should always be planned design. Combinations of plants and containers should be in proportion and harmony with their setting and with each other. Colors and textures should either blend or contrast for good reason. Sizes and shapes should be in pleasing scale. It's easy to see, at first glance, whether a table-top arrangement has made its appearance because the plant and container happened to be on hand, or whether the effect was artfully conceived.

There is infinite satisfaction in creating a composition that is both unique and decoratively sound. This is "flair," the indefinable quality that distinguishes the competent from the outstanding, avoids the ordinary but acknowledges a debt to artistic discipline. Flair is the happy result when new plants and unusual containers are combined so they complement each other and fit nicely into the setting.

Vines for small compositions can be used like bouquets for temporary display - either bought just for the purpose, or brought in from the home greenhouse or other growing area, and returned before they fade. Containers come from everywhere and anywhere, and the ingenious decorator collects them as some people collect Dresden figurines. She keeps a selection of bronze, brass, ceramic, terra cotta, wood, and other standard containers - and also a motley assortment of bird cages, soup tureens, goblets, compotes, pitchers, bamboo vases, bean pots, glass and salad bowls, kettles, cookie jars, and straw hats from which she improvises containers to suit her arrangements. Some have natural wells for a pot to fit into, others can be adapted.

The following suggestions include only a few of the delightful dangling and creeping plants suitable for table-top or other small decorations.

Suspend a basket or wicker cage with plumy asparagus fern, or davallia, over the center of a large dining table.

Stuff the pocket in a piece of driftwood with sphagnum moss, and insert the roots of a small rhizomatous or trailing begonia, or an episcia. Feed the plant by soaking the moss with soluble fertilizer solution every ten days.

Hide the base of a stiff, upright plant with a soft creeper like helxine or pilea.

Below the knocker on the front door, hang a fishing creel with a bright-flowering pot of balcony petunias or put a mass cane plant in a pot on the floor.

For a party centerpiece, let the dainty schizocentron spill its red stems, tiny leaves, and magenta flowers over the edge of a straw bonnet.

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