In many cases, where a professional gardener is in charge, several baskets, containing a confused mass of blossoms, are deposited daily in porch or pantry, often at a time when the mistress is busy, and they are either overlooked or at the last moment crammed into the first receptacle that comes to hand, from their very inopportuneness creating almost a feeling of dislike.
When once lodged, they are frequently left to their fate until they become fairly noisome, for is there anything more offensive to aesthetic taste than blackened and decaying flowers soaking in stagnant water?
Was it not Auerbach, in his Poet and Merchant, who said, “The lovelier a thing is in its perfection, the more terrible it becomes through its corruption”? and certainly this applies to flowers.
Flowers, like all of the best and lasting pleasures, must be taken a little seriously from the sowing of the seed to the placing in the vase, that they may become the incense of home, and the most satisfactory way of choosing them for this use is to make a daily tour about the garden, or, if a change is desired, through the fields and highways, and, with the particular nook you wish to fill in mind, gather them yourself.
Even the woman with too wide a selection to gather from personally can in this way indicate what she wishes.
In the vegetable garden the wise man thinks out his crop and arranges a variety for the table; no one wishes every vegetable known to the season every day, and why should not the eye be educated and nourished by an equal variety?
We are all very much interested in your flower-holders of natural wood, and I will offer you an idea in exchange, after the truly cooeperative Garden, You, and I plan. In the flower season, instead of using your embroidered centrepieces for the table, which become easily stained and defaced by having flowers laid upon them, make several artistic table centres of looking-glass, bark, moss, or a combination of all three.
Lavinia Cortright and I, as a beginning, have oval mirrors of about eighteen inches in length, with invisibly narrow nickel bindings. Sometimes we use these with merely an edge of flowers or leaves and a crystal basket or other low arrangement of flowers in the centre. The glass is only a beginning, other combinations being a birch-bark mat, several inches wider than the glass, that may be used under it so that a wide border shows, or the mat by itself as a background for delicate wood flowers and ferns. A third mat I have made of stout cardboard and covered with lichens, reindeer moss, and bits of mossy bark, and I never go to the woods but what I see a score of things that fairly thrust themselves before me and offer to blend with one of these backgrounds, and by holding the eye help to render meal-times less “foody,” as Sukey Latham puts it, though none the less nourishing.