Pictures that appear in magazines of amusing and ingenious compositions done by professionals will set his imagination working in the right direction.
Let the interested child thumb through a well-illustrated book on flower arrangement. Never mind the learned chatter about Hogarth curves, focal points, asymmetrical balance and such. Just let him see the pictures. He will instinctively sense
the principles of good design if he sees enough good examples, and be made aware that a bouquet is not just a bunch of flowers jammed into a vase.
LONG LIFE FOR CUT FLOWERS
Young bouquet-makers should be taught some of the rules for making cut flowers last well. They should know that most flowers should be cut in early morning or in the evening during hot sunny weather; and that blossoms just coming out of the bud stage will last longer than full-blown ones. They should be taught not to tug and pull flowers off, as in the instinctive juvenile urge, but to cut them with a sharp pair of clippers so that cells are not mangled and water intake made difficult. They should know that the cut is best made diagonally instead of straight across, because a flat-cut stem may rest squarely on the bottom of the vase and prevent the rise of water through the stem. And they should be shown how to strip off all the leaves from the lower parts of stems that are going to be under water in the final arrangement, since submerged leaves will decay and putrefy the water.
Most important is the necessity for getting flowers into deep water immediately after cutting them. Lugging along a pail of lukewarm water when he sets forth to gather bouquet material is a good habit for a child to form right in the beginning. Flowers should never be put into ice-cold water; tepid water is absorbed much more quickly. Flowers should be left in this water, in a cool, shady place, for at least a couple of hours before being taken out to arrange. This simple prelude to flower arranging is known as "conditioning."
All this sounds like more to learn than it really is. Actually it boils down to this: 1. Don't cut flowers in the hot sunshine. 2. Choose flowers just opening up. 3. Cut stems on the bias. 4. Strip off lower leaves. 5. Put flowers in lukewarm water immediately, and keep them in a cool, shady place for several
hours. Mastering this knowledge will save the youngster the sorrow of a quickly wilting bouquet that has been painstakingly arranged.
These instructions, of course, are a simplification of all the rules and theories incident to conditioning flowers. But they are enough for the beginner.