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Flower Power

As an important part of interior decorating, a skillfully executed Chinese flower arrangement is equivalent -- in the eyes of a serious practitioner -- to a well-designed and balanced painting in terms of composition.

The origin of flower art stems from people's love of flowers. Some believe that flower arrangements have the power to create an atmosphere for a better reality and more brilliant life. In China, the primitive concept for flower arrangements came into being about 2,000 years ago. The art enjoyed prosperous development during the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties, a time of relative peace and high civilization. During this period, flower arrangements became an established part of daily life. The art form also underwent many changes from its former function as an item for sacrifice.

By the Song Dynasty (960-1279), flower arrangements had become popular among ordinary people and were much loved by intellectuals, inspiring many related poems and works. The Chinese art of flower arrangements reached its peak in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), during which time it enjoyed many developments and innovations in terms of technique and theory. However, the development of the art declined in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Due to the chaos caused by wars, the art almost disappeared at the turn of the century. It was not until recently that, with the development of the national economy and improvement of people's living standards, that fresh flowers gradually made a comeback.

Art principles

The design principles by which we judge art also apply to flower arrangements. Since proportion is necessary, it is recommended the plants be about 1.5 times as high as a tall vase or 1.5 times as high as the diameter of a wide vase. Emphasis on the best flowers is produced by subordinating the others, including the receptacle. Transition occurs when there is a medium-sized object or plant arranged between the large and small flowers, or when a particular hue is used to harmonize the other colors.

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Types of Flower Arrangements
Flower compositions usually come in four different types.
Flower Containers
A large collection of receptacles and stem holders for flowers is necessary for flowers to look their best. An adequate collection of vases should include oriental, modern and conservative containers in metal, glass, pottery and porcelain.
All About Placement for Flowers
The two most important places in the home for flowers are the dining-room table and the hallway. A cheerful greeting by flowers in the entrance hall makes guests feel at ease and flowers on the dining-room table have the power to make dining an aesthetic experience.
Sources of Plant Material
Meadows and woods offer an endless variety of plant life. Indiscriminately plucking wild flowers is considered taboo. Children should be taught that flowers near the roadside should be left for passersby to enjoy and that rare plants, such as the arbutus, heather and trilliums, should never be picked.

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