Use your largest plants on the hearth. Place a tall one at one side to extend the greenery up to the mantel shelf. Then a vine to run across above the glass and droop at the opposite side. In this way you convey an impression of plants climbing from the hearth to the upper part of the mantel, on one side, crossing it, and dropping from that point as vines naturally would if growing there. At the place where the tall plant meets the pot containing the vine a flowering plant can be used effectively, or a few cut flowers can be made to give color to a scheme that might lack brightness without them.
If you have two rooms opening into each other with wide doors or an archway, and tall plants, like Palms, Ficus, or Abutilons are at your disposal, a very pleasing effect can be easily obtained by grouping these plants in the corners, on each side, and placing sofas, davenports, or something of that kind in front of them. A table can be used, if you have nothing better. If the plants are not tall enough to give the effect you have in mind elevate them on boxes or stands, but be careful not to get their pots higher than the back of the sofa, or whatever stands in front of them. In other words, let nothing but the plant itself be seen. If the effect of height cannot be secured without bringing the pot into view, cover it with moss, or Smilax, or Asparagus Sprengeeri. Sometimes green cheese-cloth or tissue-paper can be used to advantage. Whatever is used should be arranged lightly and gracefully. It should hide all unsightliness without making itself unduly prominent. I know of no other plan in which a few tall plants can be made to do as effective duty. If one has a considerable number of plants they can be arranged in such a manner as to produce the impression of looking from one room to another through a vista of greenery and bloom, the doorway being hidden by them. Vines can be trained about the top or the branches of large plants can be extended from the sides and made to meet at the center.
Brackets for holding plants at any desired place on the wall cost but little, and can be put up without disfiguring the room. The best ones consist of a hoop of iron to which is attached a hook that drops into a socket. The pot drops into this hoop and is always held firmly by it. If flat brackets are used there is more or less danger of the pot being jarred from its place. The use of brackets in decorative work enables us to so dispose our plants on a flat surface that small ones can be made to do almost the work of larger ones.
The most useful plants for the decoration of rooms are Palms, in variety, Ficus, both plain-leaved and variegated, Aspidistra, Ferns in variety, Anthericum, Myrtle, Aucuba, Oleander, Ivy, the variegated Abutilons, Callas, some of the large-leaved Begonias, Geraniums -especially Madame Salleroi-and Azaleas, all of which can be easily grown in the plant-room, and most of which can be grown satisfactorily in the living-room if given proper care and treatment.
The hints given above can be modified to suit varying conditions, always keeping in mind the fact that simplicity should govern rather than a desire to produce a "striking" effect. These effects, as a general thing, are not artistic ones. Anything that has a tendency to attract attention by a tricky make-up should be avoided.
There is no good reason why the woman of the house should not do her own decorative work, thus becoming independent of the professional, who will respond to her demand for service by decorating her parlor or table precisely as he decorated her friend's, last week. By the exercise of her own taste she can secure variety, originality, and save enough money to pay for extra flowers if she needs them.
The general principles mentioned in connection with home decoration can profitably be applied to the decoration of the church. If you have but few plants available, concentrate them about the altar or pulpit. If you have all you care to use, group some at each side, reserving the best for the most prominent places. A Palm at one side of the altar with a bank of Ferns across the foot of it, and a vase of choice flowers above, will be found a very simple arrangement that will always please.
There should always be a prominent point in all decorative schemes, and this can be brought out by the use of color, as in the vase of flowers on the pulpit desk. A fine effect can be produced by banking pulpit or altar with Ferns, against which a single plant of Azalea, or Easter Lily, or Genista will stand out beautifully distinct and vivid. Try this, and you will get a good idea of what satisfactory work can be done with a very small amount of material. It will convince you that success does not depend so much on what and how much you use as upon how you use it.
If you have a plant-room, it will be well worth your while to grow quite a number of bushy, low-growing plants to use as filling between the larger ones, in the working out of your decorative schemes. One of the very best plants for this purpose is the Madame Salleroi Geranium, with its green and white foliage, and round, compact habit of growth. Another excellent one is Asparagus plumosus nanus, with its dainty, graceful, feathery foliage. This is particularly useful in forming backgrounds for flowers of brilliant color. Large plants of English Ivy are invaluable for decorative work, as they can be used on the walls, about doors and windows-anywhere and everywhere in fact-in almost every scheme you may evolve.