13 DECEMBER 1940, Page 30

riromatic Pain •

THE traditional English styles of arranging flowers have their good qualities, though they are seldom praised and are none the less excellent for not being reduced to a code of rules. But they too easily degenerate into the haphazard cramming of a country bunch into a garish vase, to be given a spurious " light- ness " by a cloud of gypsophila or the foliage of asparagus. To this exploitation of the floral good-mixers the example of the Japanese, stressing an individual beauty of form, must be a whole- some corrective, and a sympathetic demonstration of the Japanese taste would be welcome. This book is the latest of many to come to us from America purporting to tell us how they do it in Japan ; and unfortunately it is once more a sophisticated and decadent Japan that is revealed. If' we may judge by the " Japanese " arrangements illustrated, an elaborate formality and self-conscious affectation of carelessness has replaced the sensitive simplicity that pleases us in a good Japanese drawing. There is in fact little difference in taste between the Eastern and Western arrangements shown in this book ; both reveal the preferences familiar to us in the more lavish films made at Hollywood. Their standard may be judged by two table-decorations illustrated and described. One is "for a luncheon whose motif is the dramatisation of the fish course .. . on a huge banana leaf, white Transvaal daisies and star of Bethlehem have been placed as if growing in beds of coral." In the other, "for the farewell party given the bridegroom by his bachelor friends, the colour scheme is masculine, in brown and green . . . carved wooden figures of Adam and Eve stand in a Garden of Eden effected by slender bits of plant growth . . . the entire study is an analogy in tones of golden brown through chartreuse to green." Saffron glass grapes ar. distributed among the flowers in anether arrangement, and facetious pottery dogs "add a whimsical interest" to a winter " Landscape " otherwise not unpromising.

The book is written in a style that is at once wordy, sentimental and polysyllabic, with "naked little children" as "spirits of the flowers" in the less agreeable Disney manner, and Japanese terms sprinkled about as a new sort of jargon. As a test-book for the American professional florist the book may have value ; then_ are useful tips for supporting single branches in vases and shallow bowls and for preserving the freshness of cut flowers. But the English reader will hardly care to follow some of th- advice given. There are, for example, instructions for colourin,. gardenias by dusting them with powdered coloured glass and for dyeing daffodils with an " ink-like " liquid to be absorbed after they have been allowed to wilt almost to death. Water-lilies are to receive still more drastic treatment ; by a method stated to be Japanese a liquid, made by boiling cloves in tea is to be pumped into their stems, and they are to be prevented from closing at "night (as is their tiresome way) by candlewax "drippe

carefully into the very heart of the blossom." W. B. Hom-Y.