"The pleasant English art of "doing the flowers" is one of the few home-crafts to survive the Industrial Revolution. Year by year machines replace the old skills, even music-making succumbing to some extent to the wireless. There remains this lovely but simple art, a form of self-expression defying regimentation, doing the flowers. We may not all play musical instruments, paint in oils, draw in water-colour, but we can all if we like paint pictures from our own gardens."
That is the opening of the little booklet Flower Schemes by Constance Villiers-Stuart which belonged to my grandmother and was written, I think, in the late 1950s or early '60s - it is not dated, but its look and some of its references give a clue as to its vintage. Mrs. Villiers-Stuart - who was the author of Spanish Gardens and Gardens of the Great Mughals - gives helpful advice on which flowers look best in what sort of container and with what colour interior decor, but it is her remark there about 'doing the flowers' being a form of self-expression that I wanted to grasp and examine because she is right, though I'd never thought of it in quite that way before. Even the least fussy trimming of stems and 'arranging' of a few blooms in a vase can be "this lovely but simple art", and then perhaps as here we photograph the results, and that too is a small creative or interpretative act, and that leads me on to think of what else we do in our daily lives to which we may not accord the same status as, say, making music or painting or writing, but which is at its essence a similar form of self-expression.