Donate SIGN UP

What makes a vase a vase Surely you can stick cut flowers in any old container

01:00 Fri 08th Feb 2002 |

A.� A vase is defined as a 'vessel used as an ornament or for holding cut flowers', so strictly speaking, yes, anything could be a vase, an old bean can for instance. However, what we usually think of as a vase does have a decorative function itself, as the definition describes.

Q.� Is it true that flower arranging is trendy these days

A.� It certainly is not longer the preserve of the Women Institute and the County Show brigade. If you're in any doubt just go along to Chelsea and see the new breed of florists and floral arrangers working with all of exotic blooms and containers.

Q.� What bearing has this had on vases

A.� We are moving away from the classic cut glass, crystal or china vases like Granny used to have (although there is still very much a place for them) and towards more contemporary styles and materials like metal, granite, rough terracotta and even concrete, which reflect the new style of arrangements.

Vases are now seen less as just containers for cut flowers but design statements in their own right, that should look good and fit into a space even when it doesn't have any flowers in it.

Q.� So which sort of vases should you use for which sorts of arrangements

A.� Your choice of container is important in ensuring your arrangement compliments rather than clashes with its surroundings.

Modern rooms look best with contemporary designs like the metal, stone or simple glass vases with bold or minimalist arrangements using single blooms or a handful of flowers set off by strong foliage.

For classical arrangements, the traditional bouquet or mixture of flowers and foliage from the cottage garden, Granny's old vases should come out.

Q.� What about looking after vases

A.� Hygiene is very important if you are going to get the most out of your flowers.

In between displays you should wash out thoroughly with warm soapy water or a weak solution of bleach to get rid of any bacteria that might have been building up in the water, making sure to rinse thoroughly afterwards. While the flowers are in the vase try and change the water at least every other day and use a plant feed. Not only does it prolong the life of your blooms it also helps to stop bacteria building up in the water.

Lilac is popular in flower arrangements but its bark will poison the water unless you strip it off below the water level.

Glass vases that become cloudy after prolonged use can be made to sparkle again by filling with water and adding two teaspoons of ammonia and leaving to soak overnight. Stains from foliage can be removed with a mix of one cup of caustic soda to four pints of water and left to soak.

Never put flowers on top of the television in case they spill and protect antique furniture from rings by covering the underside of the bottom of the vase in tin foil.

If you've got a question about your home or garden, click here.

By Tom Gard

Do you have a question about Home & Garden?