Any garden or flower bed which is planted primarily for picking should, obviously, produce as many flowers in variety for as long as possible and also be attractive in its own right.

Flowers for picking must, of course, actually like being picked, and enjoy a week or so in water in the house. And Nature is so generous that most of them do, particularly if you pick them carefully and at the right time. Blooms which have died should be removed to encourage the plant to flower again, otherwise it will expend its energy making seed.

One of the best times of the year to think about using sprays of flowering trees and shrubs to enliven your home is when the bare brown twigs of winter start to bud into the flowers and leaves of spring. At this season they are doubly valuable - there is not much else available for room decoration, and there are few things nicer than watching their leaves and buds open out.

Because of their strong, sculptural forms many flowering shrubs lend themselves particularly well to a simple and effective flower arrangement where curves, angles, and natural growing shapes are vitally important. To make a long-lasting display, remember that all shrub and tree stems need to be crushed, split, peeled and given a good drink before arranging. And strip off about half the leaves, particularly the largest ones, as they crowd the container and detract from the beauty of the blossoms or flowers.