THE apartment in the Mid-Levels was a garden, wrapped in a wonderful profusion of flowers and arrangements, large and small. Among them was an S-shaped arrangement of roses sporting a dolphin that was prepared especially for me by Ms Barbara Wei. The tactful hostess is a professional flower arranger, who teaches at the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club, the Police Officers' Club and the YWCA. On March 26, she will pass on her secrets to visitors to the flower show at a demonstration of Western flower arranging. Ms Wei, who is from Shanghai, studied flower arrangement in London. On moving with her husband to Hong Kong, she found that her neighbour was a Japanese woman. Her interest in Japanese flower arrangement was kindled and she joined the local Ikebana International group. Later, she served as its president for two years. Ms Wei helped the Mandarin Hotel with its flower arrangements for years, undertaking the displays for major functions herself, and sending samples of her work to be copied by the staff for the hotel's suites. She founded the Hong Kong Flower Club, and subsequently became its chairman and then president. She is on the Hong Kong Flower Show organising committee. Ms Wei encourages her students to be flexible in how they use their materials. ''Although they must know the basic idea, they ought to be able to adapt and use what flowers are available,'' she said. You may come across a cauliflower, beans - ''they produce a lovely curved line'' - or fruit in one of her arrangements. She likes to talk while demonstrating arrangements, which she said linked her feelings and flowers to her audience. This year, for her flower show presentation, Ms Wei has chosen the theme ''Merry Go-round Chinese Festival''. ''The flower show is for youngsters and newcomers, and I have chosen to use Western-style flower arrangements to tell the story behind some of Hong Kong's festivals,'' Ms Wei said. For example, in preparing the Dragon Boat Festival display, she will use the leaves that traditionally encase the festival's special dumplings. Tradition has it that the dumplings were used to distract fish from the body of the poet, Wat Yuen, who drowned.