Last week we invited guests for dinner, which called for a low floral arrangement that’s easy to talk across. I’d been thinking of experimenting with a couple of new “ingredients” so this was a great opportunity for some testing. None of my roses are long-stemmed enough for tall bouquets but for an arrangement in a bowl they are always my first choice, so that was the starting point. I also wanted to use some of my lisianthus, which although they are called “Apricot” are still very pink to my eyes. Many of my roses open with very orange tones, but often fade to more pink shades as they age, so I found two clusters of roses that were as “pink” as possible and put them with two stems of lisianthus.
Every arrangement needs a “base” to build on, and for this one “Tiger Eye” sumac leaves were the starter. I’d never used them before, but the brilliant gold leaves and pink stems seemed a perfect choice. As I was picking those leaves, the blooming stems of talinum “Kingwood Gold” whispered that they wanted to be included. Those tiny pink/orange/red balls on airy stems are perfect in many uses. They are definitely a favorite of the fairies, and mine, too.
The last of the feverfew (for now, those that were cut back earlier will soon bloom again) and a few short stems of white larkspur (that’s just finishing up as well) were added, along with a small bloom stalk of “David” phlox to balance out the whites since there was not enough feverfew. At that point, I thought I was finished but as I set the table I decided it needed something.
Thinking that it needed more contrast, I added the scabiosa with its dark, dark petals. It seemed to bring out the talinum a bit, but I thought maybe the sumac was distracting rather than enhancing, so out it came. After looking at it again and again as I began putting the meal together, it underwent a third revision.
In the end, both the scabiosa and the sumac were included. I’d be interested in knowing which of the three versions you like best! It was fun to have guests again, as always and after they left, the bouquet was still there to enjoy. A week later, here’s what it looks like today.
As expected since they were already fading when they were picked, the roses were the first to go. The scabiosa was next, although had it been picked a day earlier and “conditioned” overnight in the cool basement they probably would still look good today. The talinum is still holding on well. A few stems that were tangled with the roses came out when the roses were removed and not replaced, but there are enough stems of talinum remaining to fulfill the experiment. The larkspur and phlox would have benefited from conditioning as well, but they are still acceptable. The feverfew will hold up as long as it has water, and then can actually be dried. Lisianthus is well-known as a long-lasting cut flower, but having never grown it before I was not sure if the buds would open after being cut. The happy news is that one of the larger buds has opened and a fifth one is just beginning to unfurl. I doubt that any of the others will open, but I’ll give them the opportunity.
Exciting to me is the sumac, which looks just as fresh today as it did when picked, even without any conditioning. If I were a true flower farmer, I’d be planting some of those in my field today because with that bright color, interesting form, and durability they could be invaluable as filler.
It’s these fun experiments that keep me so interested in gardening and growing. Just as it is fun to try a new recipe with a new variety of vegetable that I’ve grown, it’s fascinating to “use” the flowers in bouquets and arrangements and learn which play well with others, which follow the rules, which hold up under pressure, and which are long-lasting. And aren’t we lucky to be able to photograph the results as a remembrance rather than having to keep a written log or card file?
Now, I’m off to the Cutting Garden to see what’s growing and begging to be used this week!