Posted by: gardenshf | August 6, 2012

A weekly bouquet

At the Gardens at Heather Farm plants are grouped according to hydrozones, which is selecting plants appropriate to our climate, grouping them according to water needs and then irrigating according to water need.

Our educational message is to water plants according to their need rather than watering everything the same. However, when creating a bouquet in a vase, anything goes.

I recently attended a talk at the Gardens by Debra Prinzing, author of “The 50 Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local and Sustainable Flowers” (St. Lynn’s Press, $17.95), which details the lives of local flower growers, many living in California. Flowers, like food, support the local economy, and those grown by sustainable practices are good for the environment and usually last longer in the vase.

Prinzing talked about creating a bouquet-a-week using only flowers, greens and other assorted plant material from her yard. The challenge for some may be during the dark days of winter when it seem like there isn’t anything in bloom. However, the reality in California is that flowers, foliage, branches and fruit can be incorporated all year into arrangements.

The Gardens has an abundant selection of plants to choose, which has inspired me to begin my own journey of creating a bouquet a week that I will blog about on our website, www.gardenshf.org. Look for “Friday Flowers.”

Designing bouquets, like designing gardens, requires us to look at texture, form, foliage and color. My first bouquet for Friday Flowers includes some of my favorite plants growing at this time of year. Coleus ‘Chocolate Mint’ is one of the many Coleuses that add texture and color to the garden and last a long time in a vase. Coleus is not a drought tolerant plant, but it does well in containers. It grows in the deep shade at the Gardens. Velvety rich deep burgundy leaves highlighted by the scalloped mint green edges creates a bed of color for flowers.

Achillea millefolium ‘Salmon Beauty’ and Echeveria pulvinata fill in the gaps and add highlights and texture.

The Achillea flowers start out as pale pink and then fade to pale yellow. Like other yarrows, it is one of the hardiest in the summer garden, as it continuously blooms if deadheaded. It is much loved by pollinators and lasts a very long time as a cut flower. Some species, such as Achillea ‘Coronation Gold,’ will also dry well and can be used in autumn arrangements of seedpods and fruits.

Echeveria pulvinata is unlikely to be planted alongside a Coleus in the garden because it likes to be in a dry environment, but in the vase, the soft green calyxes and silvery-white stems are a great contrast to the rich colors of the Coleus.

Each of these plants has its own unique habitat in the garden, but in the vase they are combined to create a long lasting bouquet. Visit the Gardens at Heather Farm blog to see what’s in bloom each Friday.

— Patrice Hanlon

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