Although the garden is a riot of flowers at this time of year – zinnias and dahlias taking centre stage – it’s good to celebrate the less showy stalwarts of the cutting patch – the stars of foliage row.
Rosemary and lavender have been fabulous for us this year
If you want to reflect the seasons in your arrangements, to add texture and movement, and use materials that will create impact and last, then using foliage is the way to do it and growing a range of suitable varieties couldn’t be easier. Greenery is never just green, of course. It can be silver-grey, yellow, deep red or browns.
Lemon balm is a brilliant scented foliage to use, just make sure to condition it well!
Sage is another helpful scented foliage to use
We use a huge range of foliage in our arrangements. Herbs are popular – lemon balm, mint, lavender, dill, oregano and rosemary are favourites along with eucalyptus, euphorbia, gypsophila, ammi majus, orlaya and ladies mantle. It’s a real boon to be able to pick a few stems or sprigs to add that special something to one of our homegrown bouquets.
Fun to try different styles of arrangements using just foliage
At this time of year more than any other, a garden bursting with shrubs and evergreens is a real boon to the flower grower. If you don’t have room for many then plant one or two and check out the gardens of friends. Try to negotiate pruning/foraging rights to spruce up your seasonal arrangements of home-grown flowers.
Mint is fabulous through the summer months as a foliage
Foliage is equally as important or even, more important than the flowers. A floral arrangement should be just like a garden: the foliage is really what holds it all together.
Old’s man beard is a perfect filler in Christmas wreaths
We’re intent on cultivating plenty of foliage in the Not so Secret Garden and have drawn up a list of our favourites.
We now have three eucalyptus bushes in the garden.
For winter we’d be happy pruning from any of these:-
- white & green Euonymus
- Curry plant
- Skimmia japonica
- Berried and trailing ivy
- Viburum tinus
- Tight leaved silvery hebe
- Abelia grandiflora
- Crab apples
- Curly (contorted) Hazel
- Curly (contorted) Willow.
- Leylandii, Old Man’s Beard, Scots pine and Silver backed pine really come into their own at wreath making time. Larch cones are a boon too.
A small selection from the garden
As with flowers you need to cut your foliage a few hours before arranging it. Recut the bottom of the stems once you’ve got it indoors, and plunge it straight into water to condition it before you start. Your foliage will last longer.
Be selective when you prune. Only cut what you need and think about how you are pruning the plant when you cut. You want to be able to come back for more next year.
We’ll post again our favourite spring and summer foliage plants in plenty of time for you to sow and grow your own in the new year. If you haven’t time, don’t worry we’ll be only to happy to supply you with some beautiful flower and foliage arrangements from the garden next year. We’ve tucked it up for winter but the shoots of bulbs are already poking through.
Don’t forget that our partners Young Blooms are running two wreath-making workshops soon. It’s a great way to while away a couple of winter hours and come away with a fabulous wreath to welcome friends to your front door over the festive season. Details here.