History of the Dutch Iris

There are some 260 Iris varieties in existence and Dutch Iris (Iris hollandica) is one of the most well-known in the cut flower industry. They feature bright blooms atop narrow, strong stems and foliage, with six exquisite petals --three sturdy, graceful upright "standards" and three larger, downward-curving "falls," which are typically marked with a contrasting yellow to orange patch. Three style arms in the center lay atop the falls. On 'Telstar', the standards are deep purplish blue-violet while the falls are blue-violet to medium blue. A white-edged yellow blotch decorates each fall.

dutchiris

History of Dutch Iris

In 1564, a pioneering Flemish botanist, Charles de l'Ecluse (aka Clusius) traveled to Spain where he found the blue Iris xiphium.  He was so taken with these flowers that he gathered some bulbs to send back home to Belgium, where they were planted in gardens and hybridized (though many of those initial new varieties have disappeared).

irishistory

A few centuries later, the Spanish Iris xiphium had made it to the Netherlands and the Dutch bulb firm, Van Tubergen, crossed it with Iris tingitana, which had originally hailed from North Africa.  The resulting hybrid produced larger and broader flowers than its two parents and was also able to bloom earlier.  This became known as the "Dutch Iris," or Iris hollandica.

Over the following years, the Iris hollandica was crossed with other varieties to include more cultivars and colors (the yellow was particularly developed)  After World War II, bulbs stock were exported to the United States for commercial production, which mainly took place (and still does) in the Pacific Northwest.

1247 yellow irises_600x535.JPG

One of the most recognizable Dutch irises today is the Telstar Iris, which has blue flower color, long stems, excellent response to forced flower production, as well as incredible lasting qualities.

 Telstar Iris

Telstar Iris

Peony : The King of Flowers

Peonies have been beloved blooms for centuries -- their full heads and lush layers of petals been cherished across oceans and cultures, symbolizing honor, prosperity, romance, and more.  Peonies have regained popularity in the last few decades -- their old-world charm, boundless petals, and easy care and handling are just a few reason for this "Peony Renaissance."

History of Peonies:

Peonies are native to central and eastern Asia, and have long been traditional floral symbols of Eastern Culture, gaining the nickname “The King of Flowers." In 6th- and 7th-century China, peonies were cultivated for both ornamental and medicinal uses. They became especially popular during the 8th-century Tang Dynasty when they were grown in imperial gardens. By the 10th century,  P. lactiflora was introduced to Japan, where many new varieties were developed. Although P. officinalis were grown in Europe from the 15th century onward, more extensive breeding began in the 19th century when P. lactiflora was introduced from China.

Growing Peonies

Peonies have particular tastes, and perform best in cooler climates, typically in USDA Hardiness zones 2-8, which is why most commercial peony farms in the United States are located in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and the Midwest. They usually sprout in early spring, though the exact timing depends upon location and cultivar.  Once they start blooming (late April), they go quickly; in fact, it is their short blooming period (1-2 weeks) that makes them especially treasured.  Peony enthusiasts and commercial growers have gotten around the limitations of a short blooming period by planting"early" and "late" season varieties.  This way, peonies arrive bit by bit, and allow us to enjoy their fleeting beauty through spring and summer.

peonyfarm

 

 

All About Zantedeschia

Zantedeschia (Zantedeschia aethiopica) also known as calla lilies, or mini-callas, are members of the Araceae family and are native to Southern Africa. They come in a range of colors from red, orange, yellow, rose, flame, purple, white, and even black.

History of Zantedeschia

Zantedeschia was introduced to Europe in the 17th century and, since then, has become widely naturalized all over the world, grown as ornamental cultivars in home gardens and also as long-lasting cut flowers.

bloomexpertzantedeschia

What Growing Zantedeschia Need

Zantedeschia love diffused light, which means they react well to light that is scattered, as opposed to direct.  They also love UV light, which has a huge effect on their color saturation as well as the length of the plant.

Zantedeschia grow well in cool, coastal locations.  This is because cool evenings help the stems stretch tall, while also infusing their blooms with saturated color.  If Zantedeschia are kept in a warm environment all day and night, the intensity of its color would be significantly reduced. Thus, cool evenings are essential for best flower production.

howtogrowzantedeschia

Symbolism of Zantedeschia

The name, Zantedeschia, was given as a tribute in 1826 to Italian botanist Giovanni Zantedeschi, by his friend and correspondent, German botanist Kurt Sprengel. Since the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, Zantedeschia has been an important symbol of Irish republicanism and nationalism, and is used to commemorate the dead from that event.

zantedeschia

Cut Rose Care

When roses receive proper care, they should last between 7-14 days.  Below are some flower care tips that will help maintain their vase life.

red rose

Start With a Clean Vase

Be sure that the vase you use for your roses is thoroughly clean. If dirty, wash with soap and water, and to sanitize, soak it in a 5% solution of bleach and water for a few minutes (which works out to one cup of bleach per gallon of water).

Cutting the Stems

Upon receiving your roses, use a sharp knife or pruning shears to trim the stems (without crushing them).  Cut at least an inch of stem off the roses at a 45-degree angle before you put them in your vase.

rose care and handling

Use Pure Water

It's best to use purified water with your roses.  If you can help it, don't use water that is fluoridated, chlorinated, or has a high salt content.  If needed, fill your vase with tap water and let sit out for several hours, allowing the water to "off-gas."  You should also make sure the water is room temperature, as water that is too cold or too hot could harm the flowers.

Displaying Roses

Display your roses in a cool location, and out of direct sunlight.  Ambient light is fine, but direct sunlight, as well as hot or cold drafts will shorten the life of your roses.

Aromatherapeutic Benefits of Oriental Lilies

Have you ever noticed your bouquet of Oriental Lilies smelling more sweetly in the evening as you relax? That's because of a fragrant compound called linalool--most lilies emit it, and often more intensely in the evening.  This little fragrant compound is extra-special because it boasts aromatherapeutic benefits.  The fragrance of flowers, specifically Oriental Lilies, is one big way we can decrease stress and increase feel-good feelings.

 Aromatic Stargazer Lilies

Aromatic Stargazer Lilies

Flower Aromatherapy

Our sense of smell has the ability to trigger neurological and chemical responses in the body, and a single scent can calm our minds, lift a lethargic mood, or help us tackle a stressful task.  So what is it about certain smells that have that effect?    

A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry in 2009 shows that the floral-scented compound, linalool, has a positive effect on stress-related changes in the body.  In the study, the inhalation of linalool not only reduced chemical changes to stressed-out immune cells in the bloodstream, it also calmed hundreds of genes which go into action during stressful situations.

Oriental White Lily

Back to lilies....a different study completed by the American Society for Horticultural Science showed that linalool is one of the major scent components of Oriental Lilies (as well as their hybrid counterparts, i.e. OT Hybrids).  This isn't so odd, considering that researchers claim our ancestors have used the practice of inhaling floral and herbal aromas to lower stress, fight depression, and induce sleep for centuries. It seems people have been using flowers to feel better for quite a long time.

Aroma and Appearance

In addition, not only do lilies aromatically mollify stressful feelings, they also come with the added benefit of being visually gratifying.  Another study (this time conducted by Harvard Medical School) has shown that the presence of flowers adds has an overall positive effect on our well-being. The study found that just the presence of flowers in one's home could have a positive effect on a wide variety of feelings such as less anxiety and depression and enhanced relaxation, energy, and compassion.

Oriental Lilies in the home

Oriental lilies have always been prized for their beauty and aroma, and now, we have the science to know why.  Yet another great reason to give yourself or others flowers--what a beautiful way to calm down and feel better!  Next time you (or a friend) are going through a stressful time, find yourself big, fragrant bouquet of Oriental Lilies, and reap the mental and emotional benefits of Lily Aromatherapy.

Bouquet of Oriental Lilies

Antique Hydrangeas

As summertime slowly ebbs into fall and the weather cools down, the fields of the Northwest prepare for Antique Hydrangea Season.  So what are Antique Hydrangeas anyway?   And how do they attain their kaleidoscopic appearance?

Antique Hydrangeas

Antique hydrangeas are not a separate species from fresh Hydrangea macrophylla; the simple truth is that the majority of hydrangea blooms will naturally reach this unique, antiqued look given enough time and, of course, proper care and atmospheric conditions.  Antique hydrangeas are a season marker, and the change in weather helps make them what they are.

antique hydrangea bloom expert

Towards the end of summer, the nights get cooler, the air becomes drier, and the days get shorter.  Hydrangea blooms use this weather change for their metamorphic journey into antique hydrangeas.  The blossoms transition from their bright summer colors into mingled layers of mellow greens, smoky burgundies, shimmering blues, amethyst, hazel, and others.  No two antiques are the same, each change and morph in their own unique way.  

antique hydrangea varieties


While the changing coloration gives us some indication of when to pick, you really know they're ready to come off the plant when the blooms are firm--the hydrangea feels slightly rigid and resists a little when touched.  This firmly-set hydrangea head screams, "Pick me! Pick me!"  At this point they are practically bulletproof-- the petals will never wilt or die, and they will be beautiful for months to come.

antique hydrangea florets

Hydrangeas are a perfect flower for an easy transition from summer into fall. Their colors and ambianceare like a fairy tale--all at once bewitching, elegant, and provincial.

True Blue Delphinium

The National Garden Bureau has declared 2016 the Year of the Delphinium.

Delphinium

Delphinium, also known as larkspur, are stately spikes of eye-catching, bell-shaped blossoms in astounding shades of blue.  They are one of the few flowers that are naturally blue (in addition to iris and hydrangea), which makes them especially unique and eye-catching.  The name is derived from the Greek word delphis (meaning dolphin), a reference to its shape's resemblance to the bottle nose of a dolphin.

Sea Waltz Delphinium

Delphinium is native to the Northern Hemisphere; historically, it was used by Native Americans and European settlers to make blue dye, and in the United Kingdom, it was the primary source for ink.  Seems like even the earliest humans couldn't resist delphinium's true-blue color.

Delphinium is grown in warm regions, and prefers plenty of sunshine, loamy soil, and some wind protection, and some varieties (such as the dark blue Belladonna) are exceptionally hardy and easier to grow than others. 

Belladonna arrangment

Delphinium can grow to heights of 4-5 feet tall, and are often harvested with stems lengths of 36 inches.  By cutting them so tall, one can maintain the dramatic, statuesque beauty of the flower which adds a bold, vertical element to cut flower arrangements.  Its florets open progressively along the stem, creating an ever-evolving show for the viewer to enjoy. 

Delphinium Design

Delphinium is a very versatile flower.  It looks great in wildflower, au natural arrangements; its framework blends well with pastoral design and its blue hues highlight focal yellows and muted whites beautifully.

Delphinium arrangements

 Its long stems also work well in elegant, polished arrangements.  There is a showy vitality to delphinium, and it brings graceful luxury and an exquisite boldness to centerpieces.

elegant delphinium arrangements

And, of course, these tall beauties look absolutely stunning gathered together in monochromatic bunches.

blue delphinium

Add true blue novelty to your life with Delphinium, the 2016 Flower of the Year.

Matricaria, Chamomile, Feverfew

Matricaria, also known as Chamomile or Feverfew, is one of the most cheerful, adorable botanicals around. 

 (L-R): Yellow Button, White Button, and White Daisy Matricaria

(L-R): Yellow Button, White Button, and White Daisy Matricaria

These daisy-like and button-shaped flowers hail from the Aster Family, and come in a variety of forms.

 Clockwise from top left: White Button, Yellow Button, White cushion, and White Daisy Matricaria

Clockwise from top left: White Button, Yellow Button, White cushion, and White Daisy Matricaria

The top two varieties--white and yellow button matricaria--have no petals, hence the name "button."  The bottom two varieties resemble miniature daisies; white cushion matricaria features little white cushions with layers of petals forming teeny tiny fringe, while white daisy matricaria has layers of white petals surrounding a bigger, yellow center.

Growing Practices for Matricaria

While Matricaria responds well to sun and heat, too much light will stunt its growth.  Matricaria is a summer-blooming flower, and the long days of sunshine will make them bloom quickly and beautifully.  If matricaria is grown during winter, you will need to provide a sufficient amount of heat.  This can be done by growing the crop in hoop houses covered with plastic. 

 Matricaria in plastic-covered hoops

Matricaria in plastic-covered hoops

Matricaria's Healing Properties

An added benefit to growing Matricaria is that much like its Chamomile Tea counterpart, the crop has beneficial properties, except instead of soothing a sore throat or aching belly, Matricaria crops restore essential nutrients in the soil.

white cushion matricaria

Matricaria is a key player in soil health and works well with crop rotation.    Rotating out other crops and replacing them with Matricaria for a year will amend the soil, restore nutrients, prevent physarum (a type of soil mold), and improve the total amount of flowers one can get from every crop.  Beneficial and beautiful!

Matricaria Design

Matricaria is cheerful filler that provides immediate color, volume, and delicate texture.  It is fun to use in bouquets; its earthy, wildflower look adds a rustic and summery element to arrangements, making it a popular choice for outdoor, garden, or country-style weddings.

matricaria arrangements
matricaria flower design

For even more Matricaria Design Inspiration, check out the Matricaria Bouquets Pinterest page. It is brimming with images and ideas for gorgeous Matricaria arrangements.

oh, hydrangea!

If you live in the cool Northwest region of the United States, chances are you have spotted one of summertime's most beloved shrubs in your town--giant orbs of blue, pink, white, and lavender stretching skyward from big, leafy branches.  Oh, Hydrangea!

lavendar hydrangea

he genus "Hydrangea" is represented by over 11 species of varying bloom shapes, but the cultivar most often used in cut flower arrangements are the globose heads of H. macrophylla (affectionately referred to as "mopheads").  This highly decorative, bulbous form was born in the coastal areas of Honshu, Japan, developed extensively in Europe, and was introduced to the United States well over a century ago.
 

hydrangea field
hydrangea

These immense and billowy flower heads are made up of multiple florets which boast long-lasting color.  And the varying colors of Hydrangea are fascinating! Yes, different cultivars will give us clear blues, vivid pinks, pure whites, shades of frosty lavender and coral—but their color and intensity can vary depending on the acidity of the soil or water that is used.  Aluminum sulfate will reduce the soil's pH, causing a hydrangea to produce blue and lavender blooms, while a higher soil pH will give us vibrant pinks.  It is even possible for some cultivars to produce different color blooms on one plant! (Further on in the growing season, hydrangeas' coloration gets even more interesting, giving us the marbled tones of Antiqued Hydrangeas).

Soil pH aside, the most important element to growing long-stemmed, giant blooms is temperature and light.  H. macrophylla originated in the temperate maritime climate of coastal Japan, which bodes well for flower farmers in Coastal California.  Hydrangeas love a coastal setting, where cool breezes dissipate the heat.  Heat and too much sunlight can be a problem for these blooms, as they are sensitive to drooping from heat stress. 

Hydrangeas look stunning as focal pieces in wedding bouquets, or as voluminous color in large, upscale arrangements.  They're fun and versatile blooms, giving you the creative freedom to build what you like. 

hydrangea bouquet


 

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What are OT Hybrid Lilies?

Did you know there are over 110 different species of the lily family?  In fact, new varieties and hybrids are constantly under development.  One very special mix, the OT Hybrid (also called an Orienpet), has been making quite the name for itself, and demand for this particular flora keeps climbing higher and higher.

 Candy Club

Candy Club

 Tollo

Tollo

An OT Hybrid is a breed created by crossing Oriental and Trumpet lily types.  These hybrids were originally developed to bring a more diverse color palette to traditional Oriental lilies. Before OT Hybrids, all Oriental lilies were white or pink, but these new OTs capture the wonderfully warm reds, oranges, and yellows of Trumpet lilies, with the shape, durability, and longevity of an Oriental.  These flowers maintain a delicate citrus-green scent, which is pleasantly light and not as powerful like some of their more aromatic sisters.

Growing Great OT Hybrid Lilies

 Yelloween

Yelloween

In order to grow quality OT Hybrids, you must ensure the plants receive sufficient heat and light throughout the entire growing cycle.  OT Hybrids require at least 16 hours of light a day in order to form their thick, sturdy stems.  

In addition to plenty of light, OT Hybrids also need cool (but not cold evening) in order for saturation of color in their petals.  Coastal climates are often the perfect environment to grow lilies.

Two of the original Sonatas were Yelloween and Shocking -- these two have proven to be tried-and-true varieties and are still being offered today. Not only that, there are an array of varieties which circle back to the traditional Oriental palate, with pink and purple tones such as Table Dance, Timezone, Candy Club, and African Lady.

  

 Candy Club

Candy Club

 Ovatie

Ovatie

 African Lady

African Lady

 Timezone

Timezone

A Little Note about Waxflower

white waxflower

The plant is endemic to western Australia and the scientific genus is Chamelaucium. The flowers are small and have five petals and ten stamens. A large amount of blooms grow on each woody stem, making this one of the ideal filler flowers for the floral industry.

If you look in the center of the blooms you see a little cup of fragrant wax. It smells of pine and wax, which is used innature to attract pollinators. For floral professionals this scent is a great bonus, since many filler items don't have the added dimension of scent. 

Layers of Lisianthus

Lisianthus is not one of the traditional standards of the floral industry, but over the last decade it has been gaining popularity at an amazing rate. 

purple lisianthus

Lisianthus’s delicate, unfurling trumpet-shaped blooms of white, purple, cream, peach, pink, or bi-color fully capture the ever-popular wildflower esthetic.  Its dainty buds continue to open along the smooth, green stem, giving the viewer a continual show and making it perfect in progressive bouquets.

pink lisianthus

Lisianthus is native to the warm, dry prairie regions of the Americas, and the particular variety that we grow—Grandiflorum—has been bred to be a long-lasting cut flower.  The name Lisianthus comes from Latin, Lysis meaning “dissolution” and Anthos meaning “flower.”  Those who cite its origins as a prairie flower see it as a token of old-fashioned values and sensibility.  Others see its Greek name and believe lisianthus symbolizes an outgoing and divisive nature.

white lisianthus

Growing Needs

Lisianthus needs a lot of heat and light to grow tall and flower.  They do well in warm, covered hoop houses and greenhouses. They also like very dry soil, so it is important not to let the soil's moisture level become too saturated (the nature of the plant is to have very deep roots, making it more susceptible to soil-born diseases).

Design Practices

Lisianthus is a very popular as a wedding flower.  Designers especially love the fact that Lisianthus has both a long vase life and long stems (2 weeks and 24 inches, respectively).  Its length gives height and visual power.

Lisianthus flower arrangement

The round, delicate, unfurling blooms add elegance and mass to arrangements, and its florets work wonderfully in boutonnieres and corsages.  Its prairie flower look makes it ideal for country-style, au natural, and wildflower arrangements, and its aesthetic screams "American grown."

lisianthus arrangement country

 

 

 

 

Fancy French Tulips

What's the story behind French Tulips? Well, French tulips are in the group Single Late Tulips (SLT) but most SLTs are not considered French.

french tulips

Most French Tulips are mutations of the Single Late variety named Mrs. John T. Scheepers. This is the big, bright, yellow tulip which many growers refer to as “The Mother of all Tulips.” It has been cultivated for centuries and this exact variety was officially introduced in 1930. It is named after Rose Dorothy Heywood, who was the wife of John Theodore Scheepers. Mr. Scheepers founded the firm of John Scheepers, Inc., which revolutionized the bulb industry in America. He is renowned for the creation of mass plantings for gardens and making the tulip the central spring motif. For this achievement in popularizing the Tulip, he became known as the "Tulip King". His horticultural introductions, which included prized tulips, lilies and dahlias, made him an outstanding figure in the field of horticulture. Mr. Scheepers passed way in 1938, and he left an amazing legacy which we still feel today.

These tulips were originally grown and picked in the south of France, in the Cote d’Azur region. This led to the name French Tulips, when they started being exported.

french tulip bunch.jpg

The term “Single Late Tulip” comes from the fact that this variety blooms after all other varieties of tulip. The single late tulip class (class 5) incorporates Darwin Tulips, old Breeder Tulips, Cottage Tulips and Scheeper Hybrid Tulips. The borderline between these former classes, due to hybridization and mutation, is no longer as obvious as in the past. Blooms are large, shapely and available in an immense range of colors, perched on long, strong stems.

long french tulips

The challenge for the flower grower lies in the conditions needed for optimal results. French Tulips can’t be pushed, they are a very stubborn variety. Standard tulips are a lot more accommodating in their growth patterns--a grower can turn up the heat in a greenhouse to bring them to harvest sooner, andcan also adjust light levels to dictate height.

french tulips growing

French Tulips will not stand for this!  They will not tolerate the big glass greenhouses, they prefer to be in a hoop house, much more exposed to Mother Nature’s whim than a normal tulip. Once in the hoop house a grower has little control over the growing process.

The wonderful thing about this process is that it leads to stunning tulips, bursting with personality. The stems are big and strong, the blooms are large and egg shaped. The foliage is a rich green color which sets off the bright flower.

frenchies

 

 

Spring Season Viburnum

Viburnum is one of the first shrubs to flower in the spring.  In fact, in flower and garden circles, it is not spring until you have viburnum!

 First viburnum of spring

First viburnum of spring

Viburnum is extra special because its growing season is one of the shortest--the season typically spans the month of April. Viburnum is also known for its color change during the season (which I'll explain in detail below). They first bloom in a vivid lime green color and then turn to ivory-white puffballs as they mature in the sunshine. 

 Early and late season viburnum

Early and late season viburnum

You may hear Viburnum blooms also referred to as Snowballs--this is because their mass of tiny blossoms give each bloom-head a spherical, puffy shape.

Viburnum Green to White

Viburnum is famous for its color change from green-to-white, which signifies the progression of the season. For example, right now (the beginning of April) the crop is a charming green color.  This fresh look is known as early-season viburnum; it looks stunning on its own (a veritable spring forest with long stems and full, lime-green heads), and also works wonders as a focal piece in spring bouquets, adding color and a field-to-vase aesthetic to any home or bridal arrangement.

green viburnum arrangements

Late-season viburnum is another visual treat.  As viburnum flowers mature and receive a few weeks of full sunshine, the young, green viburnum develops into a brilliant white. 

White snowball viburnum has an exquisite and classical appearance--its long stems and multiple florets still brings the wildflower aesthetic to arrangements like early-season green viburnum, but it also boasts an elegant cleanliness that can only be achieved with white. 

white viburnum arrangements

Regardless of whether you opt for early-season green or late-season white, this heady bloom and its wonderfully long, wooden stems makes it the perfect floral complement for wedding bouquets, Mother's day arrangements, or any quintessential spring gathering.  But you better hurry, like spring, viburnum season passes in a beautiful flash.

viburnum spring arrangement


 

 

 

What are Parrot Tulips?

Parrot tulips (Tulipa gesnerana dracontia) are like regular tulips, but boast bold, serrated petal edges which give them a ruffled appearance.  This ruffled look along with their brilliant, variegated colors, and their beak-shaped buds resemble their showy, tropical namesake, the parrot.

parrot tulips

The most often asked question about these attention-grabbing tulips is “How do they do that?” How do the petals gain the fringe, the curly edges, and the wavy texture that makes them so unique?

 Apricot Parrot

Apricot Parrot

The very first parrot tulips were accidental mutants of various classic tulip varieties, which made their first documented appearance during the 17th century in France. Due to their weak stems, they did not catch on as popular cut flowers until a couple centuries later.

 Roccoco Parrot

Roccoco Parrot

 In the early 1900s, breeders were able to reproduce the desired genetic abnormalities of fringed, curly petals AND strong stems, which led to a parrot tulip renaissance.  Now there are several varieties, each with their own unique coloration and performance.  They look amazing on their own, and their extravagant shape makes them excellent focal pieces in mixed bouquets.

parrot tulip mixed bouquets

Parrot tulip bouquet design and tutorial by Dress This Nest.

parrot tulip bouquet




Cotinus: The Dramatic Smoke-Tree

Cotinus, a dark, decorative branch is better known by its common name, "Smoke Bush" (or Smoke Tree).  This name comes from the deciduous shrub's late-season appearance, when its wispy, airy flowers fade into a pearl-white color which literally resembles puffs of smoke.  Most flower farmers harvest the branches before the plant flowers, so don’t expect any wispy smoke from them.

 Royal Purple Cotinus

Royal Purple Cotinus

Gardeners have been using Cotinus for years, and it has been bred extensively to grow in various shapes, sizes, and colors.The most popular is the "Royal Purple" cultivar--the burgundy-purple sheen on the upper side of each leaf is paired with a silver-green underside.  Toward the end of the season (and as you can see in the photos), each leaf is framed by a bright red, almost iridescent, edging.  Unique AND breathtaking!

 Underside of Cotinus Leaves

Underside of Cotinus Leaves

In the wild, cotinus is found on the warm hillsides from Southern Europe to Northern China.  In North America, you can find it in sunny valleys where full sun and warmth abounds.

Cotinus has an incredible growth rate, and stems can be harvested starting around the first of June, continue to through summertime and into fall, usually stopping by the end of October.  At the end of each season, the shrub should be pruned down to the ground, and from the following early spring to the end of fall, it will shoot back up to 10+ feet.  

 6-foot-tall Royal Purple Cotinus

6-foot-tall Royal Purple Cotinus

Cotinus is considered a dream to grow--it is drought-tolerant, extremely resilient to pests and fungi, requires minimal fertilization, and performs magnificently!

Cotinus Design

The dark coloring of cotinus makes it a very versatile piece for floral design--it can act as a dark background element, stand out as a tall, eye-catching focal, and it looks great mixed with strong colors.

 Cotinus, hypericum, and roses.

Cotinus, hypericum, and roses.

Its palette of purple, burgundy, and scarlet with bright red edging and silvery green undersides and can really bring out warm pinks, oranges, yellows, and reds.

 Cotinus, Lilies, and Rosehips

Cotinus, Lilies, and Rosehips

Whether it's early in the season or late, the leaves of Royal Purple Cotinus are vibrant and richly hued, and there's always a glint in the dark foliage. The bright veins and edging really makes the dark and dramatic leaves sing.

 Cotinus, Tulips, and horsetails

Cotinus, Tulips, and horsetails

 Cotinus, snowberries, lilies, and beargrass

Cotinus, snowberries, lilies, and beargrass

Ornamental Kale, Brassica, and Cabbage

Ornamental kale is part of the mustard family (genus brassicaceae) and is a very close relative to cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts.  Even though it is related to edible vegetables, ornamental kale is for decorative purposes only (don't eat it!).

You'll find that most flower farmers and designers call ornamental kale by its genus, “brassica,” and other folks will simply call it “cabbage.”  All names are acceptable and interchangeable. 

ornamental kale

Whatever you choose to call it, brassica isn't a new crop to the flower industry, and in the horticulture world it is very established. What is new about this crop; is that now flower designers and consumers can get this traditional cool weather crop year-round. The colors that are most in demand are the white, lavender and purple. 

lavender brassica

In order for the kale to "color up" you need cool temperatures at night, which makes it an excellent fall and winter crop.  However, there are plenty of cool-weather locations to farm brassica year-round.  For example,  if farming ornamental kale near the coast, summertime often brings cool, foggy morning AND evenings, which make for excellent brassica growing conditions.

brassica rows

Brassica’s current widespread popularity can be attributed to its natural, “Farmer’s Market” type feel. People are loving simple arrangements that look like the elements were gathered from a backyard garden or a roadside stand.  Brassica has that warm, earthy feel, as well as a the popular “back to the land” element, with bulk, lovely color, and intense texture of a more upscale botanical.

ornamental kale bouquet
brassica bouquet

Hypericum, the Berry Superstar

Hypericum is an ornamental superstar, which features colorful berries on a compact shrub.  The plant itself is a perennial botanical, sprouting golden blooms in the spring, which fall off to reveal elliptical berries come late summer. 

hypericum flowers and berries

Hypericum Growing Conditions

Hypericum is best grown in open fields during the summer, when the days are long and warm.  Hypericum farmers typically prune while they pick, allowing the plant to rest and regather nutrients for the following season.

field hypericum

The "classic hypericum" look has always been a leafy branch with dark-hued berries.  Now, after years of breeding, it's available in many other colors ranging from pale green to dark red. 

 Some hypericum varieties, clockwise from upper left: Lemon, Triumph,  Midnight Glow, and Pumpkin

Some hypericum varieties, clockwise from upper left: Lemon, Triumph,  Midnight Glow, and Pumpkin

Hypericum berries are long-lasting, retaining their color for weeks, which make them ideal additions to a wide range of floral arrangements.  And, as you can see in the photos,  the plant has multiple berries per stem, which makes it a great accent botanical as well as a bright focal piece in your autumn decorating palette. 

red hypericum

The smooth and shiny berries provide an interesting and modern textural contrast, which has shown to be highly desirable.

 Sunflower and hypericum arrangement

Sunflower and hypericum arrangement