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.

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

Green Ball and Green Trick Dianthus

"Can I touch it?"

  This is THE Dianthus barbatus question.  Looking at the photos, I'm sure you can see why.  Dianthus barbatus (aka Green Ball or Green Trick) looks like a self-contained diorama of a mossy forest (and yes, it is as soft as it looks).

green ball dianthus

The history of Dianthus dates back to over 2000 years, making it one of the oldest cultivated flower varieties.  Greeks and Romans revered the plant, using its flowers for art, decor, and to build their iconic garlands.  Two millennia later, Dianthus is still highly desirable. Just four years ago, two new varieties of Dianthus barbatus--better known as Green Ball and Green Trick--have been made available to the flower market.

These two new varieties provide bouquets with a never-seen-before texture and aspect.  They are round, focal, and green, made up of soft filaments sitting atop a strong carnation-like stem.  The difference between the two is simply size--Green ball has a diameter of 6cm or larger, while Green Trick is categorized as smaller than 6cm.

Freshly picked dianthus

Freshly picked dianthus

Growing Needs

Dianthus likes warm, temperate weather. However, too much heat will kill it, so dianthus growers need to maintain a perfect balance of light and shade, warm and cool.  During summertime, shade cloth is often used, and during winter, they go into hoop houses with plastic coverings to keep the warmth in.

It takes an average of 10-12 weeks from planting until the beginning of harvest, but one can usually tell when the plants are ready because the green heads are full, rotund, and soft in appearance.  This means the plant is mature and prime for picking.

dianthus hoop house

Dianthus ready to be picked

These excellent cut flowers look great in table arrangements and do well accenting other colors. They are easy to incorporate, and they introduce a unique shape, color, and texture to any arrangement.  In addition, the lush blooms are incredibly long-lasting (up to 4 weeks!).  Mix them into woodsy, whimsical, rustic arrangements or pair them with elegant callas, hydrangeas, and lisianthus for an elegant feel.

Add another level to your floral creativity with the versatile and verdant "flower of the gods," Dianthus!

Autumn Rosehips

Rosehips: the plant of a million uses.  Well, maybe not a million, but its reputation as a great source of Vitamin C precedes it by centuries with ancient and modern use in tinctures, jellies, wine, and more.  Take a walk down your local grocery tea aisle and you'll be sure to find some herbal rosehip tea. 

However, rosehips are not just for flavoring foods, they are also for spicing up bouquets. 


So what exactly is a rosehip? Is it a rose or isn't it?  Scientifically speaking, the rosehip is the swollen ovary that contains the rose seeds.  It is the "fruit" of the rose.  If you cut open a rosehip you will find it is full of reproductive seeds. 

Rosehips develop on wild roses as the petals drop off.   These wild roses may not look like the "traditional" roses you are accustomed to, but they are indeed classified as roses.  These species of Rosa are specifically bred to create big, beautiful hips, which is why the regular rosebushes about town will not produce anything quite like them. 

Rose hip flowers being pollinated

Rose hip flowers being pollinated

In order for the seed pod (the hip!) to form, the flowers must first be pollinated.  This usually happens during late spring and summer when the flowers are blooming and the bees are buzzing. 

When summer turns into autumn, the rosehip harvest can begin. They can be harvested as early as August and as late as Christmas, and the month of harvest determines the color of the berry. Early in the season, they start out green; as they progress, they begin to resemble Fuji apples--partially green with reddish swirls; then they develop a beautiful reddish-orange hue and finally, a saturated cherry red. It's almost as if they know what colors are fashionable per season and act accordingly!   


Once cut, rosehips can keep their color, shape and luminosity for several weeks.  Design wise, rosehips are extremely versatile and fit into the fall and winter color palette perfectly.  You can see how they add texture and a punch of focal color to the arrangements pictured here.

rosehip bouquet.jpg