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, 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.