May 9, 2016
The Darker Side of Spring . . . In a Vase
We usually imagine spring floral arrangements in pastel shades, but there are more dramatic colors available. The arrangement above features purple 'Negrita' tulips, an 'Early Emperor' allium, and lighter violet 'Katherine Havemeyer' lilacs. Last summer I put some phosphate fertilizer around my lilacs and this year they bloomed heavier than ever before, so I've had plenty to pick.
Various types of greenery - or maroonery, in the case of the 'Red Dragon' contorted filbert foliage above - are important supporting players in this garden arrangement. I also used peony leaves to made a grid to hold stems, plus stems of coral-shaded snowberry and honeysuckle to add interesting lines.
'Moulin Rouge' astrantia is fabulous in the garden or the vase. I grow seven types of astrantia and this one is the darkest and the earliest to bloom by several weeks. In this shot you also see one of the last of the 'Double Queen' hellebore blooms for the spring.
This vase shows its dark side with a 'Buckeye Belle' peony, stems of 'Royal Purple' smokebush (Cotinus), more 'Moulin Rouge' astrantia, and 'Brunette' Cimicifuga leaves.
The green shades come from variegated Solomon's seal, snowberry, apple mint, curly willow, hellebore and arching stems of 'June Bride' heuchera. I find that hellebore stems collapse if I cut them right after they start blooming, but if I wait a month or so they hold up just fine in vases.
Have I gushed about honeysuckle stems lately? Some types of honeysuckle are invasive in some areas and other types are rampant growers unsuitable for small yards, but there are many other types available now. Search Monrovia's catalog for 'honeysuckle' to see a great selection. These twisting, arching stems end up in almost every arrangement I make. They add a beautiful wild touch and I highly recommend them for cutting gardens.
This final arrangement shades toward bold instead of dark with 'Red Charm' peonies taking center stage. More 'Moulin Rouge' astrantia and purple stems of 'Caradonna' salvia add deep color, while honeysuckle and 'June Bride' heuchera curve around the edges.
I'm embracing orange thanks to two types of geum. Above is double-flowered 'Firestorm,' and I also used 'Totally Tangerine' geum in this vase. Both types are vigorous, early bloomers that look especially good against other jewel tones.
In the next couple of weeks the garden will explode with color. The main peony flush looks to peak at the same time as my English roses, and countless other perennials are in bud right now. Of course this means there will be plenty of deadheading to do eventually, but my kids are helpful with that since I pay them a penny per deadheaded flower. Yup, I'm a big spender!