“Pink and white carnations — one desires so much more than that.”
As Wallace Stevens puts it in “The Poems of our Climate,” sometimes we want more than just carnations. Beyond the usual roses and peonies, there are many plants in our gardens that make gorgeous arrangements. I recently had some fun walking around my garden, choosing unconventional plants — no carnations — to bring indoors to enjoy.
1) Just like we mix interesting foliage with flowers in the garden, look beyond the big blooms for your bouquets. Hosta leaves, herbs and variegated foliage from shrubs all make pretty arrangements on their own or when mixed with a few flowers. Think about what you plan for in a container or garden bed and try to do the same on a smaller scale in a vase: A combination of height, maybe something trailing, colour, pattern, texture and scent.
2) Take blooms from plants where you won’t miss them. Perhaps a plant in the back corner or from an annual that will keep flowering even after you snip a few stems. Be strategic; you don’t want to disturb the plant or the look of your garden. But don’t be afraid to take from your garden — it’s yours to enjoy, indoors or out.
3) Vase life varies from plant to plant. Hosta leaves can last for several weeks, but you can switch out the accompanying flowers as they go past their prime and update the original arrangement several times. To keep your plants looking their best, use a water additive. If you don’t have any extra powdered additives left over from bouquets you’ve bought in the past, add about a teaspoon (5 mL) each of lemon juice, bleach and sugar to your vase. Clear the lower parts of stems of leaves and flowers so there’s nothing to rot beneath the water’s surface. Refresh water daily (I say that, but rarely remember to do it more than a couple times a week) and keep your arrangements out of direct sunlight.