Arrangements With Everlasting Flowers

One of the most important things to remember about everlasting flowers is that, above all, they should be used sparingly and with discretion. This applies especially to immortelle and sea lavender (Limonium), bunches of which are often to be seen for sale hanging in profusion with cape gooseberries (Physalis) and honesty. (These are the true everlastmgs, all valuable in their own way if introduced in small quantities among other dried flowers.)

Sometimes the temptation to buy bunches of these for ‘filling up’ is too great and very quickly the suggestion of ‘arty-craftiness’ creeps in (on about the same level as artificial beams, perma nently varnished brasses, and dyed bulrushes or grasses).

Immortelle (Helichrysum) come in a great variety of shades from white (usually with clear yellow centres) through palest pink (one of the most attractive of these is a soft double pink) to dark wine red (some of which have black centres). The enormous colour range can either pick up and emphasise colours and shades used in the flower arrangement or those used in the furnishing scheme of the room.

Immortelle shows incredible versatility, for it can be used as a contrast, say of a cluster of white immortelle against dark brown dried seedheads, or as a complement, e.g. in the case of yellows and oranges it can tone in with other autumn colours.Arrangements With Everlasting Flowers

Sea lavender (Limonium) comes not only in the well known shades of mauve and purple but also in off white and a clear yellow. Both these colours can be usefully incorporated into certain decorative schemes, composed of the dark browns, reds and yellows of autumn seedheads, and leaves and flowers.

Everlastings are reasonably easy to grow and almost dry as they are growing. For the actual drying, they require little extra care or attention, though they are usually more successful if they are not dried in layers but laid out, for preference on a layer of wire netting, so that the air can circulate underneath as well as above them.

Give them plenty of air, but not a draught, and very little heat. Space is essential for if they are too crowded together either in a damp atmosphere or an over heated one, a kind of thick mould may develop, especially amongst the limonium flowers.

After these general comments on everlasting or immortelle flowers, let us consider them separately: Immortelle originally came from the Antipodes. The hardy annual, H. bracteatum is probably the best known, and the most generally grown.

Others come from Africa and from the Mediterranean, and, like many other plants indigenous to these warm regions, they may be grown successfully in cooler climates if they are sown in well drained soil in a sunny position. The first flowers may appear early on in the summer. They should be cut for drying as soon as they are fully out, and before they are dashed by heavy rain. If they do get soaked, they must be allowed to dry out well before cutting.

Helipterum, yet another ‘straw’ daisy of some charm, also comes from the Antipodes and is known generally as the ‘Australian everlasting’. It usually comes in soft pink and white colouring, but when grown in England produces smaller flowers than the helichrysums. I understand, that when grown in their native country they produce much larger sized flowers in a deeper pink or a purer white.

Helipterum roseum produces one flower per stalk, and, as with H. bracteatum the weight of this single flower on the rather thin stalk does encourage the stem to bend over at the top. This makes these flowers difficult to arrange when dried and so, if they can be cut as they come out (before the stem has time to develop this curve), and hung upside down to dry, one may be fortunate enough to get a well formed flower on a straight stalk.

Hehpterum manglesii is a still smaller ‘straw’ daisy whose flowers tend to grow in clusters. They should be cut when the first flower opens fully. This means that others in the cluster will still only be in bud. These buds are usually deeper in colour than the fully opened flower and so provide, at one and the same time, variations in size and shape and colour.

When they are dried the leaves of both the helichrysums and the helipterums shrivel up and look untidy. They must, of course, be removed and it is relatively easy to do this without damaging the rather attractive small buds or side-branches. After this is done, the cluster of flowers and buds show to their best advantage.

Sea lavender ( Statice or Limonium). A family whose various members offer flowers in a variety of sizes and colours, the most colourful of which probably come under the family name of S. or L. sinuatum. They range in colour from blue, mauve, purple, pink, buff and white. The seeds of L. sinuaturn may be bought in separate colours, or in a mixed packet. Unless one intends to have a good many dried arrangements, I would recommend the latter way of buying them, as this particular packet will produce enough for the usual demands of one largish group.

L. bonduellii in a clear sulphur yellow is a valuable colour to introduce into groups during the winter. This yellow, with white is perhaps the most adaptable colour of all, for unlike the blues and mauves, it shows up well and cheerfully in artificial light, and as mentioned earlier on, also combines well with the usual browns and oranges of autumn colourings.

Now we come to the ‘true’ sea lavenders — two of which will suffice for most domestic requirements. L. latifolium is the very small flowered lavender coloured plant which grows into quite a sturdy bush, up to three feet in height. The other is L. incanurn with a much stockier growth, the creamy white flowers growing in flattish pannicles. This sea lavender dries almost as it grows, and hardly needs to be cut and hung in bunches or laid flat on shelves like the others.

These last two .`everlastings’ are, perhaps, the most useful of all, for however attractive and useful the helichrysums and limoniums may be, if they are used in too great a quantity they are inclined to impose an alien atmosphere of slight artificiality into a dried arrangement. This is certainly not true of the sea lavenders, whose natural, branching habit of growth, and soft colouring are of great value. It is easy to put too much into one arrangement, but used with discretion, the sea lavenders can be most attractive and effective.

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