Colours of Plants For Flower Arranging

Unusual Plants, Fruits and Vegetables

It is not only from the flower and shrub garden that material can be secured for the making of colourful arrangements, for the vegetable garden, too, will yield suitable flowers and leaves.

This is not so ludicrous as it might at first appear, for there is reason to believe that flower gardening originated from the fact that certain plants, because of the colour and beauty of their flowers and foliage, were isolated from others which were of use for strictly utilitarian purposes.

There is, therefore, no wonder that we can often turn to the vegetable garden for leaves, flowers and seed-pods to enhance the appearance of our floral creations.

The globe artichoke, which may be grown in both the flower and vegetable garden, provides dainty green flower-heads which, cut with an inch or two of stem, give distinction to any indoor decorationUnusual plants for flower arranging. The plants may also be used to give height to a border of flowers or break the rigid outline, where it is not desired to plant shrubs or other taller-growing subjects. The plants like the sun and a deeply moved soil enriched with manure. Some kind of protection during the winter is advisable. Planting is done in the spring, and stock can be secured by detaching suckers in the autumn and keeping them in pots in a cold frame during the winter. The flower-heads open from the end of May onwards, and some of the deeply cut, grey-green leaves may also be used.

Atriplex hortensis, better known as Orach or Mountain Spinach, has very ornamental leaves, particularly the red variety, which can be grown in the same way as ordinary spinach, but the seed-heads should be cut before the seeds fall, otherwise they will become a nuisance.

The coloured foliage of sea-kale beet, with its red stems, is most useful. As with the ordinary beetroot, which according to variety can be had with leaves shaded from light green to maroon-crimson, the green and burgundy-coloured seed-heads look well in autumn arrangements.

There are some dwarf beans which have most attractive coloured pods, which can be used either on their own stems or may be tied to false stems so that they can be inserted into any particular position. They are given the same culture as when grown for edible purposes, and include such varieties as the Blue Coco bean, although this is more or less a climber, and ‘Rose d’Eyragus’, which has red speckled pods.

Cabbage flowers should not be overlooked, the primrose colour showing well with late spring blooms, especially purple tulips, while even cabbage leaves may be used to advantage. The dainty fern-like foliage of carrots is much employed for lightening otherwise rather heavy-looking arrangements.

Gourds are available in many types and forms, some of them strikingly handsome. Even the vines on which they grow are pleasing to the eye. The one thing against them is that they cannot stand severe cold and outdoors ; they are really hit by the first heavy autumn frost, so that they need the same treatment as dahlias, except that they should be treated as annuals and raised from seed each year. The seed is sown under glass in the spring and the young plants gradually hardened off for putting outdoors in early June. Some of the smaller types can be grown in the cool greenhouse.

Gourds are useful for house decoration; indeed, cut and emptied of their insides, many of them can be used for various purposes in the home, especially as the colour and shape are so pleasing. In the case of those not naturally coloured, it is possible to decorate and even paint them. Apart from their ornamental use, they can be employed as bowls, baskets and other containers, while they are effective placed beside certain floral arrangements. It is possible to grow or obtain a number of plain and striped varieties, smooth and warted-skin sorts, and make them into an attractive group. Very often the common name given to the varieties suggests their shape, such as dolphin; gooseberry, pear, serpent, finger and warty gourd.

The vines need some training to keep them off the ground, and may be supported by a fence or pole. The fruit should be ripe and fully coloured before being harvested, for this will make the drying-off process easier, and they should be kept in a really frost-proof but airy, dry place.

It is possible to freshen the appearance of the fruit after it has been in use for some time by applying a very small amount of wax floor polish to the skin, which must be quite dry, so that a good gloss is obtained.

The foliage of various herbs is almost indispensable, including the lace-like leaves of such subjects as angelica, chervil and fennel. The mature flower-heads of all may be used. They will not flag so long as the spikes are cut just as the flower-heads have opened. If the umbels are cut before the seeds ripen, they may be dried and used during the winter. This can also be done with seed-heads of carrots, parsley and parsnips. The globular seed-heads of onions and leeks are useful both when fresh or when dried.

The variegated kales look well placed with almost any flowers. The fringed and curly leaves are most ornamental, the colours ranging from white to brilliant rose, crimson, deep red and purple. Seed is sown in April or May, and the plants are grown in the same way as the ordinary kales.

The seed-pods of radishes, produced on long, branching stems, and savoy leaves are also of value, many of the latter being attractively curled and tinged with purple or red.

The small currant, pear and other shaped fruits of the bushy tomatoes are very decorative in red, yellow or green. They can be started in the greenhouse and either kept growing in pots or planted in the open ground early in June. The fruit, arranged as it is in trusses or loose sprays, may be used in many kinds of decorations.

To a lesser degree, it is possible to use the small purple spikes of borage; the ornamental foliage and handsome flowers of Sweet Cicely; the small mauve flowers of chives and the leaves of horse radish and sea kale. The purplish leaves and pale green flowering shoots of purple sprouting broccoli; the leaves and flowering heads of rhubarb and the tall flowering spikes and leaves of sweet corn are all invaluable. All of these are grown just as if they were being used for culinary purposes.

A good source of supply for decorative purposes is the hedgerow or field. It is surprising how much material can be gathered which is usually just regarded as ‘wild’ and yet is ideal for use.

While some of these subjects may not be able to vie with their cultivated relatives for size or even form, many look well arranged on their own, while one or two flower-heads or seed-pods placed among the garden flowers provide just that touch of distinction which so many arrangements need.

Among such items are the flat flower-heads of wild carrot and cow parsley, the heads of the teasel thistle, poppy seed-heads, which can be painted or gilded, wild-rose hips, and the haws or clusters of scarlet berries from the hawthorn. Racemes of elderberries, properly placed, are also most effective, while sprays of blueberries which can be found growing wild on the hillside are also useful.

The sticky buds and opening leaves of the horse chestnut and sprays of pussy willow may be obtained without real damage to the trees. Cut when young, they can be forced for very early flowering.

Small branches or twigs of the ordinary privet, laden with black berries, are of value, as are the russet-bronze leaves of the copper beech. A few stems of barley, oats and other corn add variation, and it is possible to sow seeds of these in the garden.

Although, generally speaking, wild plants are not so long-lasting as the cultivated kinds, if they are plunged into water as soon as cut and have the base of the stem slightly split, they will remain in good condition for a long time, especially if moss is placed at the base of the stems as they stand in the water.



  • Aconitum (Monkshood) various.
  • Anchusa, various.
  • Aster (Michaelmas Daisy).
  • Campanula, various.
  • Catanache coerulea.
  • Delphinium.
  • Echinops (Globe Thistle).
  • Irises.
  • Lupinus (Lupin) various.
  • Myosotis (Forget-Me-Not).
  • Scabiosa causasica.
  • Veronica, various.


  • Anemone pultatilla.
  • Campanula, various.
  • Erigeron, various.
  • Eryngium, various.
  • Galega (Goat’s Rue), various.
  • Geranium grandiflorum.
  • Lupinus (Lupin), various.
  • Nepeta (Catmint), various.
  • Phlox, various.
  • Primula denticulata.
  • Statice
  • Tradescantia leonora.


  • Astilbe (Spiraea).
  • Bellis perennis.
  • Chrysanthemum, various.
  • Geum, Mrs Bradshaw.
  • Helenium.
  • Kai phofia (Red Hot Poker), various.
  • Monarda (Bergamot)
  • Cambridge Scarlet.
  • Paeonia (Paeony), various.
  • Phlox.
  • Potentilla.
  • Pyrethrum, various.
  • Sidalcea, various.


  • Armeria (Sea Pink), various.
  • Aster (Michaelmas Daisy), various.
  • Astilbe (Spiraea), various.
  • Centranthus (Valerian).
  • Chrysanthemum, various.
  • Dielytra (Dicentra), various.
  • Heuchera, various.
  • Lavatera.
  • Lupinus (Lupin), various.
  • Phlox decussata.
  • Pyrethrum, various.
  • Schirostylis ‘MRS. HEGARTY’


  • Achillea (Milfoil).
  • Aster (Michaelmas Daisy), various.
  • Campanula persicifolia alba.
  • Chrysanthemum maximum.
  • Gypsophila, various.
  • Helleborus (Christmas rose), various.
  • Paeonia (Paeony), various.
  • Pyrethrum, various.
  • Scabious, `Miss Willmott’.
  • Sidalcea candida. Spiraea, various.
  • Tiarella cordiftlia (Foam Flower).


  • Achillea eupatorium.
  • Alstromeria. Anthemis.
  • Aster luteus.
  • Gaillardia. Geum.
  • Helenium.
  • Helianthus.
  • Heliopsis, ‘Orange Queen’.
  • Rudbeckia (Cone Flower).
  • Solidago (Golden Rod).
  • Trollius (Globe Flower).


  • Acer (Maple), various.
  • Amelanchier (Snowy Mespilus).
  • Ampelopsis (Virginia Creeper).
  • Berberis, various.
  • Cornus (Dogwood), various.
  • Corylopsis, various.
  • Cotoneaster, various.
  • Enkianthus campanulatus.
  • Gaultheria, various.
  • Gingko biloba (Maidenhair Tree).
  • Hamamelis arborea (Witch Hazel).


  • Achillea filipendulina. Cineraria maritima.
  • Hippophae rhamnoides.
  • Lavender grappenhall’.
  • Perowskia
  • Pinks in variety.
  • Hypericum Henryi (St John’s Wort).
  • Leycesteria formosa (Partridge Berry).
  • Liquidamber so,raciflua.
  • Liriodendron tulipiftra (Tulip Tree).
  • Quercus coccinea (Scarlet Oak).
  • Ribes aureum (Flowering Currant).
  • Viburnum plicatum (Guelder Rose).
  • Salvia lavendulifolia.
  • Santolina incana.
  • Senecio greyii.
  • Stachys lanata.
  • Veronica ‘Wendy’.
  • Verbascum broussa.


  • Ailanthus glandulosa (Tree of Heaven).
  • Arbutus unedo (Strawberry Tree).
  • Berberis, various.
  • Chaenomeles (Cydonia).
  • Cornus mas (Comelian Cherry).
  • Cotoneaster, various.
  • Crataegus, various.
  • Daphne metereum, various.
  • Gaultheria, various.
  • Hi ppophae rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn).
  • Ilex (Holly), various.
  • Leycesteria formosa (Partridge Berry).
  • Pemettya, various.
  • Pyrus (Fruiting Crab and Mountain Ash).
  • Rosa (Rose), various species.
  • Ruscus aculeatus (Butcher’s Broom).
  • Skimmia japonica, various.
  • Symphoricarpus racemosus (Snow-berry).


  • Amaranthus caudatus.
  • Euphorbia wulftnii.
  • Helleborus orientalis.
  • Ixia Mignonette.
  • Afolurella laevis.
  • Rosa chinensis viridiflora.
  • Tulipa viridijkra.


  • Sweet Bay.
  • Buxus (Box).
  • Clove Carnations.
  • Daphne Mezereum.
  • Hesperis (Double Rocket).
  • Oenothera (Evening Primrose).
  • Freesias.
  • Gardenias.
  • Heliotrope.
  • Honeysuckle.
  • Jasmine.
  • Lavender.
  • Lilac.
  • Lilium auratum.
  • Lily of the Valley.
  • Mentha (Peppermint).
  • Mignonette.
  • Philadelphus (Mock Orange).
  • Myrtle.
  • Matthiola Bicornis.
  • Pinks.
  • Primrose.
  • Roses.
  • Rosemary.
  • Sage.
  • Southernwood (Artemesia).
  • Stocks.
  • Sweet Briar.
  • Sweet Peas.
  • Sweet Scabious.
  • Sweet William.
  • Thyme.
  • Tuberose.
  • Viburnum in variety.
  • Violets.
  • Wallflowers.

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