Cut Flowers From Flowering Shrubs, Trees, Climbers and Roses

There are periods of the year when a good supply of flowers is not easy to find in the average-size garden. It is therefore very fortunate that flowering-shrubs and trees of many kinds can be used both in and out of flower. They can help a great deal because they give the height and background needed in many flower arrangements, and their use does enable a satisfactory result to be achieved with few flowers. In using shrubs and trees for this purpose it is not necessary, or in any way desirable, to denude them entirely; in fact, many look better in the garden if they are kept cut back, which is best done a little at a time and often. This cutting may be regarded as judicious pruning, and even with shrubs and trees which do not usually require pruning, the flowering branches can be safely shortened or thinned at the time when pruning would normally be done.

Flowering shrubs suitable for cut flowers or foliage should definitely be grown by the indoor flower decorator.


There are no cultural difficulties and practically all will thrive in a good, deep soil rich in humus content. One or two dislike lime, and this will be mentioned where it applies. Firm planting is always essential, and it is advisable to tread the soil around the stems from time to time until the plants become established.

Azaleas are very colourful, and for preference they should be arranged without the addition of other flowers. The Mollis varieties in particular are most pleasing. Plenty of peat and absence of lime in the soil suit them.

There are berberises in wide variety, and the majority will thrive in almost any position, excepting a waterlogged soil. They succeed in both sun and shade. The well-known Berberis aquifblium should really be referred to as Mahonia.

Aquifolium. Its large, dark-green, glossy leaves are useful in many types of arrangement, and when growing in a sunny place and in poor ground the foliage assumes handsome autumn tints. During February and March this berberis forms heads of yellow flowers, followed by darkish-blue berries. Mahonia japonica, ‘Beale?, has larger, more spreading racemes of fragrant lemon-yellow flowers, not unlike lily of the valley in shape. They are succeeded by paler-blue berries. Other most decorative, evergreen berberises are Darwinii and stenophylla, the latter with slender arching stems and both having orange-yellow flowers in the spring.

Buddleia. Some varieties are of use indoors. They will last reasonably well, so long as the bottom of the stem is crushed to enable water to be drawn up. B. globosa is a tall-growing shrub, laden in May with orange-yellow, ball-like flowers. Quite different is B. variabilis and its varieties, which produce long inflorescences in late spring. The variety ‘Magnifica’ is dark purple; ‘Pink Pearl’, lilac-pink, and ‘Veitchiana’, lavender. B. alternifolia has arching branches of fragrant lilac flowers.

Camellia. It was once considered that this beautiful flowering shrub was suitable only for greenhouse culture. Experience has proved that some species and varieties will grow outdoors in a sheltered position against a wall or among other shrubs. For preference, a site should be selected which is not subjected to continuous full sunshine.

Camellias dislike lime, and should be planted in good ground containing plenty of peat or leaf mould and decayed manure. The easiest camellias to grow outdoors are the japonica varieties with white, crimson or pink flowers, some being prettily striped and either single or double. Apart from the flowers, which appear from March onwards, the foliage is valuable, and individual leaves may be used for various decorative purposes, although it is the wax-like flowers for which this shrub is prized.

C. sasemqua is less vigorous, and should be given rather more protection. It produces single white flowers during January and February.

Caryopteris Clandonensis Will produce quantities of deep mauve sprays during August and September. Kept lightly pruned each spring, it makes a shapely bush.

Ceanothus do best in full sun and with the protection of a wall. From July uhtil the frosts come they produce a wealth of flower-spikes of elegant appearance. Among the best varieties are `Gloire de Versailles’, powder blue; ‘Marie Simon’, pink; and ‘Topaz’, indigo-blue.

Chaenomeles. The flowering quince, which we have for so long known as Cydonia japonica or ‘japonica’. This will grow against a wall or fence or in the open as a bush. Early in the year it will produce showy, cup-shaped flowers in great abundance, and either good-sized branches laden with flowers or one or two sprays may be used indoors. Apart from the red flowers of C. japonica itself, there are many varieties,

including `Cardinalis’, salmon; and flore plena, double pink. C. maulei, `Knaphill Scarlet’, is superb, its bright orange-scarlet blooms appearing during spring and early summer, while Simonsii is dark crimson.

Chimonanthus Fragrans or Praecox is the Winter Sweet. The flowers are not brilliantly coloured, but are most interesting and pleasing both when growing and when brought indoors. The scented blooms are pale yellow with purplish centres and are borne on the bare twigs throughout the winter, however cold. The bushes dislike very heavy soil, and a mulch of peat should be applied to the soil around the base of newly planted specimens. Pruning should be done as soon as the flowering period is over.

Choisya Ternata is the Mexican Mock Orange, which produces its handsome white, sweetly scented flowers during the late spring and summer.

Cornus. All the species and varieties in this most useful family are of easy culture. Of the flowering species, the Cornelian Cherry C. mas is the most valuable for using indoors. During February and March its leafless stems are loaded with small yellow flowers. These are usually followed by red berries, not unlike the hips of the wild rose. Cornus kousa is small-growing, with creamy-white flowers surrounded by white bracts in June.

Cotoneaster. This family is very large and has many uses. The outstanding feature is the conspicuous clusters of berries which, according to species, range in colour from bright orange-scarlet through shades of red to an almost black. In most instances the entire branches may be cut and used indoors, and even before the berries form the stems are clothed with small, white or pinky-white flowers of attractive appearance. Cotoneasters have many uses. They may be grown against a wall or fence and used for hedging or as specimen plants. Among the good species are C. bullata, corrugated leaves and red berries, C. frigida, crimson berries, and C. simonsii, glossy green foliage, bright orange-scarlet berries.

Daphne Mezereum produces clusters of purplish-red, sweetly-scented flowers before the leaves appear in February and March. The shrub makes only a limited amount of growth, so that there is never likely to be much material available. If left, the flowers are followed by showy, scarlet berries during the summer. It is difficult to resist cutting a few sprays of this lovely flower in the winter.

Deutzia. This is another most easily cultivated genus of shrubs which flowers freely from June onwards. Most attain a height of 4-6 ft, although scabra and its varieties, which are among the best for cutting, will often reach to ft. ‘Pride of Rochester’ has pure white, double flowers and fore pleno is rosy-purple. These are fast-growing subjects and may be cut well, which will keep the bushes in good shape.

Diervilla (Weigela) requires similar treatment. The flowers may be likened to those of the foxglove, and appear freely during May and June. For best results they should be grown in a fairly rich soil, where they will reach a height of about 6 ft. Good varieties include: ‘Abel Carriere’, bright rose; ‘Descartes’, dark crimson; and ‘Mont Blanc’, white.

Enkianthus require a lime-free soil. Provided with this, these pleasing shrubs will produce from May onwards many flowers similar to lily of the valley. It is, however, the exquisite autumn colouring of the foliage which makes this subject so pleasing. E. campanulatus has yellow flowers veined red, and there is a form with white blooms.

Erica. Although the heathers do not like a soil containing lime, Erica carnea will flourish on a slightly alkaline soil. Fortunately this species has many varieties so that it is possible to have blooms available from November until early April. Among the best are: ‘King George’, deep pink; `Springwood Pink’, a fine variety; `Springwood White’; and `Vivellie, deep rosy-crimson.

All ericas like a soil containing much peat, but the following species and varieties will not stand any lime: E. cinerea atrosanguinea, deep red; E. darleyensis, 5-18 in. high, rose-pink flowers during the winter; E. mediterranea, fragrant rosy-red flowers from March to May.

Escallonias are hardy evergreens which are especially good when grown near a wall. They are useful, too, for forming ornamental hedges of glossy, dark-green leaves and flower effectively during the summer. Reliable varieties include ‘C. F. Ball’, rosy-crimson; `Donard Seedling’, flesh-pink buds, opening to white; langleyensis’, bright crimson on drooping branches, and macrantha, rosy-crimson.

Forsythia is very well known, and yet it might very well be used much more for indoor decoration than it is at present. It is extremely hardy and of easy cultivation, the yellow flowers being freely produced all along the branches, which, since they are so abundant, may be cut without hesitation. F. intermedia and its varieties make vigorous shrubs of 8 ft or more. F. suspensa is of rather rambling habit, but suitable for growing against a wall. These flower from early February onwards; F. viridissima blooms in April.

Fuchsia magellanica riccartonii is one of the most reliable of the hardy fuchsias and has been used for hedge-making with great success. Most of the previous season’s wood dies back annually, but plenty of new growth is made, the scarlet and purple flowers being most effective when cut and placed in vases. A smaller-growing sort is F. procumbens, while the little F. pumila is charming indoors.

Garrya ellivrica is a distinctive evergreen, which in the colder Midland and northern districts should have the protection of a wall. The grey-green leaves are attractive in themselves for indoor decoration, but coupled as they are during January and February with long, hanging, yellowish-green catkins, they are really superb, especially as flowers are normally scarce at that time. It is usually possible to obtain both male and female plants, the former being much more effective with their longer catkins.

Genista Hispanica, the ‘Spanish Gorse’, thrives in a sunny, dry place. The low-growing bushes produce yellow flowers in April.

Halesia Carolina produces snowdrop-like, silvery-white flowers on leafless branches from the end of April. It thrives best on a chalk-free soil.

Hamamelis. This is the Witch Hazel, which flowers from December to March, withstanding the severest weather. It likes a rich, deep soil and will not grow well in shallow, chalky ground. The curious undulating petals are strap-shaped and are followed by quite large leaves. H. japonica is of spreading habit with yellow flowers, and H. .ruccariniana is lemon-yellow. H. mollis is probably the best species, with fragrant, golden-yellow blooms. Sprays of these flowers used alone or with other subjects create a pleasing decoration.

Hydrangea. As well as the indoor pot specimens, there are some species which are quite hardy. H. arborescens grandiflora forms clusters of large white flowers from July to September. In milder districts the attractive varieties of H. hortensis can be grown. There are many colours available, although hydrangeas do not blue naturally in all soils, so that where really blue flowers are required, it is necessary to add blueing powder to the soil. This can be done by using Corry’s Hydrangea Colourant or sulphate of iron powder, according to the directions on the tin.

Hypericum. The St John’s Wort revels in almost any soil and position. Some species are excellent for ground covering. Others grow 3-5 ft high, the flowering period extending from July to early October. H. calycinum is the Rose of Sharon; H. moserianum is good and the varieties of H. patulum are first class. All have rich golden-yellow flowers with prominent stamens which look grand when seen arranged in vases.

Kalmia Latifolia likes a lime-free, peaty soil and is a most beautiful flowering evergreen. There will probably never be a lot of blooms which can be cut without reducing the size of the shrubs, but where the clusters of pink flowers which appear in June are brought indoors, they always command attention.

Lavender is among the most highly prized of all fragrant shrubs and, by reason of its grey-green foliage, can be used in so many kinds of decoration. It will grow in almost any soil and likes the sun. There are various species and varieties, varying in height from 9 in. to 4 ft or so. The typical flower-spikes are ready for cutting during July and August.

Leycesteria Formosa produces its white flowers surrounded by claret-coloured bracts from July to September. In addition, the 3-4 ft stems are a vivid sea-green colour during the winter, making them of value for indoor use.

Magnolia. This very large genus contains both deciduous and evergreen species and varieties, which provide a most magnificent display from March to June. Among their requirements are a good depth of soil, a sheltered position and shade from the early morning sun. Of the deciduous species, M. parviflora has fragrant flowers with white petals and claret-coloured stamens. M. soulangiana is hardy and has white petals stained with purple. M. stellate has semi-double, pure white fragrant flowers appearing during March and April. Magnolia grandiflora is a hardy evergreen, usually grown against a wall. It has large, fragrant flowers and big, glossy leaves, both of which look grand when used indoors.

Olearia Haastii is the Daisy Bush, which is hardy everywhere in Britain. Attractive and easily cultivated, this evergreen produces very many whitish, daisy-like flowers throughout July and August, on good-sized bushes anything from 4 to 6 ft.

Phlomis Fruticosa is the Jerusalem Sage, which bears whorls of bright yellow, attractive flowers in the summer, and is most useful in a mixed arrangement.

Phygelius Capensis is a very handsome plant, which must be grown in a warm, sheltered position in the full sun. The scarlet tubular flowers, an inch or more in length, appear on 2-3-ft stems in the late summer and autumn.

Prunus. This is the title of a very large family of flowering shrubs and trees. P. amygdalus is the flowering almond which in March produces a wealth of delightful pink flowers on leafless branches. `Pollardir is a fine variety, useful for its cut stems of single deep pink flowers. P. persica is the flowering peach, which is not quite so hardy as the almond but equally as ornamental, although just a little later

blooming. The variety ‘Clara Meyer’ has double pink flowers. There is also a double white form.

Prunus cerasifera pissardii is the well-known purple-leaf plum, with very small pinkish-white flowers in March. P. blireana has coppery foliage and double pink rosettes. P. cerasus is the beautiful flowering cherry, of which there are literally dozens of species and varieties. One of the most popular is known as `hisakura’ or lanzan’, with clusters of double, rich pink flowers. The young growths are bronze-coloured, making them of special value for floral arrangements. There are other pink and white forms flowering in the spring, while P. subhirtella autumnalis produces its small pink flowers intermittently from the end of October until March.

Pyrus malus has long been recognised as the name of the flowering crabs, although it is now correct to refer to the genus as Malus. Many varieties, apart from their showy flowers and coloured foliage, produce attractive fruits, some being of value for making jelly. Among the best for cutting are Theal’s Crimson’; ‘John Downie’; and `Sikkimensis’.

Rhododendron. This well-known shrub must have a peaty, lime-free soil. The range of varieties is extremely wide, and very often a stem or two of flowers makes an ornamental vase without any addition. Some of the early flowering, small-growing species are of particular value for bringing indoors.

Ribes is the flowering currant. Among the varieties of sanguineum which produce hanging bunches of showy flowers and of which long stems can be cut in March and April are carneunz, flesh-pink, and ‘King Edward VII’, intense crimson. All thrive in most soils and situations and will attain a height of 6-7 ft.

Romneya Coulteri is the `Tree Poppy’, thriving in warm, sunny places. The large, satiny-white flowers, 4 in. or more in diameter, have a showy centre of golden anthem, while the leaves are bluish-grey.

Salvia Grahamii is an attractive shrub which produces from July until October quantities of showy scarlet flowers. It should be grown in a warm, sheltered border.

Senecio Greyii is a handsome, compact shrub with bright yellow, daisy-like flowers throughout the summer. It is, however, for its silvery-grey foliage that it is of special value. It will succeed in all but the coldest districts and loves the sun and well-drained soil.

Syringa. This is the proper name of the lilac, and the shrub usually referred to as `syringa’ is really Philadelphus, which does not last well when cut.

It is a sun-loving subject, and although it will grow in any good soil, a fairly rich rooting medium will induce good results. The colour range of the single and double varieties is very extensive, and of particular value is the species S. persica, a graceful shrub with narrow leaves and small, fragrant, lavender-coloured flowers.

After cutting, many flower decorators remove all the lower leaves from the stems and place the ends of the stems over a flame, or plunge them into boiling water in order to seal the base. Alternatively, the bottoms of the stems can be crushed immediately before they are put in water.

Ulex is the proper name for Gorse, which produces its bright, golden-yellow flowers from spring to autumn. It will grow well on poor, stony ground and may be used for covering banks. Though prickly, it is effective indoors. U. europaeus is at its best from February to May, while U. gallii will flower profusely from August onwards.

Veronica. A very large family of ornamental summer and autumn flower-plants which love the sun and grow well in any good soil. The spikes of blooms are available in very many shades of colour, some being on quite small plants, others developing to 5 or 6 ft high. Reference to a catalogue of a shrub specialist will indicate the named varieties ranging in colour from white, lilac, pale blue, deep blue to pink and crimson.

Vnrurnum. In this extensive family there are both deciduous and evergreen species. The majority prefer a soil which does not dry out at any time and although liking the sun they will succeed in partial shade. V. opulus sterile is the ‘Guelder Rose’, a fine flowering shrub with white, ball-shaped flower-heads. V. opulus fructo-luteo is of value because of the yellow fruits which form when the flowers have passed over. V. tomentosum has freely borne white flowers, and the variety plicatum has ball-like, pure white blooms.

Of the evergreen species, V. drum is outstanding. Often known as the `Laurustinus’, it will in time form a dense shrub 8–To ft high, its particular value being that it produces clusters of purplish-rose buds, followed by white flowers from November to April. It is first class when cut for winter decoration.

Apart from wall shrubs such as ceanothus and forsythia, there are a number of climbing subjects from which it is possible to obtain flowers and foliage for cutting purposes and which can be used in floral art. None is more adaptable than the clematis, of which there are many species and varieties. As cut blooms they have long-lasting qualities; often 10 days or more, and if the right sorts are chosen they will have long, strong stems. Among the best of the large-flowered varieties are: `Lasurstern’, reddish-violet; ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’, double, pure white; ‘Comtesse de Bouchard’, soft pink; and ‘Perle d’azure’, light blue. There are several small-flowered sorts, as well as some with unusual and irregular-shaped flowers. Even the wild Clematis, vitalba (Traveller’s Joy), will serve as a foil to more colourful subjects. The large-flowered clematis like a soil containing plenty of organic matter and prefer to have their roots in the shade, with the top growth in the full sun.

Several of the loniceras or honeysuckles are most suitable for floral decoration, and sprays of foliage and flowers will add informality to any creation. Stems of jasmine and solanum are also useful.

Roses are indispensable as cut flowers. The colour range is almost limitless, while there are some with high, pointed buds and others almost flat or bowl shaped. Apart from the elegant hybrid tea varieties, there are the polyantha and floribunda sections and a tremendously wide range of species. Many of the latter have scented foliage as well as flowers. The stems and leaves of some of the species are highly ornamental.

Climbing and rambler roses, too, have their value, and although there are fewer of them, there are many worth growing.

The site selected for roses should be open and sunny, and the soil should be prepared some weeks in advance of planting to allow the soil time to settle. Incorporate well-decayed manure, compost and bone meal, and plant firmly, spreading out the roots well, first cutting away any which are damaged or broken. Retread the soil from time to time until the roses are established.

Pruning is important, especially with the hybrid teas, which are the most widely grown. The first season after planting they should be cut back to the second or third bud at the end of March. In subsequent years they will not need quite such severe cutting, but annual pruning is a necessity. Standards can be treated similarly. Climbers must not be cut so drastically, and ramblers are pruned in July or August. The idea with these is to cut out the old wood so that the new basal growths can be trained in place. Rose species need no regular pruning, being cut as necessary. The polyantha and floribunda sorts are pruned less severely than the hybrid teas.

It would be impossible to give here a really representative list of varieties. The following are all good, but by no means the only ones worth growing. Some are old, yet they remain reliable, and all are scented H.T.’s: ‘Autumn’; ‘Charles Mallerin’ ; ‘Crimson Glory’; ‘Dame Edith Helen’; ‘Glory of Rome;’ Golden Dawn’; ‘Lady Sylvia’; ‘Madame Butterfly’; ‘Monique’; ‘Ophelia’ ; `Richmond’; ‘Shot Silk’; `Sutter’s Gold’; ‘Talisman’ and ‘The Doctor’. Polyantha and floribunda sorts: ‘Cecile Brunner’; ‘Else Poulsen’ ; ‘Fashion’; ‘Frensham’; ‘Queen Elizabeth’; Tantaus Delight’; ‘Van Nes’. Shrub roses of special use in decorations include: ‘Blanche Moreau’; Chinensis viridiflora, ‘the Green Rose’; Rosa gallica varieties; the hybrid Musks, Penzance and other sweet Briars and the Rugosa varieties.

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