Growing Cabbage Roses For Flower Arranging

Growing Cabbage Roses For Flower Arranging

Variegated plants produce striking leaves which bring light and interest into arrangements. It is always possible also to match some flower with the hues in the leaf, which means that you can make attractive arrangements from very simple flowers.

Examples that come to mind instantly are the ornamental cabbage and kale. The kale is left to seed itself in my own garden but it is usually most convenient to sow it fresh each year. The leaves are at their most beautiful during winter and early spring. At this time when flowers are scarce a few leaves of vivid magenta or some of soft cream and jade green are extremely welcome. The ‘flower’ cabbage can, like the kale, be grown in exactly the same way as the vegetable and you can also make several sowings of cabbage to prolong the season. I find it most useful in late autumn and winter.

If you care to sow a row of seed thinly and to let it grow unthinned you can raise a whole crop of tiny cabbage ‘roses’ which can act as flowers in arrangements. Whether or not you cut off the root is up to you, but if you leave it on you can replant the cabbage, deeper than it was before, and it will recover enough for you to be able to use it again another day.

Do not hesitate to use ordinary cabbages as ‘roses’. Sometimes the leaves are prettily coloured. The red pickling cabbages look particularly good in arrangements. I like to pretend that these are outsize flowers and I use them at the foot of early forced spring blossom and catkins. Once again, if you want these for flower arrangement sow a row and let it grow unthinned. Green cabbage can be lightly glittered and used in Christmas arrangements. Brussels sprouts, broccoli and all brassica leaves turn handsome colours at times and all of them can be used individually with flowers.

The twirling hosta: Hostas are remarkable among shade plants in that they will tolerate drips from dense foliage overhead. These are lovely perennials and the leaves last a long time when cut. The foliage differs according to the species. The variegated forms are most highly valued and these differ also in subtle ways. It is best to go to a garden centre or nursery and choose which variegations appeal to you most. There is a lovely white margined hosta, albo-marginata. Similar is H. undulata. The twirl into which the leaves sometimes grow is due to the waved margins and arrangements made from these are strangely appealing. The individual leaves of this particular species are very large and will grow up to two feet or more from lobe to apex. However, most hostas are small and neat enough for the average size arrangement. Besides the variegated kinds there are hostas which have beautiful leaves with a bluish-green bloom. They have attractive flowers, spires of lavender, lily-like bells.

After the leaves have faded they remain on the plant until they are sapped of green matter and look bleached. If you gather them just before they begin to curl and steep them in old rain water they will become `skeletonised’.

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