Trees and Shrubs For Use In Dried Arrangements

TREES

Most of the conifers (that is, those with flat needles, as opposed to pine or spruce, which will not press) are useful, mainly for background work. The store should always contain as many sprays as possible of Chamcecyparis (False Cypress), Cypressus (Cypress), Juniperus (Juniper), Taxus (Yew) and Thuja. All these evergreens dry easily and retain their colour. If any of the gathered stems are especially thick, the small sprays can be removed from them and pressed separately. Pressed and kept in a cool atmosphere, they may well last for years.

Among the garden trees, perhaps the Acers (Maples), A. Pseudoplatanus (Sycamore) with its seed-head “keys”, and Sorbus Aucuparia (Mountain Ash) provide the most beautiful and adaptable leaves for preserving. All these should be collected the moment they start to fall and should be placed immediately face-downwards between sheets of blotting paper for pressing. Leaves of Platanus acerifolia (the London Plane Tree) together with its berries, are equally useful. The dangling seed-heads of Betula pendula (Silver Birch) are most graceful when varnished and invaluable in taller arrangements. So, too, are all varieties of eucalyptus – leaves and berries. Seed-heads of the common single lilac and sprays of young beech are also well worth collecting, and so too are the leaves of elm. The beautiful leaves of Nothofagus procera and Parrotia persica form charming additions to the collector’s pressing store.

SHRUBSTrees and Shrubs For Use In Dried Arrangements

The number of shrubs is legion. Luckily the policy of turning so many gardens over to flowering shrubs for economic reasons, is indeed a happy one for the collector. In this category the Acer (Maple) tribe again tops the list with Acer palmatum (the Japanese Maple) which has many varieties – A. p. atropurpureum, A. p. dissectum, and kindred varieties – all with flame-coloured delicate leaves which should be pressed and stored in blotting paper, with the greatest care. If sufficient quantities are available these leaves make exquisite arrangements set in Plasticine in candlesticks, with little else added. Many of the Rosa species have beautiful leaves, and the arranger should always be on the look-out for them. In particular, the leaves of the practically thornless Rosa rubrifolia, with their out-of-this-world soft grey-green colouring, and mauve-purple sheen are breathtaking in their delicate beauty. Among the other genera of the Rosacece family are many species which are worth the leaf collector’s attention, such as the Rubus (Bramble) tribe, including the blackberry and kindred species, whether cultivated or wild.

Among the other shrubs with leaves useful for dried arrangements are camellia, rhododendron, Aucuba japonica, Arbutus Unedo (the Strawberry Tree) Olearia Haastii (the Daisy Tree) and O. macrodonta, Prunus Lusitanica (Portugal Laurel), Laurus nobilis (Sweet Bay), cotoneaster, Siphonosmanthus Delavayi syn. Osmanthus Delavayi – w hole sprays of this should be picked for pressing (one appears in the centre of the frontispiece, behind the frontal helichrysum) – Elceagnus ebbingei, and hydrangeas, especially the small floret forms of H. Hortensia and the quite exquisite delicate blooms of H. cinerea sterilis. H. paniculata grandijiora is also a “must” for the dried flower collector, with its white-shading-to-pink flower-heads, so invaluable for the basal front of an arrangement – either “inset” or projecting outwards, in all its beauty.

Other treasures are mahonia (leaves as well as seed-heads), laurel, Rosa species (many leaves press well), many of the viburnums, especially V. Davidii, and V. rhytidophyllum, and Ruta graveolens “Jackman’s Blue” (Rue); Rosmarinus (Rosemary) also dries early in the season, when it can be lightly pressed. No arranger can afford to be without Senecio laxifolium – formerly S. Greyii – with its rather tough silvery-backed evergreen leaves. For high background sprays, the many forms of Genista (Broom) are useful. Skimmia is certainly worthy of inclusion here, both for its beautiful, dark, shining leaves and pretty berry heads, and so too are Choisya ternata (Mexican Orange), magnolia, Pceonia suffruticosa (Tree Pony), Pyrus salicifolia, Artemisia arborescens, Euonymus japonicus and E. radicans, with its variegated leaf, and the quite exquisite Gleditsia (Honey-Locust).

Among the half-hardy or tender shrubs which can be grown in green-house or orangery or bought on the market is the Grevillea genus in its different forms, especially G. robusta (known as the Australian Silky Oak) – this should be pressed in quantity and a good supply of it should always be kept in the store. Its fern-like leaf can either be used entire or broken up into short fronds for use in small arrangements and as background arrangement material, and it keeps for years. G. asplenifolia is quite different in form from G. robusta. Its long slender leaves with serrated edges and silver backs are most beautiful, together with its shining dark red arching stems and exquisite small red-brown flower-heads. It presses most easily and lasts for months or even years. It is quite invaluable to the dried flower arranger, and a supply of this too should always be kept in the store.

The most useful climbing shrubs are found among the Hedera species (Ivies) – leaves and berries – Vitis Coignetice, V. Henryana, V. vinifera purpurea and V. v. Brandt (Grape-vines), and many of the clematis, especially C. macropetala and other species – clematis seed-heads, fluffy or varnished, are invaluable, and a few unopened varnished buds are pretty for a change. Both Humulus scandens (the cultivated perennial Hop), which can be grown as a climbing annual, and its wild counterpart, H. Lupulus, are attractive when dried for arrangements.

Furthermore, the dried flower arranger seeking flowers to preserve can choose from the wide, and immensely valuable, range of garden floribunda roses – particularly the commercially grown species such as “Garnette”, “Carol”, and others of the same kind, which can be readily bought at florists, in markets, and off street barrows.

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