Using Jasmine For Flower Arrangements

Winter and summer jasmine could hardly be more different although both are well known and probably grown in the majority of gardens.

Jasminum nudiflorum, the yellow flowering winter jasmine comes into flower often in late summer or autumn. Its long, straight or slightly curving stems are studded with small flowers (looking like the proverbial ‘showers of gold’), until the worst frosts come, when the soft yellow turns transparent and the golden effect is temporarily lost. Often the flowers recover. They seem to dislike the bitter east winds of February almost more than the coldest frost.

Winter jasmine foliage is splendid in the summer—dark and rather shining, and the leaves look exactly as though they are evergreen and will remain throughout the winter. (Perhaps this is because of their dark colour and neat sturdy appearance.) In fact, they fall in the autumn like all other deciduous shrubs and climbers, leaving the bare branches to carry the splendour of the flowers.

These flowers can bring their clear yellow so reminiscent of spring to brighten the greyness of a cold winter day. It is especially heartening to cut branches with tight buds and watch them open and come out in the heat of a room. Sometimes for a table decoration a long stem can be cut into two or three short pieces and arranged in a small group, with other flowers. The feathery blue-green foliage of rue looks most attractive with the rather austere jasmine stems, and gives it a becoming lightness of shape.Using Jasmine For Flower Arrangements

The long, dark green branches with their small neat leaves make excellent material for line arrangements, and will give extra height in a tall pedestal group. The straightness and the curves of the stems make this plant suitable for many types of arrangement.

Jasminum officinale, the ‘ever-welcome’ white jasmine, a well deserved favourite of all time as Miss Jekyll describes it, is enchanting in both foliage and flower. The fern like leaf grows on curving stems which are a gift to flower arrangers. (There are very few plants with such stems and such foliage.) Jasminum officinale is sometimes described as ‘a semi-evergreen’, since it keeps its charming leaves on well into the winter, when they are even more welcome than ever.

The white flowers, touched with pink, grow in small clusters with the tight and more deeply tinged buds. All are sweetly scented. In August when the flowers are out this is a wonderful plant to cut for arrangement. The stems are immensely useful either in a tall pedestal arrangement, where they curve forward, or in a smaller pedestal group, such as those arranged in a cake stand or a fairly flat dish, where they give width as well as an attractive outline. The flowers themselves can be cut short in a small bunch and arranged in a piece of white porcelain where they look quite charming. In fact they make a better show when arranged in this way as they are more clearly seen. However, when left on long branches the effect of the small rather demure flowers shining luminously through the foliage is not without its own appeal.

Later on in the year, the foliage is invaluable for contrast either in other autumnal foliage groups or alone with two or three late clematis, arranged in a narrow necked bottle or wine decanter. I find that the older jasmine foliage is inclined to last better than the new sprouting stems.

Both the winter and summer jasmine grow well against the wall of a house and although they will probably survive on a northern aspect, they prefer a sunny position. Once this is guaranteed they will repay one a thousand fold. Since both the jasmines come from more exotic lands, Jasminum officinale from Persia and Jasminum nudiflorum from China, this is understandable, and one is very grateful that they have taken so well to the weather conditions in England. Both plants grow to a height of about twelve to fifteen feet and profit by a certain amount of pruning. The winter jasmine especially, is all the better for having branches of its flowers cut, almost like sweet peas. (The new flowers do not come in the same season.)

Half hardy jasmines tempt the amateur when once they have been seen and then smelt in full flower. Mrs. Spry has written about one of these, Jasminum primulinum, and of using long sprays of it for a successful Japanese type of arrangement in a bamboo vase. Miss Sackville-West in her book In Your Garden Again introduces a half hardy plant, Jasminum polyanthum, and feels that this choice is justified. Jasminum polyanthum was introduced from China in the early part of this century, it is said by Major Lawrence Johnston, maker of the fine Hidcote garden. It has flowers that are similar to the summer jasmine, but grow in greater profusion and are rather larger in size.

This jasmine flowers indoors or in a greenhouse in the middle of the winter. Although the flowers and leaves are beautiful it is the scent which is the most remarkable thing about this plant.

During the summer and autumn it is quite possible to keep it in the garden and so Jasminum polyanthum can be included in the same category as most geraniums (Miss Sackville-West mentions it growing outside all the year round in the famous garden of Highdown, near Goring-on-Sea, Sussex, England, where it -has climbed up the side of the house to the edge of the roof).

One can say then, that in sunnier climates this jasmine is perfectly happy out of doors, but what- ever the trouble one had to take over growing it in England, all would be worthwhile just to have the glory of those white scented flowers against the dark green leaves — a delight throughout winter.

I have included here one or two suggestions for yellow-toned arrangements, using the winter jasmine when it first comes out at the beginning of the autumn:

Long, rather straight, sprays amalgamate well with yellow pompon dahlias, late, fiery red zinnias, nasturtiums, and montbretias, almost giving the effect of a bright sunset such as Turner might have painted. Then there are other pos sibilities with the spray chrysanthemums, white or yellow, and three or four lemon carnations. Later on, in the winter, when a sheltered cluster of early primroses may obligingly appear, a few short cut sprays of jasmine will make an interesting addition to the arrangement, especially if they are grouped in a flat dish with moss to look as though they are growing. Jasmine can also look most attractive at Christmas time with variegated holly.

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