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Greens to Grow at Home


It's plain and simple: I'm a harvester from the word "go!". Nothing thrills me more than getting an creative idea for a flower arrangement, then going to my yard and surrounding areas cutting incredible variety of foliage to give my designs the depth and visual presence I love to achieve. There is so much great product to use right around us....sometimes hard to see because we are so used to seeing these plants as just "yard" embellishments. But to me, they are a gold mine of wonderful design elements, precious and so vital to our creative nature.

I'm fortunate to live on California's Central Coast where the weather is mild yet warm enough to grow most things all year. We do get some frost so sometimes this precious foliage can get burned or slow it's growth in the winter. But for most of the year I have wonderful things to harvest for my designs. You can as well, even if you live in a cold area. You just have to be creative and shield some of the items from the cold air.

Here’s a list of some of the things I’ve grown and continually harvest for my designs. There are many more so research and enjoy this part of your floral design journey. It’s close to my heart....growing and harvesting are such a pleasure and make our world a much more beautiful place for all of us to live in.

PITTISPORUM

This green is used all over the place for landscaping. It's very hardy and slow growing with good shape. That's why many landscapers will use this plant in their designs, as maintenance is so easy with a good looking plant. There's a few types available, but the most common are the varigated and the solid green varieties. I use both in my designs as the green as great texture and long lasting quality. This greenery is also readily available from the flower sources I’ve listed, or wholesalers as well.

NANDINA “heavenly bamboo”

These vertical plants have an asian quality when you see them in the landscape world. Great coloring in rusty oranges and greens. Another slow grower so quite a favorite for the landscape world in warmer areas. I’ve used the plant as a design feature as well as the foliage in flower arrangements and wedding work. It gives the designs great texture and lasts really well in corsages and other designs.

AFRICAN BOXWOOD

Slow growing and a thick, luscious color to work with this boxwood lasts forever in flower designs. Hearty to a fault, it will give your arrangements cool depth as well as tall presence.

ENGLISH BOXWOOD

Used in many landscaping designs, this green is incredibly slow growing as well. The foliage is cool to use as it lasts and lasts. I usually spray mine with a plant leaf shine to give the foliage a clean, crisp look. They make great hedges, are very cold tolerant, and give yards a constant green presence.

ASPARAGUS FERNS

Spregerii is a variety we see in many places. The fronds are long and graceful, but they do have some thorns, so wear gloves when harvesting. If you have larger arrangements that need the flow of greenery, this a great choice. I also have cut the small tendrils off the long stems and used them in smaller arrangements as well. Another long lasting green.

Myerii (foxtail) seems to be used in many landscaping areas as well. This fern has such good architectural form, and can take some mild sun. I love using this fern in designs to give a vertical aspect and architectural form. The plant does best in shaded areas, but a little sun keeps the plant more compact than leggy.

Plumosas is light and airy and grows great in the shade. It’s a climber so best if you provide an area where it can climb and you tie it on, such as a trellis. So beautiful in arrangements for a subtle and light visual.

SUCCULENTS

A huge favorite of mine because they gives such archtictural qualtiy and depth to floral designs. They last forever, and even root in the design to enjoy for years. Tons of varieties to work with and grow at hope. Truly simple to propagate.....just place in soil, give some water and lots of light, and they will root very soon. These can grow indoors in colder areas as long as they have adequate light. Since they are so popular you can find them everywhere to buy to start your own succulent “farm”. There are large specimens down to very small, so a great item to harvest for designs. They can be painted different colors as well for a cool look.

SEDUM

There are ALL types of sedum and these guys are wonderful for flower arranging work...I just love ‘em! Small, trailing and a great ground cover, sedum comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and colors. Very easy to cut apart and propagate in other areas of your yard. There are also upright larger varieties as well. Wholesalers/growers usually have them available in spring and summer. Very easy to grow and hearty as heck. Like succulents they will root in the flower arrangement as a lasting gift for the recipient.

ROSEMARY

Totally a mediterranean look in yards, this gem has quite a fragrance. Of course it’s an herb, but also has many uses in the landscaping field. There are upright varieties as well as trailing. Many people don’t trim them properly or let them go wild so they get very woody and not too attractive in their yards. The key is to trim them to have their natural shape. I don’t like it when people cut them into hedges; they just weren’t made for this. One thing to remember is because of the aromatic properties of the foliage, you can’t use the green in all your designs.

Hospitals and restaurants would be a no no for sure. Just keep that in my when arranging your designs.

DUSTY MILLER

With such beautiful gray foliage, Dusty Miller is a wonderful green to use. This plant gets a yellow type of button flower, but I usually cut and use mine before the flower arrives as the plant gets spindly when as it flowers. The foliage is beautiful in wedding work and to arrange in all types of designs. Dusty Miller is a perennial that will come back every year. Not terribly hardy but still a beauty to add into your yard with other annuals.

AUSTRALIAN FLAX

This green is used all over the place for landscaping. What I love about it is it’s graceful addition to designs for height and color. There are a few different varieties in yellow, orange,

and bronze tones. Another long lasting green in your flower arrangements. Looks great in your yard for a contemporary look, mediterranean, asian, and such.

SEA FOAM STATICE

Probably a bit overdone in California landscaping, the blooms on this puppy are a great blue/purple color to use in designs and last a long time. They have a great cluster-looking property in landscape work but need to be cleaned yearly to look good. The flower makes a great filler and you can use the greenery to tuck in here and there in your floral designs. The greens make a great collar for your bridal bouquets as well as long as you’re using the bouquet holders with floral foam. They seem to need a constant supply of moisture.

PAPYRUS

Tall and elegant, Papyrus has such a contemporary yet old world look. The long greenery gives a cool design element to larger pieces, with such a visual expanse. Lots of water for this plant and they can be grown in and around ponds.

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