Blues – this years’ wedding flower trend?

As our thoughts turn to the spring sowing of flower seeds we have been keeping an eye on the current trends for 2018 weddings.  Certainly the talk on the various bridal forums has indicated that blue, particularly navy and royal blue, is likely to be very popular this year.  This is also borne out by the orders we have received so far.

As there are relatively few true blue flowers this could potentially be challenging if we don’t carefully plan our sowing to ensure we have a good range in flowers throughout the season.  It is, however, not just about the blue as we need to ensure that we have a selection of complementary and contrasting colours available to set off the blues perfectly.

Pew ends in blue and white with a pop of yellow.
Pew ends of blue cornflowers and dutch iris alongside white roses and feverfew providing that tiny pop of yellow. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers. Venue Wethele Manor, Warwickshire

So what are the options available for providing these blue floral arrangements with country garden flowers?

Powder Blue

I feel the lighter powder blues are perhaps easier to achieve than the darker navy and royal blues.  Many of these varieties make lovely garden plants as well as having the advantage of being good cut flowers.  Some of our favourites include:

  • ‘Love-in-a-mist’ (Nigella damascina and Nigella hispanica) – a lovely, delicate true blue flower that also yields interesting seed pods later in the season.
  • Ageratum – we particularly like the F1 strain ‘Blue Horizon’ as it has much longer cutting stems than the typical bedding varieties.  It is a great garden plant and goes on flowering its socks off and looking good until the first frosts of the autumn.
Ageratum 'Blue Horizon'
Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’
  • Sea lavender (Limonium latifolium) – a light and delicate Limonium that is great for creating the open, wispy effect that sits so well with country garden wedding bouquets.  It also dries well.
  • Scabious – this is such a fantastic meadow style flower and always looks good in country style and wild garden bouquets.
Bouquet of white peonies, blue scabious and nigella
Bouquet of white peonies, blue scabious and nigella backed with asparagus fern and pittosporum. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers
  • Sweet Peas – for fragrance you cannot beat the Sweet Pea and there are some pale blue varieties that fit this blue trend perfectly.
Pale blue sweet peas with lime green Alchemilla
Pale blue sweet peas with lime green Alchemilla
  • Didiscus – a delicate and interesting bloom that holds well and adds a meadow touch to any arrangement.
Didiscus
Didiscus

Mid-blue

  • Cornflowers – probably one of our most used blue flowers ideal for bouquets, arrangements and buttonholes.  They hold extremely well and can cope with being out of water for some time.  Cornflowers are one of a limited number of flowers that work reliably in a flower crown of fresh flowers on a hot summers day.  They are also edible and can be used as cake flowers.
Flower Girl Wand in blue and white bound with white satin.
Flower Girl Wand in blue and white bound with white satin. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers
  • Delphiniums – these are extremely valuable as they come in a range of blues from a light powder blue shade, through mid-blue and also rich deep blues. The blooms are rather more ‘chunky’ than larkspur but that makes them particularly good for large pedestal and church arrangements.
  • Dutch Iris – blue is a receding colour and it often requires a pop of white or yellow to bring it to life.   There are some varieties of Dutch Iris which are almost a deep velvety blue but the typical dutch iris is mid-blue with a flash of yellow or white that sets off the blue nicely.

Deep Blue to Mauve/Purple

  • Anemone – if you are putting together a spring wedding then the Anemone will be one of the stars of the show.  We have found that they are relatively short lived in our garden and each year the flower stems get shorter and shorter.  Although still useful as a garden plant they become less useful as a cut flower as time goes by.  We therefore tend to buy and plant new corms each year to maintain a good crop of usable stems.
Country bouquet
Country bouquet featuring blue anenomes, dutch iris and limonium. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers. Photograph by Michelle Hardy Photography http://www.michellehardyphotography.com/
  • Delphinium ‘Volkerfrieden’ – this Delphinium of the ‘Belladonna Group’ provides a true blue flower that is open and delicate.  It regularly appears in our Honey Pot Flowers designs!
  • Larkspur – although strictly speaking a Delphinium the annual Larkspur species D.consolida and D.ajacis tend to be much more delicate than the perennial border delphiniums.  They therefore lend themselves better to smaller bouquets and table arrangements and can also be dried and used for petal confetti.
Larkspur 'Braveheart'
Larkspur ‘Braveheart’
  • Clary Sage – a well behaved flower stem that provides colour all summer.  A useful filler in both the borders and in bouquets.  It is in fact the colourful bracts rather than the true flowers that provide the shot of blue.
  • Salvia caradona – a very useful addition to any arrangement providing an architectural spike of deep blue/mauve.  In the garden we do find that it is a short lived perennial that needs to be replaced regularly.
Blue and white wedding bouquet of cottage garden flowers
Blue and white wedding bouquet of Delphinium ‘Volkerfrieden’ and Cornflower with the deeper blue/mauve provided by Salvia caradona. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers

Complementary and contrasting colours

I think it is important to mention that when designing with blue, either in a garden setting or in a floral arrangement, you need other colours to bring the blue to life.  Blue and white sit well together and provide a pleasing and relaxed effect but equally pairing deep blues and mauve with pops of yellow or even orange create a strong vibrant effect that can be truly stunning.

Blues have the ability to offer both soft or vibrant displays.  If the blues become a strong trend in 2018 it could prove to be a very exciting year.

 

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Primroses and Springtime

Spring would just not be spring without Primroses in the garden.  These low growing hardy perennial plants with their pale yellow flowers grow freely at the base of hedgerows along English country lanes and on the edge of woodland.

Primroses not only grace the British countryside but also have a much wider distribution across western and southern Europe.  They have a range which spans from the Faroe Islands and Norway in the north to Portugal and North Africa in the south and eastwards to Turkey and Iran (ref:  Wikipedia).

Although Primroses (Primula vulgaris) do come in other colours it is the pure, delicate pale yellow that we prefer.  These are distributed in natural, informal plantings amongst the fallen leaves at the base of the trees and hedgerows here at Waverley.  They seem to grow best in part shade and in areas of the garden that remain reasonably moist.

Primroses
Primroses

There are a number of plants in the garden that remind us of particular people, places or times and our Primroses are no exception.  Many of our Primroses originated from the charming country garden of the late June Runnalls at the Old Smithy in Blisland on Bodmin Moor.  Every year when the Primroses begin to flower we remember ‘Auntie’ June (and her cooking) with affection.  Such a lovely lady.

June Runnalls in the gardens at Tregenna Cottage, Blisland, Cornwall
June Runnalls in the gardens at Tregenna Cottage, Blisland, Cornwall

Propagation

The clumps of Primroses can be lifted and divided in the autumn.  Gently separate the fleshy stems so that each piece has a visible bud and plant immediately to make sure the stems do not dry out.  Primroses can also be sown from seed.

Pin and Thrum Flowers

An interesting feature of Primroses is that the flowers take two forms (dimorphic).  These two forms are differentiated by the position of the sigma (female structure) and anthers (male structures) in the flower tube of the Primrose flower.  The two forms are known as ‘Pin’ and ‘Thrum’.    In ‘Pin’ flowers the stigma is at the top of the flower tube with the anthers positioned halfway down. In ‘Thrum’ flowers the stigma is positioned halfway down with the anthers at the top.  Individual plants have either Pin flowers or Thrum flowers.

These different flower types were studied by Charles Darwin no less and his paper of 1862 is in fact very readable.  He also observed that crosses between plants with thrum flowers and those with pin flowers were more fertile than those between the same type.  Sarah Shailes reports that this may be one of a number of mechanisms that encourage cross-pollination in Primroses and prevent flowers being self-fertilised with genetically identical pollen.

Rather charmingly Darwin highlights the importance of the different forms to country craft pursuits   “Village children notice this difference, as they can best make necklaces by threading and slipping the corollas of the long-styled flowers into each other.

Distyly primula

A – Pin form, B- Thrum form  (Legend: (1) corolla, (2) calix, (3) anthers, (4) style).

Image By berru (English: self-made Français : travail personnel) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Crystallising Primrose flowers

Primroses are really too short stemmed to be very useful for floristry although they do make charming posies and are often picked by children as a gift for Mother’s Day.  Single flowers in water can also make a pretty addition to a table setting.

Because the flowers are edible they can be crystallised and used to decorate a wide range of cakes and other dishes.  Using a fine brush paint the flowers with egg white on both sides of the petals and then sprinkle caster sugar carefully over them.  Knock off any surplus sugar and allow to dry and then store in an air tight container until required.  According to Maddock Farm Organics these flowers will last a couple of weeks.  They also indicate that using diluted gum arabic instead of egg white can give a longer shelf life.

Further information

Hardy  perennial

Origin:  Western and Southern Europe

Latin name:  Primula vulgaris  (derivation Primula:  First flowering, vulgaris: Common)

Family:  Primulaceae

Hardiness:  RHS hardiness rating H7  (Hardy in the severest European continental climates (< -20))

Height:  c. 10cm

Flowering period:  February to April

Toxicity:  Edible

Floriography:  First love, childhood, innocence and lover’s doubts

References and further reading

“The pin and thrum of primroses” by Sarah Shailes

https://plantscientist.wordpress.com/2013/04/27/organism-of-the-week-primrose-primula-vulgaris/

Darwin, C. R. 1862. On the two forms, or dimorphic condition, in the species of Primula, and on their remarkable sexual relations. [Read 21 November 1861] Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London (Botany) 6: 77-96.

http://darwin-online.org.uk/converted/published/1862_primula_F1717.html

“100 flowers and how they got their names” by Diana Wells (ISBN 1-56512-138-4)

“The language of flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (ISBN 978-0-230-75258-0)