The nosegay

The nosegay (Okay, Class, got all of that puerile sniggering out of your system?) is anauthentically antique form of arrangement meant to deliver what it advertises: a littleposy of flowers as important for its scent as for its beauty. The name “nosegay”—since you were wondering—comes from pre-Victorian London, where magistrates,court officials, and other persons of wealth, both men and women, would fashionsomething pleasant-smelling to carry in the crowded streets in an era when personalhygiene resources were severely limited. Should a person with a particularly fetidaroma approach, the bearer could bring the nosegay to the nose and inhale, where itacted as a filter. The nosegay was worn from a loop on the belt or carried.In Victorian times, nosegays started to be made for transmitting the language oflove, although their use in this way in other cultures predates the Victorian age inEngland. Flowers were included not for their beauty or their fragrance, but for theirmeaning. The name “nosegay” changed to “tussie-mussie,” which better suited thedelicate sensibilities of the prim Victorians, who would have shied at having a bouquetnamed after a body part, even one as relatively tame as the nose.It has only been in more recent times that the nosegay, while still giving a nod tofragrance, has become simply a lovely gift.The nosegay is a stepping-stone to bigger and better bouquets. Generally, nosegayshave a round outline when viewed from above and are domed when seen in profile.We do not need to be slaves to this description; it is just the basic shape from which towork. Tendrils and fluff floating beyond these perimeters are certainly allowable.Once you know how to make a passable nosegay, you can expand it or pare it downto suit your needs. Whether you include elements of floral language should dependon knowing if the recipient will get the message.

Basic Bouquets

Keeping floral arrangements simple is the best way to build yourconfidence as you begin to design with your own cut flowers. The more mechanicsyou assemble into an arrangement (floral foam, chicken wire, floral tape and the like),the more you have to hide your tracks to make the complex construction appeareffortless and natural. Taking a simple composition of one or two types of flowerswith one or two types of foliage in your hand, tying it with jute twine, and selectingan appropriate vase will always result in an outcome with more charm than an overlyambitious and obvious fabrication. Flowers in containers should look magical, andthe hand of the designer should appear light and easy, if it appears at all.

Emotional effect and meaning

“Cute” has to have the courage of its convictions. Merely cute is never enough to bememorable, and may, in fact, be annoying. If your taste leans toward cute, then youmust pursue “cute as a button” and nothing less. The inherent lightheartedness of acute flower arrangement is just one example of the emotional effect you may want tocreate with your garden and the bouquets you generate from it. Others see cute ascloying—those folks are jaded and cynical, the real flower snobs. Serenity, romance,festivity, intrigue are all states of mind evoked with the simplest combinations of flowersand foliage, in the ground or in a vase.An emotional response to cuteness is just one of a legion of emotions we can evokewith flowers, in this case inspired by flowers that are little and lovable. The oppositeend of the spectrum would be the maiming of flowers to evoke anger and hatred. HereI am remembering the unfortunate 1980s fad of sending a newly divorced spouseor ex-companion flowerless thorny rose stems—or, in the same vein, roses that hadpurposefully been left out of water to become limp, well beyond the point of beingrevived, and sprayed black. If one were the recipient of such a bouquet, there wouldbe no mistaking the message.In the back of the book you will find a list of the meanings of flowers, handed downthrough the ages in folklore or created in more modern times by marketing experts.The latter have both concocted meanings for flowers that never had them beforeand changed the significance of flowers that have historically carried a negative message.An example of this is the yellow rose. Traditionally it symbolized jealousy; therecipient was engaging in behavior engendering envy and insecurity in the sender.Sometime in the 1920s we began reading in advertisements that yellow roses werethe symbol of friendship; the sender either wished to become friends with the recipientor to state plainly their relationship. Suddenly yellow roses enjoyed a boost inpopularity.Herbs and cottage garden flowers were sometimes given their meanings based onhow they grew and were used domestically. The “doctrine of signatures” suggestedthat plants that looked like a part of the body would help that part when prepared formedicinal use, and thus certain plants became associated with the heart or anotherorgan that might have been perceived to be the seat of certain emotions.Plants that spread rapidly from seed or were tough and enduring came to symbolizehuman personality attributes—or deficits, as the case may be—in the language offlowers. For instance, alliums, the ornamental and culinary onions, because of theirstrong odor and ability to withstand many types of garden conditions came to symbolizecourage. Common sunflowers (Helianthus annuus), by virtue of the fact thattheir blossoms follow the sun as it makes its high arc over the summer garden, cameto be associated with loyalty.Romantic meanings for flowers gained currency in a time when lovers were oftenthwarted and controlled by the prevailing moral standards. Except with family andin the company of servants (both being situations thought safe from impropriety),young men and women having any social standing were not left alone together. Therewere chaperones abounding, and they could only be circumvented by carefully composednosegays, each flower and leaf fraught with meaning, pressed into the hand ofthe beloved secretly in passing, or delivered through a trail of servants, relatives, andfriends. Flowers delivered proposals and broke off engagements with the precisionof a telephone call and were always beautiful even if the intended message was mostdecidedly not. Only in our modern times have innocently grown flowers been madehideous to unmistakably convey darker meanings.

Color makes emotion2

Creating bouquets with mixed colors, as long as the relative strength of hue isthe same, always strikes me as festive and stimulating. Others prefer monochromaticcombinations, where tones vary only slightly from flower to flower; the effect is morecalming and, some would say, elegant. Depending on the context of such an arrangement,I might also find it boring. Still others might want the simple contrast of justtwo opposing colors—yellow and blue, purple and orange—to set in motion a pleasingvibration that will be bright but will not clash.Here are some color terms that you might find useful to know and that will helpyou better communicate your preferences.

secondary colors: Secondary colors are those three colors created by blending thethree primary colors together: green (blue + yellow), orange (red + yellow), andviolet (red + blue).

spectrum: The spectrum is the immutable order of light wavelengths producingvisible color as sunlight passes through the earth’s atmosphere (red to orange toyellow to green to blue to indigo to violet). It starts with infrared and ends withultraviolet.

tint: A tint is created when white is added to a fully saturated color (for instance, red+ white = pink).

tone: Tone is the measurement of brightness (lightness or darkness). Violet has adark tone, yellow has a light tone. White and black are tonal extremes.warm colors: Warm colors fall into the red-influenced half of the color wheel andinclude all tones of red, orange, yellow, gold, and the hot pinks.

wavelengths: Color is created by light from the sun traveling through our atmosphereat various speeds. The shorter (faster = shorter) the wavelength, thebrighter the color. Red is fast (has a short wavelength), blue is slow (has a longerwavelength).

white: White is the combination of all color wavelengths and so does not appear ina spectrum.

Color makes emotion1

Nowadays color is the carrier of emotion, not the specific type of flower. Red is vividlypassionate and conveys the strongest statement of love. We may think first of redroses, but any bouquet predominantly red can carry the message of intense feeling.Modern red roses may be stiff and are commonly presented in a formal way, but abouquet of fiery tulips says the same thing: “I adore you, and your beauty renders mespeechless. I can only tell you with flowers.”Yellow, while gaining momentum as the color of friendship and sociability, is stillburdened by visions of jealousy and lost love. In the nineteenth century, yellow wasthe color that expressed having “the blues.” Although we now associate yellow withwarmth and cheer, as well as intelligence and a lively mind, this ancient burden ofsadness has never fully been transferred to blue. After the reign of the sunflower as adecorating motif in the 1990s, there is no getting around it: in our current age yellowis primarily thought to be the color of sunlight, stimulating our eyes and lifting ourspirits.Having “the blues” is a relatively modern concept. Blue is also the color of healingand serenity. It is the family of hues least stimulating to the color sensors in our eyes,and we can look at shades of blue for a much longer period than mixed tints of redor yellow. It is the traditional color of forgiveness (spouses in the doghouse woulddo better to send ten blue iris than a dozen red roses, whose color further might stirthe ire of a wronged mate), and when the merest touch of red is added, blue becomesthe color of enchantment, purple. Blue must be pure to photograph well, and thehuman eye is easily fooled into seeing blue where it does not exist, as in the feathersof birds.Creating bouquets with mixed colors, as long as the relative strength of hue isthe same, always strikes me as festive and stimulating. Others prefer monochromaticcombinations, where tones vary only slightly from flower to flower; the effect is morecalming and, some would say, elegant. Depending on the context of such an arrangement,I might also find it boring. Still others might want the simple contrast of justtwo opposing colors—yellow and blue, purple and orange—to set in motion a pleasingvibration that will be bright but will not clash.Here are some color terms that you might find useful to know and that will helpyou better communicate your preferences.

black: Black is the absence of any color wavelength and does not appear in a spectrum.

color-sensitive cells: There are three types of color-sensitive cells in the humaneye, all known as cones, each responding to one of the three primary colors.Rods detect only differences in tones (amount of light as compared one color toanother).

color wheel: A color wheel is a circle of colors formed by taking a linear spectrumand connecting the ends. This wheel helps us visualize which colors are in whichprimary groups, what harmonizes and what contrasts.

contrasting colors: Contrasting colors are those colors that lie on opposite sides ofthe color wheel from each other (for example, orange and purple).

cool colors: Cool colors fall into the blue-influenced half of the color wheel andinclude all tones of blue, purple, violet, and green.

harmonious colors: Harmonious colors are those colors that are adjacent to eachother on the color wheel (for example, purple and blue).

hue: A hue is created when black is added to a fully saturated color (for instance,blue + black = navy blue). This term is often used interchangeably with shade.

pastel color: A pastel color is created when a saturated color is diluted by 50 percent(or more) white.

primary colors: The three primary colors—that is, those basic colors found in theirpure form in nature—are red, yellow, and blue. All other colors are combinations,tints, or hues of these three colors.

saturation: Saturation refers to the intensity of a color. The more pure a coloris, the greater its intensity or saturation. The level of saturation is changed in gardensby blending colors with lighter, darker, or variegated companions.

Summer’s flowers and fruit

When your own garden cannot produce enough flowers for a truly stupendous partywithout itself being too much diminished, how nice it is to turn to the farmers’ marketsfor an extra bunch of this or that, or to find a type of flower that is pleasantly earlyor late for its season, making an unexpected appearance. Thanks to farmers’ markets,beautiful arrangements are assured with flowers picked at the perfect time that havenot been stressed by being shipped great distances.Summer is when the annual plants step to the forefront of our gardens. Whetheryou grow them in rows in a cutting garden, sprinkled throughout perennial bordersto invigorate the summer doldrums, or in mixed containers as color spots on terracesand patios, many annuals yield excellent cut flowers. The stalwarts of the basicsummer planter—marigolds, petunias, lobelia, alyssum, coleus, creeping zinnias—allmake reasonably good cut flowers, although not phenomenally long lasting.In mid-to-late summer we start to see the beginning of the harvest from thoseplants that provide berries and fruit for cutting. This group includes the berried St.John’s worts, such as Hypericum ×inodorum ‘Elstead’, and the first clusters of grapeson Vitis vinifera ‘Purpurea’. Branches of apples or pears carrying immature fruit arewonderful in summer bouquets. Even the vegetable garden can be utilized, includingleaves of Swiss chard (excellent in water but not long lasting in foam) and the flowersand ripening pods of scarlet runner beans. The seedpods of the wild perennial sweetpea (Lathyrus latifolius) are in several ways more appealing to cut than the short-livedflowers—you keep this determined weed from spreading by seed, and the attractiveslender pods have a much longer vase life than the flowers do. I also suggest growingthe hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus) both in the vegetable garden and as a decorativeelement in a mixed perennial border.The hyacinth bean is named for its large flowers, but these are rarely harvested touse fresh because the following bean pod, which is shiny and dark purple, is so veryshowy. When growing this plant from seed, be aware that not all of the plants will beequally decorative, due to natural genetic variation. The seedlings that will producethe most prolific purple pods will often show purple coloration on their stems andpurple veining on their leaves. These are the plants to keep. Thin out those youngplants that are all green, as their eventual pods will be dull in color (sometimes noteven purple at all). The cut pod stems will last more than two weeks in fresh water anddo not like cold storage. The pods develop at the height of summer’s sun and heat,and if held in a cooler will quickly mildew.Summer is the main wedding season, so it follows that it is also the season of anniversarycelebrations. Summer parties are often held outdoors either at homes or atcommercial spaces featuring well-tended gardens. Some think that special occasionsheld in gorgeous gardens do not need the further adornment of floral arrangements,but why should this be? Why not add to the opulence and festivity of an event byhaving floral bouquets at key locations—a nosegay in the powder room, a bombasticbouquet on a buffet table, a standing champagne cooler bursting with flowers markingthe entrance to a pathway, or a welcoming display on a guest book table.Not every garden has an adorable handcrafted chapel on the premises, but at KinzyFaire, the garden of Penny Vogel and Millie Kiggins, Millie has built a memorial chapelhonoring her grandparents, who were the original homesteaders of the propertyoutside of Estacada, Oregon. When the garden has guests the chapel doors are open,and the tiny church (seating fifty if all are good friends) houses the garden’s guestbook, which you are expected to sign if you want to be invited back. The Victoriantable is an ideal spot for a summer bouquet, arranged in colors that are enhanced bythe warm tones of the wooden walls. All of the flowers and foliage can come right infrom the surrounding garden (after proper conditioning, of course).

Roses for your garden

Having been fairly disrespectful of modern roses as garden plants thus far, I do embracetheir value as cut flowers. The Hybrid Tea roses we grow in our gardens tend to havebetter fragrance than their greenhouse counterparts and will occasionally producemore than one rose per stem, making them look more casual. Let me recommend afew English, Hybrid Tea, and Floribunda (cluster-flowered) roses for cutting:

‘Betty Prior’: (Floribunda) Single row of petals, bright pink.‘Chrysler Imperial’: (Hybrid Tea) Elegant big red flowers, handsome buds.
‘Double Delight’: (Hybrid Tea) Part of the delight in question is the fragrance.White flowers lightly or heavily tipped in red, red tints expanding as the floweropens.
‘Europeana’: (Floribunda) Neon red—screaming.
‘Fair Bianca’: (English) Fully double, fresh whipping cream color. Deep muskyfragrance.
‘Granada’: (Floribunda) The color of a tequila sunrise and full complex perfume.
‘New Dawn’: (Climber, Hybrid Tea) Silvered pink oval buds, produced in masses.
‘Prairie Moon’: (Hybrid Tea—Griffith Buck) Ultra winter hardy, fifty petals of buttercreamyellow.
‘Prospero’: (English) Fully double, dark purple flowers, strong fruity fragrance.Glory in a blossom.
‘Sheer Bliss’: (Hybrid Tea) Refined flower, cream touched by varying degrees ofpink, lovely fragrance. Exquisite buds.
‘Sunsprite’: (Floribunda) Ruffled, cheerful bright yellow flower, lemon notes in thescent.
‘The Pilgrim’: (English) Dense, fully double flower, strong but not strident yellow,good fragrance.

Ravishing roses

Whether you grow modern Hybrid Tea roses or old garden roses, you will want toget the best out of them when you harvest for the house, and in addition to all of theirfoibles as garden plants, roses have very specific needs when they become cut flowers.Rose addicts generally fall into two camps: those who love the barely opening budand those, like me, who swoon at the feet of a fully double, completely open blossom.Both styles have special requirements for their handling.The roses arriving from florists are generally greenhouse types that would notsurvive long in gardens colder than zones 8 to 9. Even in the balmier regions ofCalifornia these roses are grown under glass to completely control their environment—after all, this is a cash crop. It is hard for U.S. rose growers to compete withgrowers in South America. Roses love light, and at the right elevations at the equator,the flowers of a cultivar like the red rose ‘Forever Yours’ will have gigantic flowersatop stems like Louisville Sluggers. Aside from the politics and environmental considerationssurrounding imported flowers, one cannot deny the amazing size of Southand Central American roses.Here are a few of the greenhouse rose varieties I know to be remarkable:‘Black Baccara’: This is as close as the breeders have come yet to a naturally blackrose. The outer guard petals are deeply dark, but as the blossom unfurls, itreveals interior petals more burgundy red. I once did a stunning bridal bouquetfor a young woman in love with red, including open blossoms of ‘Black Baccara’,‘Charlotte’, and ‘Opium’ roses, and the blended shades of red were divine, as allhad the same dull sheen of old velvet.‘Blue Bird’: Rich lavender in color, this is a much improved version of good old‘Sterling Silver’, which, after all these years, is still grown by a few Californiagrowers. The lavender roses tend to have a fulfilling fragrance. Unfortunately, forgenerations lavender roses have been known to attract mildew diseases, both inthe greenhouse and the garden. More than fifty petals.‘Charlotte’: If you want a truly red rose, ‘Charlotte’ is hard to beat. Mild fragrance,but a satiny sheen to the opening interior surface of the petals loads these flowerswith drama. This is a rose blossom that does not get huge, which can be a goodthing. The bigger the bud, the higher the price.‘Cool Water’: Another improved lavender rose, this one has paler color than ‘BlueBird’, and very round buds. The color is highly affected by climate, and youwould not know that a stem of this cultivar grown in Oregon was the same as astem from Ecuador.‘Katrina’: If you like pink roses, this is one to special order. ‘Katrina’ has longelegant buds of creamy pink, with the color intensifying at the petal edges. Thisis a long blossom, and slow to open.‘Opium’: The shape of this rose is boxy rather than elongated, which is an indicatorboth that the open petals will be slightly ruffled at their edges and that there willbe many of them. ‘Opium’ is a rich dark shade of red, striking the middle groundbetween true red ‘Charlotte’ and dark ‘Black Baccara’.‘Sahara’: This rose is the color of sand, beige and cream and even slightly peachy,and exquisite. The flowers unfurl from the tips outward, revealing a stronglyspiraled center. The blossom opens fairly quickly but will hold itself at perfectmaturity for at least a week. Thick, old rose fragrance. If I were getting marriedagain tomorrow, this is the rose I would have, combined with ‘Queen of theNight’ tulips. Oh, yummy.‘Skyline’: This is my favorite yellow cut rose. The color is buttery and soft. ‘Skyline’has lots of petals and stays beautifully in the plump bud stage for several daysbefore opening. Light fragrance.

Selecting tulips for their vase life

Certain groups of tulips last longer than others. The Parrot and Viridiflora groups,which can take many days to develop their strongest colors, are especially long lasting,often exceeding ten days. Parrots are bizarre to some, with their scalloped andragged edges. No matter how vivid their color will become, they hang on to randomgreen patches for many days, hence their longevity. Viridiflora means green flower,and all of this group maintain a green stripe on the outside of each petal, helpingthem look showy and fresh.The Fringed group, named for the ¼-inch-long edging of fine fringe surroundingeach petal, also have a good vase life, with large blossoms on tall, slender stems.Some of my favorites that have been successful at the Clackamas Community Collegecutting garden plot are these:
‘Estella Rijnveld’: (Parrot) This flashy, fanciful flower is wildly serrated, and thecolor is red and white like peppermint candy.
‘Groenland’ (syn. ‘Greenland’): (Viridiflora) This is one of the original greenstripedtulips; in this case, bright spring green divides the rose-pink petals.
‘Maja’: (Fringed) The soft yellow color of this thickly fringed tulip is creamy andrefined. The flowers are large.
‘Queen of the Night’: (Single Late) Mentioned earlier, these flowers are amazinglydark, making a perfect small cup. They are among the latest tulips to bloom.
‘Shirley’: (Triumph) The white flowers of ‘Shirley” are indeed a triumph of subtlety.They appear creamy white to start with, edged on each petal by the thinnestpossible line of purple. As the flower ages, this widens and bleeds into the whitebackground, giving the mature flowers a flamed-in-purple look.
‘Union Jack’: (Single Late) This tulip is what ‘Estella Rijnveld’ would look like ifshe were not a Parrot type. The flower is a large chalice of pure white randomlyflamed with true red.

Classifications of Tulipa hybrids

For the most part, we Americans have not the vaguest idea how to help tulips givetheir best. First, let us consider their many types. In 1996, the Royal General BulbGrowers Association of the Netherlands adopted a classification system for the differentspecies and cultivars of tulips. These are the most significant divisions when itcomes to tulips’ use as cut flowers:Single Early: Single-flowered cultivars, limited color range, short-stemmed, easilyforced, early flowering.Double Early: Double-flowered cultivars, short-stemmed, limited colors, easilyforced.Triumph: Single-flowered, stems of medium length, flower in midseason. Thesecultivars were originally created by crossing the Single Earlys with the SingleLates and therefore have a wider range of color than the Single Earlys.Single Late: One flower per stem, long-stemmed, late flowering. This group nowincludes those tulips in the superseded Darwin and Cottage groups. Wide rangeof colors.Darwin Hybrid: Single-flowered, long-stemmed, flower in midseason. Result ofcrosses of the old Darwin group and Tulipa fosteriana.Lily-flowered: Single flowers, one per stem, flowering in mid-to-late season, flowershave pointed, recurved petals. Stem length varies.Parrot: Single flowers with fringed, curled, and twisted petals. Mainly late flowering,with stems of variable length. Longest lasting of the cut tulips.Double Late: Also known as peony-flowered. Much more double than the DoubleEarlys and available in a wider range of colors. Late flowering and long-stemmed.Rembrandt: Cultivars with “broken” flower colors, striped or marked with brown,bronze, black, red, pink, or purple on a red, white, or yellow background.Breaking from a solid color is caused by a virus spread by aphids. Usually longstemmed.The broken color becomes genetically stable when the broken tulip isused in hybridization. Once a tulip bulb becomes infected, it will always producebroken flowers. In Holland, it is against the law for broken tulips to be sold.Outlaws, how sexy!Fringed: Single-flowered cultivars, petals finely fringed at the edges, late flowering,variable stem length, range of colors widening. In the best cultivars, the fringe isa different or lighter color than the body of the petal.Viridiflora: Single-flowered cultivars colored with some green on their petals evenwhen fully mature. Late flowering; stem length varies.Other species: This class consists of all other species and their cultivars. Theseare often cultivated in small quantities but deserve special attention due to theirunique characteristics. Many are excellent rock garden plants.

Selecting and growing narcissus

In climates of zone 9 or lower, where the ground stays cold throughout the shortwinter days, narcissus bulbs should be planted in the autumn. Their roots will growin most soils—they are quite adaptable in this regard—and the top growth will wantfull sun when it emerges in early spring. The very earliest to bloom, such as ‘Têteà-tête’ and ‘February Silver’ are tolerant of deciduous shade situations, where thesun reaches the ground in the winter and spring while they flower, before tree leavesblock the sun. The large standard daffodils will also naturalize in this respect, but Ifind these flower better (bigger blooms) in a low-water, full-sun situation.Narcissus bulbs have a dark brown papery covering and are fairly large, often havingmore than one “nose” or growing point. Each nose will produce at least oneleafless flowering stem, which will emerge from the bulb at the same time the foliageis developing.As with lilies, we need to remember that the generation of next year’s flower isdependent on the maturation of this year’s foliage, so do not harm the foliage as youare harvesting the flowers. If you want a few of the straplike leaves to enhance the cutflowers, just be sure to never take more than half of the foliage emerging from onebulb. If you leave a few flowers in your daffodil patch, deadhead the spent flowers butleave their stems—this too will produce carbohydrate for the bulb. Allow the flowerstems and foliage to die back at their own pace. This phase of a daffodil’s life cycle canlook unsightly and is the reason daffodils are often grown in their own garden areaor interplanted with other perennials that will hide old foliage with their new leaves.Twisting the declining foliage into a knot interrupts the flow of nutrients to the bulb,and we must overcome our urge to tidy the leaves in this way.A close perusal of the classification system given earlier reveals a wealth of variationin bloom time, stem height, and flower shape. Here are a few of the narcissusI know to be either reliable, long lasting, pleasantly fragrant, or pretty, if not all ofthose things. Please refer to the system of classification to decipher the letters inparentheses.‘Actea’: (Y-YYR) This is the earliest of the “pheasant’s-eye” type to bloom, andalthough listed as a mid-to-late-season bloomer, it consistently blooms in mygarden in early-to-mid season instead. Has a round profile and is quite showy.Poeticus division.‘Ambergate’: (O-O) The orange-on-orange daffodils are still rather rare, and thislong-cupped beauty plays to the back of the house (as the theater people say).Blooms late.‘Clare’: (Y-Y) I bonded with this little bulb the first time I saw it in daffodil judgeJean E. Driver’s garden. It is a jonquil type with wonderful poise. Even thoughit is only an inch wide, it has great presence—looks a person right in the face.Fragrant, too. Mid-to-late-season bloom.‘Eastertide’: (Y-Y) A handsome, sturdy double flower, with the fractured yellowtrumpet evenly infiltrated by equally bright petals. This is a large flower on astrong stem. Blooms in midseason; Double division.‘Fragrant Rose’: (W-GPP) In addition to being delightfully perfumed—as the namesuggests—this is also, to my eye, the narcissus closest to truly being pink—also asthe name suggests. Blooms mid-to-late season. Long Cup division.‘Geranium’: (W-O) Carries multiple flowers on each stem, making fragrant clustersof orange and white. Excellent in the ground or in containers for a grand springshow. Tazetta division; blooms midseason.‘Mary Copeland’: (W-O) Double daffodils can look sloppy and just plain odd, butthis tidy example from 1913 is a symmetrical burst of white petals interspersedwith fractured remnants of its orange trumpet (can have flashes of gold). Thewhole is swathed in a cloud of lovely perfume. Blooms in midseason, from theDouble division.‘Minnow’: (W-Y) Although this is in the Tazetta division with some of the tendernarcissus, ‘Minnow’ is tough, flowering at less than ten inches tall and thus perfectfor nosegays. Blooms midseason.‘Misty Glen’: (W-GWW) This pristine flower is in the Long Cup division. What ismost impressive is how long each flower lasts, both cut and if left standing in thegarden. Blooms mid-to-late season.‘Mrs. R. O. Backhouse’: (W-P) This is the eldest (1921) of the allegedly pinktrumpeteddaffodils, still widely grown because it is reliably long-lived with a fineflower. Blooms mid-to-late season; Long Cup division.N. jonquilla ‘Simplex’: (Y-Y) This is a selection of Narcissus jonquilla with many ofthe fine characteristics of the best jonquils: it has a fruity fragrance, rushlike foliage,round flower stems (rather than oval with a raised ridge down each side), andthe ability to flower well in warm-winter areas. Early-to-mid-season flowering, inthe Jonquilla division, of course.N. poeticus var. recurvus: (W-YRR) This is the latest-blooming daffodil of them all,capable of flowering to the end of May. If I could have only one narcissus, thiswould be it. This is the true “pheasant’s eye.” Lovely naturalized in meadows.N. tazzetta var. orientalis: (Y-Y) Also known as the Chinese sacred lily, this tendernarcissus is easily forced for bloom at the Chinese New Year. Prettier fragrancethan others of the Paperwhite strain of the Tazetta division. Multiple flowers perstem.‘Professor Einstein’: (W-R) Although this long-lived bulb is said to have a red cup,I find it to be more orange than red. It blooms in midseason, and the trumpet issomewhat flattened, giving this daffodil a distinctive appearance. Oddly, it is inthe Long Cup division.‘Proxy’: (W-YRR) Similar to N. poeticus var. recurvus, but with larger flowers.Blooms very late, in the Poeticus division.‘Thalia’: (W-W) Some find the scent of this clean white flower (usually with at leasttwo blossoms per stem) to be the best of the genus. It is too intense for me. Thefascination of this exquisite flower, however, is not in dispute. Triandrus division;blooms mid-to-late season.‘Waterperry’: (W-YPP) This jonquil-type flower (with multiple flowers per stem)has the charming habit of changing its trumpet color as it matures, so a wholerow of ‘Waterperry’ is visually active. Named for the Waterperry School ofGardening in Oxfordshire. Blooms midseason.

The narcissus

It fills me with a sense of wonder to think a flower so entrenched in our collectivepsyche could be available to us in such a wild abundance of variations, and from afairly limited gene pool of just fifty species. Of course the color palette is limited:white, cream, all shades of yellow, orange, peach toward—but not quite at—true pink,with the occasional green or red eye. (My comment about peach and pink will ignitea blaze of protest from the daffodil cognoscenti. I am ready for it. Being a clematiscollector myself, I know what misstating and misunderstanding colors is all about,blue in clematis being a relative thing.)Let us be clear: all daffodils and all jonquils are in the genus Narcissus.

A hydrangea renaissance

When your cutting garden is becoming too shady for roses, you can replace them withhydrangeas and be just as happy. A partial-shade cutting garden can be built aroundthis versatile plant.Generally speaking, there are two types of hydrangeas mainly used for cutting:the mopheads (Hydrangea macrophylla [Hortensia Group]) and the peegee hydrangeas(H. paniculata ‘Grandiflora’ and near relations), although other kinds are sometimesseen, and many more are sure to follow as Japanese forms of Hydrangea serrata provetheir worth in the trade. The lacecaps (Hydrangea macrophylla var. normalis [LacecapGroup]) are widely grown in gardens but do not have the vase life or impact inarrangements that the mopheads do, and they dry poorly. The conversation herewill confine itself to using the mopheads and peegees as fresh cut flowers and dryingthem, as there seems to be an infinite market for them, and the mophead group comesin the widest array of colors.I spoke of tulips as being unruly, and so are hydrangeas, but for different reasons.Although the peegees are fairly stable as to their color—opening cream and fadingto pink—the mopheads are anything but. The soil pH tells them what color to be,even if they are genetically predisposed to be pink or blue. Acidic soil—called soursoil—with a pH less than 7 (which is neutral) will give you hydrangea heads shadingtoward blue, and pink hydrangeas will shift to lavender. Alkaline soil—known assweet soil—with a pH higher than 7 (the pH scale ranges from 1 through 14), makesblue hydrangeas lean toward pink, equaling more lavender shades. It is possible tohave both pink and blue on one plant, depending on where the roots wander andwhich fertilizers have been used in the garden.This makes hydrangeas a challenge to grow, as it takes several years for the plantsto settle into your soil and show you what their true color will be in it. Again, enjoythe ride, as the plants may produce some gorgeous transitional colors, never to berepeated. Once a plant is well established, you can easily—but not quickly—modifythe color. If you want a pink hydrangea to be pinker, give it calcium carbonate, orgardener’s lime, to further sweeten the soil. For bluer blues, use aluminum sulfate.Overall, mophead hydrangea colors (and this goes for lacecaps, too) range frompurple through any shade of blue; lavender, which tends to be a transitional color;dark to bright pink and cream with a pink outline; reddish—I say it this way becausesometimes a hydrangea beginning its season some other color ages to red; and white,the white being more stable, although as the blooms age the white becomes green orpink, depending on the sun exposure.

Lilies as cut flowers

When harvesting lilies, a gardener needs to decide whether the plant will be treatedas an annual, in which case the whole length of the stem can be cut to the ground, oras an herbaceous perennial, when only half of the stem length should be taken. Liliesyou expect to return to the garden year after year need the leaves on the stem tocontinue creating food for the bulb even after the flowers have been removed. If youdo not care if the plant reblooms next year, you can be more savage.Once the stem has been cut, only the leaves that would be underwater should beremoved. The upper leaves remaining on the stem will provide nutrients for theunopened flower buds and will help them mature normally as the cut stem ages.In many flower shops you will see all of the leaves below the terminal flower budsremoved, but this is a misguided practice. The remaining buds will not developproper color; if they do open the flower will not approach the typical size; most likelythe buds will drop.Lilies, especially the Asiatic and Oriental hybrids, are quite long lasting; each openblossom should last at least four to five days, and new buds will be opening as theolder flowers fade. The entire stem can last for more than two weeks, as long as thewater is kept fresh. Removing the anthers increases longevity and prevents the pollenfrom staining the flowers or anything else.Last, lily stems can be cut anytime after the lowest bud, which will be the firstto open, is showing its true color. It is better to wait until this first bud is cracking,meaning the tepals are separating along their seams and tips. You can easily tear thetepals if you try to separate the seams by hand. If you need to force lilies open for aspecial event (white lilies of any type are notoriously slow to mature), place the stemsin a solution containing two tablespoons of regular granulated table sugar (sucrose)per quart of warm water. Place the vase or bucket of lilies in a plastic bag so the liliesare completely covered and cinch with a twist-tie to create a warm humidity cloudaround the stubborn lilies. Lilies can be kept in this sweetened solution overnightif necessary, but do not leave them in sugar water for more than twenty-four hours.If the buds are still not open, replace the sweetened water with plain warm water,changing it every few hours until the lilies finally open.

True lilies: It’s all in their bulbs

True lilies are distinct plants with characteristics demonstrably different from other flowers grown from bulbs, such as tulips, narcissus (daffodils and jonquils), and the ornamental onions (Allium). Lilies do not have a protective papery sheath holding and protecting the interior layers (in tulips this is called the tunic). Lily bulbs have overlapping scales exposed to invasion by fine clay particles in unamended soil, particles that can hold water, rotting the bulb. This explains why true lilies love quickdraining sandy loam. They should be planted in beds where gardeners will not tread over them while they are dormant, which would work heavy clay down into the deep soil layer where the bulbs are. True lilies form roots along the buried section of stem that emerges from the bulb and grows up through the soil with the flower buds atop—known as stem roots. There are also roots at the base of the bulb, gleaning water from the earth, and these
lowest roots also adjust the depth of the bulb by contracting to pull the bulb lower if the clumsy gardener has not placed the bulb to its liking. (Don’t you wish all plants were self-correcting?) The stem roots, growing between the bulb and the soil surface, absorb nutrients and brace the heavy flower stem. Thus most lilies have two sets of roots that perform separate functions, with the deepest roots providing water from down where moisture levels are relatively consistent, and the upper stem roots spreading laterally to provide stability. Pretty smart. But the real brains of the operation is the bulb’s basal plate. This is the woody disk at the base of a dormant bulb that generates the contractile roots and holds all of the scales in their upright, overlapping configuration, like an artichoke’s leaves. The flower stem pushes its way up through the scales directly from the basal plate. Also, the basal plate houses the plant’s unique DNA. Whether the lily you grow is a species or a hybrid, the basal plate contains the bulb’s identity, passing it along to the scales, to the baby bulbs (bulblets) that form from the plate, to bulblets that form at the junction of the stem roots and the flower stem, and to the tiny bulbs (called bulbils) that
form above ground at the leaf axils in some species. The basal plate also provides the genetic information in the pollen on the anthers and the eggs (ovules) in the ovary. In short, the basal plate tells every part of the lily how to look and what to do. Thus, when buying lilies, you should know that getting big bulbs is only part of the successful equation. Always examine the basal plate of the bulb you are selecting. In dormant bulbs it should be dry and woody. If it is spongy or has brown pithy areas, it is afflicted by basal rot (usually a botrytis fungus), and the whole bulb should be discarded. The contractile roots that may have been left on the bulb should also be firm and dry. Darkened wet roots on newly purchased bulbs should be pulled off; they are starting to decay and that decay can spread.

The Meanings of Flowers-2

Throughout the ages, emotions and personified characteristics have been attributed
to flowers, and these have endured to modern times. The language of flowers, reaching
its height during the Victorian era, is simple yet magically articulate. Flowers
keep secrets, and they don’t lie, but in a few cases, as in the case of yellow roses,
twentieth-century marketing has stepped in to make a flower more politically correct
and therefore more salable.
Galax urceolata: encouragement
Gladiolus: love at first sight
Grasses (ornamental): submission
Gypsophila paniculata: everlasting love
Hamamelis ×intermedia: reconciliation
Helenium: tears
Helianthus annuus: loyalty
Helleborus ×hybridus: tranquillity
Heuchera: challenge
Hyacinthus: rashness, sport
blue: asking forgiveness
red: playfulness
white: loveliness
yellow: jealousy
Hydrangea macrophylla: thanks for understanding
Iris: wisdom, valor
Ixia: happiness
Jasminum sambac: amiability
Lathyrus odoratus: good-bye, departure
Lavandula: devotion
orange: hatred
white: virginity
yellow: gaiety
Limonium sinuatum: remembrance
Lonicera: generosity and devotion
Magnolia denutata: sweetness and beauty
Molucella laevis: good luck
Myosotis sylvatica: true love, memories

The Meanings of Flowers-1

Throughout the ages,emotions and personified characteristics have been attributed
to flowers, and these have endured to modern times. The language of flowers, reaching
its height during the Victorian era, is simple yet magically articulate. Flowers
keep secrets,and they don’t lie, but in a few cases,as in the case of yellow roses,
twentieth-century marketing has stepped in to make a flower more politically correct
and therefore more salable.Yellow roses were traditionally the symbol of jealousy,but sometime in the 1920s they became associated with friendship instead.
Acanthus mollis: artistry,having artistic talent
Achillea millefolium: healing
Aconitum napellus: need to beware
Adiantum formosanum: sincerity, secret love
Agapanthus campanulatus: secret love
Alcea rugosa: ambition
Allium: courage and faith, patience
Alstroemeria: wealth and prosperity
Amaranthus caudatus: hopelessness
Anemone coronaria: unfading love
Angelica gigas: inspiration
Antirrhinum: deception
Aquilegia: folly
Arbutus unedo: only love
Armeria maritima: sympathy
Artemesia ludoviciana: dignity
Aster novi-belgii: daintiness
Astilbe: I’ll be waiting for you
Calendula officinalis: joy
Camellia japonica: admiration
Centaurea cyanus: celibacy
Chaenomeles: temptation
Clematis: cleverness and intellect
Cleome hassleriana: desire to elope with me
Consolida ambigua: fickleness, haughtiness
Convallaria majalis: sweetness
Cosmos bipinnatus: modesty
Cyclamen persica: resignation and good-bye
Cytisis: humility
Dahlia: instability
Delphinium elatum: well-being
Dianthus barbatus: gallantry
Dicentra spectabile: elegance
Digitalis purpurea: youth
Eremerus stenophyllus: endurance
Eucalyptus: respect
Euphorbia marginata: persistence
Eustoma: calm
Filipendula rubra: uselessness
Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’: worthyof praise
Forsythia .intermedia: anticipation
Freesia: trust
Galanthus nivalis: hope

A philosophy of gardening

Both garden design and floral design are about creating a dramatic big picture while simultaneously focusing on the intricate details. Just as we feel our senses to be alive in a garden, we often enter floral shops with our eyes, noses, and fingers aquiver with the possibilities therein. Alas, in the floral shop the objects of our attention may be shut away in coolers, prolonging their life but removing us from their beauty and perhaps even deceiving us about the freshness of what we want to buy. In your own cutting garden, you can create—or improve upon—floral and foliage combinations that have intrigued you in others’ gardens or vases. The garden and the vase walk hand in hand. As I add plants and various inanimate objects of admittedly dubious artistic value to my own garden, and as I amend and evolve my overall design, I keep four criteria in mind:

1. The new plant must be something I either collect or can use for cutting. (These two clauses used to be reversed in preference, but somewhere along the line I became a plant nerd.)

2. The plant or garden art in question should express a sentiment reflecting my personality, personal history, or a sympathetic creative impulse.

3. If the plant can benefit the birds I encourage to assist me in organic gardening, so much the better.

4. The plant in question should not be too vigorous or invasive even with consistent harvesting for floral design purposes. If I had a larger garden, there are plants I would grow that are too rambunctious for a small city garden. But if you truly love a plant that gets big or spreads, grow it and be happy.

Try writing

a priorities list like this one for yourself. Think about how you want your garden to function, which seasons you will be most active in it, who else besides yourself will want to use it, and how it will be used. Do you want to cut flowers from your garden for your house, and how often?

Roses as ornamental woody shrubs

There are hundreds of books about growing unblemished Hybrid Tea rose blossoms,and the many stupifyingly boring tasks that must be repeated over and over, each

month of each year (or so it seems), to reach and maintain a level of perfection. These plants are sometimes not winter-hardy, so extra research is necessary to find those that

are. Modern roses are heavy feeders, and will need, at the very least, a heavy mulch of well-rotted manure twice a year. Hybrid Tea roses are susceptible to fungal diseases,the big three in North America being black spot, powdery mildew, and rust disease.There is mounting anecdotal evidence that spraying with manure teas and other types of organic concoctions to change the pH of the leaf surface will act as a preventative for such ills, but any of the common recipes must be applied regularly (every ten tofourteen days during the growing season), and these are not curative potions.Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses must be pruned at least twice annually, with a third to a half of the plant cut back in the autumn so that winter winds do not rock the plant and thus allow cold air to get at exposed roots and freeze the graft union.The second prescribed pruning is much “harder,” meaning that only canes twelve inches in height will remain. This hard pruning is usually done in the City of Roses,Portland, Oregon, between Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day, when the stem buds have started to swell and you can cut precisely. What a bother. If there is more cold weather after the false spring that lured you out to prune your roses in the first place,you can bet on tip dieback on the newly bestumped roses, making them even more diminished and weakened.Although they come in a truly vast array of colors, many of the modern roses no longer carry the divine scent associated with them. This is perhaps the greatest tragedy about the latest Hybrid Tea and Floribunda roses; whether they were meant to be broodmares in an Ecuadorian greenhouse or for fussy gardeners who want just the right color, roses are expected to be flower-making machines. Their plant does not have to look good, and now the roses themselves no longer have to smell good.Which brings me back to the fact that rosebushes are woody shrubs. We should expect more than a time-consuming spoiled brat of a plant. Most other flowering woody shrubs have multiple seasons of interest, are hale and hardy, and grow best in association with other plants. All roses used to be like that, and without too much looking we can still find the crиme de la crиme of old garden roses, some of which make very fine cut flowers and certainly equal any modern rose in beauty.

Developing your philosophy of design

Putting flowers together

in a vase is an intensely pleasurable and personal act, even if you do it in public. It can be called flower arranging or floraldesign, and you may think either phrase pretentious, but what would you
call it? (“Oh,it’s nothing, just a little something I threw together.”) We are taking flowers off of the plants that produced them and putting them into containers in combinations we like,and our language has to express the act somehow.Floral design has often been considered a second-class profession. It is certainly more undervalued economically than any other art form. Flower arranging is not considered a fine art, although what is created is often recreated in paintings and photographs that become inexplicably expensive. Where in the signature of a painting by a Dutch master is the name of the florist who created the bouquet? We might assume the painter created the floral display, but this may not necessarily be true.Floral designers must accept that they are toiling, for the most part, in anonymity.Florists rarely become famous. And yet when a floral display graces a gala event at a gallery or museum, the living beauty of fresh flowers easily upstages static art.You may think it highfalutin to talk about floral design as art, but art it is. A flower arrangement is an intimate, sensual expression of creativity, always meant to be enjoyed by at least two of the senses. A florist in a shop, much more so than any other artist, is forced to produce works of art—using a highly perishable medium—on demand. Florists are performance artists whose creations grow and change and decay,and the entire process must be seen as an evolving continuum of the medium (flowers)in order to be fully appreciated. Learning to create fine art of this type takes time,and learning to appreciate it takes even longer. So if you think I’m talking twaddle,don’t be too hard on yourself.If floral designers have insults heaped upon them by the artistic community, they meet with equal if not greater disrespect among horticulturists. It is an interesting conundrum: many of the world’s renowned gardeners, garden writers, plant explorers,nursery purveyors, and plant collectors scorn florists as horticultural idiots, and yet these same people think that by some divine gift they can cut a few flowers and branches from their famous gardens or nurseries and overwhelm you with their innate ability as flower arrangers. All the while, they have done nothing to the flowers to increase their longevity, enhance their beauty by inventive combination, or enliven their presentation with a container more exciting than a mason jar. Is floral design

so vastly inferior a pursuit that only an ignoramus would do it for a living? Or is it immensely complex and challenging and rewarding and a well-kept secret?Well, I can tell you only this: good gardeners make better florists, and florists who garden create more beautiful bouquets than those who do not. Find the balance. The more you know about plants and the cultivation of them, the better floral designer you can be. Your intuition will become refined, your mind will open to the latent possibilities in any plant, and you will develop a naturalistic style that best enhances any flower. At the same time, learning how each flower and leaf can achieve its greatest longevity will make your bouquets more satisfying.Folks who do not know a daisy from a delphinium and make bouquets with mundane flowers according to preplanned recipes, producing perfect geometric shapes or—heaven forbid—a Hogarth curve (S-shape), are not true and thorough floral designers. I can paint by number, but this does not make me a painter. The other extreme is also true: just because you can create an environment in your garden to grow the most capricious and recalcitrant plant in the world does not mean you know how to put five stems together in a vase and create a pleasing result.But art design is garden design is floral design, and the basic concepts of balance and proportion and color harmony are the same throughout.