Debra Prinzing

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Week 22 // Slow Flowers Challenge

June 6th, 2015

A cool-toned combo for early June, including Acanthus mollis, baptisia, cerinthe and sweet peas - all offset with fragrant mint foliage.

A cool-toned combo for early June, including Acanthus mollis, baptisia, cerinthe and sweet peas – all offset with fragrant mint foliage.

Here's how the entire bouquet turned out. I used a large trophy-like urn to accommodate the scale of the bear's breech.

Here’s how the entire bouquet turned out. I used a large trophy-like urn to accommodate the scale of the bear’s breech.

This week I couldn’t take my eyes off the gorgeous flower stalks of two bear’s breech plants ( Acanthus mollis) growing between our back porch and the pond in a shady area.

This perennial typically belongs at the back of the border where the large glossy foliage can offset smaller and more delicate companions. Deeply lobed, the acanthus leaf is a classical form in art and architecture. I’ve actually used the leaves in winter floral arrangements before. In my Zone 8b garden, the leaves are basically evergreen and winter hardy.

The blooms are also arresting. They are tall and pointed with an overall spiny form and purplish-green bracts. I will say this: They don’t LOVE being cut and plunked in a vase.

The five stalks I cut and used in this bouquet had mixed performance from between one to three days. So if you have bear’s breech in your perennial border, consider it a day-of cut flower.

'April in Paris' sweetpea, grown by Jello Mold Farm. If only you could inhale its perfume!

‘April in Paris’ sweetpea, grown by Jello Mold Farm. If only you could inhale its perfume!

Baptisia (love the sweet pea-like flowers on the tall stem), with honeywort (Cerinthe).

Baptisia (love the sweet pea-like flowers on the tall stem), with honeywort (Cerinthe).

Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis)

Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis)

Curled just like a little shrimp, Cerinthe has a fabulous blue-green/purple flower

Curled just like a little shrimp, Cerinthe has a fabulous blue-green/purple flower

Here is the recipe::

  • Garden mint, grown by Ojeda Farms in Ethel, Washington
  • Honeywort (Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’), grown by Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington
  • Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis), Jello Mold Farm
  • ‘April in Paris’ Sweet Peas, Jello Mold Farm
  • Bear’s breech (Acanthus mollis) flowers, from my garden
Trophy_1_IMG_3954

Everything came together beautifully, including the addition of the mint foliage!

Just for fun, here’s how the Acanthus mollis foliage lent much-needed drama to a December arrangement. I paired it with Callicarpa, curly willow and camellia foliage.
Note the large, glossy Acanthus foliage on the right side of this winter arrangement.

Note the large, glossy Acanthus foliage on the right side of this winter arrangement.

And on its own, the foliage of Blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) is also fantastic. Long after the beautiful flowers fade, you can keep cutting the leaves for arranging:

Baptisia foliage in an August bouquet.

Baptisia foliage in an August bouquet.

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