Week 50 // Slow Flowers Challenge
December 17th, 2015
The prosaic poinsettia has a new, sexy reputation, especially at a time when floral designers are desperate for beautiful focal flowers to go with all the greenery in our lives.
For the past decade the gardening world has watched an explosion of breeding in the poinsettia world. I remember attending a press event in the early 2000s when Molbak’s Nursery in the Seattle area hosted all of us at a breakfast to unveil the new poinsettia colors and varieties (streaked and flecked; and a palette ranging from cream to wine). I wrote that story for The Daily Herald about 15 years ago, so no doubt the news hit the gardening world quite a while ago!
Slowly, floral designers are discovering — and embracing — poinsettias. The flowers are tricky to source as cut options, although I’ve heard from some designers who are able to find poinsettia cuts. We just don’t see them here in Seattle.
What’s my other option? I went to Lowe’s this week to find locally-grown poinsettias from Smith Gardens in Bellingham, Washington. I was in search of a soft peachy tone and wasn’t disappointed. The flower I found wasn’t labeled (although I did learn that Noche Buena is the Mexican name for poinsettia).
I found three pots with this beautiful type of poinsettia, $6.98 each. Two of the three had broken stems, with unusable blooms, so Lowe’s sold them to me for $2 each. In all, that netted me 7 huge flowers for $11, which seems like a great price.
Since coming home from the home center, I looked up peach poinsettias online and have decided it’s possible this one is called ‘Visions of Grandeur’, described as a luxuriously rich, yet soft peach/pink/cream plant. But I could be way off because the colors seem to vary as widely as the petals of ‘Cafe au Lait’ dahlias. Either way, it’s lovely, feminine and romantic.
I began my arrangement with a Goodwill purchase from last in August, a silver-plated Gorham fruit bowl. I think I paid $6.99 for it; just found the same bowl on eBay for $35. I’m in bargain heaven with this great-priced bowl and discount poinsettias!
I placed a dome-shaped vintage metal flower frog in the base and added a second “level” of structure with chicken wire, domed at the top of the 9-inch container.
Foliage and branches:
- Dark purple Agonis flexuosa, California grown, valued for its sultry color and feathery texture
- A silvery-green fir known in the landscape trade as Korean fir (Abies koreana ‘Horstmann’s Silberlocke’), from Leo’s Trees, a Southwest Washington vendor who sells at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. Danielle Bennett, assistant manager at the Market, told me that Leo only brought in two bunches. I understand why because Korean fir is very slow growing so he probably didn’t want to trim so many boughs from the tree! I planted one of these ornamental conifers in a prior garden and I loved its wonderful winter sheen when hit with the afternoon light!
- Rex begonia foliage, clipped from my houseplant. I love how the raspberry-wine foliage plays off of the Agonis foliage and the scale of each leaf holds its own against the poinsettia blooms.
- Poinsettias. Following instructions mentioned in my recent blog post about International Poinsettia Day (Dec. 12th), the best way to prepare stems for floral design is as follows: Cut, then dip into hot water 140˚ F for 20 seconds; then plunge into cold water for 10 seconds.
- ‘Snowflake’ white spray roses, grown by Green Valley Floral in Salinas, California
A bonus: I used my leftover pieces to create a couple of small arrangements, which also included the final blooms from two raspberry-hued amaryllis grown by Vivian Larson of Everyday Flowers. I enjoyed these in a larger arrangement last week and the final buds just opened this week.