Favourite flowers of July, Love-in-a-mist – Nigella damascene

What a romantic name for a flower, love-in-a-mist, it conjures up all sorts of images in my imagination, as does the other common name devil-in-the-bush.  It is a fabulous flower to grow, cut, arrange with and dry. Nigella belongs to the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. It makes an annual appearance in my garden due to its self-seeding nature and has been a favourite for scattering in the quintessential cottage garden since Elizabethan times.

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Nigella is an annual plant, which grows to about 50cm in height. Seed can be sown the spring or autumn, autumn sowing produces early summer flowering, but spring sown seeds will flower later in the summer. It is a good idea to do both to get a longer cutting period as it only lasts 6 – 8 week. Dead heading will prolong the flowering period but I like to leave it to go to seed. When the spikey petals drop the plant produces a bulbous and inflated capsule that contains the seeds. The seed heads are just as attractive as the flowers in my opinion. The colours vary but are mainly shades of blue. I have had lots of white this year but I think that due to me purchasing new seeds. A few pink also made a surprise appearance, which was nice.

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The ferny foliage and spiky flowers give great texture to summer bouquets and wedding flowers. The delicate stems give great movement when the bouquet is being carried. The seed heads also look fabulous when fresh and last really well as a cut flower.

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They can also be dried and used in the winter to add texture to a design. For drying remove the excess foliage and hang upside down in a dark, warm and airy place. The seed heads contain hundreds of seeds which can be collected for sowing the following year.

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This beautifully scented bridal bouquet includes blue, white and the seed heads of Nigella, blue, pink and lilac cornflowers, Ammi, coriander flowers, flowering mint, lilac and white sweet peas, larkspur, veronica and a few other pretties grown by my fellow on his wild garden plot. All other flowers were grown by Wild & Wondrous.

All floristry by Wild & Wondrous and photos by Nicola Hanney.

Thanks Nik

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Favourite flowers of July – Larkspur – Consolida

I have grown larkspur this year and have been delighted with the colours that materialized, colours never seen at the wholesalers. Larkspur has always been a favourite of mine. There’s around 40 species in the Consolida genus and is closely related to the Delphinium. It was given the name Consolida (Latin for “ an undetermined plant”) by botanists to differentiate it from delphiniums. While being native to Britain it is rarely found in its wild form, it has been heavily cultivated and new varieties bread for 100’s of years.  

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The flowers are arranged tightly up a tall slender stem or spike, blossoming gently from the bottom to the tip. The foliage is fine and is sometimes referred to as lacy. The flower spikes can grow up to half a metre.  Larkspur is an annual plant that seeds itself freely. It is usually sold in mixed colour packets and the resulting explosion of random colours, white, pinks and lilacs in varying shades, which look are fabulous together. 

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Larkspur gives great height and structure to a design. Its soft texture works well in summer bouquets.  It can be dried and used in winter. Buy fresh larkspur and condition it well. Cut 1-2 cm from the bottom of the stem, strip most of the foliage from the stems and place in deep tepid water with flower food. Leave for at least 48 hrs in a cool environment, this allows the flower spike to rehydrate and start to develop. It’s important to dry the flowers before the petals start to drop. Take the bunch and twist the stems a touch, spreading the flower spikes out a little, so the air can circulate around the spikes. Tie the bunch together and hang upside down in a dry, warm and dark place like the airing cupboard or the attic. It takes a while for the spikes to dry thoroughly depending on temperature. Enjoy.     

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This next picture is quite frustrating, the purple of the larkspur looks almost blue and it was deep purple. I’ve added it anyway because I love the vibrancy of the clashing colours.

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Floristry by Wild & Wondrous, photos by Nicola Hanney (me)

Cheers Nik

 

My Favourite Flowers of July – Cornflower – Centaurea cyanus

There is no other flower that gives you that intense blue like the cornflower.  Cornflowers do come in a range of colours, pink, lilac and even black, but blue is my definite favourite. The stems are silvery and the buds protrude wildly from the stem giving bouquets that unkempt look. The cornflower is native to Britain and traditionally grew on cultivated farmland such as cornfields. In the 1930’s it was widely distributed throughout the UK but with modern agricultural practices there was a sharp decline. By the 1990’s the cornflower was close to extinction but luckily the recent resurgence and drive to conserve wildlife has seen planting by gardeners, local councils and farmers. 

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The cornflower is part of the Daisy Family and grows to about 80cm. It is an annual plant so seeds must be sown yearly or the ground disturbed where it grew in previous years for the seeds to germinate. The solitary blue flower heads are made up of blue outer florets and reddish inner florets. Insects love them too, bees have been buzzing happily around them in the shop. The cornflower is very easy to grow, why not scatter some seed this September on a patch of unused ground near you.

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The cornflower has been the request for wedding flowers from many of my brides this summer and looks stunning in naturally tied brides’ bouquets. They also look fabulous in gift bouquets and are very reasonably priced and last well as a cut flower. 

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The local wholesaler that supplies Wild & Wondrous warned that they are now coming to the end. It will be sad to see the end of their season but we shall look forward to seeing them again next year.  

All photography by myself (Nicola Hanney), floristry by Wild & Wondrous (myself).

Nik