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.
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.
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.
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.
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.