Winter seasonal interest
Frances Rawson of Clodhopper Blooms shares some tips for winter seasonal interest in floristry, and reveals how rich the possibilities at this time of year are.
It’s easy to think that winter interest is all about Christmas – and traditionally this means dark evergreens and red berries. But with a bit of forward planning, there is a huge amount of colour and variety to be had all the way through til the coming of spring. Dried flowers can give extra choice, and bulbs potted up in autumn can be used in many ways – in living wreaths, as gifts, or as a source of cut flowers.
Pictured below are some table centres I created for a wedding just before Christmas, using a mossed wreath base resting on a log slice. The foliage is a mixture of ivy, eucalyptus, pittosporum, rosemary, hebe, and brachyglottis, with added dried flowers including astrantia, gypsophila and statice.
Mixing dried flowers with fresh foliage is a great technique, as long as you take care to keep the dried stems away from moisture, and prevent them becoming soggy.
There is more to winter than just dried flowers and foliage though. Flowering shrubs such as pieris, sarcococca, viburnum and winter honeysuckle can offer colour and, most importantly, scent.
Coloured twigs are wonderful too for adding to larger arrangements and wreaths. The winter bark of cornus, lime, and willow is remarkably bright in some varieties, in shades of green, yellow, orange and red.
Some varieties of pussy willow are very early flowering; for example, the wonderful pink Salix “Mount Aso”. Stems of later flowering pussy willow can be picked when still in bud, and brought indoors to induce earlier flowers.
If you want to get inspiration for winter flowering plants, coloured stems and stunning foliage, I recommend visiting a garden with a dedicated winter area, such as RHS Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire.
Some examples of early flowering bulbs are iris reticulata, winter aconites, and snowdrops. I’m always amazed at how resistant these are to the winter weather! But again, if grown in pots, they can be brought indoors to encourage earlier flowers.
Narcissi can be forced for winter flowers too. Paperwhites are the most commonly used variety, being very easy to persuade to flower in late December and on into January. If you stagger your plantings in containers or crates, you can control when they flower by moving them between cool and dark, warmth and light. They just need to be kept frost free as they originate from the mediterranean.
I hope you have found these tips on winter interest useful, and are inspired to give some of them a go in creating seasonal florals for your own home.