Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
For 2005, a number of new everlastings will be available from garden centers and nurseries. In some cases, plants or seeds will also be available online.
A great place to start is with the revolutionary new pumpkin pepper. Now that sounds very odd, but let me explain. Once it dries, this remarkable pepper looks like a pumpkin. Think of all the different fall floral designs you could use this for. First, it can take the place of mini pumpkins. Unlike real pumpkins, these dried peppers won’t mold, and will retain their shape almost indefinitely. This plant would be an excellent choice for a cutting gardens/craft gardens. The plants are a little over 1˝ feet in height. If given sufficient space, each plant can produce around 35 pumpkin peppers. So chances are you probably won’t need very many plants. They ripen from a green to red, and finally a burnt orange if left on the plant.
Lavender Spanish Eyes is a great choice for cutting gardens. Unlike some lavenders, this is best grown as an annual. It begins blooming about 10-12 weeks after the seeds are sown. Very tolerant of heat, Spanish Eyes produces 1˝ to 2 foot tall fragrant flower spikes throughout the summer months. This makes a great everlasting.
For 2005, Thompson & Morgan is offering some outstanding varieties that would be suitable as everlasting, including the Speckled Swan and the Snake gourd. If these are dried and waxed, they usually last indefinitely. This year, they’re introducing the Speckled Swan gourd. These are green with hints of cream. Depending on your growing conditions, this gourd will be ready to harvest somewhere between September and November. You can direct sow the seeds in your garden after the last frost, or start them early indoors.
Thompson & Morgan is also offering another variety that can be used as an everlasting, particularly in fall floral designs. Black Witches broom features sprays of golden-brown seed heads in the form of tassels. These ripen to black in September or so. Only about four feet in height, these robust plants are really easy to grow. Black Witches broom can be direct sown in the cutting garden, or could be started early indoors before the last frost. When harvesting this plant, cut the entire stalk about a foot below where the bloom strands begin to separate from the stem. These stems can be dried very easily by placing them upright in a large container, such as a box. To add a touch of variety, some people remove the seeds from the stalks, but I see no need to do that with Black Witches broom because it can add beautiful color to a fall design.
For 2005, Thompson & Morgan is also introducing a new seed mix containing both Celosia Fresh Look Red and Celosia Yellow Mixed. These received both an All-American Selections award as well as a Fleuroselect Gold Medal. When sown early indoors, these celosias bloom all summer and continue until frost. These annuals can be a little over a foot in height. There are two types of celosia—the ones with feather or candelabra-shaped blooms and the others with cockscomb-like flowers. These are the first type. The delicate, fluffy blooms are just perfect for drying.
Larkspur is the best all around cut flower for late spring and early summer. If you have more fresh stems than you can use, dry them for everlastings. For 2005, there’s a great new larkspur variety that is taking the market by storm. Chorus Violet larkspur has won a Fleuroselect Quality award. This is the very first spray-type larkspur. The individual blooms on the spike are nearly two inches in size. Each single stem may have ten blooms or more. Because these stems are less formal than that of most larkspurs, this has wider uses in floral design. These stems can be anywhere from three to six feet in length.
Regarding sunflowers, we sometimes think of them as cut flowers only. However, they dry beautifully. For more information on different varieties, please look at my list of articles for the ones on sunflowers. In those, I give descriptions and details for a number of sunflower varieties.