Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Spring is such a special time of year. The earth returns to its verdant state with lots of garden flowers in bloom. Many of these make very suitable cut flowers, including some early-blooming perennials.
The Oriental poppies remain a favorite for cut flowers. Usually, these open in late spring. On very tall flower stems, these ephemeral beauties are often red or orange. However, there are many other colors available as well, including pure whites, delightful pinks, and salmon as well as various shades of purple. Poppies have very prominent dark centers with dark-colored blotches on the base of the flower petals.
Thompson & Morgan sells seeds of a wonderful vivid coral pink variety. This plant just happened to come up among the usual red-flowering ones when the breeders were working with the plants. They named it Coral Reef poppy. Coral Reef was chosen as the 2000 Thompson & Morgan Flower of the Year. Its vibrant, ruffled blossoms are five inches wide. Unlike some other poppies, these flowers are not prone to flop over.
Depending on the variety, Oriental poppies may be either single or doubles. Though the stems don’t have an extremely long vase life (around five days), the five to seven inch wide blooms are an irresistible cut flowers. The ends of the stems need searing to halt the release of the milky latex. As an alternative, they can be dipped in boiling water.
There are so many kinds of hellebores that it isn’t possible to discuss all of them. The plants are typically grown as perennials in shade gardens. These flowers are just perfect for floating in bowls. What looks really nice is to have an assortment of colors. They’re available in a broad range of tones from pure white, and greenish white to pale yellows, pinks, reds, and purples. Generally, they have large, colorful, yellow centers. There may be contrasting colors somewhere on the petals. This may be in the form of scattered pink dots, colored veining, or vivid blotches.
Some hellebores are named for the time of the year in which they bloom. For example, there’s the Christmas-rose, and the Lenten-rose. In fact, both of these will typically be in bloom well into late spring. If given winter protection, the Christmas-rose will bloom throughout the winter months. Otherwise, this will take place in the spring. Some hellebore flowers are in clusters, while others tend to be solitary. With one exception, all the hellebore flowers are suitable as cut flowers. That is the stinking hellebore, which bears slightly foul-smelling blooms. Obviously, you wouldn’t bring this indoors.
Bleeding hearts make striking cut flowers. There are several species, but stems of Dicentra spectabilis tend to be longer-lasting than the other kinds. The name is quite descriptive. These graceful, heart-shaped blossoms are spurred. They may be dark pink to rose-red. There are contrasting, white-colored inner petals. Bleeding hearts open in clusters on tall, terminal, nodding flower spikes. In addition to the regular color, there is also a white-flowering variety. For most designs, I would prefer to use the brighter colored ones.
Monkshood is also popular as a spring cut flower. This perennial is also known as spring aconite. Clustered on long stems, the flowers have a very distinctive helmet shape. All parts of this plant are poisonous. So you should wash your hands after you work with the stems. Normally, monkshood blossoms are dark blue, but pastel shades are also available, including white, cream, and light blue. Under normal circumstances, the vase life is about ten days.
With their unusual, spurred shape, columbines make wonderful cut flowers. Some say the petals are shaped like the claws of birds. These unusual blossoms have five petals, each of which has its own spur. They’re several inches in length. So far as colors are concerned, you can pretty well take your pick from a wide range, including purple, blue, yellow, pink, and white.
Along with the spring-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips, make full use of these other seasonal blossoms as well.