Hawk Hill’s gardens are home to many flowering plants, but by late summer in Missouri, there’s not much that hasn’t gone to seed, so my vases are usually empty. One day I realized that even though my flowerbeds were empty, there were lots of colorful and unique plants- even weeds- on the property and maybe I could use these native plants to create beautiful “flower” arrangements for free.
I began cautiously- and snipped some of the delicate blossoms from my gigantic sage plant. Adding fronds from fennel balanced out the blossoms sweetly:
Pleased with that result, I jumped at the opportunity to be even more creative when I had a big group of house guests come in the fall.
With a large bucket and strong scissors in hand, I walked the perimeter of my property (which is, on three sides, a hedgerow with a lot of wild growth) taking cuttings of plants, branches, blossoms, and berries that looked visually interesting. (If you do this, you’ll want to make sure you know how to recognize any poisonous plants native to your particular geography!)
After collecting clippings, I spread them out on newspapers on a large table in my garage, gathered a few vases, and started arranging my non-flower arrangements. Basic flower arranging rules still applied: countering tall with short, balancing from side to side, contrasting colors throughout, etc. Unique to my “bouquets of weeds” was that instead of balancing blossom colors and styles, I was balancing shades of green with lighter shades of green, and delicate vines with more robust branches.
How to make a bouquet of her flowers and native plants:
- Grab a bucket and, being careful to avoid thorns and poisonous plants, begin to collect bits of growth 10-18 inches long. Look for interesting flora, but don’t ignore less flashy growth because it’s ordinary. Common greens can make nice filler or may even carry a particular beauty when placed in an indoor arrangement.
- Gather vase(s) and spread out your specimens on a large work surface so you can see what you are working with. (Outdoors or on a covered surface is ideal. Weeds are successful because they are good as spreading seed! If you’ve collected anything that’s gone to seed, it may drop a lot of debris during this process.)
- Work tallest to shortest, center to outside. (in other words, place big stuff in your vase first, then progressively add shorter pieces that compliment around the outside edges of that center section, then add another circle of shorter, etc)
- If you have particularly delicate branches, like branches with berries still attached, save till last, and then gently add.
- Play and rearrange, till you love it!
Designating one section of my yard as an herb garden where perennial herbs are allowed to grow without containment has been a great! Maintaining large, vigorous herbs means:
- There is never a shortage, and always enough herbs to cut, bundle, and gift (or in the case of sage, bundle and burn for a fragrant campfire), or cut, dry, and use over winter.
- As they grow larger, many herbs spread underground and are easier to divide at the root. To create a free but always appreciated housewarming gift of a planter filled with herbs means I just need a shovel!
- The extra growth of the unique leaves and blossoms of herbs are beautiful sniped and placed in bud vases or as additions to week bouquets.
One more closeup of one of my bouquet of herbs and weeds featuring moneywort, pokeberry, sage, fennel blossoms, and (look close- do you see it?) a hawk feather found while harvesting greens to arrange!