Hello, lovely readers! This post for the letter “B” was such an easy call — the indomitable brassica. I am a huge fan of this gorgeous cabbage. Brassica gives you lots of bang for your buck, is strong and stabilizing in arrangements, looks sophisticated and unusual and kicks up the drama factor.
Brassica is a broad term for a genus of plants in the mustard family (Brassicaceae). The members of this genus are collectively known either as cabbages or mustards. Crops from this genus are sometimes called cole crops, a phrase derived from the Latin caulis, meaning stem or cabbage. The Brassica group includes many familiar vegetables and “flowers” such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, rutabaga and turnip — some grown specifically for their ornamental leaves. They begin to appear in earnest at the flower market in fall, coming into high season in winter. To request brassica by name at a flower shop, you may have to ask for “kale” or “cabbage” — some vendors think it’s too highfalutin’ to use the genus name! After the jump, I’ll show you some ways to display and arrange brassica at home. Let’s get started! —
CLICK HERE for arrangement ideas and how-tos after the jump!
Brassica come in three basic hues — greens, creamy whites and violets. The stems and leaves are tough and waxy and they remain fresh as cut “flowers” for a solid week, making them a wonderful option for floral arranging! Here are some techniques for working with brassica and how to use it with other fabulous blooms:
1. Begin by peeling the outer layers of leaves back, one at a time. Work with the leaves carefully, but you can tug firmly to splay them out. If you find that some of the lower-level leaves are yellowing, broken or rotting, simply pull them off and move to the next row. There will be plenty of bulk to work with higher up.
As always, cut stems at an angle with a sharp implement. Select a container with a nice wide mouth for these big-headed “face” flowers, as they will create a lot of volume after they are opened. Place stems in your container at an angle and create a “grid” (see above) with the stems. This grid will get stronger and more structured as you go, making each successive bloom easier to place!
I can’t help myself. So here I added some Gypsy Curiosa roses. I like pairing the rose-like shape of the brassica with an actual rose. I clustered the roses in little groups to provide saturated pops of color and texture. Adding flowers to a bucket of chunky brassica is a great project even for the very novice designer, as the brassica provide incredible “scaffolding” for your work. When you place flowers alongside the brassica, they stand straight up precisely where you want them. And . . .
I can’t help myself, as you know, so here I added some “tubular” flowers to the mix to show you the contrast. I also added millet and astilbe for visual interest and height. This is really starting to look autumnal. And . . .
Just a bit more! I “gilded the lily” with the addition of dark smoke bush (a hybrid of tubular and a face flower) and some spectacular magenta dahlia. This demands to be placed in the center of a holiday table, and then politely moved aside so guests can actually converse :)