With this a General Election year, I'd like to pledge my (non-political) allegiance to the Green party, because if you didn’t know already, green(ery) is back in fashion!
Who knew? I have to say for some of us it never actually went out.
It never fails to delight how a little bit (or even quite a lot) of foliage amongst ones flowers can create anything from an air of elegant softness to outright in your face drama. I have shrubs in the garden which have been pruned to within an inch of their life - such is my enthusiasm for foliage. Some plants have never actually flowered because I repeatedly snip them year round, most appear to relish the frequent assaults, coming back feistier than ever year on year. From herbs to evergreens, twigs and lichens, spring through summer and into autumn, you’re missing a trick if you are not at least pillaging your own back garden and dare I say the neighbours too...
When studying to be a florist, my tutor told the class greenery was not something the customer was interested in therefore not to waste money using it, encouraging us to focus on the flower content and wrapping. Contrary to this and at exactly the same time, my mentor Louise was doing the complete opposite as our first port of call on any job was always the lady down the lane who supplied her foliages. Fresh, seasonal and in eternal abundance, I have to say it often pains me when at the local dump, to see so much potential greenery being lobbed into the skip!
My default position has always been to start an arrangement with some semblance of foliage. After creating the body and shape and by the time you have “greened up” it can almost feel a bit of a shame to sully it with flowers! Over the years I’ve varied my approach in foliage usage from a fleeting period of just flowers and not a single leaf (I’m wincing as I type this shocking fact) to today, where it is hard for me to imagine life without a few leaves!
Green, grey, red, black, brown, fury, spikey or shiny, then there are the grasses and a miscellany of moss, twigs and lichens, the list is endless. So much impact can be created; building height, adding body and injecting lots of texture simply by choosing the appropriate foliages. May I suggest taking a lead from Mother Nature and seeing what’s outside. If like today (Feb), it is bleak and skeletal outdoors, then twigs and branches might be a good starting point. If you're not a budding florist, even a humble bunch of something pretty from the supermarket can be transformed into something quite extraordinary by simply adding a bit of garden picked greenery and twiggery. A few stems of greenery will support and separate the flowers, thus filling the vase so that they no longer look lost in what may otherwise look like a huge space!
To demonstrate my point, I leave you a few examples I have made over the years (one of them just yesterday), all incorporating a judicious use of foliage. So without further ado, may I heartily suggest you get out with your secateurs and start snipping and pruning!