Why you should be growing more foliage and filler
Flower growers — I'm going to encourage you today to grow more foliage in your gardens. Filler and foliage are what makes a bouquet stand apart from a bunch of flowers! It’s not just the focal flowers that growers should focus on — it’s filler and foliage too. Foliage is key in creating the structure of an arrangement. Foliage also provides a foil that contrasts with and emphasizes the qualities of the focal flower. Filler adds charm, character, and personality to your bouquet along with adding body and substance to your stems.
I love twofer plants — a plant that provides beautiful flowers but also provides foliage that can be used independently from its flower. A two-in-one plant that is an efficient use of space is very helpful (especially for a micro-farmer like myself). With time being at a premium for everyone during the growing season, twofers can increase your efficiency as well if you are able to get blooms and foliage from one plant.
Two of my favorite twofers are False Indigo and Lady’s Mantle.
The strand of blue spikes of the False Indigo are a welcome sight in June (zone 5b)! After the flowers fall in early July, the light green leaves with a subtle gray tone still provide foliage for a few more weeks. False Indigo (Baptisia australis) is an easy to grow variety in average, dry to medium, and well-drained soil in full sun. It can tolerate drought and poor soils and should not be disturbed once established. Staking may be necessary to help keep its shape. Once the seed pods appear they can also be used as well as an ingredient that is unusual and dramatic.
Alchemilla or Lady’s Mantle
I can not get enough of this! Also a June bloomer (zone 5b) it keeps its blooms for what seems like forever. The tiny chartreuse star-shaped flowers in loose clusters are an ingredient that seems to coordinate well with a wide variety of other colors (pinks, reds, corals, blues, purples). Mixed with other ingredients, they lend an airy feel to your bouquet. The soft and slightly fuzzy scalloped edged leaves can be used as a foliage as well. Lady’s Mantle is another easy to grow type that prefers medium moisture in well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. If you promptly remove spent flowers from it, you will not only prevent self-seeding but may also encourage a sparse, late summer re-bloom. Plants may be grown from seed started indoors about 6-8 weeks before last spring frost date.
When planning your inventory for your next growing season remember to include filler and foliage! Make your focal flowers pop with foliage that accents their beauty and filler that will bring personality to your bouquets and arrangements. Also, take a look at what you already have to see if you’ve got some twofers that could be saving you time and space!