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 Popular Summer Wedding Flowers
 02-09-11

Popular Summer Wedding Flowers
 
 
This article offers information on the most popular Summer flowers used in weddings. Each floral description is listed alphabetically by the flower’s most commonly used name and includes the flower’s historical significance in weddings, its main usage, proper care, durability, things to beware of, and much more. We hope this section gives you a better understanding of flowers and helps you make the appropriate floral selections for your wedding.
 
 
ALLIUM

There are two types of allium: the giant allium and the miniature allium. The giant variety is a fluffy, bubble-shaped purple flower which is 4-10 inches in diameter and sits on a stem that is at least two feet long. The smaller allium is egg-shaped with flowers that are only 1-2 inches across and sit atop a stem that is half the size of its giant brother.

These flowers, which come from the mountains in ancient China, are excellent for banquet table arrangements because of their striking appearance. Although, it is best to use these flowers on a table from which you are offering food such as hors d’oeuvres, because they do have an odor of onions. But if you place these flowers in water 24 hours before the wedding, much of the odor will be eliminated.

Historically, these flowers are used at weddings because onions were a sign of good luck and health. The smaller varieties are available throughout most of the year, but the giant allium are only available in the late spring and early summer. They will keep for about ten days.

 
ALSTROEMERIA

 Native to South America, alstroemeria is named for the Swedish jurist Clas Alstroemer. This automatically makes the flower appropriate for weddings since marriage is an official act.

 Also known as a Peruvian lily, there are more than 50 varieties within the alstroemeria assortment in popular colors and shades. Alstroemeria are available all year in hues of pink, salmon, orange, red, lavender, and yellow. During the winter, spring and fall, they may be purchased in white. The whitest varieties currently available are “Bianca,” “Paloma” and “Casablanca.” The orchid-like “Casablanca” has large, beautiful white flowers with less striping on the petals.

 The flowers typically are multicolored clusters on a stalk. They are excellent and economical for wedding table arrangements because one stem contains many clusters, which makes the table arrangement look like it contains lots of flowers. The alstroemeria’s worldwide popularity is attributed to its versatility and long life. It is ideal for use in mixed bouquets, arrangements, corsages, on its own or by the bunch in a vase. With proper care, alstroemeria will last 2-3 weeks. A word of warning: Alstroemeria contains a

chemical that may cause dermatitis in susceptible people, and sap from the alstroemeria can be harmful if it enters the human bloodstream. So handle these cut flowers with care!

 
ANEMONES

 The anemone has many names in many different parts of the country. It is sometimes called a windflower, sometimes a poppy, and also a lily of the field. The anemone was first discovered in China in the early 1900s by Italian explorers who brought the flower back with them because they were so impressed by its texture and regal coloration. In Italy these flowers were made into a crown and worn by the bride at weddings.

 The anemone’s vibrant purple, pink, red, blue and white flowers often come with a contrasting center. They stand on a long, bending stem, which makes them useful in hair ornaments.

 The average anemone will keep for a week. It has no scent. A word of caution: do not mix this flower with narcissus; the anemone is sensitive to the gasses emitted from the narcissus stem. 

ASTERS

 The aster is a long-lasting perennial with American roots. It was first discovered by the early settlers and was originally called “the ancestor flower.” It acquired this name because it was passed along from one generation to another. This gives its place at a wedding particular significance as family members witness a major step in their next generation.

 The white “Monte Cassino” aster is a bushy, double-flower variety with a diameter of 2-4 inches. There are also single-flowered varieties, notably the “Pink Star,” “Blue Star,” and “White Star,” which are becoming increasingly popular. These flowers are generally available all year and are excellent in both bouquets and table arrangements to add fullness to the design. One of the sparser varieties is the “Climax,” which is available only in late September and October. Asters will frequently last up to one week after the wedding.

BABY’S BREATH

 Baby’s breath is botanically named Gypsophila and contains hundreds of tiny white or pink flowers covering a multitude of intertwining stems. This wonderful filler flower is perfect as a backdrop to any arrangement or bouquet. Because the flowers are less than 1/4 inch in diameter, they set off the top note flower in a bridal bouquet. It is also possible to dye them other colors to match your wedding decor without harming them. Baby’s breath, sometimes referred to as “gyp,” is available year-round.

 Baby’s breath is an excellent flower to use at weddings because Gypsophila is derived from the Greek word Philein which means “to love.” The plant was first discovered in the Mediterranean. Shortly thereafter, species were discovered as far away as Siberia. The Dutch and Israelis have been growing this long-lasting flower for the last 200 years. It has a life span of up to three weeks and has no scent.

 
BACHELOR’S BUTTON

 What more appropriate flower for a wedding than a Bachelor’s Button? Botanically it is called Centaurea. It is one of the rare, strikingly blue flowers. It is appropriately used at weddings since the groom is no longer a bachelor and no longer blue. Ushers frequently wear this flower in their lapels.

 In many parts of the U.S. this flower is more commonly known as a cornflower, so called because it was originally a weed found in cornfields. The flower has been actively grown as a commercial product since the mid-1400s. Lately the Dutch have produced different colors of this two inch diameter flower. You can purchase the variety in pure white, scarlet, and pink from early spring into early winter. The normal keeping period of a Bachelor’s Button is about five days.

BILLY BUTTONS

Craspedia globosa originated in the Outback of Australia. Its common name is “drumsticks,” but native Aussies gave it the nickname Billy Buttons.

 The Billy Button is a globular flower which grows atop an unbranched and leafless stem. The stems are approximately six inches long, and its pom-pom like flower gives it the look of the drumstick used to beat a bass drum.       

 The flowers are yellow and are used to add interest to a table arrangement. If properly cared for, they will last up to two weeks.

 
BIRD OF PARADISE

 The bird of paradise is the common name for Strelitzia. The flower was named after King George III of England’s wife, Charlotte von Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The royal lady was admired for her elegance and color, so it was most appropriate that this elegant, colorful flower be named in her honor. Strelitzia originated in South Africa.

 The flower sits atop a three-foot stalk. It is two-toned: orange and blue. It received its common bird of paradise name because it actually gives the appearance of a beautiful bird perched on a stalk.

Available year-round, the bird of paradise is used primarily at weddings to project a note of elegance in table decorations. It is best to use this unscented flower sparingly in floral design so as not to detract from its impact. It will last about two weeks.

 
BOUVARDIA

 A fragrant bloom often used for weddings, Bouvardia seems to have everything going for it. It has a characteristic scent, making it especially appealing for bouquet work and small arrangements. It has an incredibly long vase life of three weeks and is available year-round. 

 The flowers are delicate and grow in clusters. Each tubular Bouvardia blossom is star shaped. The flower is formed by a cluster of these regularly shaped stars and is set off by simple leaves, which make an excellent frame for the blossoms. Each flower in the cluster is about one inch in diameter. The Bouvardia blossom comes in shades of white, pink, salmon and red.

 Historically, the Bouvardia was known for its curative abilities. It was named in honor of Dr. Charles Bouvard, who was the physician to King Louis XII. He created hundreds of different medicines using the flower. The King thought this flower was responsible for his long life. Symbolically, Bouvardia is welcome at weddings as brides and grooms are toasted for a long life. This extremely fragrant variety will last in excess of two weeks.

CALLA LILY

 Although the calla lily isn’t really a lily, it shares many of the lily’s qualities. It first became popular in the U.S. when Katherine Hepburn said, “The calla lilies are in bloom again ...” in Stage Door. The elegant Ms. Hepburn has long been associated with this traditional, long-lasting and elegant flower, which is grown primarily in England and Holland.

 Calla lilies, botanically named Zantedeschia, are named after Italian botanist Zantedeschi, who discovered them in South Africa. They were given the name “calla” from the Greek word “kallos,” meaning beautiful.

 Sitting regally above its 2- to 3-foot stalk, the Calla is an extremely decorative flower. With a trumpet-like shape that captivates the eye, it is frequently used in wedding receptions and at the church to herald the bride. 

 Calla lilies are available year-round in white, yellow, red and pink coloration. Although they are dominating in appearance, their scent is insignificant.

 
CARNATIONS

 Even the most demanding bride will be satisfied by the vast selection of carnations available. No other flower offers a better selection of colors, shades and types. The botanical name for carnation is Dianthus. Appropriately, this name translates from the Greek as “divine flower.” It is the perfect flower for such a divine event as a wedding ceremony or reception. Available year-round in every size, from standard to giant to mini-spray carnations, they are extremely popular. First discovered on the west coast of Europe, carnations truly bloomed as a favorite when they were brought to America in the early 1900s. Fascinated by its exceedingly large variety, Americans adopted the flower as their own, and Europeans soon began referring to it as the “American carnation.”

 Through breeding techniques, the variations of this sweet smelling flower were so great that their numbers swelled by the dozens each year. Available in either full-size or miniature varieties, carnations are grown in large numbers in California, Holland and South America and are available year-round. Because of their abundance, except for rare varieties, they will be affordable on any wedding budget. Each stem contains multiple flowers, which makes them even more attractive from an economic as well as a visual standpoint. Carnations are commonly used to frame the walkway in the church, as a bridal canopy, as boutonnieres, and in floral arrangements. One note of caution: avoid placing carnation arrangements next to buffet displays of fruit or vegetables as the flower is quite sensitive to the gasses they emit.

 
CELOSIA

 The celosia is known by many names in many lands. It is sometimes called a crested cockscomb;

sometimes a burnt plume; a plume celosia; a chinese wool flower or a plumed brain flower ... the latter because its ruffled flowers resemble the focal point of the mind. This flower was first used at weddings to symbolize the joining of one’s mind to one’s mate.

The foliage comes in deep shades of orange, red, yellow, purple and creamy white. The flame varieties appear as compact spikes, while the cockscomb varieties have compact heads like the comb on a rooster’s head. The coarse flowers sit atop a thick, fleshy stalk and become the focal point of any arrangement in which they are included. The heads of the flowers are 2-8 inches across and, when cut to size, make an exciting and attractive decoration for the bride and groom’s place setting. After the wedding, they can easily be dried and kept as a remembrance.

 These flowers first originated in Africa, but the first known cultivated varieties came from Japan. They are available from May until September. They have no scent and are best used at indoor functions since they have a tendency to react to atmospheric differences and spot easily.
 
 
CHRYSANTHEMUM

 The chrysanthemum, or mum, is one of the most abundant and popular flowers in the world. One can trace its origin to the western part of Russia. The botanical and the common name are identical and come from the Latin word meaning “yellow flower.” Although yellow is the most common color, they are available in many other colors as well as color combinations. The giant version of the flower is also referred to as a Pom-Pom and is the flower of choice at football games.

 Available year-round in a multitude of shapes and sizes, the chrysanthemum is a preferred flower at weddings. A white variety, the “Marguerite,” was used by French, Italian and English royalty at weddings to signify that the choice of bride by the groom was purely correct. In the U.S., two varieties the “Happy” and the “Funshine,” are frequently chosen for table decorations and wedding aisle arrangements.

 The shapes of the mum include puffball, daisy-like, tubular, and spider-like varieties. Even though many different colored mums can be obtained from a florist, the hearty nature of the chrysanthemum makes it possible for the flowers to be successfully dyed to match a particular wedding color scheme. Except for mums that are dyed, arrangements usually last 2-3 weeks after the final toast to the bride and groom.

 
DAFFODIL

 The daffodil, although common, is unusual in that its common name and its scientific name, narcissus, are equally well known by the general public. Legend has it that the name of the flower comes from a youth who was so in love with his own beauty that the gods turned him into this beautiful narcissus flower. To this day, self love is still referred to by the term “narcissistic.” You can find daffodils in white, pink, and multicolored varieties. The majority, however, are yellow. 

 The flower is trumpet shaped with star-like petals projecting from the center. Its leaves are strap-shaped. You are best off getting your daffodils from a greenhouse. An easy way to tell if your daffodils are from a greenhouse is that greenhouse grown narcissus are generally delivered with their leaves, while the field grown flowers are typically delivered without their leaves.

 In planning wedding arrangements, remember that this flower is quite fragrant, so make sure it is placed in areas where it will not conflict with other aromas. The “Paper white” variety is very attractive, but be aware that this particular variety has an extremely pungent odor. Another word of caution: the stems tend to get slimy in water, but this can easily be counteracted with preservative. Daffodils generally last more than a week. Although some varieties are available between November and April, keep in mind that this sunny yellow bulb flower is least expensive during its growing season in the spring.

 
EUCALYPTUS

 The common name “eucalyptus” is the same as its botanical name. There are several varieties of eucalyptus available in either a green-gray or blue-green color. All are very aromatic. “Silver Dollar” is the type of eucalyptus traditionally used at weddings. Romantics believe that placing branches of this tree at a wedding will bring good fortune to the newlyweds.

 Eucalyptus originated in Australia. It is available year-round and makes an interesting setting for many other varieties of flowers. Today eucalyptus is cultivated primarily in the United States and Israel. Eucalyptus oil was historically used in medication. It is considered good luck to have it at weddings as a symbol that the couple will enjoy good health together. 
 
 
FREESIA

 Freesia is one of the most popular flowers, possibly because it is so distinctive. The flower was named after a German doctor, F.F. Freese, who discovered it in Cape Colony in South Africa.

 Freesia have long, narrow sword-shaped leaves that grow in two rows. The flower stalk is branched with 8-14 flowers growing from the top of the stalk at a 90 degree angle, forming a comb. Some compare this comb of flowers to a wedding party, with the two largest blooms signifying the bride and groom and the remaining buds the attendants.

 A note of caution: handle freesia delicately. Like a bride, they must be treated gently and with respect if they are to flourish.

 You can determine how fresh your freesia is by the number of flowers along the comb that are open. Remember, for a wedding it is best to have your flowers at their fullest bloom on your wedding day. This is one flower that appreciates some sugar in its water. Freesia can last for more than two weeks.

 Freesia come in a wide palette of colors and are available throughout the year. White and yellow varieties predominate, although freesia are also available in shades of blue, red, purple, orange and pink. Freesia are often added to other, larger flowers in long cascading bouquets. Its blooms can also be separated and wired to headpieces or used in tight cluster designs.

 
GARDENIA

 If ever there was a flower suited for a wedding party corsage, it is the gardenia. Its small and spotless white blooms appear to have been strategically placed against shiny leaves. This flower is dainty enough to complement any member of the bridal group’s gown but impressive enough to make a statement. The fragrance of the gardenia flower is jasmine-like and projects a pleasant but not overpowering scent. Some bridal parties also use potted gardenia plants to set off the tables on which the reception seating arrangement cards are placed.

 The gardenia was discovered in Asia by botanist A. Garden who brought them with him to England in the mid-1700s. Although these flowers are somewhat available in all parts of the world throughout the year, the great majority of the cut flowers are used in America. Since gardenias are primarily used in small personal carrying arrangements at weddings and then either pressed or dried as memories, their keeping time is unimportant.

 
GERBERA DAISY

 The gerbera daisy is sometimes known as the African daisy or Transvaal daisy because of its origination in South Africa, where it was discovered by Dutch botanist Gronovius in 1737. He named the gerbera in honor of his Danish colleague Traugott Gerber. The flower is very similar in appearance to a field daisy but comes in a large variety of colors and sizes. The most popular colors are yellow, red, orange, pink, white and two-tone. There are more than 41 varieties available from Holland throughout the year.

 With their bright and splashy appearance, gerbera are wonderful for informal weddings. Because of their broad range of sizes from standard to micro to mini, they are particularly attractive in table arrangements. One intriguing new standard variety is the “Fire Ball” which has a two-foot stem, is almost five inches in diameter and appears to be an amazing mass of orange flames. Since gerbera have a long vase life of 2-3 weeks, wedding party guests can enjoy them long after the wedding.

 
GLADIOLUS

 This flower adds majesty to any large arrangement at a wedding. Gladiolus are often used in tall fabric -covered vases to line the bridal aisle to the altar. Since they have no scent, they make excellent decorative flowers to enhance the look of food serving areas at the reception. Experienced floral designers can also take individual blooms from the gladiolus and create a camellia-like flower known as a “glamellia” for use as corsages and boutonnieres.

 The species was discovered growing wild in Africa. It was brought back to Europe in bulb form by amateur horticulturists and was later improved and domesticated by professional breeders. Today, the gladiolus is known as a glad in some parts of the United States and as a sword lily in other areas. 

 The color palette of the flower and its gradations of shading are so varied that it can easily fit into any wedding color scheme. You can choose from red, white, yellow, pink, violet, orange, and purple varieties. The flowers grow in clusters up its sword-like stem, with the larger flowers appearing closer to the bottom. This makes it an excellent flower for table settings since the beauty of the flower can easily be enjoyed at eye level. Glads are available year-round but are most plentiful in the summer.

 
IRIS

 The iris, in its undeveloped form, was discovered in Africa in the late-1800s. However, once it was brought to Holland and hybridized, it truly took a position in the world of flowers. That importance was recognized in the scientific name given to the flower, Iris Hollandica. The name iris itself translates into “rainbow,” as strong multiple colors are among the flower’s top notes of interest. 

 The iris has an unusual leaf-colored stem that runs up its entire two-foot stem. Atop this stem is a single blossom which features turned-back petals and a contrasting color comb. Dutch iris will keep for an entire week. The most popular iris is of a blazing dark blue color. However, there is growing interest in the yellow, white and two-tone varieties. Make note of the strength of color in buying iris. If the color is faint, it may indicate that the buds will have difficulty opening in time for the ceremony.

 There are many legends surrounding the significance of iris at weddings. Perhaps the most interesting is that a blue iris and a white iris are placed in a bud vase at the bride’s table to remind her that her marriage would have both vibrant and pale times. It is said that this started the traditional pledge that marriages are for better or for worse.

 
LIATRIS

 The liatris grows to as much as 16 inches and features a lavender-pink flower. The flower spike is tube-like and opens from the top down. Depending on where in the United States you are from, the liatris is also called a gayfeather, a blazing star, or a button snakeroot. The flower was originally grown in the eastern section of America but was formally cultivated in England around 1734. The vertical erectness of the liatris and its long vase life of about two weeks make this flower popular for vase and floral arrangements at weddings. The liatris is odorless and best used in modern floral arrangements.

 
LILIES (ASIATIC AND ORIENTAL)

 No flower is more frequently used at weddings than this hybrid. These lilies were originally found in China and Japan. The first known use of lilies at weddings was by the Ming Dynasty in China.

Asiatics come in a wider color selection than the Orientals. These include yellow, pink, peach, ivory and white as well as combinations of these colors. The Asiatic is smaller than the Oriental lily, although each contains 3-7 flowers per stem.

 Two of the most popular lilies are the “Stargazer” and the “Casablanca.” The Stargazer is noted for its red accent marks, which highlight the white throat of this orchid-like flower. The Casablanca is a huge white flower which takes its name from the Spanish “casa” (house) and “blanca” (white). They are found throughout the world. 

 Lilies are strongly scented. The Oriental hybrids are more heavily scented than the Asiatic varieties. One must be careful to keep them separate and apart from other fragrant flowers. They are versatile enough to be used in bouquets, floral arrangements, altar decorations and church aisle decorations.

 There are over 4,000 lily varieties. Among the new popular varieties used in American weddings is the “La Rive,” which has a very soft pink coloration. White lilies are often used as a single flower placed upon a white wedding Bible. Because they vary so greatly in color and are available to some extent throughout the year, there is a lily for every bride.

Warning: Put a protective shield under the lily when using them as corsages. The anthers that project from the center of the flower will easily stain fabric. It is safest to remove the anther prior to using them in this manner.

 
LILY OF THE VALLEY

 Wedding bells traditionally proclaim a marriage. Perhaps this explains why the lily of the valley is found at most weddings. It is popularly used in bridal bouquets and other arrangements because its flowers are reminiscent of wedding bells. Like a bride and groom, its oval basal leaves stand in pairs around a pendulous stalk. The flower cluster of 4-10 white, bell-shaped blooms sits atop the stalk much as church bells are at the top of the steeple.

Botanically known as Convallaria majalis, this delicate-looking perennial was first seen growing in Western Europe in May, 1420. This makes sense since May is the only month in which it blooms naturally. Today most of the supply is still from Western Europe. However, current technology permits bridal parties to obtain it year-round.

 If lily of the valley is to be used in vases, it is best to put the whole flower, including the roots, in the water. This will allow you to enjoy it for about 5 days.

 
LISIANTHUS

 Lisianthus is more commonly referred to as eustoma. Part of its appeal is its large size. In fact, its very name means wide open mouth. The four-petaled blossom presents itself in a saucer shape with a single stamen and seed capsule apparent in its center. The ornamental flower sits atop a 30- to 32-inch stem with opposing oval leaves. Some are single flowered varieties, others double.

 The eustoma found its way to Europe and the United States from Japan. It is available in dark purple, pink, white, and two-tone. The flowers make a dramatic addition to arrangements. Since each flower is very large, just a few can add drama to entryway and table displays. While most varieties are available from May through December, some varieties, such as “Dark Blue Fuji,” can be obtained year-round. Lisianthus can last 3-4 weeks.

 
NARCISSUS

See description for daffodil.

 
NERINE

 The nerine, also known as the spider lily, is primarily available in pink, although it is also available in red, orange and white. It is a bulbous plant which originated in the coastal regions of South Africa. Its

botanical name is after the Greek sea god, Nereus. Legend has it that the bulb was placed aboard ships to be traded and that some of them were hijacked to the Isle of Guernsey where they proliferate today.

 The leaves of nerine are about 10 inches long. The average 16-inch flower stalk bears a cluster of 6-10 trumpet-shaped blooms with rather undulating flower lobes. Each flower is 1-3 inches in diameter.

 As a complete flower, the nerine’s height, erectness, and rather open, airy appearance make it a good choice for those wanting a more contemporary look to their wedding design. Individually, its flowers can be used for corsages for the wedding party. It is available year-round. The flowers last for more than one week.

 One of the most popular varieties is “Pink Triumph.” Perhaps the nerine is used to symbolize the triumph of the young girl winning her favorite guy.

 
ORCHID (CATTLEYA)

 The variety of orchid most commonly seen in the United States is a hybrid called cattleya. Named after a British merchant, the cattleya is a relatively expensive and fragile flower. For this reason, it has traditionally been reserved for very special occasions, such as weddings, where it is commonly used as the focal point for the bridal bouquet or as a corsage for the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom.

 Native to South America and grown worldwide today, this variety is available year-round in lavender, white, yellow, and orange. The flower itself makes a statement. Its lip, with beautiful markings, is usually a darker color than the other petals.

 The flower grows on a stalk that is 4-6 inches in length, although most times the stem is cut and the flower is worn as a corsage. Since the flower itself is about eight inches in diameter, it can be worn alone and still look impressive. Although orchids can last about a week, they are easily damaged.

 
ORCHID (CYMBIDIUM)

 There are many varieties of orchids. Some varieties, such as the cymbidium and dendrobian, are very versatile. Both are excellent for arrangements, corsages, and bouquets. Cymbidiums are particularly spectacular when used in a hand-tied bouquet or in a slight cascade for the bridal attendants. The regal dendrobian works well when incorporated into the ceremony design.

 Cymbidium orchids are ancestors of the orchid hybrids. They come in both large and small flowered varieties. Large flowered varieties originated in Burma, India, and the Himalayas, while the small flowered varieties are native to Taiwan and China. The dendrobian orchid was originally discovered in Australia and eastern Indonesia.

 Cymbidiums stand 12-32 inches high. Large flowered varieties carry 8-18 flowers on the stem, each measuring 4-6 inches in diameter, while two-thirds of the stem of the small flowered varieties is crowded with flowers. Dendrobian orchid stalks are at least a foot long. Each contains 8-12 flowers measuring 3 1/2 to almost 5 inches in diameter. This variety is butterfly-shaped on a long stem. The flower is generally lavender or white.

 Available year-round, cymbidium and dendrobian orchids have no scent. In order to ensure a 2-5 week life for cymbidiums, they should be kept out of the sun. Dendrobians are particularly sensitive to pollution. They last 8-12 days.

 
PEONY

Peonies give spring weddings a unique, elegant look and aroma. The cultivation of peonies began in China more than 1,000 years ago; however, its name is derived from the doctor of the Greek gods and alludes to its medicinal qualities.

 There is only a six-week window, between May and June, during which peonies can be purchased, although this time frame is expanding somewhat. Its limited availability period adds to its uniqueness in wedding centerpiece arrangements. Its soft yet elegant composition imparts dignity and femininity to wedding designs. Peonies retain their beauty for up to two weeks.

 Peonies are usually double-flowered with a diameter of about six inches. The 30 varieties generally available are most popularly found in white, red, and pink. By far the most popular peony is the pink “Sarah Bernhardt,” which accounts for half of all peonies. Other popular varieties are the white “Shirley Temple,” the bright pink “Dr. Arthur Fleming,” and the red “Karl Rosenfield.” The white “Duchesse de Nemours” variety has a strong fragrance. New early flowering varieties are being introduced in salmon-orange, orange-red, and cream-white. These, too, are named for famous people.
 
 
 PINCUSHION

 The pincushion flower is so named because its center appears to be a pincushion filled with pins. A perennial summer bloom, it contains three-inch round flowers on two-foot stems. At one time, the flower stems were weak, impacting their usability, but this problem has been overcome through breeding. Its botanical name, Scabiosa, derives from the skin disease “scabies” for which it was thought to be a remedy. Originally cultivated in the Mediterranean regions, it requires a temperate climate or summer temperatures. Perhaps part of its decorative appeal is that it is available for only 3-4 months of the year.

Scabiosa is primarily purchased in shades of lavender blue, violet blue and white, although it originally was found naturally in a crimson color. The flower has a frilly petal that is very feminine. It is frequently used in table arrangements because of its pleasing shape and striking blue color. It has no scent. Its vase life is 3-7 days.
 
 
QUEEN ANNE’S LACE

 The name says it all. Delicate and lacy, Queen Anne’s Lace looks like the lace used in bridal gown design. It is a white, flat flower comprised of hundreds of small florets on a straight 1 1/2- to 3- foot stem. Actually, it is a summer wildflower that grows in the field, and most florists do not carry it. But do not gather it directly from a field as it may bear chiggers or other small critters. Once picked, it has a life span of only about three days. Apart from informal wildflower arrangements, it can also be used in the hair to complement the wedding gown.

 
RANUNCULUS

A ranunculus is like a very full peony. This early spring flower originated in the Persian Gulf and is sometimes called a Persian buttercup or Iranian peony. The ranunculus name is from the latin rana, meaning “frog.” It was so named because the flower grows best in swampy areas.

This flower is extremely full and tightly packed with petals. It is available in multiple shades of orange, red, pink, yellow, and white.

 Ranunculus are up to four inches across and sit on 10- to 18- inch stems. The flower was frequently used by Persian shahs to decorate the bridal suite. These brightly colored, unscented flowers will last more than a week with proper care.

 
ROSES
 
No flower symbolizes love more than the rose, making it the perfect wedding flower. Fittingly, among the more than 130 popular varieties are the “Bridal Pink,” “Darling,” “Kiss,” “Flirt,” and “Only Love.” 

 Many varieties are named for women, although roses today are often given to men by women as a symbol of their love. Perhaps due to their names, “Purple Prince” and “Idole” are popular choices for men. Rose varieties can be categorized as large flowered, medium flowered, small flowered, or cluster. Some are heavily scented; some moderately; some lightly; and some have no scent at all. Depending upon the variety, roses can last up to three weeks.

 The rose is from the family Rosaceae. It is naturally a prickly shrub with feathery leaves and showy flowers having five petals in the wild state but often being doubled or partly doubled under cultivation. The thorns on the stalks vary depending on the variety. The stalk length runs between 12 inches and 40 inches, depending upon variety and quality. The leaves are compound and may consist of five leaflets. They can be obtained in reds, pinks, salmon, orange, lavender, cream, white, and two-tone colors.

 Some rose varieties were first seen in Asia; others in Central Europe, the Middle East, and Asia Minor. They can easily be used for any phase of wedding design: altar and church decorations, corsages and boutonnieres, hand bouquets, and centerpieces. Roses can be used to complement any wedding decor. For example, the “Porcelina” rose, which is a large, ivory-colored flower, can be used to create an elegant bridal bouquet, eliciting a formal atmosphere. 

 The softly colored “Champagne” rose singly wrapped in a napkin at each dinner plate is a nice touch to symbolize your affection and appreciation for your guests. Warning: make sure to remove all thorns!
 
 
 SAPONARIA

 The name of this flower is derived from the Latin word for soap because the sap of the plant is said to have a cleansing effect. It was originally used in weddings as a sign that the bride was cleansed or pure.

 Although first found in the Mediterranean region, saponaria today is primarily field-grown in the Netherlands. It is a very delicate, small flower on long, flowing stems. It is used as a filler in bouquets because of the abundance of flowers on each stalk. Deep pink is the most commonly used variety, but it is also available in pure white. Both its colors and its delicate scent make this flower popular for use in weddings. It is only available in June, July and August, but the flower can be forced indoors for weddings in late May.
 
 
SNAPDRAGON

 The botanical name for snapdragon is Antirrhinum majus. It originated in the Mediterranean region of France and Spain more than 400 years ago. It is now one of the most popular flowers around. The

flowers sit in graduated clusters atop a spike that is between 8 and 12 inches in length and along a stem that can grow as long as 45 inches. Snapdragons are available in shades of red, orange, lavender, pink, salmon, and white. They have no scent.

Because of their abundance of color and their vertical shape, snapdragons are extremely useful in vase arrangements. These flowers are readily available in May and June and then again in late summer until the end of October. Snapdragons can also be found in limited supply in late winter and early spring. Properly cared for, they can last about a week.

 Note of warning: these flowers require sufficient water supply at all times. They are also extremely sensitive to ethylene gas and should be kept far away from fruits and vegetables on food table displays. If kept too close, they will start to drop their buds on the table.
 
 
SPEEDWELL

 The scientific name of Speedwell is Veronica longifolia. It’s a very old plant and the first record of its cultivation was in Switzerland/France in the mid 1500s.

 The flower itself is primarily blue and grows cone-shaped sitting above heart-shaped leaves. It must be carefully cared for. Otherwise, it has the tendency to dry out and become limp. There are some pink and white varieties grown in Virginia. These flowers have the same tendency to dry out and must be carefully pre-treated.

 Speedwell is available only in the heat of the summer. The flower is primarily used in mixed bouquets and basic floral arrangements. The Veronica longifolia has a limited vase life of about five days.

 
STATICE

 Statice or limonium gives the appearance of a sea of color. Perhaps that is why it is also known as sea lavender. Statice used to be predominantly yellow, but today most varieties are seen in shades of blue. They are also available in purple, lavender, white, and pink.

 Statice originated in Turkestan and areas in the Mediterranean. Botanically, blue sea lavender is called Statice perezii. It was named after the Dutch baron P.J.R. de Perez, who was Governor of the Dutch West Indies from 1803 to 1859. This variety is distinguished by its smooth, bare stalk, comprised of multi-branching stems of small, star-shaped flower clusters.

 The other major variety consists primarily of purple flowers with a splash of white. Both are used as filler flowers in large arrangements and are the perfect addition to any natural-looking wedding design. Statice lasts about two weeks and dries well, so the bride can have a beautiful keepsake of her wedding. It is available year-round.

 
STEPHANOTIS

 Pure white and fragrant, this traditional wedding flower has been used in bridal bouquets, corsages, and wedding decorations for centuries. Sometimes referred to as Madagascar jasmine, it is delicately fragranced and has a pure white waxy color. Although it is relatively expensive and must be handled carefully to avoid bruising, stephanotis is perfect for wedding use any time of the year. 

 Originally from Madagascar and first introduced in England at the beginning of the 19th century, stephanotis is actually an evergreen climbing shrub with long tendrils and shiny dark green leaves that average 2 1/2 inches. Each star-shaped flower cluster is formed from five tips of petals sitting atop a tube which protrudes from a short stem. Each individual flower itself is less than two inches.
 
 
STOCK

 Stock traces its origins to ancient times. This extremely fragrant, spiked flower has a hairy clustered appearance. The flowers are available in white, red, pink, salmon, lavender, and yellow. It is extremely useful in mixed bridal bouquets and large arrangements because its blooms are so tightly packed. A skilled floral designer can also transform this inexpensive flower into a wisteria-looking vine to drape an arch or trellis. 

 Stock, also called gillyflowers, are botanically identified as Matthiola. They are available throughout most of the year, with lesser amounts of the assortment during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Matthiola will last at least one week.

 
SUNFLOWER

Americans have fallen in love with sunflowers. Botanically, a sunflower is called Helianthus, coming from the Greek words “helio,” meaning sun, and “anthos,” meaning flowers.

 The flower is self descriptive. From its dark-colored center, yellow ray-like petals project out much like the sun’s rays. Helianthus is one of the few major flowers that found its origin in the United States. These flowers grow wild in the southwest and are now professionally cultivated throughout the world.

 Giant varieties can have flower heads that are 15 inches in diameter. Because of their huge size, giant helianthus are best suited to single placement or in large arrangements. Smaller varieties measuring 3-4 inches across make excellent filler and can be worn in the hair during informal ceremonies. Thesemfragrance-free flowers will last up to 12 days.

 
SWEET PEA

 This vividly colored, climbing flower is a native of Italy. Its scientific name is Lathyrus. Since its colors are strong oranges, lilacs and purples and its flowers are extremely fragrant, Italian royalty used this as part of the altar setting at weddings. One common variety identifies this wedding connection through the name “Royal Family.”

Once the flowers were cultivated professionally, breeders eliminated much of their scent. Now smaller sweet peas have absolutely no fragrance. Most varieties of sweet peas are readily available in the spring.
 
 
 TUBEROSE

 Often confused with snapdragon, tuberose is a small, rose-like bud flower which grows atop three-foot stems. This flower has many fragrant florets which grow and open from the bottom up and look a bit like stephanotis. The maximum size of each white, star-shaped flower is 2 1/2 inches when fully opened.

 Tuberose originated in southern Mexico and is now grown primarily in Israel, Africa, and the south of France. An extremely fragrant flower, it is frequently used for corsages and small bouquets. It can also be used to decorate small cocktail tables at the wedding reception.

 In fact, tuberose flowers are so fragrant that they are in great demand by the perfume industry in France. Due to their limited availability and perfume industry demands, they can be quite expensive.

 

TULIPS

 For variety of shape and color, few flowers surpass the tulip. Hundreds of species of tulips originally grew wild in Turkey and Iran. They were first formally cultivated in the Netherlands in the 1500s. At one time, this flower was so highly valued that it was used as money. At that period of time, extremely wealthy Holland traders used tulips at weddings as a sign of affluence.

 Botanically called “Tulipa,” its name is derived from the turban shape of the flower. Today there are thousands of different species available at different times of the year. They are cupped, fringed, spiked, single-colored, multicolored, large and small. All are stately adornments in large and small floral arrangements.

 A popular and yet unusual tulip is the “Parakeet” tulip, which has irregularly shaped, two-tone streaked petals on flowers that are so large that they have to be braced so as not to collapse their stems. Another is the “Kees Nelis Triumph” tulip, which features a dramatic red cup petal that appears to change instantly into a flaming yellow border. Since tulips are available in greatest abundance in the spring, they are sought after as wedding decor to symbolize a new beginning.

 Since limited life span does not adversely affect wedding use, the tulip is a wedding standard. However, their hollow stems restrict them to floral designs with a water source. A special note of care: avoid mixing tulips with daffodils in the same arrangement. These flowers are allergic to each other. 

 
WAXFLOWER

 The waxflower, or Chamelaucium ciliatum, is sometimes known as the pink tea tree. It is a very small, light, airy flower with a diameter that is less than an inch. Each branching stem contains many buds. Its foliage is needlelike.

 Because of the delicate nature of its flowers, the waxflower is frequently used as filler in floral design. Its primary use is in bouquets and as decoration for a bridal table. It is available in pink, lavender, and white. It is available starting in December and may be easily obtained through the end of May.

 Historically, the waxflower was used as a setting for tea service when the bride-to-be was formally introduced to the groom’s parents.

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