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Colour The Garden Green

St. Patrick’s Day is about the time that Manitoba gardeners are absorbed with looking through seed catalogues and beginning to plan what to include in the gardens this year. When you are choosing the flower varieties that you are going to grow, you might keep old St. Patrick in mind and grow some flowers that have green blooms. Besides being a tribute to Saint Pat himself, green flowers add a special charm to growing arrangements and are prized by those people who enjoy creating fresh cut flower arrangements.

There are a few annual flowers that produce green flowers. My favourite is the gladioli; there are several green varieties listed in catalogues including “Green Star.” Most produce lovely chartreuse blooms which are wonderful in arrangements but equally lovely simply left to bloom in the garden. Another green-flowered annual I like is nicotiana “Lime Green.” Preferring a sunny spot in the border, nicotiana is easily grown from seed and once it begins to flower in mid-July it will produce innumerable sprays of star-shaped, lime-green flowers right up until heavy fall frost claims the plants. Stems of nicotiana are useful as a filler in a green flower arrangement and serve a similar purpose in the flower border where they make great separators between other flowering plants.

Another great green flower for flower arranging is zinnia “Envy.” Indeed, your fellow gardeners will be green with envy when they see these wonderful double chartreuse blooms in your garden or in your arrangements. Given plenty of sunlight, these tough annuals will bloom all summer, producing a multitude of flowers that are just as attractive in the garden as they are in the vase.

One perennial that is most useful as a filler in bouquets and flower arrangements is lady’s mantle. This hardy, easy-to-grow-from-seed perennial produces sprays of fine, feathery bloom on stems held well above the rounded, scalloped leaves. Lady’s mantle will grow in full sun but will be content in semi-shaded locations as well. It has a long bloom time, extending from late June until early August. After it has finished blooming and is deadheaded, the attractive foliage can still be enjoyed for the rest of the growing season.

If you do a lot of flower arranging, immature blooms of hardy hydrangeas can be cut and used in arrangements. These “mop-head” types are quite large and lend themselves to being used as the focal point flowers of an arrangement with perhaps a bit of lady’s mantle or nicotiana “Lime Green” used as a filler. Complemented by some attractive foliage in various shades of green, a wonderful green arrangement will be the result. Hardy hydrangeas are shade plants although they will take quite a lot of sun and do well in a half-sun location. They do require adequate water.

Although not flowers per se, there are a number of lime-green coleus varieties that are grown for their wonderfully attractive foliage. This foliage also can be used to create attractive chartreuse flower arrangements. In fact, an all-foliage arrangement can be created using various green leaves, such as those from hosta, lady’s mantle and iris, then the coleus will be used as focal points much as you would do with larger blooms in an ordinary arrangement.

We sometimes forget that green is a colour and a beautiful one. By using the many hues and shades of green foliage that are available from the garden and combining it with a few green blossoms, you can create some unusual and beautiful floral displays. You might like to incorporate a few plants that produce green flowers into your landscape this year. Keep the green!

– Albert Parsons writes from Minnedosa, Manitoba

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