When picking the perfect flowers for your wedding, the options are endless. Some flowers pop up on Pinterest boards and Instagram posts more frequently than others. Certain blooms get way more attention and are the go to for bouquets and arrangements. Who are the usual suspects? Ranunculuses, orchids, peonies, hydrangeas, and calla lilies - to name a few. Don't get me wrong, these blossoms are absolutely gorgeous! It's obvious why these are the most popular. But why limit yourself to everyone's favorite flowers? Don't be afraid to give grocery store flowers a little love too! Try to be unique... and maybe save some money along the way ;)
We are featuring an incredibly gifted vendor, Taffy Floral, to give us the insider knowledge on which forgotten flowers deserve move love. Michelle Samson is the genius behind Taffy. Michelle is a Washington, DC area based floral designer/artist whose composition work have an organic and natural quality known for their loose, gestural and garden focused style inspired by Dutch paintings, textiles and fibers as well as Japanese floral design. Once described as the "Frank Lloyd Wright of Floral Design," she likes to use florals and foliage in unexpected ways.
Some flowers make you excited (yay for the ever-so popular peonies and ranunculus!). Others, well, just don’t. Below are examples of underrated/overlooked flowers paired with more popular varieties so you could see how amazing look.
I remember receiving Valentine grams from friends in high school. Accompanied with the card: A rinky dink carnation. Carnations are the most unappreciated and underrated flowers, but there is a movement to bring them back. The variety people typically see are the smaller variety in the grocery store, but nowadays the larger, heirloom variety are available and look great with garden roses, peonies and ranunculus because of their ruffle shaped heads. A go-to favorite of mine is ‘Putamayo.’ The coloring resembles the color of antique lace. I like using this variety with a white/green color palette. Another variety ‘Mizuki,’ which is a blush colored variety, is quite large, almost the size of a garden rose head when fully opened and sometimes mistaken for a peony.
Above: (1) Creamy blush colored carnations opening.(2) Putamayo carnations styled with ranunculus, kale, Asian pears, kumquat branches, persimmons and succulents. Below (3) Carnations paired with peonies, gerbera daisies, snapdragons, joey, petunias and kangaroo paws.
Chrysanthemums originated from China two thousand years ago, holding a noble status alongside plum blossoms and orchids and commonly found in Chinese paintings. Popular appreciation made “mums” a garden cut flower favorite and can be found year round in different colors, sizes and shapes, making them more common. Older, more elegant heirloom varieties are slowly making their way back to popularity.
Below: Pretty, ribbon-like heirloom chrysanthemums from Lynnvale Studios
Zinnias come in a variety of colors and are available during the summer and autumn months. They are part of the sunflower tribe within the daisy family. Zinnias are one of the few cut flowers that are not stored in the cooler prior to design work. Keep them in a shaded area out of direct sunlight.
Fruit branches are great to use if you want to add texture or unique details. Unripened blackberry branches are a favorite, most people mistake the unripened version for raspberries because of their green to pink coloring. Other fruit branches you can use are blueberry branches, persimmon branches and even unripened tomato vines. Herbs like basil and mint are an unexpected and unique addition to bouquets and flower arrangements. One of my favorite combinations (for the scent) are heirloom garden roses with locally grown tuberose and basil.
Below: (1) Colorful zinnias. (2) Dahlias, gladiolus and blackberry branches. (3) A floral arrangement with blueberry branches, raspberry branches, mint foliage and zinnias. (4) Dahlias with love in a puff vine, baptisia pods and unripened cherry tomato vine.
Alstroemeria is another flower you typically see in the grocery store. It is also called Peruvian Lily because of its resemblance to miniature lilies. They come in a variety of colors and are long lasting. There is a green variety that I like to use as foliage and looks great with pale blue hydrangea, apricot gerbera daisies, eucalyptus and Queen Anne’s lace.
Below: (1) Orange alstroemeria with hydrangea, ranunculus, roses, lisianthus, eucalyptus and ladies slipper. (2) Example of green alstroemeria used with a classic blue/green/apricot color palette of hydrangea, gerbera daisies, Queen Anne’s lace and blackberry branches
Gerbera daisies are probably not on the top of anybody’s list for wedding flowers. There is even a website, Send Your Ex Gerberas where you have the option to send your ex gerbera daisies. According to this website gerbera daisies basically suck and are the downer of any flower arrangement. Not so! They are great especially for summer weddings since they last a long time once cut and come in a variety of colors. If you order from a florist, they can probably order special colors not found in the grocery store. Gerbera daisies are a classic and clean selection and look great with any flowers.
Below: (1) A Dutch variety of gerbera daisy with a unique white/pink coloring front and center amongst tulips and roses.(2) Girrondo gerbera daisies with snapdragons, delphinium, carnations, hellebores and dried blood orange. (3) White gerbera daisies with anemone, lilacs and spray roses.
Asiatic lilies are typically thought of as funeral flowers, but are great focal flowers in wedding bouquets. Their starlike blooms add an unexpected shape to bouquets and flower arrangements.
Below: White Asiatic lilies with carnations, ranunculus, blackberry branches and ‘Cosmo’ roses, a vintage muted mustard colored rose.
Kale in a flower arrangement? Yes, kale. Most of us are used to seeing kale in our salads, but surprisingly this vegetable can add interesting depth and texture to a flower arrangement. Ornamental kale has a rosette shape and come in colors like green, white and purple.
Below: (1) White lightly spotted kale hidden under a hellebore amongst roses and peonies. (2) A pink centered white kale variety with peonies and lilies.
Foxglove, bearded iris, bleeding heart, clematis vine, columbine and passion flower vine are great secondary flowers that most people don’t think to use in wedding floral design and are great especially for the popular garden-style arrangements. They add unique coloring, texture, movement and visually interesting lines to a flower arrangement.
Below: (1) Freshly cut yarrow, bleeding heart, clematis vine, bearded iris, peonies, hellebores, hydrangea. (2) Passion flower vine tucked beneath hydrangea, basil, baptisia, ornamental oregano and fern. (3) Columbines.
With peonies, ranunculus and garden roses being popular wedding flowers of late, tropicals have taken a backseat. Pictured below are orchids and amaryllis with more classic flowers like hydrangea.
Lastly I added roses to this list because surprisingly I have clients who say they hate roses. They think of the standard red roses typically seen on Valentine’s Day. Heirloom variety roses are now easily available and resemble peonies. Pictured below are several types of heirloom roses from Rose Story Farm.