Favorite Fall Flowers

It’s bittersweet isn’t it – gone are our bike rides to Green Lake for an afternoon dip, our sun tans, flip flops and lazy hazy summer dayzees. At the height of summer, Seattle boasts afternoons that last til 9pm- it’s preposterous.

I love long sweaty days, summer dresses and summer drinks on the patio in the shade. This year a neighbor noted that our family had “nice grilling game”.

Who in their right mind cooks inside in the summer?!? Welp, there’s no turning time around but just when I’m about to dive deep into seasonal mourning mode nature delivers the perfect consolation prize. Beautiful Fall. And with Fall, some of my favorite flowers and details with which to design. Here’s a short list:

Dahlias

The beauty of dahlias and why we florists are so in love, devoted and sometimes dependent on dahlias is because they come in almost any color, any shape and any size making them THE most useful flower (voice rising) known to man (fist pump) and woman!

In the fall they are indispensable, we can fill virtually any order with dahlias- a sympathy arrangement, a bridal bouquet, a baby shower centerpiece, you name it. That’s something you could never say about the beloved sunflower or oriental lily.

Their Escher-like petal formations are the things dreams are made of, they make you dizzy and then reassure and orient you. I just found a great word for the dahlia, ataractic! Google it.

And because I live in the Great Pacific Northwest, I have the great privilege of getting my dahlias from growers and farmers just “up the road” from our shop so they’re fresh, fresh, fresh. Dahlias are the best fall flower ever. There I said it.

Tomato Vine

Yup, I love tomato vine in my arrangements. It has a surprisingly long life in a vase and of course the smell. My husband is the gardener in our house and his version of gardening is of the wild and bestial variety.

In our yard, tomato plants spill into raspberry bushes which spill into cornstalks spilling into grapevine-you get the picture, it’s downright barbaric out there.

By the end of summer, when the fruit slows its bearing you’ll find me harvesting the foliage from our apple tree and the silver, sword like leaves left over from the artichoke plant located on the parking strip (that’s how we do in Seattle).

But still, my favorite is the unruly tomato vine growing defiantly despite the cool evenings and waning sun. Try this next time your cutting in your yard. And if you can find a beautiful branch that still has little green tomatoes hanging on, all the better!

Go ahead, hack it – it’s too late for them to ripen any way, you might as well enjoy them in a vase on your mantel.

Lisianthus

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I have not always loved lisianthus. When I first encountered them a million years ago at a high-end flower shop in Boston, it’s fair to say I “liked” them alright but they didn’t knock me out.

Those were imported from Holland. Lisianthus are nostalgic, old timey and have wispy lines that lend themselves to detailing and bringing out the sentimental in a mixed vase arrangement. But that was the last time I liked them.

They became hugely popular and so a little boring to me. What really bothered me about lisianthus was that the imported variety were flimsy and seemed to go limp on me as soon as I got them to the shop. Frustrated, I asked trusted flower friends- “How do you get yours to last?!? Do we even like lisi anymore??”

Every so often I’d pick up a bunch to reaffirm that they didn’t last long, and I didn’t like them, hardly at all! Then lisianthus season came to Seattle. Damn if local lisianthus isn’t the s*&! Locally grown, sustainably grown lisianthus might as well be another species! It is sturdy and hearty while keeping its flirtatious lines- it lasts in arrangements up to 2 weeks!

It comes in antique-ey tones, creamy pinks, berry pinks, creams and whites, jewel toned purple. Each stem boasts two and three up to five rosette shape blooms! See you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a bunch of locally grown lisi and never question lisianthus again!

Chrysanthemum

Bet you didn’t know this, but chrysanthemums are bringing sexy back. This is not your mother’s mum, not even your grandmothers mum we’re talking about. But it just might be your mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mothers mum.

Speaking of Dutch painters- todays mum, in contemporary and current floral design, is a nod back to Piet Modrians “Chrysanthimum” 1906. Wild, unruly and “heirloom” to use a trending term. It sags in its own enormity and unfurls in lazy, uneven burst of dusty woodsy colors.

It is bawdy as it sits in a perfect heap in an otherwise finely appointed vase arrangement giving off an “of the earth” vibe and scent. I’m so glad the design zeitgeist has shifted from stiff and perfect symmetry and reintroduced gratifying tension- a place where big fat, aging Piet Mondrian chrysanthemums go to rest.

The Fall Harvest is Real

In the fall, there is nothing more pungent and medicinal smelling than marigolds. I use pepperberry foliage, zesty and playful, in darn near every arrangement.

Paint brush and coxcomb celosia glow in jewel toned magenta, chartreuse and orange- they vibrate. And while I’m sad as heck to say goodbye to my favorite season there’s a little part of me, super excited to put on jeans and dig into the robust colors and textures of fall.

Deep earthy colors and scents that smell like getting your hands dirty.

Calling all fall flowers! – Dahlias, Amaranthus, Pampas Grass, Black Eyed Susans, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Sedum, Calla Lily, Leucadendron, Queen Annes Lace, Astilbe, Calendula, Hydrangea.