Arrangement with monkshood and berries of Spikenard

Arrangement with monkshood and Aralia berries

Doesn’t autumn, with the chill in the air and the turning of leaves cause us all to stop and savor the garden?  When I walk my garden at this time of the year, I both lament the end of summer and look forward to winter.  Winter, after all, is when things go dormant, and I get a welcome break from regular garden chores.  In Winter I focus on indoor projects, holiday crafts and planning for my design business.

But despite my desire for a hiatus, I cling to the fall bloomers and feel liberated, knowing the fall storms are going to knock down the tall perennials anyway, and cut armfuls for arrangements.  For some reason, I am reluctant in spring and summer to remove too many stems from the garden beds.

An autumn bouquet of Boltonia asteroides feels like summer

I adore tall and imposing perennials.  You know the ones–a single plant can anchor a whole bed. To heck with plants that you need 3 of to make a statement, I say.  I’ll stake.  Many fall bloomers are bold and big, like Boltonia asteroides (as in aster on steroids).  Decidedly old-fashioned, a daisy of unique personality– just one plant can provide more autumn bouquets than you can fathom.  

oakleaf Hydrangea coloring up

Aconitum species (monkshood) are so impressive that gardeners respect its potent poison, in all plant parts, and grow it with abandon anyway.  ‘Sparks Variety’ hits 6’ tall in my garden with little effort.  And if you like blue flowers—you should know this monkshood.  Stunning purple-blue (navy almost) flowers that resemble little veiny alien heads when in bud, combine well in arrangements and in the bed with the warm fall tones as well as cool toned variegated leaves and yellow foliage.  Don’t forget that even cut stems and the water in a bouquet of them, is poisonous and simply exercise care.

Oakleaf Hydrangea is a shrub that I can always count on for supplementing an arrangement in any season besides winter.  The fall flowers are becoming senescent, but carry a pinkish tinge.  The shapely leaves color up and compliment bouquets of red or purple asters, pink toad lilies (Tricyrtis) or Schizostylus coccineus hybrids.

Schizostylus flowers showing off late in the season

©Colleen Miko, 2010.

About Colleen Miko

Colleen Miko is a certified professional horticulturist with 20 years experience in landscape design who has designed award winning gardens for the NW Flower & Garden Show as well as HGTV’s “Landscaper’s Challenge”. Colleen is freelance garden writer and speaker.
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  1. We use a lot of monkshood at the flower shop this time of year. They are very long lasting flowers and striking flowers. Customers love blue/purple and it is a hard colour to find this time of year.

    • Colleen Miko says:

      What are your favorite companions to monkshood when you are creating your arrangements? I would enjoy hearing what a floral professional does with them.

      • This time of year we use a lot of dahlias, sedum, celosia and hydrangea. Berries are starting to be available, I always like to use those. It is great when the local flowers are available, but the frost will come soon, and then it will be all imports, which are very expensive.

      • Colleen Miko says:

        Oooh..celosia would be incredible with monkshood. I like to use black aralia berries with it–their sputnik-like clusters are unusual and intriguing.

  2. Pingback: 15 Autumn Flower Arrangements |

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