One of the great pleasures of climate-wise gardening in the Bay Area is the beautiful winter bouquets we can cut from our flowering trees and shrubs. When the rainy season starts, climate-wise plants wake up from their dormancy during the dry summer and fall. Many of them start blooming immediately.
Salvias, tea trees, tree aloes, and grevillias are just some of the plants blooming now at Garden for the Environment. We include their flowers and foliage in the bouquets we make every week from the garden. As you may know, we send a weekly box of fruits and veggies to a San Francisco homeless youth shelter, and every week it includes a flower arrangement for the youth and counselors to enjoy.
There is something magical about a garden-cut bouquet. The fresh foliage has a wild and spicy fragrance. The strange, dream-like shapes of unfamiliar flowers make it as different from a florists bouquet as a panther is from a housecat.
My favorite flower arrangements are based on branches of colorful and strong textured foliage. As I choose plants for my garden, I keep this in mind. Some wonderful plants to add to your garden now, and cut for years to come, include Leucadendron, from South Africa, Lophomyrtus, from New Zealand, and Grevillea, from Australia. These plants, although they come from all over the world, are good matches for our Bay Area climates. They need little or no water once established because they enjoy a wet winter and a dry summer in their native habitats.
All three of these groups of plants are available in nurseries now, and their golden, red, or pink and white foliage can fill up your vases year-round. There are many different varieties available, so be sure to check the ultimate size of the plant and choose the right one to fit in your garden, and to complement your color scheme. You can create amazing effects by combining beautiful branches of foliage with whatever flowers are in bloom seasonally.
My best holiday gifts this year were wild garden bouquets. I love to give non-commodified gifts, no price tag, no name brand, just personal creativity. Knitters, pickles, photographers, potters, and many other artists and craftspeople always have great gifts to give. And gardeners do, too!