10 Overlooked Summer Flowers

by Grace Bonney

As summer rolls around, searches, questions and post requests related to weddings seem to flood in. Peonies and roses are always the stars of the show, so I wanted to stop and take a moment to celebrate some of summer’s most beautiful – but often overlooked – flowers. From clematis and sweet peas to nigella and cosmos, there are so many beautiful flowers that grow during summer seasons that make for stunning bouquets (for home, weddings or any occasion) that aren’t as expected (or expensive) as the go-to types. So if you’re planning a small summer ceremony, or just a backyard dinner party, and want to gather something seasonal and gorgeous, check out this list for some new favorites. xo, grace

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Clematis: A clematis is actually a flowering, climbing vine that looks stunning in longer, loose arrangements. I grew up with a backyard that frequently had clematis growing in it, so this one is near and dear to my heart. I prefer the purple and white varieties, but you can find clematis in rich red colors as well as periwinkle blues.

Image above: White clematis in an arrangement by Ariel Dearie

Sweet Peas: Just as their name would suggest, sweet peas are adorable, ruffly flowers that have a soft feel to them. Most commonly found in pastel pinks, blues and purples, sweet peas are perfect for delicate bedside arrangements or for working into a handheld bouquet.

Image above: Sweet Pea wedding flowers, photo by Adrienne Gunde Photography

Veronica: Veronica has beautiful tiny flowers that grow on a narrow, spike-like head. Their length makes them perfect for working into bouquets, but they also look lovely in a low trailing centerpiece for tables.

Tuberose: The extract of this flower is commonly used in perfumes, so if you’d like to add scent to your room (or your wedding flowers), this is both a lovely and sweet-smelling flower to pick. Much like the Veronica flower above, they grow in longer stem shapes, so they work nicely in a bouquet.

Image above: Arrangement by Chelsea at Frolic

Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus): Aside from having one of the greatest names, Sweet William also comes with wonderfully cheerful little flower heads that remind me of tiny, flattened carnations. They look splendid as small clumps worked into arrangements, or as delicate individual flowers for boutonnieres.

Image above: arrangement by Calie Rose

Cosmos: Cosmos are often seen growing along roadsides. They’re a colorful, airy flower that add lightness to any arrangement with a homey, low-key feel. They don’t have the rigid petal structure of other wildflower types, but they have a loose petal system that lend motion to arrangements. I love using a small group of these in kitchens, too. They really cheer up a room.

Image above: Flowers by Studio Choo from The Flower Recipe Book

Columbine (Aquilegia): Columbine grows in higher altitudes across the Northern Hemisphere and got one of its nicknames, “Granny’s Bonnet,” from its hat-shaped head. I’ve always referred to these as “flowers within flowers” because they have a wonderful center with five petals surrounded by another five larger, outer petals. These are stunning in loose, organic bouquets and work well as small home arrangements, too.

Image above: Botanic Art arrangement with pink/cream Columbine

Zinnias: While they tend to come in more saturated and primary colors than peonies, zinnias have the same full-head structure and wealth of petals as peonies. I love the soft shades of peach you can find with zinnias, and a small patch of them worked into arrangements adds weight and a healthy dose of color. If you’re hoping to arrange flowers at home or for an event in an ombre style, these are perfect because of their wide range of colors.

Images above: Flowers by Amanda Panagos of Posey & Bloom, Bottom image from The Bride’s Cafe

Blue Delphiniums: Delphiniums come in a wide range of colors, but I love their vivid blues the most. They grow on tall stalks, but you can easily pluck the small individual flowers to use for boutonnieres. I love them as an entryway flower if you have room for a tall, narrow arrangement.

Image above: Centerpieces via Style Files and Martha Stewart

Nigella: Nigella is commonly found in florists’ shops as dried pods, but I prefer the full plant with its soft feathery petals and little halo of green behind it. Nigella are so attractive on their own that they don’t need much to dress them up for a home arrangement. If you’re using them for a wedding, a pretty ribbon would secure a handheld bouquet of these beautifully.

Image above: Springwell Gardens

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  • Excellent list. I love all of these flowers. But, um, I don’t see any zinnias in that photo. I do see Dahlias, which are also a great summer/fall flower.

  • Those Columbine flowers might just be my new favorite! They are so beautiful and the dual-flower-look is amazing. Thank you for opening my eyes to these!

  • I grew up with clematis climbing all over the side of my house – it always brings back such lovely memories. What a great round up!

  • I love the tuberose. I know nothing about flowers and their names so this is a really nice list. I’ve always wanted to know the name of the tuberose. Thanks!

  • Lots of my favorites here. Many have been cycled in and out of my old fashioned garden over the years because they’re easy to grow. Thanks for the lovely post with ideas for arranging.

  • What a wonderful post! Another nice aspect to many of the beautiful floral gems you’ve displayed here is that they are easy to: zinnias, cosmos, clematis and veronica, especially.

  • All my faves – especially nigella. Have you noticed how you can’t really find these annuals anymore – you have to grow yourself from seed if you want anything other than petunias, verbena or geranium ( slight exaggeration but you get the gist). But where are the ranunculas?

  • I grew all my own wedding flowers, and absolutely loved all the colors of summer. Sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos, love-in-a-mist, plus lots of blooming herbs.

  • A master gardener once said “flowers are God’s jewels that are above ground and not hidden in the ground like diamonds, he gave them to us to see and find joy in them”. Personally I would prefer to have flowers more than diamonds any day :)

    The flowers pictured are just gorgeous!