flowers a-zsarah from blossom and branch

flowers a-z: v is for veronica

by SarahB

Hello again, flower fans, and welcome to autumn! To ease the transition from summer to fall (so that we don’t rush headlong into pumpkins and raffia and the like), I have chosen a soft palette and a delicate flower to reference the last, tender days of summer. “V” is for veronica. This particular species is the Veronica Spicata, which comes in white, purple and pink. It is considered a classic “English garden” bloom, although it is cultivated in many parts of the world, including the Northeastern United States. There are over 500 different species of Veronica, and the blooms can be “spiked” (spicata, a.k.a., “Spiked Speedwell”), as in this post, or flat, resembling a pansy or violet.

Sweet veronica can be used very simply all on its own by cleaning the foliage that will fall below the water line, cutting the thin stems at a sharp angle and placing them in a romantic container. Veronica will have a languid, drooping look — this doesn’t mean it is dying; it is the appropriate shape for this bloom. Also, don’t be alarmed if the veronica sheds a bit, even from day one of purchase or cut. As the buds on the top of the bloom open, the open buds toward the bottom naturally begin to fall away.

Wouldn’t this gathering of veronica be a lovely hostess gift or charming treasure for yourself? The satin ribbon makes it special, and you can even plunk it right in a vase with the tie just like this. Be sure the water line falls below the ribbon, so it doesn’t soak through.

To commemorate my favorite season before we move into the next, and to honor our baby girl (!) due in winter, I have chosen to create a feminine arrangement in sun-bleached pastels. Follow along with me after the jump for a quick and fresh how-to. — Sarah

The rest of the post continues after the jump…

This charming vase was given to me by a friend. This is one of the many benefits of being a floral designer — people give you adorable vessels for your collection. Sometimes I wish they would also give me shelving :)

Select your own vase that evokes an Old World feel. It may be easier to choose something ceramic or with an opaque finish if you like to hide the stems. This can be particularly helpful if you are just beginning to work with flowers and want the cleanest look possible.

As always, I advise creating a grid so that you have a structure in which to arrange. This can be done more traditionally with greens or foliage. Here, I have used some “blushing bride” protea, which has an amazing look and a tough, woody stem. The stiffness of the stem will help prop the other blooms as I build the arrangement.

Dreamy blushing bride.

I added in some Sandy Femma roses in a barely there sandy hue and the softest lavender hyacinth I could find. I am looking to create a relatively compact shape, using primarily “face” flowers, with a flower-on-flower construction so that the veronica can shine when added. The hyacinth are more tubular, but cut short and in full bloom, they have the desired effect.

Tulips and leucadendron deepen the purple tones, which will help highlight the white veronica.

OOH-LA-LA, VERONIQUE! Cluster the veronica, place it towering whimsically up high — you truly can’t go wrong.

I tucked a few hellebores in there for a grassy pop of green. I love how the veronica drapes and moves out from the arrangement.

Although you and I know how hard we worked on this little beauty, she does have the sensibility of a “just collected from the garden and thrown in a vase” arrangement.

With the passing of another season, my inclination is to get a bit wistful. But there is SO much to look forward to this fall and winter. Like so many of you, I often use flowers and nature to mark life events and keep tabs on the seasons. So grab yourself a bit of veronica or a similar seasonal bloom and honor summer one last time. Then clean the vase and begin pondering your next design appointment with me in two weeks, when “w” will be for . . .

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  • Beautiful! Love this tip, I always have a hard time starting an arrangement. However, this post has me running to the farmer’s market!

  • lovely. so bittersweet with the nostalgia for summer & the promise of fall.
    beautiful writing. always love learning the history and the science of the flowers you design with.

  • I absolutely love veronica. It is oh so delicate looking, but pretty hearty. It never fails to add an elegant touch to flower arrangements. it is a staple in our boutique flower shop.

  • Ooooh, pretty. The veronica looks a lot like the scads of gooseneck loosestrife growing in my yard… this is great inspiration for putting it to use inside!

  • This is a very, very pretty arrangement! Whimsical, wistful, witty! It may be the first time I’ve ever seen veronica, but I’m going to find out where I can get some. I may have to grow it myself!

  • I have downloaded all the info I can about flower arranging, studied the material and even went to a (really lame) flower arranging class at Pottery Barn, but when I go to the flower market I am so overwhelmed, I just turn around and run. BUT NOW !!! I am going to take these instructions with me to flower market and COPY. I think once I get a successful arrangement under my belt, I might be able to branch out (no pun intended).

  • Love the Veronica. Gooseneck Loosestrife works really well and lasts a long time. I use it often. Taping the top of your container to form a grid works good as well.Flower arranging is such fun. The more you experiment with it the better you get.