Ask Ella is a reoccurring Garden Collage feature where we ask our in-house florist, Ella Stavonsky, about floral design– including the history of, origin, and maintenance that goes into some of the most intriguing flowers on the market today. This column is dedicated exclusively to common and rare varieties of flowers you’re likely to find at your local market. This week, we spotlight how to use the “plume” variety of celosia.
Though celosia genus has many varieties (including the gory “brain flower“), each has a slightly alien look about it, as if it were grown in what the 1950s might have imagined an alien garden to look like. In addition to its unusual shape and color, it is also often strangely crunchy. (No seriously, the next time you’re near one, give it a touch– it has that same papery sound as bougainvillea.)
Traditionally, the argentea form of celosia is used in gardens as a border to cut up the space; usually it is cristata that is used in flower arranging. But we’re not ones to adhere to tradition.
We absolutely love the look of argentea in a wild arrangement, where it’s erect shape and fanned, purple dotted leaves are the perfect detail to tuck in. When pairing with other blooms, look for paler hues that won’t clash with argentea‘s often aggressively bold colors. Ranunculus, dahlias, and hydrangeas all offset the shape of argentea nicely. Try crafting a simple bouquet using one or three dominant blooms (like white ranunculus), a few stems of argentea, and then offset the ensemble with sprigs of bright green mint for a small, inexpensive arrangement.
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