Herbs for Spring Bouquets

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Does your bouquet pass the sniff test?

When we think of flowers, we think of color and form and fragrance. Color and form are always there, but fragrance?… not as often as we would like. Oh! To have a fragrant dahlia! Many spring flowers sport a luscious aroma, but the summer ones are usually lacking in that department. (Spring flowers often have pastel shades, and the flowers need a scent to attract pollinators. Summer flowers, in contrast, have brighter faces, and use that to attract the bees.) If we want our bouquets to smell as good as they look, turning to herbs that are in season here in Maryland will do the trick.

For spring, chamomile, chives, fennel, and apple mint are all quick growers and cool-season lovers. They are unique, beautiful, and aromatic to boot. Herbs are grown locally and are available for purchase through your flower farmer friends. If you don’t see them listed, just ask!

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CHamomile

Chamomile isn’t just for breakfast tea anymore. There is a German annual version (Matricaria chamomilla) and a Roman perennial one (Chamaemelum nobile.) Both grow well here in Maryland. Although they are almost identical, the German version produces more flowers, but the Roman chamomile has the more apple-like fragrant blooms. Both bloom early in the season with shorter, but straight stems and friendly daisy faces. It is often confused with feverfew, which will come later in the season. It is a whimsical filler flower for all those lighthearted bouquets. And, yes, it can be dried for up to a year to use in dried bouquets, or tea!

CHives

There are a lot of ornamental allium out there, but chives (Allium schoenoprasum) show their pretty edible heads at the end of April in this area. They are cool-season, cold-tolerant perennials of the onion family which form clumps of greenery in beds. Chives have a 1” round pink (there are white, purple, and red varieties) which bloom on very straight 10-15” tubular stems. They last a long time in bouquets and can be dried as well.

Garlic chives (A. Tuberosum) are another perennial for our Maryland zone. They have a more open and larger white bloom and the leaves are flatter, broader, and taller. Just cutting them will make your mouth water. In the garden, alliums will help deter pests; in bouquets they will attract customers!

FENNEL

Photo credit: Peter Bauwens
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) has those tall feathery plumes you can use as a textural accent or as an airy filler. They look great spilling out of a hand-held bouquet. These plumes are available starting early spring, growing from overwintered bulbs. Additionally, the yellow Queen Anne-shaped flowers (I believe ‘umbrel’ is the technical name) come later in the season. Both have a sweet anise scent.

APPLE MINT

Apple mint (Mentha Suaveolens) is an anomaly among the hundreds of different types of mints. Standing straight and 2-3’ tall, it grows by leaps and bounds during April. The leaves are not shiny, but have a beautiful matt spring green color and that bright minty smell. It can be used with or without its fuzzy white flower until summer and will sometimes even root in the vase. Talk about long-lasting! It will not appreciate a very cold cooler, so be aware of that. I keep mine at 42* and do not have issues.

Planting and snipping herbs is one of spring’s most anticipated joys. There’s nothing like a wafting scent to bring back memories of childhood, or grandmothers, or a special event. Designing with them can be just the pick-me-up you and your customers need. As the summer progresses, more and more herbs will be ready to cut and include in your arrangements. I’ll add more info in the weeks to come. 

Happy Spring, and Happy Sniffing!

One Response

    Carol Carrier

    June 14, 2023

    Herbs are a fabulous add in to bouquets! My favorite is spearmint.

    Reply

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