Botanical Brouhaha Expert Discussion Panel: No. 80

Question:

I’m looking for a tough long-lasting greenery to use for a mantel, several table runners and a floral arch in a wedding reception area. Do you have any suggestions?

Greenery

Answers:

Here in the Pacific Northwest, salal is amazing. Elsewhere, consider ivy, olive, gravellia, beech foliage, plumosa fern, eucalyptus and pittosporum.

Clare Day (Clare Day Flowers)

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We use a lot of eucalyptus, solomon’s seal, spirea, and porcelain vine in our work for mantles, runners and arches. We water tube everything to ensure it looks lovely all throughout the event.

Jennie Love (Love ‘n Fresh Flowers)

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Some suggestion for tough long-lasting greenery that I like to work with are:

Sage Greens: Eucalyptus (so many different pretty varieties: Silver Dollar, Gunni, Seeded); Bay Leaf (Be careful this has a very strong scent–I only use outdoors)​

Darker/Brighter Greens: Southern Smilax, Magnolia, Lemon, Plumosa, Camellia

Blush Floral Design Studio | Shannen Natasha Photography

Above: Silver Dollar Eucalyptus | Shannen Natasha Photography

Blush Floral Design Studio | Eric Foley Photography

Above: Magnolia/Camellia Leaf Garland laying on entryway display | Eric Foley Photography

Blush Floral Design Studio | Justin & Mary Marantz Photography

Above: Southern Smilax decorating Mantel | Justin & Mary Marantz Photography

You can always use a hardier green as your base and tuck in more delicate water-picked vines on site to create an airier feel.

Elisabeth Zemetis (Blush Floral Design)

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In terms of tough and long-lasting greenery, I love using eucalyptus, salal, olive branches, ligustrum foliage (although it is not particularly pliable or dainty), and sometimes (ha!) thyme for a more Mediterranean/wild look.

Emily Avenson (Fleuropean)

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East Texas smilax! In season July-March, it is the best! The sections can be up to 20’ long- amazing for arch work. They have tons of laterals to trim and use for tabletops. The more delicate bagged smilax vine- the type that’s a paler, grass green, with more tender small leaves is also fabulous. It’s grown in 3-4’ sections, and they can be easily attached to a variety of structures, or used on tabletops. I’d say they are better for indoor work- but I’ve used them with great results outside without a water source as well.

Passionflower | Jill DeVries Photography

Bagged Smilax | Jill DeVries Photography

Passionflower | Sarah Dunn Photography

East Texas Smilax | Sarah Dunn Photography

Passionflower | Nicole Haley Photography

Bagged Smilax | Nicole Haley Photography

Italian ruscus nagi, various eucalyptus foliages, and camellia are also tough and look good for days out of water. The long, small leaved silvery Elaeagnus vine is also amazing- I’d love to see this green grown for the trade!

Susan McLeary (Passionflower)

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One of my go to greens is Italian ruscus. Its long strong branches and clean foliages are so helpful in installations like this. Ruscus does not wilt, as it ages or dries out the petals will simply shatter and fall, so as long as you have fresh product you will not see any wilting or change in your design. Ruscus can be laid across the table to create a garland. In fact ruscus is typically the green I use to start my custom garlands. Its height makes it fabulous for mantels and arches as it covers a lot of territory and has a lot of bend. Do not get it confused with Israeli ruscus which is a shorter stubbed variety. Israeli ruscus is a beautiful green but it does not have the movement the Italian ruscus has.  On a side note I am currently in love with East Texas Smilax, this green is fabulous to use on arches and mantels but it is too unruly for a table garland unless you cut it in bits. This green also has seasons and is often not available when I need it. Italian ruscus is always available.

Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers)

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Southern magnolia holds up well here [Vancouver, BC], and also Southern Smilax if I am able to get them – they are so hardy.

I personally use outdoor ivy vine a lot – they are so readily available in lengths.  I just water tube the ends and lay them over branches to get some dimension.  This will last for a long time – since they are in water.

Hitomi Gilliam (Hitomi Gilliam AIFD / Design 358)

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