By Jane Bloodworth Rowe
So what are your favorite flowers for making arrangements? Peonies? Roses?
What if someone told you that you could make lovely flower arrangements with our very own Virginia Beach natives?
Terri Gorman of Lynnhaven River NOW and Virginia Beach resident Demaris Yearick are hoping to share their enthusiasm for native floral arrangements at an upcoming workshop on floral arranging with native plants.
The workshop is scheduled for Saturday, September 10 at 9:30 a.m. at the Brock Educational Center, 3663 Marlin Bay Drive.
Yearick, a Virginia Beach master gardener, will demonstrate how to integrate native greenery such as Wax Myrtle as well as seasonal blooming flowers, including Black-Eyed Susan and Joe Pye Weed, into floral arrangements.
Attendees will create their own flower arrangements, and Yearick and Gorman ask that they bring a container, preferably something recyclable or re-purposed, for their arrangement.
“It could be anything interesting,” Yearick said. “Be creative.”
To maintain the environmentally-friendly theme, Yearick doesn’t use the green Floral Foam that’s traditionally used in flower arrangements. Instead, she uses water and a little tape and chicken wire, she said, and she’ll show workshop attendees how to do this, too.
As a garden club member and master gardener, she’s been arranging flowers for several years, she said, and she’s also done some work with wedding florists.
The idea for this workshop, Yearick and Gorman said, came when Yearick was asked to design flower arrangements to decorate tables at a Lynnhaven River NOW fundraiser. Because both she and Gorman are advocates of native plants, Yearick decided to create these floral arrangements from native flowers.
Gorman hopes to encourage Virginia Beach residents to plant more natives they not only attract pollinators, but they discourage flooding because their long root systems enable them to soak up more water.
Still, Gormann realizes that she needs to teach homeowners that natives can be beautiful as well as functional, so she reached out to Yearick about doing this workshop.
Yearick has integrated many of the plants that she grows in her own garden into her arrangements. For greenery, she finds that Wax Myrtle, Pine, Magnolia, Live Oak, hollies, and Wintergreen work well, but Jack-in-the-pulpit.
The blooming flowers include Coneflowers, or Echinacea, Bee Balm, Black-Eyed Susan, and Asters. In the fall Joe Pye Weed and Goldenrod, both of which are beginning to bloom now, provide interesting colors and textures.
Many of these flowers also work well in bouquets, and many of them can be grown in containers, said Yearick. Gorman will provide some basic background on growing natives in an effort to encourage everyone to try it, even those who live in apartments or those who aren’t interested in in-ground gardening.
It’s interesting to learn that so many native plants can be used to adorn the house, and Yearick will provide tips on how to keep the flowers fresh longer. She can also give you tips on how to substitute native plants for other, less environmentally friendly plants that you might commonly use for decorating.
I had one burning question when I talked to her on a recent night. I have to admit that I adore Baby’s Breath, particularly as a filler on Christmas Trees. It has such a lovely, lacy quality, but the problem is that it has become invasive in parts of the United States.
It’s also toxic, and since I have a cat, and since cats do sometimes like to climb on trees, even Christmas trees, I don’t think that I’ll be adding Baby’s Breath to my tree this year. So what natives could I use as a substitute?
Try White Aster, Yearick said, or the flowers of the Saltbush Plant. She also agreed that Yarrow would work well if dried, and Yarrow is the most accessible to me. I’ve never tried drying any before, but now, while it’s still blooming, is the time to start.
Yearick and Gorman will provide other decorating tips and incentives at the September 10 workshop.
“There are a lot of good reasons to grow native plants,” Yearick said.
Click HERE to learn more about native plants.