5 spring bi-annuals and how to use them in flower arrangements - Carobeth Flowers

5 spring bi-annuals and how to use them in flower arrangements

Spring heralds a vibrant showcase for bi-annuals, as the plants that spent last year quietly growing are now ready to take centre stage. Perfect for flower arrangements that capture the essence of the season, these bi-annuals are the unsung heroes, promising bursts of colour and life in every bloom.

What are bi-annuals?

Bi-annuals, or biennials as they are often called, are the patient bloomers of the plant world. They straddle the line between the ephemeral beauty of annuals and the enduring presence of perennials. In their first year, biennials focus all their energy on growing strong roots and lush foliage. It’s a time of preparation, setting the stage for their spectacular performance in year two when they burst forth with vibrant blooms ideal for adding WOW factor to your spring flower arrangements.

Growing them requires a bit of foresight. Depending on the variety, you will likely have to sow their seeds in late spring to early summer, then wait a whole year for their floral display. But they can often be sown directly into the soil where they can develop undisturbed. These plants can benefit from a cosy blanket of mulch for winter before they unveil their colourful display in the spring. Common biennials you might see include the stately foxglove, with its tower of speckled blooms, the regal Canterbury bells, and the humble but enchanting sweet William, all of which offer a captivating display. 

Stately foxgloves add drama to your flower displays

Foxgloves, with their towering spires of bell-shaped flowers, are a quintessential sight in many gardens, embodying the magic and mystery of nature. These stately biennials are beloved for several reasons. Their dramatic height, often reaching up to 6 feet, adds structure and depth to garden borders, while their range of colours – from soft pinks to deep purples – brings a painterly quality to any outdoor space.

The allure of foxgloves extends beyond their visual appeal: they emit a subtle yet captivating scent that draws both humans and bees alike. This gentle fragrance makes them a favoured choice for flower arrangements as their subtle scent is more easily appreciated indoors where the still air allows it to fill the space. 

Incorporating foxgloves into arrangements as cut flowers offers a touch of wild elegance. Their tall stems provide a natural, rustic look, ideal for creating arrangements with a vertical accent. When using foxgloves, remember to handle them with care, as all parts of the plant are toxic if ingested.

A fascinating aspect of foxgloves is their historical use in medicine. The plant contains digitalin, a compound used to treat heart conditions, showcasing nature's ability to heal as well as enchant. This blend of beauty, utility and a hint of danger makes foxgloves a captivating subject in both the garden and the annals of botanical history.

Honesty brings elegance to any flower arrangement

Honesty, or Lunaria annua, captivates with its dual charm of delicate purple (or sometimes white) flowers and mesmerising, translucent seed pods. Its common name, derived from the seed pods' resemblance to silver coins, symbolises transparency and truth, qualities that endear honesty to gardeners and floral enthusiasts alike.

Ideal for both fresh and dried arrangements, honesty offers versatility rarely matched by other plants. In spring, its vibrant blooms add a soft, purple hue to bouquets, evoking a sense of freshness and renewal. As the seasons change, honesty's seed pods transform into striking, silvery discs that bring texture and intrigue to dried floral displays, making them perfect for creating arrangements that last long after the flowers have faded.

We always grow plenty of honesty and use it in all its forms; fresh in spring arrangements with its frothy purple flowers, and then we allow some to go to seed so we can use the seed heads through the rest of the year. Last year, our honesty was a popular choice with wedding flower designers who used it on a number of stunning ethereal creations for brides across the country. 

Embrace the scent of sweet rocket

Sweet rocket, also known as Hesperis matronalis, enchants with its clusters of fragrant flowers, making it a beloved addition to moonlit and evening gardens. This biennial plant, valued for its extended blooming period in late spring to early summer, unfurls petals in shades of white and violet, emitting a heady, clove-like fragrance that intensifies at night, attracting pollinators and night wanderers alike.

In floral arrangements, sweet rocket adds both visual appeal and a captivating scent. Its tall, sturdy stems make it ideal for adding height and structure, while its delicate flowers introduce a soft, romantic element. Sweet rocket is particularly effective in cottage garden bouquets, where its natural charm and fragrance can be fully appreciated.

Sweet rocket has been grown in gardens since the time of the Romans, who valued it for its beauty and aroma. Its common name, "rocket", is derived from the Italian word "rochetta", meaning "little spindle", a nod to the plant’s tall, spindly growth habit.

Add sweet William to your flower arrangements

Sweet William, with its vivid clusters of small, colourful flowers, captures the heart of any garden enthusiast. This biennial plant is cherished for its rich palette of reds, pinks, whites and bicolours, which effortlessly brighten any garden or floral arrangement. Their ability to bloom profusely from late spring to early summer makes them a staple in seasonal displays, offering both visual delight and a subtle, spicy clove-like fragrance that adds depth to their allure.

In arrangements, Sweet William serves as both a stunning filler and a vibrant focal point. Their dense clusters of flowers add texture and colour diversity, making bouquets pop with life and vibrancy. They're particularly beloved in cottage-style arrangements, where their informal beauty shines, but they also lend themselves beautifully to more structured designs, adding a touch of whimsy and colour contrast.

Historically, Sweet William is steeped in folklore and symbolism, often associated with gallantry and finesse. It's said that their name pays homage to Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, which ties them to tales of nobility and honour. This rich history, combined with their delightful scent and visual appeal, ensures Sweet William's enduring popularity in gardens and bouquets alike, embodying the perfect blend of elegance, fragrance and storytelling.

Icelandic poppies add pops of colour 

Icelandic poppies charm with their delicate, tissue-paper-like petals and vibrant, cheerful hues. These stunning poppies have colours ranging from pristine whites and soft pinks to deep oranges and yellows, offering a palette that can brighten any space. Their graceful stems and cup-shaped blossoms make them a favourite for adding a touch of whimsy and elegance to floral arrangements. Whether nestled among lush greenery or standing alone in a minimalist vase, Icelandic poppies infuse arrangements with a sense of movement and lightness.

A fascinating aspect of Icelandic poppies is their resilience; despite their fragile appearance, they thrive in cool climates, showcasing nature's ability to create beauty in harsh conditions. This hardiness is a testament to their origin, adapting to survive in the wild landscapes of the Arctic and subarctic regions.

While their scent is subtle, the visual impact of Icelandic poppies is undeniable. Their broad spectrum of colours allows for versatile use in floral designs, from serene and monochromatic schemes to vibrant and eclectic mixes. The lack of a strong fragrance means they can complement any arrangement without overpowering the senses, making Icelandic poppies a beloved choice for both gardeners and florists seeking to create memorable floral displays.

Flower arrangements to your door

Embrace the upcoming spring with Carobeth's subscription service, where the beauty of Icelandic poppies, Sweet Williams, foxgloves and the ethereal honesty await to transform your home. These blooms, known for their vibrant colours, captivating fragrances and unique charm, are the stars of our spring floral arrangements. By ordering now, you secure a summer filled with the season's best, delivered directly to your door. Don't miss out on the opportunity to fill your space with nature's finest artistry all summer long. Subscribe today and let Carobeth bring the magic of new season flowers into your life.

Back to blog