Gardeners discovered foliages more than a decade ago. Finally foliage is asserting its place inside the house. Every fashion magazine, every on-trend interior design magazine shows cut foliages used in new and modern applications. And very often it is the focal point in the room.
Cut foliages range in colour from blues, every tint and shade of green imaginable, burgundy, pink and yellow. Textures run the gamut from soft, cloudlike puffs of barely there green coral fern to slick and shiny surfaces of anthurium leaves. From the amoeba like shapes of philodendron leaves to the spiky exclamation points of flax leaves, foliages can make varied design statements.
One of the wonderful things about designing with foliages is that it doesn’t require a lot of skill to make a professional looking arrangement. Even better, it is not expensive. A single dramatic five-dollar leaf in a great container can be more of a statement than a dozen roses. While roses can last upwards of two weeks, many types of foliages have a vase life of more than a month. Large leaves such as bird’s nest palms or fan palms even look interesting as they dry and change colour from green to warm, mottled browns. To me, they are perfect at every stage of their journey.
Botanicals, unlike anything else, add elegance and style to a room. They are living pieces of art and cannot be improved upon. The small connection with nature is essential to our well-being. "Silk" flowers and plants just won’t give the same subtle effect. They are simply accessories, like toss cushion or an ornament. Silk flowers and foliages remain in an eerie state of suspended sameness.
A single leaf, a trio of leaves or a mass of one type of greens – no flowers at all – is fresh and very modern. This does not mean that foliages won’t work in traditional settings. A romantic urn filled with a mass of asparagus fern or sprengeri fern, two of the old florist stand-bys, is a modern twist on traditional foliage. Even salal, massed in a rustic container, will look so fresh that it is virtually unrecognizable. A mix of different varieties of foliages is one of my favourite looks and allows me to enjoy the leaves of some of my favourite plants that simply will not thrive as potted plants in my house.
A large selection of foliages is available in the winter as many are native to New Zealand and Thailand and shipped to us at this time. Any good florist will have lots to choose from. Look for the following:
- Anthurium leaves: Shiny surface, pliable, great to use to line glass vases. Local.
- Bird’s nest palms: Large scale, up to a metre tall, wonderful in a contemporary setting. Costa Rica
- Fan palm: Large scale, use backlight to cast dramatic shadows. Thailand.
- Flax leaves: usually green and yellow; newer varieties are pink and burgundy. New Zealand.
- Philodendron: Glossy, large leaves. New Zealand.
- Coral fern: Wispy, airy leaves held atop a wiry, black stem. Beautiful when dried. New Zealand
- Cordyline: Burgundy, chartreuse or pink striations, good to line vases. Thailand.