Flower of the week: Bouvardia

Bonjour to the little tubular bell-square shaped show-offs; the beautiful and wonderfully scented cut bouvardia!

Unlike some our past ‘flowers of the week’, you may have come across bouvardia. It’s a popular choice in celebratory arrangements.

Which figures, seeing as cut bouvardia symbolises enthusiasm. And who could be more enthusiastic about the flower itself than me?

You will be too in no time (if you’re not already).

The rather royal birth of bouvardia

Close your eyes and picture the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, in the 17th Century when Louis XIII was king. Stunning, isn’t it? Do you hear the birds tweeting? Can you smell the flowers on the breeze? 

During his reign, Louis XIII hired Charles Bouvard, a physician renowned for using common flora in medicine. Louis XIII appointed Bouvard as the superintendent of the Jardin des Plantes.

The Jardin des Plantes in Paris where cut bouvardia was used in herbal medicine
The Jardin des Plantes, Paris today. Image Credit

It was here that Bouvard came across our flower in question and started dabbling with it in his medicinal concoctions. 

Having originated in tropical America, Mexico in particular, bouvardia (and all its 30 varieties) was unnamed in France. So Charles oh so modestly just added  an -ia to his surname and that became the flowers’ Latin name. I like to think he dressed head to toe in pink from that day on, in a reciprocal gesture.

Maybe something a little like this? Image credit
Maybe in something a little like this? Image credit

So flower lovers, it’s thanks to that regal tale that blossoming, beautiful bouvardia got its name. Though it almost never became our flower of the week….

 

Bringing cut bouvardia back into action

Flick through the history books a little more and you’ll discover that in the 19th Century bouvardia was practically forgotten about. It wasn’t until 1997 that a Dutch breeder introduced a dwarfed house-plant variety. 

A more manageably sized version of the bouvardia bush. Image Credit
A more manageably sized version of the bouvardia bush. Image Credit

This thankfully re-jogged people’s memories and the green fingered decided that cut bouvardia is worth having around.

Pick a petal

The shape of a bouvardia flower is really quite unique. I like to think that cut bouvardia flowers look like mini Chinese fortune tellers.

Remember these!? Image Credit.
Remember these!? Image Credit.

Whilst they might not tell you the future, they do have an impressive past.

See the resemblance?
See the resemblance?

And aren’t we lucky that we didn’t lose cut bouvardia for good – it’s the symbol of enthusiasm! We’d be bored without it. 

 

A cabbage next to a rose to keep you on your toes

All this talk of cut bouvardia is because it’s part of a stunning Freddie’s Flowers arrangement. It is kept company by some rather lovely flowers; brassica and roses.

It comes as a surprise to us all that cabbages and roses work together in such harmony. Our avalanche roses will cosy up to the cabbage as their petals begin to unfurl, just you wait and see – they’ll be as big as each other!

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Even the stems are spectacular – use a clear vase so you can see the cabbages’ dramatic woody pink stalks work wonders with the delicate cut bouvardia and rose stems.

Despite what your nose might think, our cabbages won’t make your home smell like Charlie Bucket’s house in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I can assure you that. Do as we do and change the water every few days as you normally would and there’ll be no cabbage water for you.

Remember when I talked about alliums as ornamental onions, pink sedum as houseleeks and white brassica as the ornamental cabbage? Well ‘first lady’ pink brassica are much of the same! Not to be boiled, stewed, fried or eaten. Ca-bb-iche?

 

Total eucalypt of the heart

I can smell eucalyptus a mile off. As you may in fact know it is by far my favourite foliage.

Jauntily does it!
Jauntily does it!

And with this eucalyptus cinerea popping over from across the water in Ireland, it’s close to home as well as heart. Let it sprout out of the top of your arrangement as well as jauntily out at the sides – this will bring your flower arrangement together.

 

Unleash your inner physician with cut bouvardia

Okay so sadly we can’t box Charles Bouvard up and deliver him to your doorstep, nor can we transform you into the 17th Century medicinal herbalist working for a French king. But you have got yourself some great new dinner party conversation! And we can provide a glorious centrepiece for your dining table.

We’ll even show you how to arrange it:

So what are you waiting for? Get your green fingered friends round for supper and give us a go for only £24 a pop!