Andreana Bitsis

Ask Ella: Why Sapphire Berries Are the Jewel in Winter’s Crown

Ask Ella is a reoccurring Garden Collage feature where we ask our in-house florist, EllaStavonsky, about floral design– including the history of, origin, and maintenance that goes into some of the most intriguing flowers on the market today. This column is dedicated exclusively to common and rare varieties of flowers you’re likely to find at your local market. This week, we spotlight sapphire berries, a wintery berry whose rich navy color is an unusual one– particularly at this time of year.

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Like their namesake, sapphire berries (Symplocos paniculata) have a vivid, slightly shimmering, incandescent appearance. The berries grow in tight, heavy clusters and are native to the Himalayas– so it’s of little surprise that they’re one of the few splashes of color you’re able to find this time of year. For brides, the berries are a popular choice, as they take care of the traditional “something blue” for weddings.

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Andreana Bitsis

“Sapphire berries look best when you remove all the leaves and just see the berries– plus this helps them live longer, since the leaves aren’t taking up water,” Ella explains, adding that you can expect them to last about a week. “Since they’re such an intense, dark color, you want to mix them with burgundies and deep reds, or lavenders– colors that won’t clash too much.” Try tucking a few in between calla lilies or dahlias, whose interesting architectural shapes give a nice structure for the berries to fan out in any bouquet.

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