Ask Ella: Keeping Bouquets Bright With Billy Buttons
Ask Ella is a recurring Garden Collage feature where we ask our in-house florist, Ella Stavonsky, 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 billy buttons, a quirky yellow plant from the daisy family.
Billy buttons (Craspedia) have a certain unapologetic cheerfulness that makes them an asset in flower arrangements this time of year, as the dark sets in early and the colors of fall begin to fade. Even the name– ‘billy buttons’– has old fashioned charm about it. The flowers’ sharp, saturated color makes them all the more genial and jaunty. In gardens, billy buttons grow on long, thin, towering stems, like some tall awkward alien just trying to go about their day. Unlike most flowers, they don’t have petals or leaves– they’re simply round, relatively smooth spheres with tiny heads of flowers, indistinguishable at a distance but captivating on further inspection.
In bouquets, billy buttons are an accent flower, adding small segments of sunshine. They can be a little tricky to use, though, as their shape is a little strange and their color is so aggressively friendly. Your best bet is to use them sparingly, in bouquets with plenty of other colors (like the off-reds of dahlias). If you’re especially charmed by them, you can gather a handful of billy buttons in a tall, thin vase for an elegant, architectural effect.
Billy buttons are also a popular choice for boutonnieres, and work best when paired with lighter greens, thereby retaining a fresh, easygoing look. Plus, billy buttons still keep their color when dried, acting as little reminders of sunshine throughout the long winter months.