Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

Ask Ella: Ring In Spring With Green Bell

Because the greenery in a bouquet is just as important as the flowers.

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 green bell, a bright greenery that’s perfect for filling in empty spaces.

When making a bouquet, one of the biggest setbacks you’re likely to encounter is when they look a bit sparse. Fortunately, green bell– one of our favorite “bushy” fillers– is coming in to season. Green bell is also known as thlaspie (a larger genus that encompasses many species) and pennycress or pennygrass (two general terms used for many in the thlaspie group). As a whole, the thlaspie genus is prized for its remediation properties; it is especially adept at taking up heavy metals. When eaten by cows, it can add a slightly mustard-y flavor to their milk and butter, and many people enjoy young shoots as an herb in salads.

Photo: Andreana Bitsis | Styling: Jessy Scarpone

With its tiny, flat pods (which from afar look like delicate green leaves) and its tall stems, green bell is the perfect way to add volume to an arrangement that might be looking a little sad. Its vibrant green color evokes the freshness of Spring, and it pairs well with almost any bright flowers. We love using it with tall stems of delphiniums, fluffy stock flower, pale hellebores, bright snapdragons… In short, green bell is quite flexible: you can even tuck in other greenery, like sprigs of rosemary.

To care for green bell, keep it in clean, cold water, and– as much as possible– in a cool area, as it dries out easily. When shopping for green bell, look for stems where the tops haven’t bloomed yet; with time, some of the upper blooms may open, but you’ll want to look for the youngest stalks. Make sure to clean the bottom of the stems if they aren’t already, to minimize water uptake, and to keep the water clean.

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