Ask Ella: Why Silver Tree Pods Are Perfect for Cold Weather Bouquets
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 silver tree pods, a wintery variation on proteas and leucadendron.
Though we’ve covered protea in the past, this week we’re looking at the silver tree (Leucadendron argenteum), part of the larger Proteaceae family. While the tree itself is endangered in South Africa, florists will sometimes have more ornamental varieties, ones that have larger pods, like those pictured throughout the article. Unlike the more standard protea you’re likely to see at a florist’s, the silver tree pods are not flowers but instead contain the seeds for their dispersal (so they’re likely to open once they are already in your bouquet, a process of unveiling similar to what happens with pinecones).
In arrangements, silver tree pods offer an unparalleled velvety texture that’s irresistibly soft to the touch; their silvery, shadowed appearance evokes the hues and slight melancholy of the upcoming winter months. “They’re so beautiful just the way they are, in a simple bunch,” Ella explains. “When you add too many other elements, it takes away from their opening. You don’t want to put anything too overwhelming with them– so try placing them in a vase with silver accents that will complement and pick up their color.” Other metallic tones– like those of the copper cup from the GC shop pictured above– also accentuate the character of the silver pods subtly.
If you would like to supplement silver tree pods, stick to simple foliage like eucalyptus that won’t overwhelm their delicate appearance and will instead offset their unusual texture. Place a small handful on your Thanksgiving table or gather them in a wreath. As with pinecones, silver tree pods are built to last and if you give them cold water and recut every third day, they can stick around for up to two weeks– making them a lovely alternative option for holiday décor.