Flower of the Hour: Scabious

A quintessential summer favourite, scabious (or scabiosa) is a McQueens staple for the sunnier months. This delicate beauty from the honeysuckle family is hard to resist and will be used in abundance throughout all McQueens departments (except perhaps the contracts team). As stunning as scabious is for gifts, parties and as a wedding flower, they fall into that huge category of flora that looks utterly gorgeous but, in some environments, won’t stand the test of time. Just like stock, astilbe, bouvardia and countless others, you will be delighted with their company for around five days as they tire easily and are known to wilt prematurely on occasion.

Cultivated in shades of pink, lilac, burgundy and white, they are characterised by a long, slender delicate stem with a paper thin circular flower head which looks as if they belong in the finest English country garden. As a plant, there are annual and perennial varieties, as a cut flower they are just perfect for a relaxed, informal composition and have a wistful romantic sensibility that is just perfect for bridal work. Scabious is a nectar-rich flower but are utterly devoid of any scent, which seems such a shame (they look as if they should have a delicate fragrance all of their own). They can be used in lots of different ways and are a beautiful inclusion in a large classic urn and can stand their ground amongst the finest garden flower stalwarts such as delphinium and peony, providing you place them together in natural clusters and avoid a single distribution that can sometimes look a bit twee. But when informality is the order of the day, scabious come into their own and look great placed in an assortment of bottles or eclectic containers.

Scabious 'Scabiosa Sweet Scoop' is a beautiful pink seasonal cut flower usually wholesaled in batches of 50 stems.
Scabious ‘Sweet Scoop’

Over arrange these flowers at your peril, though – scabious work at their best au naturelle. Never fight with this gorgeous little flower, but instead work with the gentle, individual beauty of each stem and let them fall how they are inclined. Unless of course, they are just too bendy or contorted, in which case enlist the support of a friendly support flower as a prop – they can easily be weaved in amongst other flowers if such a contorted crisis should arise. The ‘just picked from the meadow’ style of flower appreciation is very hot right now and you can imagine scabious dancing in a beautifully overgrown garden with butterflies, birds and bees. Sigh…