Bright yellow sunflowers and green artichokes are signs of a maturing garden season. The unlikely combination of a flower and vegetable leads to attractive centerpieces for the summer table. From casual picnic decoration to formal dinner or wedding tables the golden flowers and textured vegetables are mixed for beautiful displays.
The annual or perennial artichoke plant is a member of the thistle group of the sunflower family. The vegetable that is harvested for consumption is the bud of the plant. Petite to jumbo buds are cut from the plant before they bloom into a violet blossom that is very similar to the wild thistle blossom. The blooming artichoke is also a beautiful addition to a floral centerpiece. The sunflower has blooms that can grow up to 1 to 2 feet across and are predominantly used for seed, oil and silage crops. Helianthus annuus, the wide variety of smaller ornamental blooms, are a summer floral arrangement favorite. The flowers are harvested for cut flower use before the seeds become mature and the petals drop off.
The artichoke has dual function as a centerpiece container and decoration. Slice the bottom of the artichoke straight across to create a flat bottom. Hollow the vegetable by removing the choke for a pretty floral bowl or design container. A small rectangle of floral foam can be set into the hollow. Small sunflowers are arranged to appear to be growing up out of the organic container. Set arrangements directly on to the table or a tray alternating them with candles.
Cut sunflower stems on a slant for the flower to continue to access water from the foam or fluid filled container for a longer lasting centerpiece. Wrap short flower stems in a wet paper towel to place them into a hollowed out artichoke container for a quick centerpiece set up.
Sunflowers and artichokes have stems that are cut to varying lengths for floral centerpieces. Oblong horizontal, L-shape, topiary and fan shaped arrangements work well with the combination of flower and vegetables. Inset floral foam into bowls, vases, buckets or ceramic containers and arrange stems into it. Elegant centerpieces reminiscent of della Robbia style are made with a mixture of the sunny flowers and green vegetable combined with roses, dahlia, zinnia, hydrangea and fruit.
Sunflower and artichoke arrangements can be constructed quickly. Wired floral sticks are inserted into the center of the bottom of a stemless artichoke to secure it into an arrangement. Thel arranger can make decorative centerpieces with the bright colored yellow, bronze, brown-red and mahogany flowers and sturdy green bud. The addition of the blossomed artichoke bud adds extra zing of purple coloring to the centerpiece.