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Wildflowers Add Harmonious ‘Cool’ Touch

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A bouquet with a large protea is seen at Aoyama Flower Market’s Minami-Aoyama flagship store in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

It seems as if everyone wants to get their hands on some wildflowers. The kind of wildflowers that are popular in Japan are generally species native to the southern hemisphere, such as from Australia and South Africa. Their unusual shapes and colors are appealing and they can easily be dried and enjoyed for a long time.

“Due to their distinctive appearance, wildflowers are considered ‘cool,’ which is an unusual description for a flower,” said Shun Ninomiya, manager of the Aoyama Flower Market’s Minami-Aoyama flagship store in Minato Ward, Tokyo.

For example, king protea, the national flower of South Africa, has a large head with a collection of flowers in the middle, surrounded by hard bracts. These bracts look like scales and give the flower a mysterious appearance.

The pincushion flower, so named because of the resemblance, is brightly colored, making it an attractive plant.

The silver brunia has round, silvery-white flowers, which makes it look more like a berry.

There is a wider variety of wildflowers available in Japan during autumn and winter because it is spring and summer in the southern hemisphere, according to Ninomiya.

“The shapes remind us of the magnificence of nature,” Ninomiya said. “Not all wildflowers are brightly colored. Some have earth tones, which are popular as well.”

As demand increases, more wildflowers are being imported. The shipment of wildflowers to Japan increased by 40% and the average price per unit increased by ¥17 in 2019 compared to 2016, said Jun Shishido, manager of the product development department of major flower wholesaler Ota Floriculture Auction Co.

“Not only is the amount increasing, but the variety as well,” Shishido said. “The popularity of floral swags and dried flowers are driving demand as more people seem to want to use them to decorate their homes.”

Many species of wildflowers contain little water, so it is easy to dry them.

When the flowers are dried, their color becomes slightly subdued, and these muted tones have recently become more popular, according to Yuka Yamazaki, owner of the online floral swags and dried flowers store Tsuchi to Kaze no Shokubutsuen.

She adds that some dried flowers retain their shape, while others, such as pincushion flowers that have a more linear shape, change slightly and appear more delicate.

“If you decide to use them to decorate your home, make sure to avoid exposing them to direct sunlight, so they do not fade as quickly,” she said. “You should also place them somewhere that is well ventilated to prevent mold.”

■ Arrange with domestic plants

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yuki Maeda is seen arranging flowers in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Yuki Maeda, a flower artist and former announcer on TV, is one of the people who have become fascinated by wildflowers. When she saw a protea for the first time at a market, she was surprised because she “did not realize that flowers this powerful existed.”

Maeda created an arrangement using a deep red protea as the centerpiece. She said that arranging the wildflower among Japanese flowers can create a more harmonious arrangement by making the protea stand out less, allowing the decoration to be used more easily.

She added pink amaryllis and pale purple star thistles to the arrangement to tone down the strong red color of the protea.

“Adding Japanese flowers with slightly muted colors can soften the whole arrangement,” Maeda said.

For the upcoming season, Maeda recommends using chrysanthemums and daffodils. Flowers that stand out can be accentuated more by arranging them in a neutral-colored vase, such as a gray, beige or white one, she said.

“Wildflowers can add an interesting accent to an arrangement,” Maeda said. “Creating combinations using seasonal Japanese flowers and wildflowers can be quite a joy.”

Courtesy of Tsuchi to Kaze no Shokubutsuen
A floral swag of dried wildflowers