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Autumn flowers: Scabiosa, Callicarpa and Skimmia

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by Flower Council • Friday September 29, 2017

We spotlight each season on appealing seasonal products. This fall Scabiosa, Callicarpa and Skimmia take centre stage.

Scabiosa: bright wild flower

Scabiosa brings the sense of a field of wild flowers, into your home.

You can’t help but feel happy in a field of Scabiosa’s. Flowers on long stems, waving in the wind. The flower petals are fragile and lightly frilled, just like a summer dress. There are many different varieties of Scabiosa. The original colour is dark purple, but you can now get them in a range of colours such as white and light blue.

Scab or pincushion

Scabiosa belongs to the teasel family (Dipsacaceae). The name Scabiosa is possibly derived from scabius which means scab. This name may have been given due to the flaky, scaly appearance of the flower. Although there are also stories about the Romans using it as a medicine for a range of skin diseases. The flower is also called the pin cushion flower which obviously refers to its appearance.


The plant is often used as a border plant in flower rich gardens; on summer days the blue flowers are surrounded by butterflies. The flower rich border can also be used as inspiration for bouquets. Combine Scabiosa for example with other blue summer flowers, such as Delphinium, Callistephus and Liatris.

Callicarpa: spectacular berry

Nature adds something special to summer with berries in bright colours.

Callicarpa’s flowers are really ordinary, but in the autumn the shrub blazes with spectacular berries. As a typical berry shrub, Callicarpa produces a huge amount of berries. The smaller leaves are picked during the harvest, allowing the fruitfulness of the berries to increase.

Made in China

Callicarpa belongs to the Verbenaceae family. The name Callicarpa means literally: rich in beautiful fruit. The English name is Beautyberry. There are a range of varieties including Callicarpa bodinieri, which is named after Emile Bodinier who worked as a missionary and botanist in China. The berry shrub also originates from China.


Each berry begins with a flower. When the flowers have been pollinated – either by wind or bees – the fruit is created. The Callicarpa berries grow in wreath shaped sprays along the branch. This amazing way of growing is shown to its best advantage in a large vase. You can also combine the berries with other seasonal plants, such as Sedum and Asclepias.

Skimmia: warm & wintery

Bring the riches of nature into your home with Skimmia.

When other plants are dormant in winter, Skimmia leaps out with striking flower buds. The colour varies from light green to warm dark red. If the branches aren’t pruned the flower buds open in spring. The flowers spread a pleasant perfume. The female cultivars also develop berries (if a male cultivar is in the surrounding area), but there are also dual gender Skimmia’s, which always produce berries.

For the goats

Skimmia belongs to the Rue family (Rutaceae), which the lemon and orange also belong to. That explains the citrus smell which comes out if you squeeze a Skimmia leaf. Skimmia grows in the wild in deciduous forests in Asia. The story goes that Carl Peter Thunberg, a student of Linnaeus, was staying on a Japanese island and needed green feed for his goats. His servants brought him a range of wild plants, one of which they called the Miyama shikimi. Thunberg wrote about this plant and translated it into Skimmia.

Light and life

You bring nature - and therefore light and life - into your home with winter hardy shrubs. Skimmia is perfect for example, in red winter bouquets and in wreaths for inside and outside. You can also make bundles with Skimmia and other flowers; nice as a table decoration.

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