June can be so pastel-drenched, with sweet peas and roses, iris and astilbe. I always hope for a little more vibrancy and contrast to spice up the garden, keep the color play going through these lovely, long days running up to the solstice.
I'm always looking for every dark-colored May and June bloomer I can find. Two of my favorites for Edward Gorey'ing up early summer are Astrantia major 'Hadspen Blood' (a.k.a. masterwort) and Sweet William (Dianthus barbatus) in its magenta or maroon colorations (left).
Both are showy in bud and flower; the astrantia is even beautiful after it's done blooming. And the Sweet William, being a carnation, is sweetly scented. But both are so dark that they can disappear in arrangements, or even create the feeling of a dark hole at the heart of a bouquet. You need contrasting foliage, and a vase in chartreuse, aqua, or better yet, that ethereal Chinese celadon fto really show off these duskily beautiful blossoms.
When my sister gave me this icy blue/green vase I went right out into the garden and picked a bunch of the ruby-colored astrantia in bloom right now. The shine of the vase works to show off their spiky explosion, as well as the ribbed leaves of the 'Golden Spirit' smoke bush. The orange California poppies brighten it up and add their silken texture to the mix. The bouquet is an antidote to pastels, a study in contrasts, to tide me over until the dahlias, yarrow and helianthus bring their saturated purples, golden and rust tones to the mid-summer garden.