Florence’s Florals: Your all-request edition

Today I’m very sad because it’s the last Florence’s Florals post for now as Becky heads off on maternity leave. I would like to extend a huge thank you to Becky for being such a creative and reliable team-member – Florals aren’t everybody’s cup of tea but I have loved the posts and know there are many of you out there who have enjoyed them too. Becky will be back on a semi-regular basis to share her journey through the first few months of motherhood and I am fascinated to hear how it goes – nothing like a bit of inside information to get prepared! Now give her and Florence’s Florals a warm farewell in the comments box please!

Hello all, as this is my last floral post for the foreseeable future of nappy changes and muslin squares, I wanted to cover something that you’d requested. Judging by lots of your recent comments on the blog, you’re all ready to embrace Autumn and Winter – probably due to the lack of Summer we’ve had.

I’m hoping that today’s post will inspire you to fill your homes with something a bit different this Autumn, Halloween, and Christmas. Forgive the fact that there is no DIY as I’d originally promised but it’s a bit tricky getting Holly berries in August. I’m hoping that the images will be inspiration enough for you to get out the scissors and have a go.

Autumnal/ Halloween Arrangements…
I love using pumpkins as containers at Halloween. It doesn’t just have to be a pumpkin though, you can use any sized squash or gourd to fit in with your colour theme and the size of arrangement you want to create.


Tall pumpkin arrangement

Rather than carving out a spooky face, slice off the top and hollow out the flesh. Line the inside of the pumpkin or gourd with cellophane or a freezer bag which you will then place a block of soaked floral foam into so that it sits about an inch or so above the top of the pumpkin or gourd.


White pumpkin with red flowers // Rustic Pumpkin // Chalkboard pumpkins // Tulips in white pumpkin //

Choose a selection of autumnal leaves, twigs and berries in the shades you fancy and create your framework by starting with a foliage base to cover the foam and the top of the pumpkin. Fill in with your flowers, using the largest heads first. Go as wild and natural as you fancy.

Ideas for Christmas…
You all requested an alternative to the dreaded Poinsettia. So here are my favourites:
Bulbs – Big bowls of red or white Amaryllis, white Hyacinths, or Paperwhite Narcissi are long lasting and very seasonal. You should be planting them now to have them flowering in time for Christmas. The timing can be a bit tricky though so if you are short on time, have a look in your florist or garden centre in early December where you’ll be able to buy bulbs that are already sprouting. Have a look back at my January tutorial here for planting guidance.


White Orchids on sideboard // White orchid arrangement //

Orchid Plants – Orchids are at their seasonal best in December. White Phalaenopsis orchids look great dressed with silver glitter twigs and will take you from Christmas through to New Year. After Twelfth night, remove any glitter twigs and enjoy the pure white orchid in January. Orchids love light and air around their roots so thrive in glass vases. I use large vases, filled almost to the top with natural pine cones. Remove the orchids from their plastic containers to plant at the top of the vase with the bark chippings they’re grown in. Don’t be afraid to pack them tightly into the container you’re using as they love to be pot bound. Dress the top with more cones or some carpet moss. If you only have a small vase and don’t have room for pine cones, make sure you use orchid bark to fill in the spaces instead – it’s available from all garden centres. Water very sparingly; a spritz of water at the base of the plant will be enough every other week.


Amaryllis on Mantle // White amaryllis and crystal tablescape // Red Amaryllis bloom //

Cut Amaryllis and Ilex Berry – If you are a traditionalist and won’t be happy without something red in the fireplace, go for a big vase of red amaryllis and/ or Ilex berries. Amaryllis are very long lasting flowers with 3 – 4 big flower heads per stem. The flowers open at different intervals so when a flower dies, just cut it off to keep the rest of the flowers on the stem looking fresh. If bought in tight bud, the flowers can take 5-7 days to bloom in full so remember to buy them early so they’re at their peak for Christmas Day. The upright berried stems of Ilex verticillata are a perfect accompaniment and will last for weeks so buy them in early to enjoy before Christmas rather than having them hanging around in January.


Take inspiration from the white blooms and grey foliage in this Bridesmaids Chrysanthemum bouquet

Pom Pom Chrysanthemum Blooms – The huge crisp white snowball like flowers of the Chrysanthemum are stunning en mass in a vase. At Blossom, they’re one of our best sellers throughout December. Even better if you can find a florist selling the English grown blooms as they’re usually stronger and will last you even longer. If you aren’t averse to combining red and white, they look great mixed with a few stems of red Ilex verticillata.

One final tip – if you have a real tree, keep the bits of pine that you end up having to trim from the base in a pot of water outside until the week before Christmas. You can then use them to dot along a mantelpiece or if they’re long enough, use them to create a support for your cut flowers at the neck of your vase.

Now I think maybe that’s enough talk of Christmas in September! I hope you’ll all look back at this post in a couple of months for some inspiration. As always, I’ll be on hand in the comments section to answer any questions.

Finally, thanks for being such a fantastic audience for Florence’s Florals, and I look forward to wearing my new Florence hat very soon.

Becky xx

Florence’s Florals… The Seasonal Series [Autumn]

I don’t normally butt in on Becky’s posts these days – having been here from the beginning of Florence Finds, you have all gotten to know her and her inspiring floral posts at the beginning of each month. However, this is Becky’s second to last post as she is expecting a baby in October! As a result, Becky would like to go out with a bang – so please help her with her request in the comments box today. :)

Hopefully, this won’t be the last you hear from Becky as she has agreed to bring us some insights into her first few months of motherhood and I’m really excited to have an authentic voice to bring a little bit of what is such an important part of women’s lives and clearly on the radar of many of my readers in one form or another. I can’t wait! But for now I’ll hand you over, for this month’s instalment of Florence’s florals.

Afternoon everyone, you’re not really due this post until September but as things are going to be a little different for me very soon, I thought I’d post Part 3 of my Seasonal Series early so that my final floral post before I head off on maternity leave can be a readers request. To do this of course, I need your help in the form of feedback. Just let me know what you’d like to see/know/learn about flowers in the comments box and I will try to oblige next month.

Back to today, and Part 3 of the Seasonal Series. You can find Part 1 and Part 2 here.

Hopefully you’re all enjoying some warmer weather at last (fingers crossed) but as soon as the kids go back to school, my thoughts turn to Autumn colours and dare I say it (whispers) Christmas. Unless you’re planning a wedding, there’s no need to think about these seasons yet. Instead, I suggest that you bookmark the page to refer back to for some seasonal inspiration once you’ve finished lusting after the new berry shades in the fashion and interior magazines.

The flowers marked with an * are the ones that you should find readily available from your local florist. The others are certainly available but you’re likely to have to order them a few days in advance.

Late Autumn/ Winter (November & December)
Amaryllis* // Anemone // Chrysanthemum* // Crab Apple // Cotinus* // Cymbidium Orchid* // Euphorbia // Hellebore // Holly* // Hyacinth // Hydrangea* // Hypericum* // Ilex verticillata* // Ivy berry // Misteltoe* // Nerine // Oak leaves // Paperwhite Narcissi // Physalis // Pussy Willow* // Ranunculus // Rosehips // Snowberry* // Spruce* // Skimmia

Winter & Early Spring (January & February)
Amaryllis* // Anemone // Blossom // Contorted Hazel // Daffodils* // Forsythia* // Freesia* // Guelder Rose // Hellebore // Hyacinth* // Iris* // Lilac // Muscari // Narcissi* // Pussy Willow* // Ranunculus* // Snowdrop // Tuberose // Violet

As you can see, there are lots of beautiful flowers and foliage around for even the darkest winter days so there’s no reason not to have seasonal flowers all year round.

As always, I love hearing about your favourites and please don’t forget to let me know what you’d like to see here next month.

Becky

Florence’s Florals: A DIY Terrarium

This month I’m moving away from the flowers and focusing on plants. Succulents and air plants have become very popular in the shop of recent, having been featured heavily on numerous blogs and in the interior magazines over the last year or so. I’ve even been asked to incorporate them in a wedding bouquet. The great thing about them is that they need very little care.

I know that Rebecca has shared her glass display dome with you on Twitter, and I thought I’d show you all how easy it is to create a long lasting and stylish display using a display dome, or even a kilner jar, to create your very own terrarium.

The closed nature of a terrarium creates an environment which is easy to control, and allows you to simulate anything from a desert to a rainforest environment for your chosen plants. The defining feature is that it is an enclosed replica of a natural environment which is in contact with the earth, so some sort of soil, sand, or rock must be present. Typically, the container is clear, allowing an unobstructed view of the contents. If you opt for a closed top terrarium, it tends to be warmer and more humid, while open-topped terrariums are cooler so choose your plants accordingly.

What you’ll need:

  • A clear glass container eg. a fishbowl, a storage jar (with or without the lid), or even a regular vase will work.
  • A selection of plants – I used an Echeveria and two types of Sedum. Plants that don’t need much water are good choices eg. Orchids, Aloes, Echeveria, Sedum. Ferns work well but require more watering and misting to create more of a rainforest environment.
  • Gravel
  • Moss – I used Spanish moss (Tillandsia) which is a dry moss. Don’t use a damp carpet moss around the base of succulent plants as the moisture will rot the leaves.

What to do:

  1. Place the gravel at the bottom of your container to ensure if you do over water, there’s plenty of good drainage to keep the roots from getting waterlogged.
  2. Create a well in the centre of the gravel where you will place your plants so that most of the compost is hidden from view at the edges of the container.
  3. Knock off some of the compost from around the base of each plant and plant them into the well you’ve created, using some of the excess compost and more gravel to fill in any holes.
  4. Dress the top of the soil and gravel with moss.
  5. Admire!

To keep your display alive, drizzle or spray with water very sparingly. You never want to see a layer of water sat at the bottom of the container.

Please do let me know if you’re going to give this a try and of course just shout if you have any questions.

Becky xx

Florence’s Florals: The Seasonal Series [Summer]

It’s the first Thursday of the month, which means it’s time to welcome Becky Hay from Blossom, with her visual feast of flowers. She’s continuing her series on the best seasonal flowers, for a wedding, or just your dining table. Becky is the perfect person for the job and I hope you next visit your florist armed with new knowledge and inspiration….

Hi everyone and welcome to Part 2 of my ‘Seasonal Series’. If you missed Part 1, you can catch up here.

At last, the shop has suddenly burst full of beautiful summer flowers thanks to the recent warm spell. As I write this, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a warm Summer full of garden parties and weddings. Hopefully this post will inspire you to adorn your garden tables with jugs and jars of truly seasonal and hopefully often British grown flowers.

I’ve split the list into mid and late Summer flowers as well as including early Autumn for those of you who might be planning ahead for a special event. With these months, there is a huge overlap so many of the flowers I’ve listed in the late summer section are also available in late July and August and vice versa. Just like before, the flowers marked with an * are the ones that you should find readily available from your local florist. The others are certainly available but you’re likely to have to order them a week or so in advance.

Mid Summer (July & August)
Aconitum* // Agapanthus* // Amaranthus // Arum lily // Aster // Astilbe* // Astrantia // Allium* // Alchemilla mollis* // Alstromeria* // Aquilegia // Achillea // Brodea // Campanula // Celosia // Cornflowers* // Delphinium* // Dianthus* // Dill – yellow & white* // Echinacea // Echinops // Garden roses // Gladioli* // Helenium // Hydrangea* // Larkspur* // Lilies* // Lisianthus* // Lupin // Mint // Nerine // Nigella // Phlox // Poppy // Saponaria // Scabious // Snapdragon* // Solidago // Stock* // Sunflowers* // Sweet peas // Zinnia>


Late Summer/ Early Autumn (September & October)
Alstromeria // Assorted Grasses // Aster* // Chrysanthemum* // Crab Apple // Crocosmia // Cosmos // Cotinus* // Dahlia* // Echinacea // Garden Roses // Gladioli* // Hydrangea* // Hypericum*
 // Lilies* // Oak leaves // Physalis // Rosehips // Rubus (ornamental blackberry)
Sedum // Snowberry
Sunflowers* // Viburnum Berry * // Weigela foliage

Once again, please do leave a comment to let me know your favourites, tell me I’ve missed something, or ask a question about a party or event you’re planning flowers for.

Becky

Florence’s Florals: A Jubilee DIY

This afternoon, Becky Hay from Blossom, our resident Florence Finds Floral expert, is swooping in with a patriotic floral DIY to celebrate the jubilee. I know loads of you are having parties or attending them and this would make a lovely centrepiece or gift for the hostess. As Becky quite rightly points out, if you’re over the Jubilee already then switch the shades and save it for another occasion.

I thought the weekend of celebrations the country is about to embark upon deserved a DIY post. It’s Jubilee themed, obvs!

Now I know that not everyone wants to celebrate so if that’s you, forgive the red/hot pink, white and blue overload, and think of this as a summer fete inspired arrangement which you can make in any colours you desire.

What you’ll need for the mini bunting:

  • 2 lengths of string or wool – each the length of half of your table
  • Ribbon to co-ordinate with your colour scheme – mine came from John Lewis.
  • Thin double sided tape
  • Sharp ribbon scissors

How to make the mini bunting:
Cut off short strips of ribbon, double the length of the final flag size you want to finish with.
Fold each strip in half over the string and secure in place using double sided tape. Make sure you leave a length of string at the start and end of your length of string to secure the bunting in place.
Once you’ve attached all of your flags, shape them by cutting a triangle from the base of each flag.

What you’ll need for the arrangement:

  • A cake stand – I’ve used a 3 tiered stand but the same principles apply to a 2 tiered or single tier stand. You’ll just need fewer flowers.
  • Soaked floral foam – I used one and a half blocks.
  • Plastic frogs (available from all florists & garden centres)
  • Oasis Fix
  • A selection of foliage – I used Peony & small Hydrangea leaves with soft ruscus.
  • A selection of flowers – I used Peonies, Hydrangea, Double Lisianthus, Sweet William, Pinks (Scented Spray Carnations), Black Scabious, Cornflower, Gypsophilia, Alchemilla Mollis, and Thlaspi

How to make the arrangement:
Stick a small piece of oasis fix to the base of 6 plastic frogs and stick 2 frogs onto each tier of your cake stand. You’ll use these to secure your oasis in place.
Cut two semi circles of oasis to fit each plate and push down onto each frog to create a circle of oasis in the centre of each tier.

Create the outline of your arrangement using your foliage. Trim the end of each piece at a 45 degree angle to help it glide into the oasis and allow maximum surface area for taking up water.
Start arranging your flowers using the largest heads first which will be the focal points. Make sure the end of each stem is cut at a 45 degree angle.
Keep adding until you’ve used all of your flowers and hopefully hidden all the floral foam. It’s a good idea to keep turning the cake stand as you add to ensure you’ve got an even distribution of flowers throughout.
Leave any fluffy flowers and foliage (in my case Gypsophilia, Alchemilla Mollis & Thlaspi) until the end. These are great at filling any gaps and will give your arrangement a more natural look.
Finally, place your arrangement in the centre of your table and tie each length of bunting to the top handle, draping it in each direction along the centre of your table. You can either tape the opposite ends to the underside of the table or tie them to a wine glass stem.

To keep your arrangement fresh, keep the oasis damp by trickling a little water onto each tier. You can also spray the flowers with a water mist.

As always, I hope this inspires you to create your own masterpieces. I’d love to hear your comments or answer any questions.

Have a great Bank Holiday everyone,

Becky xx

Florence’s florals: Peony Passion

Hello May, I’m so pleased to see you. In my opinion, the best month of the year for flowers…namely my favourites of Lily of the Valley, Lilac, and Peonies.


Lilac

After the love you all showed for peonies in the first of my Seasonal Series I’m hoping that you won’t mind a little self-indulgent peony pleasure this month. I thought I’d start with a few tips for arranging and then leave the rest to your viewing pleasure.…..


Lily of the valley in jar, bouquet and in blue glass bottle.

As with all flowers, once you’ve got them home or cut them from your garden, remove all of the leaves that will fall below the water line and give each stem a clean cut at a 45 degree angle.

Sometimes the buds can be covered in a sticky sap which can inhibit the petals from bursting open. If this is the case, hold them upside down under a running cold tap to remove some of the sap.


Image credit unknown

As the heads of the peonies are usually too heavy for the stems, choose a vase, jug, or bottle which narrows at the neck to provide enough support for their weighty heads.

I think less is more when it comes to these beauties and I prefer mine on their own. If you want to fill in the gaps however, raid your garden for some fresh green foliage budding from the trees, or what about some cow parsley from the hedgerow?

To prolong their life, re-cut the stems and change the water every few days.


Peony in goblet, Peony cake decor

If you snap a head by accident, don’t panic, they also last for ages floating in a little bowl or cup of water.

Right then ladies and gents, this is your official Peony announcement…..they are available now (although still a little pricey) and shall be around for, fingers crossed, the next 8 weeks……go, buy, and enjoy!

Becky Hay
x

PS. Read more of Becky’s floral series on Florence Finds or follow her on Twitter @BlossomChorlton.

Florence’s Florals: A DIY Easter tree

Yay! Just half a working day before the long Bank Holiday weekend and I hope you all gain some inspiration for easter decor and general floral loveliness from todays post by Becky Hay from Blossom

Hello Findettes, I hope this DIY post will bring a Bank Holiday weekend full of sunshine your way. Last month I mentioned that spring in the shop heralds the arrival of the Easter window. It’s one of my favourite displays of the year. A tree of branches decorated with colourful eggs, rabbits and chicks.

I can’t remember how old I was when my Mum first brought home the box of tiny carved wooden decorations to hang, but it has become as much a family tradition as the Christmas tree and I now uphold the tradition in my own home.

I’m not religious, more of a ‘Mother Nature’ kind of girl which is why I think the pagan tradition of the Easter tree appeals so much. The trees originate from Europe, most likely Sweden, where they are often decorated with feathers and eggs. Although decorations are widely available in the UK now, look out for the more unusual and intricate ones if you’re on holiday in Europe. I purchased the white eggs in the DIY photos below in Prague one November.

The two DIY’s I’ve created for you are, as always, to inspire you. There are no rules, just make what you fancy out of whatever you can find easily to hand. I’ve included some additional Easter tree images to give you even more food for thought as well.

DIY 1 – The Anything Goes Tree
What you’ll need:

  • A vase/ jug/ urn/ pot – choose something with a wide neck if you want to fill it with lots of flowers as well as the twigs.
  • Twigs – I used white Blossom in bud
  • A selection of mixed Spring flowers – I used Hyacinths, Narcissi, Tulips and Roses
  • A small piece of florist’s foam – soaked.
  • Decorations to hang

What to do:

  1. Wedge the florist’s foam into the base of your container before filling it with water.
  2. Arrange the twigs in the centre of the container using the florist’s foam to secure them.
  3. Take your largest flower, in my case, the hyacinths, and arrange them amongst the twigs.
  4. Next I placed the narcissi through the twigs and other flowers, cutting them at very different lengths. Florist’s tip – pick off the dried papery protective hoods from narcissi or daffodils before displaying them. Your design will be a little more polished.
  5. I cut my roses short and used them at the very neck of the container and finally added the tulips. Tulips continue to grow even after they’ve been cut so use them to flow through your arrangement. You can support their heads with the twigs.
  6. Once you’ve placed all of your flowers, make sure your container is topped up with water and have fun hanging your decorations.
  7. Keep the water level topped up and remove individual flowers as they wilt.

DIY 2 – The Simple Option
What you’ll need:

  • A vase or Jug
  • Twigs of your choice – I used contorted Hazel twigs which don’t need water and can be stored away and re-used next year.
  • Real eggs
  • Thin ribbon or very fine string
  • I used the small headed Narcissi Soleil d’Or but regular Daffodils will have a similar effect

What to do:
Firstly, I hold my hand up and admit that I didn’t make the hanging egg vases. I cheated and bought them. That’s not to say that you can’t make them yourselves with a little patience and a gentle touch!

  1. To make the vases you will need to gently take the top off your eggs, empty the contents out (I suggest into a mixing bowl, ready to be baked into a delicious cake) before rinsing the shell out. The tricky bit will be piercing the holes in the sides of the egg to thread a thin piece of string or ribbon to create your handle. I suggest using a pin and a cork to press onto.
  2. Alternatively, if you’re a boiled egg fan, just save the shells once you’ve enjoyed your breakfast!
  3. Hang your eggs and fill each of them with a little water.
  4. Cut your narcissi very short and place them into your egg vases.

I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter break and that this will inspire you to bring some Easter cheer into the house. Do let me know if you’ll be creating an Easter tree this year.

A display that cheerful can’t fail to warm your heart and home for Easter – I’m inspired to go and make something beautiful for my easter table now.

As always, Becky is around if you need to ask any questions, fire away and let us know if you’ve been inspired by her Easter tree.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

Florence’s Florals: The Seasonal Series [Spring]

It’s the first Thursday of the month, which means it’s time to welcome Becky Hay from Blossom, with her visual feast of flowers. I’ve always wanted to do a piece on the best seasonal flowers, for a wedding, or just your dining table. Becky is the perfect person for the job and I hope you next visit your florist armed with new knowledge and inspiration….

March is here at last. It’s the month when spring firmly kicks winter’s backside. In the shop it brings with it Mothering Sunday (18th March) the excitement of the Easter window (more of that next month) and the start, in earnest, of wedding season. To me, the start of any new season is the most exciting time, and a big part of that comes down to the new arrivals of flowers that I see in the shop as well as in my own garden.

It dawned on me recently that like most people, I take the knowledge gained from my job for granted. When you do something for long enough, it becomes common sense doesn’t it? So this month I thought I’d start a little ‘Seasonal Series’ in order to share some of that knowledge with you.

There are many flowers that are available all year round thanks to the Dutch growers (Roses, Lilies, Gerbera, Carnations….the list is endless). And if you’re prepared to pay for it, you can get hold of almost any flower at any time of year. But what I’m talking about here are truly seasonal flowers, the ones that would grow in your garden if you had green fingers and time to nurture them. Even the flowers that are grown all year round have a proper season when they’re at their strongest, most beautiful, and have the best scent.

So, whether you’re planning a wedding, hosting a party, or just want to know what to spend your hard earned cash on for ultimate seasonal joy, here’s my guide to spring and early summer cut flowers. The flowers marked with an * are the ones that you should find readily available from your local florist. The others are certainly available but you’re likely to have to order them a week or so in advance. I’ve referred to each flower with the name most commonly used in the shop. This varies from the Latin to the common names so apologies to the purist horticulturalists out there.

Spring (March & April)
Anemones*, Black Iris, Blossom, Daffodils*, Forsythia*, Fritillaria, Forget me Not, Foxglove, Freesia*, Genista* (Broom), Grape hyacinths, Hellebore, Hyacinth*, Iris*, Lilac*, Lily of the Valley, Magnolia, Mimosa*, Narcissi*, Pussy Willow*, Ranunculus*, Snowflakes, Scillas, Tulips*, Viburnum opulus* (Guelder rose), Violets.

Early Summer (May & June)
Astilbe*, Allium*, Alchemilla mollis*, Aquilegia, Achillea, Brodea, Delphinium*, Hydrangea*, Larkspur*, Lily of the Valley, Lisianthus*, Nigella (Love in the Mist), Peonies*, Ranunculus*, Snapdragon*, Solomons Seal* (Polygonatum), Scabious, Stock*, Viburnum opulus* (Guelder rose).

The most important thing to me about all of these flowers is the fact that they’re not around all year long. If they were, would our love affair be so strong? I don’t believe for a second it would.

Please do leave a comment to let me know your favourites, tell me I’ve missed something, or ask a question about a party or event you’d like to arrange flowers for.

Becky

Florence’s Florals: The V-Day Edition

This afternoon, it’s one of my favourite monthly posts, Becky Hay from Blossom is back with some most beautiful florals for V-day or in fact any other special day that takes yourfancy. Book mark it, forward it on to your loved one, or to anyone else who needs some gift giving/brownie point achieving advice. :)

In my world, February is a month dominated by St. Valentine, sadly not because my husband whisks me away to spend the month in Paris. It’s one week of the year in the shop when the pressure to get it right is immense. No other day comes close to instilling so much panic in men. What to purchase to convey the correct sentiment?

The red rose doesn’t reach my list of favourite flowers, and I know I’m not alone. The most popular Valentine bouquet at Blossom doesn’t include red roses, something I’m rather proud of my customers for! I’m not saying that the premium red roses aren’t very beautiful or romantic. They most definitely are, but they don’t suit everyone.

Whilst I’m sure that Rebecca will be taking care of some non-floral gifts for Valentine’s day, I thought I’d put a floral wish list together providing some alternatives to the red rose. Hopefully it will include a gift that you will find a little more individual. You could always forward a link to your significant others….there’s nothing like a little nudge in the right direction.

And if Valentine’s Day isn’t for you, please bear with me this month. You could always replace the ‘V’ word with ‘Birthday’ for the rest of the post. Regular service will resume in March.

For something truly British and seasonal:
This Limited Edition Green Velvet Luxury Valentine’s bouquet from the Tregothnan estate in Cornwall just shouts spring with some unusual ingredients.

One of my all-time favourite flowers….50 stems of Cornish Anemones grown and picked by Clowance nurseries – With their jewel tones and furry black centres, no flower is exactly the same.

For the keen cook:
A Kitchen Herb Bouquet from the Tregothnan estate in Cornwall will last for ages in a jug on the kitchen window sill or could be hung upside down to dry in a warm spot.

For the keen gardener:
A beautifully fragrant rose plant from David Austin. You do need a sunny spot in your garden for success with these. How about ‘Wollerton Old Hall’, ‘Eglantyne’, or ‘Gertrude Jekyll’?

A book on growing cut flowers, and a selection of seed packets of flowers with romantic names such as ‘love-in-the-mist’, ‘forget-me-not’, and ‘sweet pea’.

For the outdoor type:
A Snowdrop day out – these beautiful flowers carpet woodlands in February and offer the perfect backdrop for a romantic walk. Countryfile magazine has chosen their top 5 snowdrop gardens or find a garden near you using this guide.

For the very extravagant:
Not just one bouquet of scented garden roses, but a bouquet subscription from The Real Flower Company – There are some serious brownie points attached to this gift.

For the wo/man who almost forgot:
I beg you to not stop off at the petrol station on the way home but instead use The Good Florist Guide to find your nearest quality florist and call them directly. It’s more than likely they’ll be able to come to the rescue at the very last minute….we always do!

And finally, if my Valentine is reading, you know how much I love a snowdrop, or how about one of these…. ; )

Xx

Florence’s Florals: Spring Bulbs

This Tuesday, it’s Florence’s florals, our monthly column by Becky Hay of Blossom with a post that is guaranteed to brighten up this cold January day…

A little late in the month, but Happy New Year to you all. Today I’d like to help you all brighten up a dark January day with the promise of what’s just around the corner… Spring.

Spring bulb flowers such as Hyacinth and Narcissi look good, smell divine, flower for twice as long as a cut flower if they’re left on the bulb, and are extremely wallet friendly. They’re also fat free, perfect for January!

If you have only two pennies, spend the first on bread and the other on hyacinths for your soul.

–Arab Proverb

In October, Rebecca wrote a post on planting bulbs outdoors. If like me however, you’re not one for planning ahead, here’s how to bring bulbs into your home right now.

Pot grown bulbs:
Pots of growing bulbs in compost are currently available to buy from all good florists, garden centres and large supermarkets. The most commonly available are Hyacinths, in pots of 3 bulbs, usually in blue, pink, lilac or white. Other favourites are Narcissi (mini daffodils), Muscari (grape hyacinths), Crocus, Snowdrops, and mini Iris.

You can leave the bulbs you’ve bought in the plastic pot and just pop that directly into a container at home for display. Teapots, mixing bowls, vases, mugs, and jugs are all good shapes.

Alternatively, you can take the bulbs out of the plastic pots and break them up to fit them into smaller receptacles. The bulbs are really tough so don’t worry about tearing the roots apart to squeeze them in.

I like to cover the top of the bulbs with moss. This is available from good florists or for free from the woodlands (if you’re prepared to take a scraper and a carrier bag out on a walk with you)

Turn the container regularly so that the light gets to all sides of the bulbs. This also stops them growing at funny angles. The warmer your house, the faster they will grow. A drizzle of water now and then will be sufficient. Don’t leave them sitting in a boggy pool of compost.

Troubleshooting:
Once Hyacinths are in full flower, they can become top heavy and start drooping. Rather than using ugly cane supports to tie the stems up, collect some broken twiggy branches which look much more natural and will support the stems just as well, (see above). They also add interest when the bulbs aren’t in flower. Alternatively, cut the flowering stems off and pop them in a little vase of water to enjoy their last few days.

Some people can find the scent of hyacinths overpowering, the blue ones have the strongest smell while the white are a little less heady.

Aftercare:
All bulbs can be planted out in the garden once you’ve finished enjoying them inside. Narcissi are the hardiest and are likely top flower again year on year. Hyacinths never flower as well second time round so don’t feel too guilty about putting them in the compost bin.

Tips for enjoying cut spring flowers:
Nothing beats a simple jug of daffodils. Rather than mixing them with anything else, just pop a few twigs amongst them to break up the solid mass of yellow.

If you buy cut hyacinths, avoid cutting the stems as you would with other flowers. This is because hyacinths usually have the cleaned bulb still attached and this will help the flowers last longer in the water.

Change the vase water regularly. Spring bulb flowers leak sap into the water which encourages bacteria to grow rapidly, reducing the vase life of the flowers.
Tulips continue to grow even after they’ve been cut. This is why after a day or two in a vase, they start to droop. When this happens, wrap the tulips up tightly in a piece of newspaper and re-cut the stems at an angle. Pop them into a vase of clean cold water and let them drink for a couple of hours whilst wrapped up. They should stand upright again when they’re unwrapped.

I hope this inspires you all to get a little Spring in your lives this weekend. It’s amazing what a tiny splash of nature can do.

Becky x