Florence’s Food: Raspberry and Amaretti Crunch Cake

Becky is here today with a fab cake recipe I asked her to share after she brought it round to me when Bea arrived. Along with being delicious it’s also quite sophisticated, yet she reliably informs me, easy to make. Perfect to impress friends when time is short and seasonal for these last days of summer…

Florence Finds, Michelle Kelly, Pocketful of Dreams

I bookmarked this recipe for raspberry amaretti crunch cake just before I became a Mum after enjoying a slice in a cafe on one of my many maternity leave cake dates. I searched online for a recipe and this BBC Good Food one popped up first. What I love the most about using any Good Food recipe is how heavily they are rated. As time is so precious, I’m no longer prepared to waste it cooking or baking something that could turn out to be a flop. I love the fact that you can search only for 5 star rated recipes and I find the comments section underneath each recipe is a great help for tips and suggestions.

With this recipe, for example, there were a lot of comments suggesting that an extra egg was needed, as well as a lot longer in the oven. So, first attempt, I added an extra egg and just patiently kept checking the cake until my skewer came out clean. It’s a very simple, all in one mix which takes very little effort to prepare but tastes great.

A week after baking this for Rebecca to celebrate Bea’s arrival, we collected some wild raspberries on a family dog walk so made the cake again using half the quantities and baked it in a loaf tin. It turned out just as good.

Love,
Becky

PS Read more from Becky here

First Time Mum: The Early Days

Today, Becky is back with another update on her journey as a new Mum. When Becky first sent me this post she told me she had left a few paragraphs out as she didn’t want to scare any mums-to-be with the changes inevitably ahead. I asked her to send me them and we eventually agreed to include them here. Thankfully, these days the challenges of motherhood are more openly discussed along with the inherent joys and so I dont think some of the feelings Becky experienced will come as a shock to many, but if you are expecting and feel like today is not the day for a dose of reality, then feel free to skip down to her tips for getting thorough the first few weeks – about halfway down the page.

During the first few hazy days of motherhood, most people tell you that the first 2 weeks are the hardest but to enjoy every minute of it. I found it difficult to understand at the time but now, on the other side of the first three months, I totally get it. I think Mother Nature’s memory loss trick has a lot to answer for, but as I fought back the tears whilst packing Connie’s newborn clothes away recently, I realised that they are tiny for the shortest snippet of time. Blink and you’ve missed it.

Being a new mum is amazing in so many ways, but it’s also a time when you feel an enormous pressure to feel completely over the moon with life. I know that not everyone feels like that as not only is it really tough physically and emotionally, I think many new mums, me included, can feel completely overwhelmed by the responsibility of getting it right. No matter how many times you tell yourself that your life is going to change forever while you’re pregnant, the actual reality of it in the early days is mind blowing. All of a sudden you realise you are never going to be the person you were ever again. There were moments when I felt as if I was mourning the loss of my previous self but also feeling guilty for thinking it at the same time as Connie was everything I’d asked for. This was a post that I read, on Renegade Mothering, that I really identified with.

Most importantly, you must trust your instinct. Even in the first few days of motherhood when you think you haven’t a clue about the best way to care for your baby, just believe in yourself. You will know your baby better than any midwife or health visitor. You will be given ‘helpful’ advice from everyone you speak to. Most of it will be conflicting and everyone will suddenly have an opinion. I’d suggest quietly taking on board what they say and then doing things the way that you feel suits you and your baby. I was given some terrible advice by a health visitor and breastfeeding counsellor when I sought support in the early days. I knew deep down that it wasn’t the right advice for Connie and I but I didn’t have the confidence to believe that I knew better. As a result, I followed their advice and fell to pieces for a week. Thankfully my Mum was able to come to my rescue and we got back on track doing things the way we’d been doing them from the start. It was a tough lesson in self belief.

For today’s post, I wanted to share some of the things that helped us through those tough early days and hopefully, they might make it all seem a little more manageable.

EATING
During the later stages of pregnancy, start cooking in batches to stock your freezer with home cooked meals that are easy to re-heat. This is the most useful thing I did on my maternity leave.

SLEEPING
Sleep when your baby sleeps – even if you have a house full of visitors. Newborns don’t know night from day and need to feed every couple of hours.

It’s common for babies to go on feeding frenzies at night time (called cluster feeding). Connie regularly fed until 4.30am. After the first few nights, I was starting to struggle as I’d been staying up with her watching TV, reading or online. On day 6, a midwife suggested I try to keep night as restful as possible even if I wasn’t sleeping and she showed me how to safely feed in bed. This was the best piece of advice I was given. It saved me from becoming nocturnal and eventually, your baby will start to recognise the difference between the bright, noisy day, and dark hushed night.

For settling your baby, I cannot recommend this advice enough. We also used a hot water bottle to warm the moses basket before placing Connie into it. White noise is also your best friend. There are white noise apps available which we used regularly, along with the hairdryer!

Make sure you’re clued up on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). You’ll find everything you need to know on The Lullaby Trust website

The long nights can get very lonely and overwhelming. Remember that everything seems better in the daylight.

SUPPORT
If you’ve attended any ante natal groups and classes and have met new mums to be, try and suggest setting up a Facebook group so you can all keep in touch. It’s invaluable to have an instant support network of people who are going through almost exactly the same thing. I regularly posted questions in the middle of the night and got a response within minutes.

Ask your visitors to run errands, help with housework, bring meals etc. Play to their strengths and you should have all bases covered.

And finally, a few things I was grateful for…
Comfy loungewear – treat yourself to some nice pyjamas and a dressing gown for home rather than the hospital – something you don’t mind visitors seeing you in.

A baby swing/ bouncy chair to give you 5 minutes in the shower when your partner has returned to work.

A minimal make up bag and speedy way to style your hair.

A repertoire of songs you can sing to your baby – 10 green bottles is always a good starting point.

So readers, do you have any advice to share that got you through those newborn days?

Love,
Becky
x

PS Some of Becky’s previous posts:

First Time Mum: Changing bags

Hurrah! Becky is back with more of her fascinating insights to being a first time mum. I know that lots of new mums don’t want to lose their style identity along with their sleep when a new arrival comes along, so finding the perfect changing bag that is both functional and fashionable can be a difficult task. Thankfully Becky has done the leg work for you and shares her finds today…

During the later stages of my pregnancy, the piece of kit I was most looking forward to purchasing was a changing bag. After all, having a baby is a genuinely valid excuse to purchase a new bag.

The bag had to fulfil 3 criteria:
1. My taste
2. Less importantly, but a definite consideration was my husband’s taste, and
3. It had to be practical to take everywhere, every day.

Here’s a roundup of my favourites…..

1. Ashley, coral // 2. Elizabeth, leather // 3. Tania Bee // 4. Firenze // 5. Coromandel // 6. Isabella, leather // 7. Amanda Quilted // 8. Satchel

When my husband and I couldn’t agree on a ‘purpose built’ bag within our budget, I widened my search to create our own changing bag. I’d been given a separate changing mat and put the nappy change essentials into a washbag which could be thrown into any of my existing large handbags. Then I treated myself to a new bag in the sales and we bought my husband this.


Bottle warmer and matching changing mat, BabyMel // Jonathan Adler for Skip Hop changing mat // Kissing stags toiletry bag>/span>

Both bags sit packed and ready to go in the hallway. We just transfer the mat and washbag into whichever bag we’re taking out. I can’t say that accessorising my outfit is back on my radar yet but I’m sure with time it will be, and I’ll be pleased to be able to swap and change the bag with my mood and outfit.

One last thing… a tip I was given was to join the Boots parenting club. You get more advantage card points when you buy baby items (nappies, cotton wool etc. all included) and you get a free changing bag for joining. The bag itself isn’t great, but it includes a really large and lightweight changing mat which you can stuff into any bag or take away with you on holiday.

So readers, do you have a favourite changing bag? Any tips for choosing the right one? Or what are your essential or unusual changing bag contents?

Much love,

Becky x

Florence’s Gift Guide #6: Newborns and New Mums

This morning, Becky is back with a gift guide that although it’s timely, will remain useful to you guys 365 days of the year. When my friends have babies I’m always unsure what to buy. I want to buy them something practical and I usually want to spoil mum too. I was pleased to see many of my favourite purchases on this list that Becky has complied with the aid of her new mum friends. I hope it also gives you confidence to give the ultimate gift, that of time, whether it’s helping out at home as Becky suggests or spending time cooking something lovely for them.

Before I had a baby, I never knew what would be the most useful and appreciated gift to buy friends with newborns. Now I know, and as it’s the season for gift giving, I thought I’d share some present ideas with you.

To assist me with this post, I asked my trusted group of new mum friends for their suggestions. Everything comes with a personal recommendation.

For Baby

  • Clothes are always much appreciated but it seems most people give 3-6 month sizes. It’s nice to receive newborn basics too. Vests and sleepsuits with built in scratch mits are very useful and difficult to have too many of. If you’re going to buy for when the baby is a little older, make sure you consider the seasons. Cardigans are essential for a winter baby but not a summer one. And ‘Sock Ons‘ are an essential accompaniment to any pair of socks
  • Baby Bundler – Great for quick, popper free night time nappy changes
  • A bouncy chair or musical cot mobile – essential for Mum to grab a shower. The mobile also helps to calm during nappy changes.
  • A fleece wrap or footmuff for a car seat – saves having to wake a sleeping baby to put a coat on
  • Ewan the sheep lullaby soother
  • Grobag 
  • A music box – can act as a distraction for nappy changes
  • Extra large muslin wraps – indispensable for spillages, swaddling, and great for your modesty if you’re breastfeeding in public
  • A Cuddledry bath towel can help to make bath time a little easier
  • Most Jellycat toys are suitable from birth and have been very popular
  • Sophie the giraffe – for when they start teething
  • Beautifully illustrated classic books make great lasting gifts for children as well as providing pleasure for parents.
  • Baby hand and footprint ink set
  • Tommee Tippee Closer To Nature Healthcare And Grooming Kit 

For Mum

  • A homemade dinner in a disposable container (pies, casseroles, and pasta bakes are great options) or a homemade cake
  • A good book or magazine accompanied by a clip on book light – great for those lonely night time feeds
  • A scented candle
  • A luxurious bath or shower treat that can be enjoyed in 5 minutes off
  • A pedicure – it doesn’t have to be professional, a home pedicure from a friend would be equally appreciated
  • The offer of help with the housework

So readers, I’d love to hear what your favourite newborn/ new mum gifts are for giving and receiving.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, and the happiest and healthiest of New Years.

Love 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: 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: 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 Manchester Afternoon Tea

Last weekend was the Florence Finds afternoon tea in Manchester and what an afternoon it was. Despite some people feeling distinctly worse for the wear from the Saturday night before I was beyond honoured that people hauled themselves out of bed to support me and Florence Finds – thanks guys :)



Bottom Image: Top right, Laura Lawson. Bottom, Myself and Mahj.
All Images by Laura and Peter Lawson of Lawson Photography

It’s ironic that one of the things I fear the most about the blog, its diversity, is actually the thing that marks it out for readers as different, and also acts as a benchmark for the readers. I sat amongst Doctors, Florists, Photographers, stay at home Mums and a dairy farmer for good measure! Readers journeyed from as close as Didsbury, to as far afield as Shropshire, Halifax and Nottingham – I was blown away.


Top, Ruth. Middle, Laura and Vicky of Bride and Chic. Bottom, Elissa from Magpie Miller.
All Images by Laura and Peter Lawson of Lawson Photography

Topics covered included maternity benefits, how to change a tap washer or fix a toilet, house prices and of course nail polish, with everything in-between. I love you guys for being so intelli-fabulous.


Vicky and Fran (top), Zan, Mahj, Me and Becky Hay from Blossom (bottom).

Laura and Peter Lawson.
All Images by Laura and Peter Lawson of Lawson Photography

Laura and Peter Lawson were roped in to bring their cameras along so I owe them a massive thank you for tirelessly snapping and capturing it all for me to share with you. We held the tea at the Great John Street Hotel, part of the Eclectic Hotel group and one of my favourite places in the city. not only was the decor fabulous, but the afternoon tea was delicious and the service brilliantly organised – I can’t wait to organise the next one with them. If you’re ever in Manchester and want to treat yourself to staying somewhere nice, definitely check them out. The rooms are seriously decadent.


Elissa, Mahj and Becky.
All Images by Laura and Peter Lawson of Lawson Photography

Thank you so much to everyone for coming and a big shout out to Jillian who missed her train from Edinburgh. Roll on the next round of teas… I just need a little break to recover first!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS have a look in the gallery below for more images – Thanks Laura and Pete again!

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