Sunflowers must mean Summer!

Sunflowers. They’re spectacular, summery, and yellower than yellow. 

The sunflower, with its tall stem and big, sunny face, is probably one of the most recognised flowers in the world. In fact, let’s be honest, no flower is more famous than the sunflower. It’s the Kim Kardashian of the flower world. They have been used as a symbol for gods, of summer, and of various environmental movements. Though native to the Americas, the seeds of the sunflower have spread around the world and planted themselves in the soil and hearts of many countries. It’s prized not only for its friendly beauty but because just about every part of the sunflower can be used for something.

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A brief history of sunflowers

Helianthus is the name of the plant’s genus. It translates perfectly literally from the Greek helios means ‘sun’ and Anthos means ‘flower’ and also because the glorious yellow heads resemble the sun (true), or because of the widespread belief that the blooming heads turn to follow the sun as it tracks across the sky (false, sadly – they face east).

There are in fact over 70 species of helianthus in the family Asteraceae, all native to America. The common sunflower helianthus annus was first brought to Europe in the 16th century, and the seeds and oil have been popular cooking ingredients ever since.

More importantly, of course, sunflowers are beautiful and for hundreds of years have generally made our greyish, rainy island a sunnier place. Not to mention a pretty big muse for old Van Gogh.

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Native Americans

Sunflowers were one of the important crops grown in Native American gardens. Some people call sunflowers the “fourth sister,” in reference to the Three Sisters corn, bean, and squash. Sunflower seeds were an important food crop and source of oil for cooking and cosmetics, and different sunflower varieties were cultivated to produce purple and yellow dyes. Sunflower oil was also believed to treat skin ailments, and sunflowers had a variety of medicinal uses in different tribes. Some Native American people also saw sunflowers as a symbol of courage, so that warriors would carry sunflower cakes to battle with them or a hunter would sprinkle sunflower powder on his clothing to keep his spirit up.

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The Language of Flowers

Victorians thought the sunflower signified a bit of pride, possibly because the taller varieties loom over most other flowers. They also thought that, in the language of flowers,  sunflowers symbolised appreciation and gratitude. So when you get your box next week, think of it as me thanking you for being such lovely customers.

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Van Gogh

The Sunflowers is one of the most popular paintings in the National Gallery. It is the painting that is most often seen on cards, posters, mugs, tea-towels and stationery. It was also the picture that Van Gogh was most proud of. If you’re feeling as sunflowery as I am this week why not go down to the National Gallery and marvel at his wonderful picture!

So there you have it. Sunflowers are not only wonderful to have in your home but also the most versatile flower out there! Just don’t get the urge to chop off your ear when looking at them.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream!

Midsummer is one of the longest-standing celebrations in human history. Although it passes us by in the UK, for many cultures it is as significant as Christmas.

Midsummer is one of the longest-standing celebrations in human history. Although it passes us by in the UK, for many cultures it is as significant as Christmas. Just like Christmas, it has its roots in Paganism, with one marking the longest days of the year and the other marking the shortest. Also like Christmas, it combined with a Christian festival (in this case St. John’s Day on June 24th) to become a kind of bumper party – and who doesn’t love a party?

In this country the word Midsummer makes people think of a murderous village or Shakespeare’s fairies and Mechanicals. As we approach the longest days of the year, I thought it would be fun to showcase some of the most interesting Midsummer celebrations from across Europe. 

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Latvia 

They take Midsummer very seriously in Latvia. They also do it brilliantly: think bonfires, beer and cheese (what more do you need?). Like most European countries with pagan traditions, the festival also includes plenty of mandatory dancing and songs. Men called Janis (John) are made to wear crowns of oak leaves. Obviously. 

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Austria 

In Austria, it is traditional to mark the Summer Solstice with the lighting of beacons across the mountains. These fires are said to be an offering to the earth. These days you can use cable-cars, drones or Google Images to get a good snapshot of the tradition, which does produce a rather magical effect. 

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Portugal 

In Portugal, they celebrate Midsummer (St. John’s Day) as part of a succession of Saint’s days. The festival is most prevalent in Porto. Among the more bizarre rituals, participants can carry flowering garlic and hit each other with them… on the head. This is supposed to represent the chastising of the rebellious young St. John. 

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Russia 

In Russia there is a Midsummer tradition whereby couples jump over bonfires holding hands. If they let go as they jump the relationship is doomed to fail. Cheery. 

There is also a tradition of making flower garlands – now you’re talking my language – and floating them in water. Their movements are interpreted as predictions of the future. 

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UK 

Aside from popping to see a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream we don’t have many widespread Midsummer traditions in the UK. Well, apart from if you’re a Druid, of curse. Druids and Pagans traditionally head to Stonehenge to see the perfectly aligned sunrise on the Summer Solstice, linking them with revellers across thousands of years who have done exactly the same. 

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Sweden and Scandinavia

Nobody does Midsummer like the Scandinavians. In Sweden, the festival is the second most important holiday of the year. The iconic symbol of Midsummer (Midsommar) is is the  Maypole, which is covered in flowers and foliage and placed in a public place. Traditional foods and drink are consumed (in great quantities, of course) and often traditional clothes can be worn. The party lasts all day and all night, as long as the schnapps keeps flowing.

Traditionally, children must collect seven flowers and sleep with them under their pillow – this will help them to dream about the love of their lives. 

In Norway and Finland they celebrate in very similar ways. In addition, they light bonfires as is traditional all over the continent. In Norway plants and herbs are thought to have magical properties. 

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These are just a few of the most fun and strange Midsummer celebrations from across the continent. Reading about the partying makes me wish I’d booked a trip to Scandinavia to take part! For all of us who are stuck here over Midsummer (and hopefully enjoying lovely weather…) we can always bring a little summery magic into our own homes. If you’re missing some Midsummer madness then be sure to get a delivery of Freddie’s Flowers to brighten the place up! 

If you’d like to turn your home into the best flowery midsummer spot, why not sign up and have some Freddie’s Flowers delivered to your place? It’s only £24 a pop and I think you’ll be quite delighted.

How to make a Flower Crown!

How to make a flower headband…
First things first, what do you need to make this wonderful DIY flower crown?

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How to make a flower headband…

First things first, what do you need to make this wonderful DIY flower crown?

  • Well flowers of course and some thin wire.
  • Start by trimming your flowers so the stems are 1-2 inches long.
  • Measure your head with your chosen wire – any bendable, thin wire will do.
  • Now trim your wire to the rough lengths of your noggin.
  • The twists help it keep its shape!

Are you ready? Let’s start crown making!

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Take your first flower and place it along the circle.

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With a new piece of wire, wrap one end gentle around the stem a few times.

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Take your next flower and line it up with the last wire loop. Oh hello flower crown!

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REPEAT…

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In no time at all your crown will start to look a lot like this!

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And then this!

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Well done you! You’ve made yourself the perfect flower crown. Perfect for festival season or summer garden party vibes. Now you know how to do it you can show your friends and family how to make a flower hair garland.

If you’d like to turn your home into the best flowery spot, why not sign up and have some Freddie’s Flowers delivered to your place? It’s only £24 a pop and I think you’ll be quite delighted.

My aquatic faves from ChelSEA in Bloom!

Over 90 shops, restaurants, hotels (and even one dental practice) up and down Sloane Street, Duke of York Square, Pavilion road and the Kings Road jazzed up their shop fronts and windows this week to be crowned the winner of the Cadogen Chelsea in Bloom festival.

Chelsea in Bloom

If you managed to get past all the Instagram influencers who seem to swarm the area of Chelsea more than usual this time of year, you would have got a glimpse of the latest Chelsea in Bloom installations. And this year, the florists have gone all out!

Over 90 shops, restaurants, hotels (and even one dental practice) up and down Sloane Street, Duke of York Square, Pavilion road and the Kings Road jazzed up their shop fronts and windows this week to be crowned the winner of the Cadogen Chelsea in Bloom festival. Even the local rickshaws were dressed up.

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The theme this year was ‘Under the Sea’ which transformed Chelsea to Chel-SEA! Highlighting the importance of conserving and protecting the fascinating underwater world that is the sea, and all living things that call it home.

Once you get past the shoals of people taking selfies in front of the displays then watch out for floral octopus tentacles, allium, sea anemones and sea horses made from hydrangeas.

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So why the under the water theme this year?

They have partnered with charity Plastic Oceans UK, whose aim is to stop plastic pollution reaching the oceans within a generation. WHAT A GREAT CAUSE! With our boxes being nearly completely plastic-free I could walk around with a clear conscience. However, with single-use plastic being such a horrific problem I thought it was the best theme to raise awareness and money that Chelsea in Bloom has ever done!

Amazing London florists and flower companies from all over team up with the Chelsea shops and get their creative on! And they really don’t do it half-heartedly either!

Here are a few of my faves:

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Free people – Free people’s design by Worm London hit the nail on the head with this beautifully understated yet effective design of a washed up seascape. They used fishermen’s nets and an exposed floral coral reef vibe. Earthy pinks and browns with a lot of reeds and blooms. Although it was simply beautiful it was meant to represent the dying reefs all over the world.

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The Marshall Wace – Their installation for this year’s Chelsea In Bloom is a collaboration with ‘Surfers Against Sewage’. They highlighted the damage of single-use plastic and other waste materials are doing to our oceans and marine wildlife. The installation includes rubbish collected from “The Big Beach Clean”; an annual event organised by ‘Surfers Against Sewage’. The sea has been made with fresh hydrangeas, gypsophila and limonium. Personally, I thought this was the best! It hit home on how we really need to clean up our single-use plastic act!

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Club Monaco – This was a hybrid, mixed-media installation combining sculpture, painting and floristry. Fabric covered rock formations in warm pinks, coral and light sand was used inside and outside of the windows. Large commissioned paintings sat in each of the windows providing the backdrop; an abstract oceanic landscape of pinkish hues. Clusters of freshly cut florals and plants create coral-like arrangements across the seabed rockery.

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Hackett- Their display this year was following the inspiration of twenty thousand leagues under the sea, with the Hackett window featuring a full giant octopus with large tentacles sprawling through the sea windows inside and outside of the building, featuring a yellow submarine and deep-sea divers. Alongside fish, starfish and all other deep-sea creatures and plants, visitors also had the opportunity to have their picture taken amongst the scheme and become part of the scene themselves, wrapped in the tentacle of the octopus. Fun and actually kind of scary!

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It’s really worth the trip!

There were so many each one better than the last. If you’ve never been to Chelsea in Bloom I suggest you whack it in your diary for next year because it really is incredible. Seeing how innovative florist can get with their flowers blows your mind and also with this years theme being such a hot and serious topic at the moment! Stop that single-use plastic people!

If you’d like to turn your home into the best flowery spot, why not sign up and have some Freddie’s Flowers delivered to your place? It’s only £24 a pop and I think you’ll be quite delighted.

 

Chelsea Flower Show, Darling!

Freshly cut grass fills the air and the smell of flowers stops you in your tracks. This can only mean one thing… Chelsea Flower Show is here!

London in bloom!

It’s that wonderful time of your year again where mother nature has cranked it up a couple of gears and everywhere you look is prettier than the last. Freshly cut grass fills the air and the smell of flowers stops you in your tracks. This can only mean one thing… Chelsea Flower Show is here!

Chelsea Flower Show aka Mecca to all flower lovers. And guess what? We’re going to be there this year!

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So why is Chelsea Flower Show such a big deal to budding horticulturists?

For gardeners and garden designers, Chelsea has several attractions. First and foremost, it is an absolute spectacle! Here the finest, most inspirational designers flaunt their knowledge and verve. The most extravagant, the most beautiful gardens are on view at Chelsea rather than the Hampton Court or the RHS Cardiff shows. Green-fingered suburbanites can marvel, and return to their gardens filled with excitement and wonderment. As well as providing ideas, the show offers practical help. One hundred and six exhibitors sell everything from seeds to sit-on lawnmowers. It really is the show of all shows!

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Fun facts about the Chelsea Flower Show:

The first ever Chelsea flower show was in 1862 and was originally called the Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show… Boy, what a mouthful!

It started out as a single tent and made a whopping profit of £88. It wasn’t until 1913 that it moved to its current turf in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

In 1932 the rain at the Show was so severe that a summer house display fell to pieces. Sounds more like the Chelsea Flower Flow!

In the 1950s, the Duke of Windsor – formerly King Edward VIII, was taken with a fashionable rockery and had the whole exhibit relocated to his private estate. He was so enthused that he even helped to move it himself.

The Great Pavilion is roughly 11,775 square metres or 2.90 acres, enough room to park 500 London buses.

Of the firms that exhibited at the first Show in 1913, three can still be seen at the Show today: McBean’s Orchids, Blackmore & Langdon and Kelways Plants.

Despite the First World War, the show still went ahead between 1914 and 1916. It was however cancelled during the Second World War because the War Office needed the land for an anti-aircraft site. Many people were unsure whether the show would be resumed, but it eventually returned in 1947.

One of the most controversial gardens in the show’s history was Paul Cooper’s ‘Cool and Sexy’ garden in 1994, which featured a grille which blew jets of air up the skirts of unsuspecting women. Good luck trying to do that in 2019, Paul!

Each year the show welcomes 157,000 visitors over the five days.

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Have you got your ticket? What green-fingered questions have you got lined up to ask? I can’t wait to have a look at all the incredible creations. It’s the best inspiration for my boxes!

If you’d like to turn your home into the best flowery spot, why not sign up and have some Freddie’s Flowers delivered to your place? It’s only £24 a pop and I think you’ll be quite delighted.

 

The flora and fauna that inspired Shakespeare!

As we approach his Birthday (April 23rd), I find myself thumbing over some Shakespeare for my literary floral hit. Sure, he might have tried to “compare thee to a summer’s day” but spring’s his season

“These flowers are like the pleasures of the world” – Cymbeline

We all love combining our passions: cheese and wine; bed and breakfast; Netflix and relaxing. I’m always looking for ways to combine my love of flowers with other interests. Flowers and Literature? Sounds perfect, doesn’t it. 

As we approach his Birthday (April 23rd), I find myself thumbing over some Shakespeare for my literary floral hit. Sure, he might have tried to “compare thee to a summer’s day” but spring’s his season, and there’s no better time to look at the many, many references to English flora and fauna in the plays and poetry of our National Bard. 

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A few favourite quotes by Bill.

“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – Romeo and Juliet 

Shakespeare’s most famous Tragedy is awash with romance and with flowers – it goes to show that in the Elizabethan period flowers were as much a part of the dating scene as they are now. The line above is often quoted, pointing out that, just because Romeo is a rival Montague, it doesn’t mean she’s any less lovely to Juliet Capulet.  By using a rose – the finest of all romantic flowers – Shakespeare really does let us know this is a timeless love for the ages. “He wears the rose of youth upon him” is how Shakespeare puts it in Anthony and Cleopatra – our national flower being an emblem of vitality and youthful passion. This is hot-headed, energetic romance. “Of all the flowers, me thinks a rose is best.” He writes in Two Noble Kinsmen. Swoon. 

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“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, 

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, 

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream 

The riotous woodland comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream is another play that is stuffed-full of floral life. From the distilled flower-juice love potion to the names of the Faries, flowers crop up everywhere. But, this description of Fairy Queen Titania’s sleeping place really does use flowers to create a picture of luscious beauty and serenity. Given the fact there were limited sets and props back in the 16th and 17th Century, Shakespeare has to paint a picture with words, brilliantly creating the impression of a forest carpeted with fabulous flowers. 

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“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance: 

pray you, love, remember: and there is pansies, 

that’s for thoughts. 

There’s a daisy: I would give you some violets, 

but they withered all when my father died.” – Hamlet 

Flowers aren’t just used to denote love or rich forestry. Hamlet’s sometime admirer Ophelia hands flowers out during the scene in which she is said to go ‘mad’, each one representing a different part of her emotional turmoil. Rosemary to remember the dead, pansies represent thoughts. Fennel and columbine (not mentioned here) are said to denote infidelity and falseness. Daisies here represent innocence and violets are supposed to represent faithfulness (which is why they have withered away!). Shakespeare gives us a glimpse into the countless meanings and symbolisms these different flowers had at the time – and some even still carry today! 

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“When daffodils begin to peer, 

With heigh! The doxy over the dale, 

Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year; 

For the red blood reigns in the Winter’s pale” – A Winter’s Tale 

Nobody was better at associating the passing of the seasons with our rich floral life than Shakespeare. “At Christmas I no more desire a rose, than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth” as how he put in in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Each season has its particular pleasures, but in A Winter’s Tale the sight of spring is chief among these. We’ve had daffodils in our boxes recently and I can certainly confirm that the sight of these yellow beauties as they “begin to peer” does indeed pep you up! “Sweet o’ the year” indeed. 

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“To gild refined gold, to paint the lily

To throw perfume on the violet…

Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.” – King John 

 Forgive me if I am gilding the lily (to use the misquote..!) but there’s room for one or two more. Shakespeare recognises the fantastic richness and luxury of flowers, seen here in King John. Lilies don’t need to be painted, they’re bright enough. Violets don’t need perfume. Just put them in your house and enjoy… and we at Freddie’s Flowers can certainly help with that side of things. 

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One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” – Troilus and Cressida 

Well, we can all agree on that. Adding a bit of flower-power to your life – through a spot of Shakespeare or a Freddie’s Flowers delivery – really does soothe the soul. So this April 23rd I heartily recommend you raise a glass to our national writer and his fantastic, flowery work. 

Love flowers? Love Shakespeare? So do we! Make your home naturally lovely all year round by signing up for a delivery box for just £24 a pop here.

Fun ideas for your Easter table!

Fun, floral ideas on how to decorate your Easter table this Easter!

The flower bunny

As the weather changes and England shakes off its winter coat, Easter arrives to remind us of the new life that is growing in all the beautiful plants around us.

Are you starting to lose sleep over the idea of Easter? How much food to get? Is cousin Bill bringing his latest squeeze? Is there enough room? Flowers! What flowers shall I get?

Well take your panic hat off and throw it away because I am here to hold your hand and guide you through this Easter. Well, on the flower front. I can’t help if cousin Bill brings his date or not.

Easter eggs

With our arrangements this week I thought I would show you some fun ideas to spice up your Easter table or your Easter day. Not that there is anything wrong with the old classic of flowers in a vase, but just in case you wanted to add a bit of panache with your Easter.

Here are a few ideas that maybe you’ll want to try out.

Garland by name, garland by nature

Your very own Freddie’s Flower crown. With my last name being Garland I know I’ll be wearing one throughout Easter. And if you make your own please send pictures to us. We would love to see your own flower crowns. Simply made with Pink Floyd alstroemeria, Le Belle roses and pink lisianthus. Bringing a little bit of Woodstock 69 to the table.

Where is Peter Rabbit?

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Why not try this rather unique table display? Be warned, Peter Rabbit might try to gatecrash your lunch. But it would be worth it for this winning look.

Eggsellent

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Wondering what to do with your leftover eggs after breakfast? Here is a lovely idea to spice up the table to make it as Eastery as possible. Empty your old eggs, add water, make a little string nest so they don’t topple over and then hey presto! You’ve got mini egg vases. Perfect for the Easter table.

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Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Or actually, in this case, do.

Egg basket

Go out and find yourself a hen or if that’s too much faff buy some eggs. Give them a paint and add them in with some of our flowers. They will bring out your inner funky chicken when the kitchen turns into a dance floor after lunch.

Stick to something special.

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Whenever I am around and about walking Claude I always pick up things along my way. Sticks and twigs are absolutely perfect for making displays out of. A few coloured eggs, a couple of ribbons and hey-presto you have yourself a wonderful mini Easter egg tree.

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Over to you

So at the risk of sounding like a Blue Peter (rabbit) presenter, why not try it out at home and come up with Easter ideas for your table. If you do try any of these out or your own ideas then please do send us a picture as we would love to see our flowers being all clever and brightening up your home this Easter.

For your Easter floral look why not Sign up to a weekly box of Freddie’s Flowers for just £24 a pop. We deliver a different selection each week for you to arrange. They’re fresh from the grower, too!

Dizzy for Daffodils!

If I had to pick a favourite flower, I think it would be the daffodil. Does that make me a narcissus?

So without any doubt, my favourite flower is the daffodil. The bringer of spring, the start of a new season… the daffodil. I always think the daffodil is a very happy, excited flower. It looks more comfortable and relaxed in the garden or in a little jar on the kitchen table than any other flower like it feels completely at ease. As a finishing touch, it has bright, happy, sunny colours.

You wouldn’t think that daffodils would be so diverse. After all, they only come in a limited palette of yellow, orange, and white, and are under pretty much any tree or patch of grass anywhere at the moment.

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So let’s explore the different types:

February Gold

This is usually the first daffodil to bloom that I know of. There are probably others that are earlier, but this is the most common extra-early daff, and to me, it signals the beginning of spring, no matter what the calendar says. With this warm weather we’ve had they’ve popped out a tad early this year. And who says there is no such thing as Global warming…

Tete-a-Tete

This little cutie only grows6 inches tall. It gets along well without much special care. It’s small its fun and is the absolute perfect type of daff to put in a jar on the kitchen table or on a bedside table. Who doesn’t like waking up next to the smiling faces of yellow daffodils?

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Yellow Trumpet

These are the ones you see in every perimeter of your vision at the moment. They say you are always within a metre of a rat in London. Well at the moment you are always within a metre of at least 20 daffodils in London.

Ice Follies

After the classic, big yellow trumpet daffodils, Ice Follies is the most popular variety worldwide. The flowers are big and pearly white with a large, flat yellow cup. Like most daffs they make wonderful cut flowers, and most have a light, sweet fragrance that embodies the essence of spring.

Now you will notice in this weeks box a little yellow surprise. Yup, you’ve guessed it. I’ve given you a bunch of daffs. This variety is called ‘Great Leap Double Daffs’. They have more than one flower on each stem and are a little present from you to welcome you into the glorious season that is Spring.

I had the pleasure last week of actually going up to Lincolnshire to meet the wonderful flower grower, Tim Clay. Fields and fields of beautiful yellow daffodils everywhere. As you can see in this photo of me having the time of my life up there. Being surrounded by one of my favourite flowers is a real tick off the 2019 bucket list. Utter heaven.

Here’s a lovely video of me talking to Tim all about being a UK Flower Grower. I hope you enjoy?

Enjoy the daffodil season. It’s over quickly but it’s a beautiful one. It certainly puts a spring in my step.

For your Easter floral look why not Sign up to a weekly box of Freddie’s Flowers for just £24 a pop. We deliver a different selection each week for you to arrange. They’re fresh from the grower, too!

When the flower came for tea.

There’s more than one way to drink a cuppa, and in the depths of winter, a sweet-scented flower tea can bring back the sunshine. 

 

There’s more than one way to drink a cuppa, and in the depths of winter, a sweet-scented flower tea can bring back the sunshine. 

Forget potpourri. The best thing to do with dried flowers is drink them.  Tisanes, herbal infusions have been warming cockles for thousands of years.

The idea isn’t that strange to us, a pot of mint tea after dinner, chamomile tea before bed. These soothing beverages have stayed with us, while we ditched other more outlandish tisanes in favour of cups of good, strong black tea. But at this time of year, when the weather is grey and the days are dark, floral tisanes can breathe a bit of summer warmth back into our lives. And with flower beds being a bit sparse, a stock of dried edible flowers are perfect for brewing up with.

Dried Flowers Overhead

 

How to make a Tisane

The general rule is to use one tablespoon of dried flowers for every 250ml water. Don’t use boiling water. Apparently, this is a no, no. The ideal temperature is around 80°C, so stop your kettle before it boils. Steep teas for three to five minutes before straining into a cup.

Important health and safety note: before you start brewing up, remember to only make teas with edible-grade dried flowers. As tisanes have historically been used as herbal remedies, it’s best to check they won’t interfere with any medicines you’re taking or have an impact on any conditions you may have. We don’t want any lawsuits on our hands now, do we?!

Jasmine

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Jasmine tea normally means green, white or black tea scented with jasmine flowers, which has been prepared in China for thousands of years. A tisane of dried jasmine flowers is mellow and aromatic, less scented than an infusion made with the fresh flowers would be. Try combining jasmine with rose petals or a strip of fresh lemon or orange zest for extra fragrance.

 

Rose

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Everyone who has had a piece of Turkish delight knows what rose tea tastes like. Fresh, dried or distilled into rosewater, rose always delivers that full, summer garden in bloom flavour.

Traditionally rose tea is drunk to help relieve menstrual cramps, and it’s also thought to be good for sore throats, digestion and stress. Rose is brilliant for scenting black tea. Try steeping a combination of dried rose petals, black tea and lightly crushed cardamom pods and serving it with a slice of lemon.

 

Lavender

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A love-it-or-loathe-it tisane. Lavender is a flavour that doesn’t give up. Dried or fresh, that heady, bee-and-butterfly-luring scent is just as strong. For some people, it’s too much like soap. But for lavender lovers, a cup of pale blue lavender tea is perfume heaven.

Lavender is always associated with sleep, which makes lavender the perfect night-time tisane. Combine it with chamomile blooms for extra snooziness. It’s also said to be good for digestion, so try it after a meal instead of mint tea (or mix a spoonful of dried lavender in with the mint sprigs).

 

Elderflower

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The powdery smell of lacey elderflowers is the scent of spring. Elderflower tisanes capture that delicate, fruity fragrance. It’s naturally sweet and won’t become bitter if it’s left to stand, so you can confidently make a pot knowing the last cup will taste as good as the first (although be warned, it’s thought to be a laxative, so perhaps don’t drink gallons of it).

Elderflower teas have historically been used to treat coughs and cold. Add a slice of lemon, a chunk of ginger and a dash of honey for a soothing drink when you need a little relief from a scratchy throat and runny nose (that everyone seems to have at the moment).

Hops

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Hop flower tisanes have a green note to them, redolent of thick stems of field rhubarb or orange skin. A rich, juicy bitterness that increases the longer you brew the tea for. Hops have long been used as a sedative and this tea is best kept for bedtimes. Try adding a strip of orange zest to round out the flavour, and honey to take the edge off the bitterness.

 

Calendula

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More commonly known as marigold, calendula petals have a peppery, tangy flavour that translates into a savoury tisane with a hint of spice and sourness. Thought to be good for digestion, cramps and period pain, this sunshine yellow tea makes a great afternoon pick-me-up.

So there you go. All you need to know about floral teas. Eat your heart out Dry January we’ve just found a tasty and delicious way around those sober January blues!

Top florists throughout history!

With my boxes, you are all flower arrangers. I give you the flowers and you get to create and bring out your inner florist. But was there ever a time when floristry wasn’t the in thing?

With my boxes, you are all flower arrangers. I give you the flowers and you get to create and bring out your inner florist. But was there ever a time when floristry wasn’t the in thing? The answer is no. From the beginning, humans have been hunter and flower gatherers. We just can’t help it, we’ve always had a thing for flora and fauna.

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Flowers fit for a queen

The first recorded plant hunter was Queen Hatshepsut, an Egyptian pharaoh who reigned for over 20 years in the fifteenth century BC. Her reign was peaceful and prosperous, prompting a cultural renaissance that gave rise to celebrate paintings, sculptures and temples. It is thanks to these that we know of Queen Hatshepsut’s plant gathering exploits.

In the middle temple of her palace in Luxor’s Valley of Kings, are reliefs showing an expedition of five ships sent by the Queen to the land of Punt to gather exotic goods.

Earliest known flower arranging dates back to ancient Egypt to 2,500 BCE.  Egyptians were the first to cut and place flowers in a vase to decorate and add colour to their surroundings.

Egyptians were known as the first florists by trade and commissioned to place very high stylized arrangements around burials, processions, and table decorations. These florists would carefully select flowers that had a symbolic meaning with emphasis on religion.  A big seller was the garland of flowers worn by loved ones and left at the tombs.

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Reliefs showing an expedition of five ships sent by the Queen Hatshepsut

Greek & Roman

The Greeks and the Romans used flowers while incorporating herbs and olive branches with their floral design. Romans’ prefered flower was the rose, using them for dressing tables during many meals due to its overwhelming fragrance, which was known as the “Hour of Rose.”

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Europe

Floral arranging finally reaches Europe by 476 AD.  Big arrangements were popular in churches and monasteries where flowers were used for food (to eat) as well as decoration. An essential part of arranging was with herbs, which was used as a spiritual symbol in arranging.

Italy was the first in Europe to incorporate flowers in paintings, specifically in vases, thus creating a need for floral design. Adorning your balcony with different colours and petals in baskets was an inviting sign to your home.

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Moving onto my fave florist and explorer of all time:

Marianne North

Even by the standards of fearless, globe-trotting Victorians, the flower painter and tireless traveller, Marianne North was an extraordinary woman.

In an age before air travel and motor transport, she crisscrossed the globe, living and painting in Jamaica, Canada, the United States, Brazil, Tenerife, Japan, Ceylon, India, Borneo, Java, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Seychelles and Chile – all in the space of a decade and a half and on her own.

Wherever she went, and whatever the obstacles in her way (cliffs, swamps, jungle), she carried on painting her astonishing, botanically accurate, vividly coloured oil paintings of the exotic plant life she found. And virtually all of her flower paintings – some 833 – can be seen together in the Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens.

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Marianne North painting in the jungle

 

Centuries and centuries have passed, but one thing remains, flower arranging is a timeless art and will continue to be important in centuries to come. If you fancy becoming a florist, why not give my boxes a go?

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Get fresher than fresh flowers delivered to your door for £24 a pop!

Best Places in Manchester for Flower Lovers

Manchester might not have the floral reputation of Amsterdam, but I’ve spent a lot of time there recently and when not ‘avin it large I’ve discovered a world of flowers I didn’t know existed.

When you think of Manchester, what comes to mind? Football maybe, or great music. Industry, technology, Coronation Street or Old Trafford perhaps. But flowers? Surely not.

Manchester might not have the floral reputation of Amsterdam, but I’ve spent a lot of time there recently and when not ‘avin it large I’ve discovered a world of flowers I didn’t know existed. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve found.

The floral revolution

In the 19th Century, Manchester was the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution and it still has a reputation for innovation. However, like everything in my life, there is a floral connection. Manchester – and the towns of Lancashire and Cheshire – was the centre of the cotton trade, from cotton mills to processing, modern Manchester is founded on the humble cotton plant. The damp weather that Mancunians know and love actually provided the perfect climate for cotton spinning, often using Manchester inventions such as the famed Spinning Jenny spindle. In fact, the cotton flower has become an unofficial symbol of the great city.

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Manchester during the Industrial Revolution

There’s a Picadilly up North!

If you want to hark back to that era, head to Piccadilly Gardens. Created at the tail end of the Industrial Revolution, the site has long been a haven of green in the centre of the city. Between the top of Market Street and the Northern Quarter, this little spot is a great place to soak up some verdant greenery and to spot a flower or two. Added, Piccadilly Gardens is home to a great little flower market which is ideal for picking a few elements to add to a Freddie’s Flower bouquet!

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Picadilly Gardens

War of the Roses

At the Piccadilly Flower Market, you’ll be sure to find red roses. If you do, snap them up as they’re the perfect flower for the area, especially if they’re a Rosa Gallica. This rose was the inspiration for the red Lancastrian Rose, the heraldic symbol of the very local House of Lancaster. During the Wars of the Roses it was the red Lancastrians versus the Yorkists with their white rose, so if you’re flower shopping in Manchester you’re red through and through (sorry Man City fans, but roses don’t come in blue).

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Parklife

To get away from the city centre – and it’s footballing rivalries! – you can take a trip down the Oxford Road to the fabulous Whitworth Park. Home to a gorgeous variety of flora and fauna, this haven is right next to the bustle of Manchester’s many Universities and Colleges. It is best viewed in the Spring or Summer, but never fear; if the weather is a bit Mancunian (read: a bit wet) you can take shelter in the beautifully renovated Whitworth Gallery. You’ll still be able to enjoy the fabulous parklife, as the cafe has a fantastic panoramic extension which thrusts right into the greenery.

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Whitworth Gallery

Get on the flower band-wagon

The student area of the city has spawned many of Manchester’s great bands, all of whom seem to be into their flowers. From the album covers of New Order to the name of The Stone Roses, Manchester bands have looked to florals for a bit of a contrast with the harder edge of industrial city life. However, nobody did it better than Morrissey who, when playing Top of the Pops with The Smiths, brandished fronds of fabulous gladioli as he sang. The Smiths are Manchester’s greatest band, and gladioli are one of my favourite flowers – when we have them in our boxes next year, I might have to whip out my Morrissey impression!

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The Stone Roses

Out ‘n About

Manchester has long been known for natty dressing, and it remains a very trendy place. Floral prints are very in right now, and you’ll be sure to find a great flowery shirt or two in the Northern Quarter’s fantastic vintage shops. Or pop into Piccadilly Records to root out some of those flower-inspired album covers from Manchester bands. Added, head across to Fig and Sparrow for coffee and a slice of one of their famous rose-petal topped cakes. Don’t worry if they’re closed, their shutter has been spray-painted with a Sparrow amongst leaves and flowers!

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You’ll be busy as a bee

A more recent symbol of the city is the Worker Bee. Thought to represent the industrious nature of the people of Manchester, the symbol was adopted into the city’s crest in the 1840s. I love the little Manc Bee; it links the beautiful, natural surroundings of the North West with the Industry that made the city the hub it is. In fact, they remind me of our brilliant drivers who deliver boxes all over the Greater Manchester region. We depend on them, just like we depend on bees!

I hope I’ve given you a good idea of the great floral things to see and do in Manchester. I love this city and am thrilled we’re getting to spend more time there, bringing our weekly flowery magic to the North. Please do let me know if there are any other great floral finds I need to check out in Manchester!

If you live in the North, the South, the East or the West get fresher than fresh flowers delivered to your door for £24 a pop!

Top Instagram Accounts I amore!

My top four flower accounts I am totally digging at the moment. I love how a photo of flowers can transport you into a world of inspiration.

All hail Instagram!

The Gram (as it’s known… according to the younger people in the office) has the awesome power of being able to transport you all over the world in a matter of minutes. One minute you’re in a sunflower field in Cornwall, next you’re staring at a cactus in the heart of the Namibian desert.

Insty pulls together a growing community of florists and flower lovers and puts more people under the floral spell every day. There are literally thousands of mind-blowing flower accounts out there. I could spend all day scrolling saying ‘ooooo and ahhhh’. And sometimes I do…

Though your Instagram is often overwhelmed with selfies and #tbt postings, it is, without doubt, an amazing source of inspiration and offers a special peek into the world of some very creative individuals. With this in mind, I thought it only fitting to indulge in one of Instagram’s most beautiful niches, that of the bloom-obsessed, flower arrangement creating, floral-foraging community. From professional florists prepping weddings, to expressive artists making us see flowers in entirely new ways.

So let’s have a look at some of my faves. Each account is wonderfully unique and I really can’t help but get that pang of #inspo when I look at what amazingness they have conjured up.

Jo Flowers

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@joflowersofficial

Inspired by the great gardeners in her family, Jo’s connection to growing began at an early age, and has never left her. She trained in the classic techniques of floristry, honing her craft and developing her skill, before bursting onto the floral design scene in 2011. Her horticultural prowess and synchronicity with nature means she is one of the most innovative designers in her field today.

There is a real sense of the shabby aristocratic in Jo’s designs and I just can’t get enough of her glorious creations.

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@joflowersofficial

Poppy Barach

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@poppybarach

Poppy’s photography is all taken in natural light, mostly early morning, her favourite time of day apparently. Often using light to draw the viewer into the realm of darkness where she finds great beauty and mystery. Through her images, she records a brief personal moment in time. Whether she brings elements indoors, shoot on site or with a model, she’s guided by instinct and whatever she finds in nature that moves her that day. Her props are often small, subtle and seasonal. She includes only what is most essential in conveying her contemplative mood.

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@poppybarach

Janne Ford

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@jannelford

Janne Ford studied textiles at uni and has a real eye for creating a perfect picture. Walking her dog each day in the woods and on her local common really keeps her in tune with the day-to-day changes in nature and light as the seasons evolve. Creating and photographing a still life, using what is available naturally or foraged locally just for the sheer joy of creating is one of her favourite things to do.

Flicky Wallace

Dot and the dandelion

Dot and the Dandelion, created by Flicky, is a florist focused on designing distinctive and elegant flowers. Influenced by the rural countryside of her childhood, Flicky creates colourful and natural designs with the best selection of wholesalers and foraged, found materials. Flicky studied photography and transitioned from photographing nature to working physically with it.

Her wonderful floral creations really are one of a kind. Her arrangements remind me of a modern day, trendy Elizabeth Bennet (if she was a florist of course). They perfectly capture the English country-side don’t you think?

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@dot_and_the_dandelion

My top accounts!

So there you have it. My top four flower accounts I am totally digging at the moment. I love how a photo of flowers can transport you into a world of inspiration. Down the rabbit hole to endless ideas and thoughts. Each picture has a story behind it and I love making up my own stories behind each one.

Get fresher than fresh flowers delivered to your door for £24 a pop!