Our customers tell us that one of the most wonderful and unexpected benefits of weekly flower deliveries is that you learn an awful lot about all things floral. Author Terry Stiastny explains how she accidentally became a flower expert…
My children look at me in disbelief when I tell them that at primary school, we didn’t learn science. We didn’t, as they do, learn about forces and light, about electrical circuits and fossils.
The subject we were taught was Nature.
There was a nature table; it was a desk at the side of the classroom that was arrayed with leaves, seeds, conkers. We drew and coloured in the shapes of leaves and we learnt to identify the trees that they came from. To this day, I can recognise an oak or a maple and tell you the difference between a sweet chestnut tree and a horse chestnut.
We also learned to recognise birds. This involved much colouring-in of the plumage of blue tits. It’s knowledge that’s only intermittently useful for modern urban life.
I don’t remember learning the names of flowers in the same way, but for decades my knowledge of them stayed at the same junior-school level.
I could do the basics: roses, tulips, daffodils and daisies. I preferred bright, gaudy flowers to pale, insipid ones; perhaps all the better to be able to colour them in.
But when I say I preferred them, my preferences weren’t very strong. Flowers, like football teams, were things I always found it hard to have strong opinions about. So advanced-level flower knowledge, like understanding the transfer window, is something I left to others.
But…each time the Freddie’s Flowers weekly delivery arrives, with it comes a short, simple guide to a world that I left behind with the nature table.
I learn that gypsophila and leucospermum are not medical complaints, but rather flowers that go by the rather lovely common names of baby’s breath and the pincushion. Lisianthus is not a Roman emperor but that twirly sort of flower, white or purple-edged. Astrantia and Alstroemeria, which could be constellations, are in fact a delicate clover-like flower and a Peruvian lily respectively.
There’s even, I discover, a flower called a kangaroo paw.
I think I enjoy learning words that are new to me almost as much as the cheerful flowers themselves.
That’s why I was sad to read that one junior dictionary recently dropped catkin, chestnut and clover from its pages and replaced them with words like broadband and analogue. The urban children I know don’t need to look up words about computers in the dictionary; they know them already. A catkin, however, would be a mystery to them.
But at least I can show them, every week, a gorgeous array of lilies or roses, sunflowers or cocosmia, on the nature table in the corner of the kitchen.
For more floral education, check out the Know your Flowers section of our blog. And if you want the real thing in your life, why not sign up for weekly flower deliveries at £20 a pop?
The picture at the bottom shows our Teddy Bear Sunflowers being arranged by future little florist, Sonny – via @familytreehouse_ on Instagram. The picture above that is our Lilies, Red Alstroemeria and Eucalyptus box arranged by Jon Terry, via Twitter. See more customer arrangements in our Gallery posts!