Flower of the week, astrantia
Tuesday 2nd May 2017 – Flower of the week
In our flowerful Freddie’s Flowers boxes, being delivered this week, we have a very sweet and unique flower.
Astrantia has many names. It’s known prettily as Hattie’s pincushion, less prettily as Great masterwort, and rather humorously as Melancholy gentleman.
The name astrantia is either derived from the Latin ‘aster’ which means star, or from ‘magistrantia’ which means masterwort. If we go with the star derivative (let’s do that, it’s much nicer!) it’s easy to see how the romans got there – the bracts* look like many pointed stars.
*A bract, flower fans, is often mistaken for petals but are in fact the leaflike structure that sits below the flower or cluster of flowers (known as an inflorescence – which reminds me of fireflies and neon jellyfish).
Do take the time to closely admire your astrantia. You may even feel moved to reach for the macro setting on your camera as the clusters of tiny flowers really are stunning up close!
When you’re arranging them with other flowers, place them a little lower or higher than other elements in the arrangement. This way you’ll spot and appreciate them from a distance. You could set one aside and pop it in a small milk bottle or little dinky vase and pop on your night stand or bedside table, then you can admire it all by itself.
Keen gardeners will know that astrantia isn’t just a joy when delivered in a flower box. They grow well in the english country garden, as long as they have good soil, dappled shade and some moisture. (They also have aromatic roots, which is just for the gardeners as I won’t include any roots in your box. It’s a flower box not a veg box, after all!).
Absolutely the best way to care for cut astrantia is to handle it very, very gently indeed. They are delicate flowers.
Alongside the astrantia this week we have some marvellously poptastic LA lilies. These are a winning combination of Easter Lilies and Asiatic Lilies. They are big, pink, boombastic and proud of it.
It’s easy to remove lily pollen if you prefer not to it in your beautiful home. Take a piece of tissue and pluck the stamen off. Here’s a very short vid to show what I mean.
You’lI notice I send lilies out closed for three reasons. Firstly, it’s so enjoyable watching flowers unfurl and open – it’s something I love about flowers so I share that in the boxes. Secondly, the lilies last a lot longer when we deliver them closed. And lastly, it gives your arrangement this brilliant second wind as it develops over the week. It’s almost as if you get two two different designs! Do move the arrangement around your house and admire and enjoy the flowers in different spots as the arrangement blooms.
I’ve also added alstroemeria to this design. I hope you love the colour of these. They’re a deep maroon-purple which bridges the colour gap between the astrantia and lilies.
Your alstroemeria will be closed when your flowers are delivered and they can look a little sad, but as soon as you put them in water and refresh them, they’ll perk up in no time. They’ll open out a couple of days after your delivery.
Finally we have some gorgeously lacy green bell, also known as Thlaspi. I just love, love, love green bell. It’s a stunning foliage that brings a beautiful vintage feel to an arrangement and, if you separate out each little branch, it adds an elegant and delicate wodge of volume to the design.
The sun is shining on the trees on Wandsworth Common as I type this and this week many people across the globe will be celebrating Buddha’s birthday. I mention this because my favourite thing about flowers in the home is benefiting from flower arranging as a form of meditation.
Fresh flowers are good for the soul and there is an element of mindfulness to opening a Freddie’s flower box, sorting the flowers into their little groups, then trimming and styling them. It’s a meditative 20 minute routine that myself and many Freddie’s customers love and look forward to. Especially in today’s busy times!
Connecting with nature and beauty is just so reviving, grounding and soothing. And you get something beautiful to look at afterwards. Happy days all round!