Following the Star of Bethlehem in Summer!

Ornithogalum

Follow the wise man Freddie!  

Ornithogalum… Say it out loud? Orni-tho-galum. There we go. Now say it all together and you’ve got the star of this weeks arrangement. Which is pretty apt as its other name, rather more pronounceable, is Star of Bethlehem.  Don’t panic! It’s not Christmas just yet. And it does seem a bit odd talking about Christmas in the middle of the Summer but then again ornithogalum aren’t exactly ordinary. 

Ornithogalum delivered by Freddie's Flowers

It is known as thus because the flowers look like a cluster of perfectly formed stars gathered at the head of a long, leafless stem. So like the wise men, we have been strangely drawn to them and put them in our arrangement.

Picture of the wise men following the star of Bethlehem
The wise men following the Ornithogalum

 

Originally these wonder flowers are native to southern Europe and Southern Africa. Like most of London in the summer they seem to love the sunny South. It prefers full sun and moderately moist soil while growing or blooming. The Star of Bethlehem typically blooms in the spring or summer.

ornithogalum representing a cluster of stars
A cluster of stars

Ornith-orginal

‘’Ornithogalum’’ comes from the Greek words onis (a bird) and gala (milk). There are various opinions about why this name was chosen, but the Romans used the term to indicate something wonderful. A Greek proverb also mentions that rare things are as unobtainable as bird’s milk.

These flowers quite bizarre and we find that oh so very pleasing and appealing. They’re not some run of the mill, common or garden cut flower, and that’s what makes it a Freddie’s Flower. Add a little pinch of peculiar.

Orni’s are actually part of the asparagus family. But don’t dip these in hollandaise quite yet. Seriously… Our flowers are for aesthetic purposes only!

Flowers making music
Making music

 

Orni-orchestra

When planted, ornithogalum play a sort of music. Mozart probably wouldn’t sign them up but the stems do rub together to make a rather lovely squeaky orchestral sound.

The common name for Ornithogalum is the onomatopoeic “chincherinchee”. It was given this because it resembles the sounds these flowers’ stems make when rubbing together in the wind on the plains of their native South Africa. I think it sounds more like Dick Van Dyke’s favourite saying “Chim Chim Cher-ee”. (Did you know his favourite flower is the white hawthorn blossom as it is the state flower of his home town Missouri? And Mary Poppins wears a Chrysanthemum in her hat). 

Flowers Chrysanthemum
Mary Poppins played by Julie Andrews

Karma Chameleon

Not only will these flowers last for weeks and weeks but if you want to have a little science experiment then add a little bit of food colouring (mainly stick with red and blue) to the flower water and the flowers will start to change colour slightly. The chameleons of the flower world. And they look a bit alien too.

Detailed photograph of Ornithogalum by Brian Johnston
Detailed photograph of Ornithogalum by Brian Johnston

How to arrange them to perfection?

  • Gladioli and lisianthus are also included in this rather gigantic arrangement so the key is to use a straight vase, or the hurricane and bell jar vase would also do well in allowing the flowers to spread out.
  • You then want to cut the ornithogalum to two different heights so they bob about all over the arrangement.
  • Start with all your gladioli, spacing evenly around the edge of your vase.
  • Now take your lisianthus and place inside your gladioli
  • Finish with your ornithogalum’s, dotting the differing heights throughout the bunch to add depth

 

A photo of this weeks arrangement
Arrangement perfection

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