It’s that time of year when it’s almost impossible to do anything without feeling at least a bit festive. You look around and you find yourself immersed in festive floral things morning, noon and night. Okay maybe the floral aspect is just me but still! The lights have been turned on, the shops are rammed and wrapping paper rolls are knocking peoples’ knees at every turn.
A solid(ago) favourite of mine in the plant world. Which is why I include it in our flower boxes every now and then. Solidago is a splendid plant with very green leaves and a glittering of tiny yellow flowers on top.
Solidago is usually found in large open areas such as meadows, prairies and savannahs and graces the land it grows on with a wonderful golden sprinkle. It’s also rather aptly known as ‘goldenrod’. It’s name comes from Latin ‘solidare’ meaning ‘solid’ and it’s a relative of our dear Daisy.
Inventor Thomas Edison aka -Mr Light Bulb-, experimented with goldenrod to produce rubber, which it contains naturally. His experiments produced a 12 ft-tall plant that yielded 12% rubber.
The tyres on the Model T, given to him by his friend Henry Ford were made from good old solidago. Old Henners was deeply interested in the regenerative properties of soil and the potential of alternative crops. He was keen on the idea of using plants like peanuts and soybeans to produce plastics, paint, fuel and other products. Ford had long believed that the world would eventually need a substitute for gasoline, and supported the production of ethanol as an alternative fuel. Wise chap that Mr Ford.
In herbal medicine solidago is used in a traditional kidney remedy. Some practitioners use it to counter inflammation and irritation caused by kidney stones. Solidago is also believed to help with cleansing of the kidney or bladder during a healing fast. Some Native American cultures traditionally chew the leaves to relieve sore throats, and the roots to relieve toothaches. Please don’t start gnawing away on the solidago that arrives in your flower delivery. Our stuff is purely for decorative purposes.
Garden wars (should be a tv show)
Solidago is, in some places, considered a sign of good luck or good fortune. Considered weeds by many in North America, but they are prized as garden plants in Europe. British gardeners adopted good old solidago to have in their gardens long before Americans did. Goldenrod began to gain some acceptance in American gardening during the 1980s. Finally they realised solidago was cool. Us limeys are so ahead of the times, are we not?
I spy with my little eye, something that looks like flowers
Sometimes I look at paintings in galleries and a flower just pops into my head. Almost all the time the painting will not have any link to the flower I think of. Not even in the background. Think I’ve gone mad? Probably. But here are a few examples. Decide if i’m mad after.
A Red Rose
A work of art, or Freddie’s Flowers?
”Yup, Freddie’s definetly lost it”. But still a fun thing to do when you’re in a gallery. I recommend giving it a go. A bit like our flowers if you haven’t given us a go yet.
Christmas and all its frivolities (including Christmas flower deliveries) are here! ‘Who wants a mince pie?’ chimes around offices, homes, playgrounds and winter picnics (if you’re brave enough). We’ll be opening advent calendar windows before breakfast in no time.
Autumn is well and truly here. The colour outside is changing, t-shirts have been swapped for jumpers and the demand for the heating to be put on echoes around the office every 5 minutes. The answer is still ”put another jumper on”. So to celebrate the colder winds and darker mornings we thought we would brighten it all up with this weeks firey, autumnal arrangement. Fitting, seeing as bonfire night is round the corner.
In this weeks arrangement we have:
Alstro is also known as the Peruvian or Inca Lily as it is native to South America. It grows in lots of different colours but for this week I have chosen a lovely red to suit the season. Interesting fact! The alstroemeria was named by the famous botanist, Carl Linnaeus, after one of his pupils, Baron Clas Alstromer who sent him seeds in 1753.
This fabulous foliage becomes extra special in the autumn, as its dark leaves slowly turn redder. Known as the ‘smoke tree’ its deep colour acts as a moody backdrop for the other flowers to shine against. I have always loved it outside and it’s not often used in flower arranging. So I thought why not bring the outdoors into my arrangement this week.
Introducing the fireiest of all the flowers:
El Fuego Blooms
This firey, sassy flower arrives with nets on to keep their sass in – till you unleash it in your home!!! When you put them in water they’ll steam off and cool down and then start to unfurl.
So hot right now – LA Lily
For this bunch I have chosen two varieties, a pale peach called ‘Menorca’ and a more vibrant amber colour. They work fabulously together and both sensational against the cotinus background.
How to style this autumn flowers
Start with your blooms, creating an even triangle around the edge of your vase. Almost as if you were building a bonfire. Get your practice in before Guy Fawkes night.
Next so the same with the lilies, in the gaps left by the blooms.
This creates a structural grid, giving the support to the other stems.
Now carefully place your continus inside the lilies and the blooms. They will sit a little higher in the arrangement, giving the bunch a wildly elegant look.
Finish with the alstroemeria sitting inside the continus, adding some serious colour to the centre. They’ll open out over the next couple of days.
It’s a living, changing work of art. So sit back and revel in the autumnal glory.
Now lets talk vases!
I chose a hurricane shape vase for this bunch, giving it loads of room to spread out, and the lilies room to open up like fireworks. Choose a vase about half the height of your lilies.
Using sharp, clean secateurs, trim each stem by one inch. (That’s uno incho when trimming the fuego blooms).
Use the Freddie’s Flowerful Food and stir.
Change the water every 3 days.
Keep away from draughts, direct sunlight and those pesky fruit bowls.
It’s time to stop hanging onto Summer people. Embrace the cold, whack on your jumpers and light the fire because who doesn’t love feeling snugly and cosy? And what goes with snugly and cosy? Flowers! And with this arrangement being so hot you wont even need to light the fire. (Maybe).
Welcome to the magical history tour of the wonderful brassica. Over the last few years brassicas have become increasingly popular in flower arrangements. I love ornamental brassicas in flower arranging. We love the bohemian idea of having a veg in with flowers so that is exactly what we have done in this weeks arrangement. We’re all about the weird and wonderful.
It might be only recently that cabbages have branched out of meals and into interiors though the history of the cabbage is extraordinary! Check out what the brassica’s edible cousin the cabbage has been up to for the last 4000 years.
Brassicas in flower arranging
This is how we use brassicas in flower arranging.
Our arrangement video to arrange your brassicas to perfection
Trending for millenniums
Cabbages have been cooked and eaten for more than 4,000 years. Other than its culinary prowess the cabbage is said to have medicinal properties. For example, the Ancient Greeks recommended consuming the veg as a laxative and it was used an antidote for mushroom poisoning. The Roman philosopher Pliny The Elder recommended cabbages as a hangover cure! Similarly, the Ancient Egyptians ate cooked cabbage at the beginning of meals to reduce the intoxicating effects of wine.
You almost can’t open a history book without cabbage popping up. Manuscript illuminations show the prominence of cabbage in the cuisine of the High Middle Ages and cabbage seeds feature among the seed list of purchases for the use of King John II of France when captive in England in 1360. What was he going to do, dig a tunnel with them? Cabbage has been trending for yonks! The instagram of the 1300s wouldn’t be awash with avocados and rainbow lattes, it’d be brassica, brassica, brassica.
Kung Fu crane
Our brassicas in this weeks flower deliveries are ‘white crane’ brassicas and with so many stories about the beauty of the cranes I thought it seems apt to tell you some. According to Japanese tradition, anyone with the patience and commitment to fold 1,000 paper cranes will be granted their most desired wish, because they have exhibited the cranes’ loyalty and recreated their beauty. I better get started on my brassica origami.
It would rude not to mention ‘white crane style’ while we’re on the subject. White crane style is a southern Chinese martial art that originated in Fijian province. It is the most recognisable by the way the fighter intimidates a birds pecking or flapping of wings. It is one of the six known schools of Shaolin Boxing. The others are based on Tiger, Monkey, Leopard, Snake and Dragon. Hmmmm… suddenly Kung Fu Panda makes a lot more sense!
In Japan, the crane is one of the mystical or holy creatures (others include the dragon and the tortoise) and symbolises good fortune and longevity because of its fabled life span of 1000 years.
Throughout Asia – the crane is a symbol of happiness and eternal youth. So technically we are bringing the fountain of youth into your homes with this arrangement. You are welcome.
Thanks to having a wonderful mum who was a florist for 30 years, I was lucky enough to learn how to arrange flowers at a young age. And with Garland for a surname I can’t help but conclude that flowers were my calling. To put it simply, I love flowers.
So, what’s so great about flower arranging? It’s a creative outlet. Good for the house, good for the soul and good for the mind. And, given the right hints and tips, I hope you can take real enjoyment out of the activity too.
Whether you’re a Freddie’s customer or not, here’s the lowdown on how to arrange to flowers better than my mum can (shhhh)!
It’s very rare that I can’t decide quite which flora or fauna has soared above the rest in our weekly flower delivery. But here I am faced with two flowers that are new to our box, both very deserving of taking the top spot.
So buckle up, flower lovers, you’re in for an explosion of colour, texture and down right quirkiness that’ll send your weekly flower delivery enjoyment sky high!
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.
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.
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’’ 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!
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).
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.
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