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.

 

Sweet William(s)

Oh sweet, sweet william

To prepare you for one of my favourite flowers featuring in my boxes soon I thought I would tell you a little bit about them first. They really are as lovely as their name and last a long old time too. The exact origin of its common English name is unknown but it first appeared in 1596 in botanist John Gerad’s garden catalogue. Starting the long discussion of who they are named after!

A close up of sweet williams from our box
Sweet William from our box

Who is this is William and is he actually as sweet as the rumours?

There are many possibilities of who ‘sweet william’ took its name from. One is that the flower is called sweet william after Gerad’s contemporary William Shakespeare.

Another idea is that they are named after the 18thC Prince William, Duke of Cumberland to honour the Duke’s victory at the Battle of Culloden and his general brutal treatment of the king’s enemies.

A portrait of Prince William, Duke of Cumberland
Not so sweet William – Duke of Cumberland @wordpress.com

Now if you ask me, I think that they are named after the Duke. Why? Well i’ll tell you why. The Battle of Culloden was a battle in Scotland between the Duke, son of George II and Charles Edward Stewart, The Young Pretender. On the Young Pretenders side were the Scots. The Scots were on the losing side and their name for the flower ‘sweet william’ is ‘stinking billy’. Probably after the Prince who trounced them in the Battle. To me that makes more sense!

Our own sweet Williams

The Victorians with their love of the language of flowers, Sweet Williams signified gallantry. And we have a few favourite William’s of our own.

  • At the wedding of our Prince William and Kate Middleton, Kate had sweet williams in her wedding bouquet to symbolise her love for her bridegroom. Good choice Kate!
Kate Middleton's bouquet with sweet williams in.
Sweet Williams for her William
Etching of William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce @regencyhistory
  • William Wilberforce was a pretty sweet William indeed. He was the leader of the movement to stop the slave trade which led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire. Well done Will, you sweet man!
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The man of many talents, William Shakespeare @woolf.cam.ac.uk

Playwright, poet, botanist and all round genius!

Who would we be if we didn’t mention the most famous sweet William of them all? Apparently, Shakespeare was not content with just being the greatest playwright ever in the English language but he was also an expert amateur botanist. With a deep knowledge of homegrown and exotic plants showing in his work.

”Shakespeare’s botanical references are not mere literary devices; they take us to the very heart of social life in Elizabethan and Jacobean England” Mary Willes

According to Mary Willes (Author of ‘A Shakespearean Botanical’), Shakespeare mentions 49 specific flowers, veg, fruit and herbs in his plays.

What is so genius about old Will is that he used his botanical knowledge to perfectly describe his characters. For example – he describes Falstaff (an overweight Knight in The Merry Wives of Windsor) as a ‘gross, watery pumpkin’. Have that Falstaff!

 

Wonderful William

We hope you enjoyed the sweet williams as much as we have and have a think of all the wonderful William’s in your life!

Here’s flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.
The Winter’s Tale (4.4.122-7)

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.

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!

Getting wild about wildflowers this Spring!

It might only be March, but with the weather we’ve been having it feels like Spring is in full force!

It might only be March, but with the weather we’ve been having it feels like Spring is in full force, just ask any hayfever sufferer and they’ll confirm it! But as a non-sufferer, I am just loving it. I even did an arrangement video in a t-shirt the other day! 

With the temperature rising and the sun beginning to peep out from the clouds, it is the perfect time to tear yourself away from your flower arranging and to get outside. And what better excuse to take in some of the floral delights of the British countryside. 

At this time of year, we are blessed with an abundance of fantastic wildflowers right on our doorstep. Here’s a guide a few of my favourites to look out for when you’re out and about. 

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Snowdrops 

One of the first flowers of the year to bloom, the adorable little snowdrop can be seen from early January. If it has been very mild you might even see a few in December. They are famous for their attractive little white buds and for carpeting forest floors, looking just like snow… perfect when the weather is getting a little warm!

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Primrose

The sweet yellow Primrose is a real sign that Spring is coming. Like the Snowdrop, they can be seen from January, but they tend to hang around a little longer and can be spotted in fields and forests right up until the early Summer. Seeing them never fails to lift the mood! 

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Daffodil 

Nowadays we think of Daffodils in little vases at home, but they are of course a wildflower that is native to the UK. Wild daffodils are a glorious sight, making me think of Easter and getting us all in the mood for roast lamb, Easter egg hunts and fighting your siblings over the last slice of cake. I love daffs, they are such a sunny flower and always put a big smile on my face.

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Bluebells 

The most iconic of all the British springtime wildflowers, the fabulous Bluebell is a national favourite. There is nothing better than stumbling across an untouched patch of Bluebells, silently carpeting the ground like a foresty sea. And they really do mean Spring is upon us, they tend to be around during April and May, leading us wonderfully into the Summer months. 

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Easy Purple Orchid 

These wonderful, deep purple flowers are seen towards the end of Spring. They’re recognisable for their interesting shape, striking colour and the fact their leaves are spotted. This purple flower is often found growing near Primroses so you might get a double spot! 

There are plenty of wonderful wildflowers to spot at this time of the year; these are just a select few. Do let me know if I have missed your favourite – I’m always on the lookout for more. 

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We’re wild for them

Even better, please do get in touch with pictures of wildflower spots, or of your own Freddie’s Flowers. In fact, if you pick a few wildflowers perhaps you could add them to your weekly arrangement, giving it a seasonal twist! 

You will find a little wildflower surprise in your box this week. I met the lovely Emily from a great new company called Seedball. Seedball are all about helping the butterflies and bees in our gardens and balconies. It’s a really simple way of planting wildflowers without too much knowledge. In each box, there are six seed balls, each containing about 40 wildflower seeds. I hope you enjoy and spread the wildflower love and plant your own!

 

Happy rambling, enjoy the weather and enjoy my Seedball video! 

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

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!

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!

My secrets to getting the most out of your flowers!

How To Make Your Flowers Last Longer. Read here to learn all about trick so of the trade.

How To Make Your Flowers Last Longer

There’s nothing like the moment your gorgeous fresh flowers all start to bloom. Suddenly, all the buds become petals and your arrangement bursts into life – we all wish this moment could last forever. At Freddie’s Flowers, we pride ourselves on how long our flowers last, but they can always do with a little bit of help. I wanted to share my top tips for keeping your flowers at their best for as long as possible. Vase, are you ready?!

It may seem obvious, but cleaning your vase is really important… yes, last week’s lilies were lovely, but this week’s Rossano Blooms don’t need to know about it! Make sure your vase is cleaned between arrangements.

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Vase… are you ready?!

The key thing here is to NOT clean the vase with washing-up liquid. I know it is tempting, especially when it all bubbles up to the top and makes your vase look like a big fizzy cocktail. But washing up liquid leaves a residue which can contaminate your water, so we recommend a small amount of vinegar, lemon juice or bleach to clean vases. Do make sure you rinse them well afterwards.

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Feeling the Inch

Because our fresh flowers come unarranged, all stems need an inch removing from the bottom, allowing the flowers to drink properly. This is best done on a diagonal angle, stopping the stem from sitting flat. We recommend using sharp, clean secateurs rather than kitchen scissors – they’re less likely to have any gunk on them which might upset your gorgeous blooms.

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Leaf Life

One of my biggest tips is to make sure that no leaves can fall into your vase water. I always tell people to remove any low-hanging leaves and any leaves or branches that will sit below the neck of the vase. You don’t want leaves falling into the water and contaminating things!

Simply use a thumb and forefinger to whip off any unsightly leaves, fronds or branches that you don’t want. You’ll be amazed at how this tidies things up!

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Fed and Watered

All Freddie’s Flowers customers know we send out flower food in out boxes. This is best added to room-temperature water – nobody likes an ice cold bath, not even fresh flowers!

We always say that water should be changed every three days to get the best out of our flowers. Simply take the flowers out of the vase, pop them to one side, change your water, add more flower food and return the flowers to their original spot.

If you run out of flower food, never fear! We recommend using a teaspoon of sugar in the water as a replacement – you’d be amazed at how effective this is. Some people have been known to try a bit of vinegar, lemonade or vodka to keep things going. Some even swear by aspirin!

I say anything sugary should do the trick; I’d avoid brown sugar, though… it might look a bit strange!

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Location, Location, Location

One of the biggest factors in getting the best from your flowers is their environment – I always encourage people to be careful where they put flowers.

They might look fabulous on your mantlepiece, but too long near the fire will dry them out. Always try and keep them somewhere not too warm, away from heat sources. Don’t worry, you can move them somewhere more prominent if you’re having people over.

Likewise, no flowers like to be too cold. If they’re kept near a draught they probably won’t be looking their best – rather like my lovely pup Claude.

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If we’re lucky enough to be having fabulously sunny weather, it is worth moving your arrangement away from direct sunlight as this can also dry things out faster. Even if you did want to keep them by a sunny window, make sure you give them a few hours off from time to time. And, turn them every so often to ensure your flowers open at the same time.

Flowers and fruit might be the stuff of a perfect Still Life painting, but in reality, they should be kept apart. Ripening fruit can hasten the wilting of flowers, so do keep your bananas away from your brassica!

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Man Down!

All flowers last for different lengths of time – your stunning irises will be around a fraction of the time your lilies are. This is entirely normal, and one of the joys of having incredibly fresh flowers.

You can maintain an arrangement by removing stems that don’t last as long as soon as they’ve gone over. This prevents contamination of the vase water and fights the spread of Botrytis, a mould that will shorten your floral life.

Those are my top tips for getting the longest life out of your flowers; I hope you give them a try! Whenever I speak to customers they’re always full of fantastic new tips for keeping their own flowers going and we’d love to hear them. Do get in touch if you have any nifty hints of your own.

I like the idea of putting a little bit of vodka and lemonade in with flowers – I wonder if it helps sustain people too? I’m off to find out. Maybe I might need an aspirin as well…

Click here to get fresher than fresh flowers delivered to your door for £24 a pop!

 

 

 

 

Bigging up the Brassica!

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 vegetables in flower arranging.

Vegetable – schmegetable!

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 vegetables 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 week’s arrangement. It’s all about the weird and wonderful.

It might be only recently that cabbages have branched out of meals and into interiors, its history is extraordinary! Check out what the brassica’s edible cousin has been up to for the last 4000 years.

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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.

Remind me to serve lots of cabbage before a Freddie’s Flowers Party!

You almost can’t open a history book without cabbage popping up. Manuscript illuminations show the prominence of our green leafed friend in the cuisine of the High Middle Ages and its seeds feature among the 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.

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Roll out the red carpet for the ‘First Lady’ Brassica

This sophisticated type is the one you will be opening up in your box this week. The fringed purple centre of the first lady gives a beautiful alluring flower centre surrounded by dark green leaves. Who knew cabbages could be so pretty!

This weird and wonderful arrangement makes me think of Alice in Wonderland. It will certainly have you grinning like a Cheshire cat! The magnificent ‘First Lady’ brassicas beautifully juxtapose with the white ‘Avalanche‘ roses, while the pale pink bouvardia pop out and the eucalyptus Cinerea gives the arrangement a wonderfully peacockish look. Not only are edible brassicas an excellent side dish they also compliment other flowers in an arrangement perfectly. I hope you agree. I believe that we should always branch out of our comfort zone and venture into the unknown. Who knows, you might just love it?!

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A cared for cabbage is everyone’s favourite type of cabbage

Let’s see what Brassica is about… Brassica is the Latin name for a genus of plants in the mustard family (what a tasty fam). Unlike other popular flowers, Brassicas are sturdier, less fragile and longer-lasting due to their waxy but tough stems and leaves. They also have the ability to remain fresh as cut ‘flowers’ for well over a week. Especially if you change the water and keep trimming the stems every few days.

Hey! Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. I give you a secret how to open your brassica to make it more like a full-bloom flower here:

Peel back the outer leaves of the Brassica, one leaf at a time. Work with the leaves carefully, but you can tug firmly to splay them out. If you find that some of the outer leaves are yellowing, simply pull them off and move to the next row of inner leaves. There will be plenty to work at as you open more leaves closer to its core.

And hey presto, you have a lovely fluffy brassica!

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Big up the brassica

So there you have it, my little lesson on why they are wonderful flowers (not cabbages) to have in your home. As much as I love eating cabbage I much prefer them when I’m looking at them alongside some roses and bouvardia. If you want to get on board the brassica train then click here to get them for yourself.

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.

A complete guide to eryngium!

As the days get shorter and the jumpers get thicker we start seeing more and more of one of my favourite floral foliage, eryngium.

The ultimate guide to eryngium.

As the days get shorter and the jumpers get thicker we start seeing more and more of one of my favourite floral foliage, eryngium. Beautifully mimicking the shape that the morning frost leaves on your car’s windshield, these wonderful deep ice-blue spikey thistles really do bring a sense of excitement to the bunch. Aren’t they just the perfect autumnal and wintery flower? well, A thistle to be precise.

From the Umbelliferae family, the name eryngium derives from the Greek word for thistle. Eryngiums can have blue or white flowers depending on the variety, together with a ruff of spikey bracts on branching stems.

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Spikey by look, spikey by nature.

Native to rocky and coastal areas, they have adapted to cope with the tough conditions on the seashore. Being battered by strong winds and baked in the suns scorching heat. This is one tough thistle and brings a strong look to any bunch.

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Just bee’ing wonderful.

Although they are unscented, eryngium seriously attracts the bees and other lovely pollinated insects. They are one of the biggest pollinated flowers around and the bees just can’t get enough. Plants rely on bees and other insects to reproduce and so they have adapted, over time, to become more attractive to them. And who could resist an eryngium?

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Not just for decoration

Eryngium’s roots were used as a medicine for many things but one of its main usages was to boost the libido of an ageing man. So there you go. Good to know. It was also crushed up as a herbal remedy and drunk for coughing and whooping cough. What can’t you use this spikey fleur for?!

Not just for autumn.

With Christmas just around the corner, these little blue beauties are perfect for drying and using them around the house as the perfect Xmas decoration. You can use them for the tree by tying a bit of thread or string around the stem. They will look like little blue stars of Bethlehem. Or you can add them to other arrangements or wreaths or garlands.

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The best way to dry your eryngium.

Find a dark, dry area with good circulation, such as an attic or unused closet. With unflavoured dental floss (or string will do), secure the bottom of the flowers’ stems to a hanger so that they hang upside down to dry. Leave the flowers for two to three weeks until completely dry and hey-presto! Your Christmas dried flowers are ready to go.

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The Queen of Eryngium – Ellen Willmott

I can’t write a blog about eryngium and not mention Ellen Willmott. If you haven’t heard of Ellen then luckily I am about to tell you all about her. Why? Because she is an absolute gardening legend. Born in 1858 she was a key member of the Royal Horticultural Society and even received the Victoria Medal of Honour in 1897 for her dedication to plants. She was said to have cultivated more than 100,000 species and cultivars of plants, and sponsored expeditions to discover new species

Her particular fancy was for Eryngium and wherever she went, she made sure she had a handful of seeds in the pocket of her voluminous skirts of black bombazine. Surreptitiously she would scatter a handful in every garden she visited, knowing that a year or so later – the plant is a biennial, growing one year and flowering the next – the eryngiums would flower their socks off and the garden’s owner would wonder where they had come from.

Alas, Ellen is no longer with us, but you can have her ghost in your garden if you get hold of your own handful of eryngium seeds, scatter them on to any patch of well-drained soil and rake them in. Or with slightly less effort get this weeks arrangement! 

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Too good to miss.

This lovely spikey blue thistle really is a favourite of mine. It just gives any arrangement a wonderful effortlessly aristocratic feel. So don’t miss out on their beauty and give my boxes a go and make your flowers be the talk of the street!

If you’d like to turn your home into an eryngium dream, 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.

Flowers and the Greek myths – Five common flower names with legendary backstories.

Ever wondered why ‘ordinary’ flowers have such strange and exotic and mythical names? Discover why in this weeks blog.

Ever wondered why ‘ordinary’ flowers have such strange and exotic names? Well often it’s because they’re named after characters and stories in Greek mythology. Here are five legendary tales behind common flowers…

Flower Legends

Aren’t flower names wonderful? True, they’re quite often impossible to spell (antirrhinum, anyone?) and, as Shakespeare pointed out, by any other name they would of course smell as sweet. But the exoticism of an ‘agapanthus’ or the musical sound of an ‘amaryllis’ is all part of the joy of having loads of flowers in your life.

So where do these strange and mysterious names come from? Well, a great many come from very old stories. Flowers are closely intertwined with our shared history and culture, going back across the centuries.

In the time of the Ancient Greeks, flowers were the very essence of myth and legend, playing key roles in all sorts of dramatic incidents. It was when gathering flowers in the springtime (including the rose, crocus, iris, violet, lily and larkspur) that the goddess Persephone was abducted by the god Hades and consigned to a life in the Underworld for a portion of every year (thus also consigning the rest of us, above ground, to winter).

 

Persephone is snatched by Hades - painting by Simone Pignoni
Persephone is snatched by Hades – painting by Simone Pignoni, circa 1650

 

And many of our flower names today stem directly from particular legends. Iris, for example, means ‘eye of heaven’, and is named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow, who was said to carry messages between Earth and the gods.

Here are five more of the most evocative flower name origins – some you probably know, others may surprise you…

 

1. Narcissus

John William Waterhouse - Echo and Narcissus
John William Waterhouse – Echo and Narcissus (1903)

 

Narcissus was a young hunter famed for his ravishing good looks – and nobody admired those looks quite as much he did himself. Indeed, he disdained all those around him, including the mountain nymph Echo, who fell deeply in love with him but was cruelly rejected.

But in the end the beautiful young man’s choosiness turns out to be his downfall, when he comes across a pool of water on Mount Helicon. Seeing his face reflected in the waters, Narcissus instantly falls in love with his own image and, becoming completely entranced, is unable to leave. He eventually wastes away to nothing, and in the spot where he dies a narcissus flower springs up.

You could say he’s his own worst anemone.

The story has inspired many works of art and literature over the centuries, notably the Italian baroque master Caravaggio and the Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali.

Narcissus painted by Caravaggio
Caravaggio – Narcissus (1597-99)

 

The legend of Narcissus also had an influence on the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, who took up the theme when he wrote about ‘narcissistic tendencies’.

So two thousand years later and the myth of Narcissus lives on, both in our word narcissism for excessive self-love, and of course through the narcissus genus of flower, from which our lovely, yellow-trumpeted and quite unpretentious modern daffodil springs.

 

2. Hyacinth

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Jean Broc, The Death of Hyacinthos (1801)

 

Hyacinthus was another doomed, handsome youth. The Spartan was a great pal of the god Apollo, and they frequently enjoyed a game of discus (Ancient Greek version of frisbee) together.

Unfortunately during one of these games the discus whacks Hyacinthus on the head, killing him. Beset by grief, Apollo refuses to allow the passage of Hyacinthus to Hades, and instead forms a flower from the bloodstained earth. And thus appears the hyacinth – the petals of which, according to one version of the legend, are stained by Apollo’s tears.

A three-day Hyakinthia festival dedicated was held in Sparta once a year thereafter, at Apollo’s command. It’s worth noting that the hyacinth as we know it today is not the same as the Greek hyakinthos, which was more akin to the lily or larkspur.

 

3. Peony

Paeon of Amathus

Paeon was a healer, working under the instruction of Asclepius, the god of medicine. He was pretty good at it too, healing the wounds of gods Hades and Ares, among others.

However, Ascelpius (above) become jealous of his student and threatened to kill him – at which point Zeus, the king of the gods, stepped in with an act of divine intervention, saving Paeon by transforming him into a peony flower.

The myth of Paeon may actually have some basis in reality, since the peony was used for a variety of medicinal and health purposes in ancient times, including for pregnant women.

(Read our complete guide to peonies here.)

 

4. Sunflower

Sir Frederick Leighton - Clytie
Sir Frederick Leighton – Clytie (1895)

 

Funnily enough, the Greek myth of the sunflower is anything but sunny. It tells the story of the nymph Clytie who is consumed love for the sun god Helios.

Unfortunately, Helios is more interested in her sister, Leucothoe. In a jealous rage, Clytie tells their father about her sister’s affair with the god, who responds by burying poor Leucothoe alive.

Strangely, this does little to help Clytie win Helios’ affections. He continues to spurn her and in her despair she strips naked and sits on a rock for nine days doing nothing but staring at the sun.

Without food or water she gradually wastes away and turns into the heliotrope (aka turnsole, aka sunflower), which according to long-standing but wrong belief, turns its head to follow the sun’s passage across the sky every day.

(Read our complete guide to sunflowers here.)

 

5) Hellebore

William-Adolphe Bouguereau The Youth of Bacchus
William-Adolphe Bouguereau – The Youth of Bacchus (Dionysius) (1884)

The hellebore – or Christmas rose – was used by the ancients for a variety of medicinal purposes, including treating paralysis, gout and even insanity. In one particular legend it was used to cure the madness of the daughters of the King of Argos.

Cursed by Dionysus, the god of wine, the poor women of Argos are rampaging naked through the streets, crying and screaming – much like on a Saturday night in many of our town centres.

Fortunately a renowned soothsayer and animal-talker called Melampus of Pylos turns up bearing a good supply of hellebores, which he uses to help cure the women of their malaise. At last, a happy ending for our heroes of Greek legend.

For his payment Malampus is allowed to take a third of the goods of the city of Argos (presumably filling in the correct catalogue numbers on a little form and taking it to the counter first).

 

Freddie's Flowers arrangement
A classical arrangement from Freddie’s Flowers!

 

So there you have it. Whether it’s pretty heroes turning into floral versions of themselves, tragic stories of unrequited love, or using a bit of Christmas magic to stop madwomen from running rampage in Argos (we’ve all been there), for the Greeks flowers were, literally, legendary – and played a central role in how they viewed the world and understood the ordinary things of life.

We reckon that seeing the world through flowers is a pretty good philosophy. If you do too, why not sign up for our naturally lovely weekly deliveries at £24 a pop and transform your home into a floral Elysium (that’s the Greek version of heaven)…

Four magical forests you need to know about

There are some things in life you just need to know about; flowers, foliage and magical forests.

There are some things in life you just need to know about; flowers, foliage and magical forests.

As a self proclaimed flower lover I can’t get enough of forest pictures. But what makes forests of the world so down right enchanting that you’re unanimously humbled, terrified and enamoured as soon as you walk into one? I suppose no one really knows and that’s the beauty of it.

In the mean time, it’s metaphorical hiking boots on, everyone. We’re all going on a forest holiday into some simply astounding forests that nature has to offer.

Be warned; they’re brain-bogglingly beautiful!

 

Meandering through the most magical forests in the world

 

‘Pando’ in Fishlake National Forest, Utah

Have you ever thought about self cloning trees? I certainly hadn’t. Before Pando, that is.

Pando is Latin for ‘I spread’. The ‘I’ might seem a little bizarre when referring to a forest but they were right in making it personal.

One of our favourite magical forests
Pando at the start of Autumn

Experts suggest that, between 80,000 and a million years ago, one quaking aspen tree produced saplings from it’s own roots. Today we’re left with 100 acres of naturally occuring, genetically identical aspens; each new aspen physically connected to the last.

 

That puts Pando up there as the world’s both oldest and largest living organism. Sorry, blue whale, you’ve been pipped by the woody wonders of Utah’s cloning trees.

Impressive, right? What a fitting first contender for my magical forests.

 

Mossy Forest, Malaysia

This is one forest holiday to keep your eyes up, down and all around. The Mossy forest, nestled in the Cameron Highlands, boasts a blanket of eerie fog that will always set the scene for adventure. Think Labyrinth (1986) with David Bowie and you’ll be on the right track.

The mossy forest is perfect for forest holidays!
Moss everywhere!

Let the misty surroundings slowly unveil wild orchids and moss laden mounds every which way you look. All the while you’ll be up to your ankles in a mossy carpet of squelch.

 

It’s probably the first time you’ve considered taking wellies to Malaysia!

 

The Crooked Forest, Poland

The Crooked Forest is 400 metres and 22 rows of total bewilderment.

Poland's magical crooked forest
The magnificent Crooked Forest

The inexplicable has remained just so despite Poland and the rest of the world’s attempts to rationalise these wonky trunks with historical suggestions.

 

Still no one really knows either how or why the forest is this way so let your imagination can go as crooked as the trees themselves.

 

The Arve Forest, Tasmania

The Arve Forest is home to Centurion; the largest eucalyptus tree measuring a whopping 99.6 metres high. Rather ironically named when it’s 40cm off truly deserving its name, don’t you think?

Freddie's Flowers love Eucalyptus trees more than anything!
One high and mighty tall tree

(Nearly) Centurion’s height makes it the world’s tallest flowering plant, too. An added bonus for a flower lover like me!

Just imagine standing at the foot of such a magnanimous thing! And think of the tree house potential … You’d be bigger than Big Ben himself.

 

Eucalyptus is my absolute favourite foliage. I adore using it in my weekly flower deliveries to bring smell, style and texture into any curation. That greeny blue hue makes me weak at the knees … 

An arrangement by Freddie's Flowers

Have your own forest of flowers 

So there you have it! A whistle stop visit to magical forests that make your imagination run, Forest, run.

Forest holiday ideas sorted now, are they?

If you’re not quite ready to go globe trotting but want to have a home full of forest flora and fauna, then give us a go for only £24 a pop.

No need for wet weather gear and hiking boots, either. You just stay right where you are and have beautifully fresh flowers delivered right to your doorstep. As if by magic.


Featured photo by Lukasz Szmigiel

Our favourite British wildflower walks this Spring

Begone, Winter! Spring forwards into the world of wildflower walks like a little lamb on a crisp March morning.

Begone, Winter! Spring forwards into the world of wildflower walks like a little lamb on a crisp March morning.

As a dog lover and flower enthusiast, wildflower walks are up there with my favourite Spring pastimes. Continue reading “Our favourite British wildflower walks this Spring”