Most common mistakes people make when flower arranging

Do you adore cut flowers but worry you won’t give them the flow-wow-erful factor when it comes to the flower arranging bit?

Do you adore cut flowers but worry you won’t give them the flow-wow-erful factor when it comes to the flower arranging bit?

Fear not! I’m here to help.

I’ve got a posey of simple flower arranging pointers. 

First things first; you need flowers to arrange. (You could get them delivered right to your door by us. Click here to sign up to a weekly box off gloriously fresh cut Freddie’s Flowers.)

“Flowers always arrive beautifully and carefully packaged, stunning flowers and I love the instructions and ideas. Flowers really last two weeks every time, so have constant flow of beautiful blooms.”

Anne J

Here are my five top guidelines:

 

   1. Choose the right vase

Step well away from that tall, skinny, pringle pot vase. It’s close to useless, unless you’ve got 3 stems of amaryllis.

Believe it or not, almost all tall flower arrangements (as most Freddie’s Flowers arrangements are) work in one type of vase.

the perfect vase for flower arranging

I love a bell jar; 10cm in diameter at the neck and 20cm at the base.

This gives your flowers space to fan, whilst accommodating their long legs.

Secondly, as our flowers last for ages, you can trim them and break them out into small pots and jars in week 2, 3… sometimes 4!

2. Necessary accessories for long lasting flowers

A bad craftsperson blames his tools but having the right tools certainly helps!

  • Don’t use scissors – do invest in secateurs and keep them squeaky clean

  • Do always use a clean vase; your flowers will love you for it
  • Do add a sachet of flower food when you first arrange them, and every time you change the water

 

     3. Cut and water pronto

Our flowers are grown and cut to order and so fresh that we deliver them out of water.

  • Do pop your cut flowers into water as soon as humanly possible
  • Do trim them on a sharp angle to maximise water intake
  • Do snip a good inch off the ends to let them drink
  • Don’t let any leaves or foliage below the waterline as this reduces the life of your flowers

4. Find the right home for your flowers

Don’t put your flowers …

  • near a radiator
  • on a sun soaked windowsill
  • near fruit bowls

It may be a beautiful looking spot but it’s a total flower arranging no-no.

  • Do put your flowers somewhere reasonably cool with maybe an hour of natural morning sunlight. Flower heaven.

Top tip: need your flowers to open a little quicker? Do leave them under a lamp overnight in a warm room and the results are fantabulous!

           

9pm with central light on                                7am the next morning!

 

5. Remember to refresh regularly

  • Do treat your arrangement to fresh water every 3 days.
  • Do add a sachet of Freddie’s flower food to every litre of water.
  • Do retrim your stems by a few millimetres each time.
  • Do clean your vase each time you refresh to avoid bacteria build up.
  • Don’t use fairy liquid to clean your vase! The bubbles hang around and damage your flowers.
  • Do use a little bit of bleach and lots of water. Bye bye bubbles, hello healthy fresh flowers.

 

You’ll flourish at flower arranging

So there you have it! If you do the do’s, you’ll have stunning, long lasting cut flowers brightening your home all year round.

Time, patience and practice are your three best flower friends. 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!

 

Year of the dog; Freddie’s flowerful four-legged friends

I’m a firm lover of a few things; alternative flowers, four-legged friends and festivities.

I’m a firm lover of a few things; alternative flowers, four-legged friends and festivities. And with Chinese New Year right on our hind legs, I get to indulge in all three.

But it’s not about me! On February 16th 2018, we enter into the year of the Claude. I mean, dog. I can tell you one thing for sure. Claude is over the moon. Long live her doggy reign.

Alternative flowers for the year of the dog
All hail Queen Claude

So here goes an exploration of the fluffy, flowerful fun to be had thanks to the onset of the Chinese year of the dog.

 

What’s the deal with the date?

The official date for Chinese New Year is ever changing, just like the tide. It’s more tide-tied than you may realise; Chinese New Year is under the influence of the moon.

Little lady Luna

The date for Chinese New Year falls on the second new moon after the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. And who better to be the face of the lunar calendar than the moon dog herself, Luna!

 

Thank god for the year of the dog

For us dog-lovers, year of the furry friends has simply got to be a good ‘un. Most of us know a dog’s attributes. Providing we treat them right, they’ll treat us right, too. They’re loving, compassionate, loyal, a little smelly at times but all round lovely, really.

Respect and companionship amongst others is the key to success

Doesn’t it warm your heart to think that 2018 will be fore-fronted by those who embody such characteristics? Minus the wet dog smell, of course.

 

Every dog has its day, its year and its flower

We all know our zodiac signs, maybe even what our lucky numbers are. But did you know that every zodiac has a lucky flower too?

The dog’s almost too good to be true; the dog’s flower of fortune is the rose. Lucky in love are you, doggos?

Claude and a bucket load of lucky flowers

Having talked about floriography recently (fancy word for the language of flowers) a rose is a symbol of enduring and undivided love and affection. Just like a dog!

 

Freddie’s flower-loving four-legged friends

I think there’s almost nothing better than dogs and flowers. Here are a couple Freddie’s Flowers HQ adorable doggy exclusives. If anyone knows how to style our flowers, it’s the poochies.

Betty hunting foxes in a Freddie’s Flowers jungle
Otis soaking up those rays from our sunshine arrangement
Malty taking a selfie with the snapdragons
Doodle doggy modelling this arrangement blooming well
Majestic Arthur setting the scene in the packhouse
Sisters Bandit and Nel working the office flower bucket (they wanted their own photo shoots though)

Has your dog got what it takes to style a Freddie’s bunch like this little lot? Show us! Just tag Freddie’s Flowers on instagram and use the hashtag #flowerboxdogs to prove your poochie’s poochiness! 

 

Alternative flowers and their mythical powers

No occasion can be a celebration without flowers, in my (puppy dog) eyes. And those celebrating Chinese New Year clearly agree! Apparently, having blooms in the home is the best part of essential. They symbolise rebirth and growth.

Claude’s guarding these mythical peonies. Paws off!

Oh peony, lovely peony! Of course peonies are at the top of the list for such a joyous celebration. They’re the floral epitome of richness and peace – just what you need for a prosperous year, eh? Now you know, you’ll spot decorative peonies everywhere.

Make sure you’re ready for yet another festive season and deck your house out with prosperous petals for only £24 a pop!

 

Affirming a friendship through flowers

People say how they feel in such different ways these days; a text, an email, a bunch of alternative flowers, maybe even a messenger pigeon.

People say how they feel in such different ways these days; a text, an email, a bunch of alternative flowers, maybe even a messenger pigeon.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to bang on about Valentine’s day – it’s too early for even me, a flower enthusiast, to talk the language of lurve with flowers quite yet. I simply love that there’s a day dedicated to friendship! Calligraphy pens at the ready, people, today is the official ‘send a card to a friend day’. Totally void of gushy love stuff; just pure appreciation.

So January had January blues whilst February gets friendship, that’s more like it! But what’s even better? Discovering that there’s a language that goes above and beyond the epistolary gesture. And, knowing me, it comes in the form of flowers, of course …

 

The proof is in the post

That feeling of knowing that someone’s thinking of you is, as Tina Turner would say, simply the best.

These days, a card can say more to us than a bunch of flowers can. Just think how many different sections there are in a card shop! Flowers tend to mean love, thanks, apologies, condolences, that sort of thing. Back in the day, a single flower, varying in colour or form, could hold real depth of meaning.

Freddie's flowers send alternative flowers instead of alternative cards
A card for every occasion. Image credit

Seeing as the first penny postage stamp wasn’t introduced until 1840, greeting cards weren’t exactly popular for a fair old while. But for the middle class Victorians, there was an ever increasing popular way of communicating a little bit of love and appreciation. Or hatred. Ooh!

 

When you can’t send a card, what’s your alternative?

Alternative flowers, of course!

The Victorians were big flora and fauna enthusiasts. I’ve heard that even seaweed collecting and fern sampling were up there with their favourite pastimes. What a joyous day out; pootling along, petticoats pulled up, keeping an eye out for a new seaweed species.

A seaweed collection sample. Image credit

But when they’re not out collecting fauna? They were deciphering floral code. Sounds way more MI5 than it is but floriography was a big deal. 

To the untrained eye, a bouquet was a bouquet but boy oh boy are the meanings deeper than that. When a bouquet was hand delivered to the doorstep (not in big brown boxes, yet), the blooms held a mountain of meaning.

The meaning lies within the pages and the petals. Image credit

Flower dictionaries in hand, let’s have a little look at what subliminal floral messages we’ve been sending out recently:

 

Amaryllis

Meaning: ‘splendid beauty and pride’.

Amaryllis as alternative flowers

Remember when we plonked a boxful of splendidly beautiful red amaryllis on your doorstep just in time for Christmas? They were certainly something to be proud of, don’t you think? Just you wait for the white ones coming up!

 

White tulips, alstroemeria, aster, white roses

Meaning: ‘I am worthy of you; your charm, innocence and daintiness. I offer devotion and fortune’.

Wowie! If you’re a Freddie’s Flowers customer you’ll be getting tulips this week and the next three weeks (tis the season) so now you know my intentions!

 

Pink blooms, irises, pink snapdragons, waxflower

Meaning: ‘a rich, faithful and wonderful friendship towards a gracious lady’

alternative flowers

Irises are the top alternative flowers when it comes to friendship. How fitting on ‘send a card to a friend day’.

 

Rhododendrons

Meaning: danger, beware, I am dangerous

Beautiful put packed with foreboding. Image credit

Now, I’m not one to dwell on what alternative flowers you might send to an enemy. Always fun to know though, eh? There’s simply no confusion when it comes to a rhododendron. Thank god we don’t pop them our flower deliveries!

 

Alternative flowers for an alternate message

So, when sending a card to a friend, why not try hiding the message in a Freddie’s box? And a cute little pressed flower in the card that they can keep until next year, too? Be sure to pop a flower dictionary in there so there’s no misunderstanding!

Ollie and Harry know friendships are better when flowers are involved

Go on then, start deciphering the messages embedded in your blooms by giving us a go for only £24 a pop!

 

Flower of the week: avant garde tulip

When you think of the term avant garde, alternative flowers may not jump to the front of the list.

When you think of the term avant garde, alternative flowers may not jump to the front of the list. You may, more naturally, conjure the works of Matisse, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, yes?

Well, at Freddie’s Flowers, we know one thing for sure; flowers can be ahead of their time, too!

If you’re going to apply avant garde to a flower, a tulip may not be the stem that springs to mind. Why is that? Is it because we know a tulip when we see one? They’re as popular in Holland as pancakes and bicycles and they’re not exactly short of fans in this country, too.

Quintessentially Dutch. Image credit

Well, I’m here to shake your preconceptions. I’m going to make a claim for flower of the week on the humble tulip’s behalf. Say hello to the avant-garde tulip and the lengthy history its contemporaries hold.

 

Alternative flowers in the form of a tulip

I hope you’ll soon agree that the tulip is pretty pioneering in its own flowerful right. But we’ve got a variety so exciting it truly deserves the name and title flower of the week!

These tulips have petals that span out completely, revealing the stamen within. They look more similar to a fully bloomed peony than a regular tulip. They toy with conventions and I reckon they’re probably the most stunning alternative flower I’ve ever come across.

our avant garde tulips are alternative flowers
Our beautiful avant garde peonies, I mean, tulips!

Tulips seem to make a little habit of criss crossing conventions. Have you noticed how tulips will bend towards the light? A little waywardly, at times. I can’t be the only one to have come back to a bunch and realised that the sprightly stems have racked up an inch or so in height, too! That’s pretty alternative for a cut flower. 

Freddie's Flowers bending tulips
Look at them bend!

Now here comes the history bit ….

 

Over from Ottomans and into Dutch delirium

Did you know that tulip means ‘turban’ in Latin? Intriguing, no? Let’s find out more…

Tulips were sourced from the Pamir and Tien Shan mountain ranges in central Asia. But it was botanists within the Ottoman Empire who thought these alternative flowers wouldn’t look half bad in a garden.

Some stunning wild tulips in the Tien Shan mountains! Image credit

Tulip history starts hotting up when you take the tulip out of the Ottoman empire and into Holland in the late 16th Century.

Carolus Clusius, a French botany pioneer, published a book about his new floral interest, the tulip. What happened next was quite unexpected. People started raiding Clusius’ private garden in Leiden, Holland.

Carolus Clusius, the European tulip enthusiast. Image credit

People went bonkers for these alternative flowers.

Forget diamonds and pearls, tulip mania had begun and boy-oh-boy did it get out of control. Hair pulling, shin kicking, elbow jabbing – it was like the first day of the sales! Only kidding. But the value of tulip bulbs began to rocket so extremely that a handful of bulbs could equate to the value of a prime location Dutch townhouse and could feed a family for half their lifetime.

Fancy living in one of these? That’ll be a couple tulips bulbs, please. Image credit

Cobblers, carpenters, blacksmiths abandoned their jobs to get in on the floral gold rush.

 

Beauty and the break

It became Clusius’ life mission to decipher the tulip’s ‘break’.

The break is when a tulip, which has flowered multiple times in the same colour, suddenly blooms with petals that have flame-like licks of colour. Beautiful but baffling.

Varying degrees of breaking. Image credit

In the 19th Century it transpired that such changes in colour and feathering petals were the result of a virus, meaning that a breaking tulip was actually diseased. Beautiful, poorly petals.

 

Clusius and the rest of the Dutch cultivars admired such tulips in blissful ignorance of the diseased reality.

The most prized variety, the Semper Augustus tulip. Image credit

So much so that the Semper Augustus, with its stunningly beautiful white and red stripes, like a candy cane, became the most prized tulip bulb out there.

 

Bye bye beautiful bountiful bulbs

And then, in February 1637, came the break of all breaks. Tulipmania disappeared overnight. The vast expense of even the cheapest bulbs became so extreme that demand plummeted. All that remained were debts and disarray.

This moment in history is considered to be the first example of economic collapse. That makes a tulip quite the avant garde flower, if you ask me. Cheery times, eh?

 

Hello heavenly bunch

With such gorgeous avant garde tulips on the way, we thought we’d bring you some really rather beautiful accompaniments.

Aster, part of the daisy family, reflect the tulip with their white petals and yellow centres. The roses have silky bountiful petals that’ll put all other roses to shame. And why not add some long-lasting, lovely white alstroemeria to bring the bunch together in perfect harmony?

Need a little help arranging? I’ll happily show you how to work these alternative flowers. I hope you love this arrangement as much as I do!

Don’t go waiting around for tulips to become the price of a small house! Give us a go for £24 a pop!

Ode to Scotland

Did you know Scotland’s national animal is a unicorn?

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,

That’s newly sprung in June;

O my Luve’s like the melodie

That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

  A red, red rose – Robert Burns

Robert Burns
Robert Burns

Did you know Scotland’s national animal is a unicorn?

It’s Burn’s Night and did you know, I have a bit of Scot in me. The name Garland lived among the Pictish people of Ancient Scotland. Garland means ‘triangle land’. I feel my inner William Wallace thundering about. ”FRRRREEEEEEEEEEEE-flowers when you sign up a friend using your code”.

Bagpipes, whisky, tartan and the kilt are just a few things that come to mind when thinking of Scotland but for me it’s all about fauna and flora. The thistle, the heather, the good old bog myrtle.

Picture of heather in Scottish landscape
Scottish perfection

History of Burns Night

On the 5th anniversary of Robert Burn’s death in 1801, Burn’s mates decided to throw a dinner party to honour him. Like most good dinner parties it was a raucous, drunken affair. It was so fun they decided to make it a tradition.

Bringing in the haggis
Bringing in the haggis

The order of the night

Burn’s Night starts with ‘piping in the guests’. It usually involves someone playing the bagpipes looking like they’re near about to explode. Then there is the ‘brining in the haggis’ (the bagpipes start up again). The haggis, resembling a giant brain on a platter, comes charging in with its host in tow and everyone ‘ooooo’s’ and ‘ahhhhh’s’. Finally the ‘Ode to a Haggis’ by Burns is recited many more toasts and speeches. During all of this it is only respectable to down a generous dram of whisky every couple of seconds.

A thistle, symbol of Scotland
The Flower of Scotland

Legend of the thistle

Ever why wondered why Scotland chose the Thistle to be their symbol? There is no historical evidence why it was chosen, but there is a legend of how it came about…

During Alexander III reign from 1249 to 1286 an army of Vikings being led by King Haakon intended to conquer a party of sleeping Scottish warriors on the coast of Largs in Ayrshire. In order to be more stealthy and get nearer to the Scotsmen the Vikings removed their footwear. Unfortunately, one of King Haakon’s men stood on a prickly plant and yelled in pain. This woke up and alerted the Scottish clansmen of invaders. Needless to say it was the Scots who won that day. From that moment the prickly purple thistle became the Guardian Thistle and was adopted as the symbol of Scotland.

White heather
Magical white heather

More myths and legends

When you think of heather you think of the lovely purple haze and not maybe white heather. Legend has it that in the 3rd Century AD, Malvina (daughter of the legendary Scottish poet, Ossian), was betrothed to a Celtic warrior named Oscar. Poor old Oscar died in battle, and when Malvina heard the news she was heartbroken. The messenger who delivered the bad news also delivered a spray of purple heather that Oscar had sent as a final token of his undying love for her. It’s said that when Malvina’s tears fell onto the flowers in her hand, they immediately turned white, This magical transformation prompted her to say:

‘although it is the symbol of my sorrow, may the white heather bring good fortune to all who find it.’

Today white heather is considered to be very lucky for a bride who adds it to her bouquet.

Scotland's national animal
Scotland’s national animal

And finally back to why the unicorn

A fictitious creature may seem an odd choice for a country’s national animal, but perhaps not for a country famed for its love for, and long history of, myth and legend. The unicorn has been a Scottish heraldic symbol since the 12th century, when it was used on an early form of the Scottish coat of arms by William I.

In Celtic mythology, the Unicorn of Scotland symbolised innocence and purity, healing powers, joy and even life itself. It was also seen as a symbol of masculinity and power. Not quite what I think when I think a unicorn but you know, each to their own.

I’ll leave you now with a final word from Robbie.

 

On a bank of flowers – 1789

On a bank of flowers, in a summer day,
For summer lightly drest,
The youthful, blooming Nelly lay,
With love and sleep opprest;
When Willie, wand’ring thro’ the wood,
Who for her favour oft had sued;
He gaz’d, he wish’d
He fear’d, he blush’d,
And trembled where he stood.

Her closed eyes, like weapons sheath’d,
Were seal’d in soft repose;
Her lip, still as she fragrant breath’d,
It richer dyed the rose;
The springing lilies, sweetly prest,
Wild-wanton kissed her rival breast;
He gaz’d, he wish’d,
He mear’d, he blush’d,
His bosom ill at rest.

Her robes, light-waving in the breeze,
Her tender limbs embrace;
Her lovely form, her native ease,
All harmony and grace;
Tumultuous tides his pulses roll,
A faltering, ardent kiss he stole;
He gaz’d, he wish’d,
He fear’d, he blush’d,
And sigh’d his very soul.

As flies the partridge from the brake,
On fear-inspired wings,
So Nelly, starting, half-awake,
Away affrighted springs;
But Willie follow’d-as he should,
He overtook her in the wood;
He vow’d, he pray’d,
He found the maid
Forgiving all, and good.

Not interested in tasting haggis? Why not try some flowers instead. Flowers delivered to your door for only £24 a pop!


Featured photo by Simon Migaj

California dreamin’

You might need to put your shades on for this one, it’s a blinder. This stunning yellow bunch will bring sunshine flooding into your home.

Hit the road, Jan

You might need to put your shades on for this one, it’s a blinder. This stunning yellow bunch will bring sunshine flooding into your home. Swapping grey skies outside for a lovely sunny burst of light indoors.

Who’s in need of a holiday?

Think of this arrangement as a mini getaway. Maybe not mini, one that lasts up to two weeks. Starting in LA like our LA Lilies. Cruising down the Big Sur in your convertible mustard mustang is how you’ll feel when these guys open up.

Forsythia is part of the oceaceae family. Well that makes me think of the ocean, and there’s the Pacific up ahead!

Time to wax up your surfboard to ride those gnarly waves with this weeks wonderful waxflowers.

Later, watching the sunset go down over the Pacific makes me think of solidago with its cloudlike, fluffy texture

And let the good times roll with this weeks roses being unbelievably appropriately named Rose ‘Good Times’.

Are you feeling like you’re in sunny California now?

This weeks sunny arrangement
This weeks sunny arrangement

Beat the January blues

This week you might notice we’re all about the yellow. I always say that fresh flowers are good for the soul and these flowers are all about well-being. Bring in the positive with the New Year. Well, I hope this arrangement will transport you to far away, warm lands. It also reminds me of Sunday breakfast for some reason.

Los Angeles
Los Angeles @soitgoesmag

And… Back to reality

LA lily doesn’t actually stand for the star studded city of Los Angeles. It stands for something far more glamorous. Longiflorum Asiatic. Which is two different types of lilies in one. You can practically see the Longiflorum Asiatic taking off it’s Raybans and flicking it’s hair with an explosion happening in the background. Or maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.

LA Lilies
Too Hollywood

 

Surfs up

The lovely little white flower in this arrangement is called waxflower. Named waxflower because it’s petals look waxy. I’ve got a real soft spot for them. I think they’re charming. I hope you enjoy them too. If you squish them they will give a lovely aroma.

Waxflower is actually a native to Australia. Ahh, to be in Aussie now. Well just look at the flowers and you can pretend you are. Just imagine that sunshine on your skin.

Australian outback
Hot. Hot. Hot.

Roses that just want to have fun

Bask in the dazzling rays of some Good Times roses. They remind me of going past the orange orchids on my hypothetical road trip in California.

Fancy forsythia

Forsythia may look a bit stick like on arrival, but hundreds of yellow flowers will burst open over the week like a hundred little suns.

 

How to arrange forsythia, lilies and waxflower

Start with your structural forsythia. Snip off any low branches, so there are no stems below the water line. Arrange the stems evenly around the edge  of the vase. You’ll make a triangle-like teepee.

Forsythia
Standing strong forsythia

Take your lilies and do the same, filling the gaps left by the forsythia. This creates a grid for your waxflower and roses to stand up in.

LA Lily
Lush lilies

Next up, your fluffy waxflower. Place the stems in the centre using the stem grid for support and carefully pull its branches out in opposite directions.

Waxflower
Waxy waxflower

Finish with those good times roses. Tucking them over the edge of the vase.

Good time roses
Good time roses

And there you have it. Your own holiday in a vase. The perfect arrangement to beat the January blues.

Seeing as January’s all about new beginnings, start the year right by getting flowers delivered to your door for only £24 a pop!

Festive flower of the week: amaryllis

Being the flower enthusiast that I am, I dream long and hard about the day I get my Christmas flowers delivered.

So let’s think for a moment. Red is the colour of Christmas, guaranteed. How do I fill a vase full of the epitome of Christmas? With a floral arrangement bigger than Father Christmas’ belly, brighter than Rudolph’s nose and easier on the eye than mulled wine is on the lips.

Step down poinsettia, step aside Christmas cactus and make way for our flower of the week and, quite frankly, the flower of the season; amaryllis! Continue reading “Festive flower of the week: amaryllis”

Five things you didn’t know about Christmas history, from festive wreaths to crackers.

A potted history of christmas, from wreaths to crackers

Is there anywhere better than London at Christmas? This is the city that inspired Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’, after all. Just walk through Covent Garden and the whiff of mulled wine tickles your nozzle and the wonder of the magical lights put the Northern Light’s to shame. Of course you would be wearing at least 14 jumpers and coats whilst doing the walking because my lord, it’s got chilly hasn’t it?!

A picture of Covent Garden at Christmas time
Christmas wonderfulness

The origins of the great Christmas classic, the wreath

For thousands of years people around the world have enjoyed midwinter festivals. With the arrival of Christianity, pagan festivals mixed with Christmas celebrations. One of the leftovers from these pagan days is the custom of decking out houses and churches with evergreen plants like mistletoe, holly and ivy. Some believe that initially wreaths were hung on doors in Ancient Rome to represent victory.

In Christianity, the Christmas wreath was used to symbolise Christ. The circular shape, with no beginning or end, represents eternity or life never ending. The wreaths were typically decorated with four candles, three on the exterior and one in the middle. The middle candle was lit on Christmas Eve to symbolise the arrival of the Light of the World – Jesus. Most wreaths these days just symbolise a good looking door.

A wreath designed by Freddie's mum
A Mrs Garland special

The wreath leactures

I love Christmas and I love wreaths. So this time of year I love a bit of light wreath-spotting. There are some beautiful wreaths out there making Wandsworth and the rest of London look simply to die for. When I walk Claude (more like she walks me) across the common I pick up bits and bobs to help my Mum with the lovely wreaths she makes. I recommend making your own. It’s lots of fun.

If you’re not much of a DIY-er, there are some lovely wreaths about. Like this beautiful example from The White Company

A Christmas wreath
DING DONG (Image credit: The White Company)

I’m also rather partial to this edible wreath from the lovely chaps at Rocket Gardens. Very cool.

 

Edible christmas wreath
TASTY! (Image credit: Rocket Gardens)

 

An etching of Charle's Dicken's novel
Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’

Bah ‘actually not so’-humbug

No era in history has influenced the way in which we celebrate Christmas, quite as much as the Victorians. Before Victoria‘s reign started in 1837 nobody in Britain had heard of Santa Claus or Christmas Crackers. No Christmas cards were sent and most people did not even have holidays from work. The wealth generated by the industrial revolution of the Victorian era changed the face of Christmas forever. Praise the Victorians because Christmas really is my favourite holiday by miles. The even I managed to take a couple of days off!

Photo of Freddie whilst arranging
Thumbs up to the Victorians

Christmas Cards for one and all

The “Penny Post” was first introduced in Britain in 1840 by Rowland Hill. The idea was simple, a penny stamp paid for the postage of a letter or card to anywhere in Britain. This simple idea paved the way for sending the first Christmas cards.

Sir Henry Cole tested the water in 1843 by printing a thousand cards for sale in his art shop in London at one shilling each. The popularity of sending cards was helped along when in 1870 a halfpenny postage rate was introduced as a result of the efficiencies brought about by those new fangled railways.

An old Tom Smith crackers poster
Cracker jackers!

Totally crackers

Christmas crackers were invented by Tom Smith, a London sweet maker in 1846. The original idea was to wrap his sweets in a twist of fancy coloured paper. But this developed and sold much better when he added love notes, little sayings, paper hats, small toys.

However, one night, while he was sitting in front of his log fire, he became very interested by the sparks and cracks coming from the fire. Suddenly, he thought what a fun idea it would be, if his sweets and toys could be opened with a crack when their fancy wrappers were pulled in half. What would crackers be without a bang eh?!

Christmas tree Nelson's column
Nelson celebrating Christmas

The iconic tree

Queen Victoria’s German husband Prince Albert helped to make the Christmas tree as popular in Britain as they where in his native Germany, when he brought one to Windsor Castle in the 1840’s.

The kings and Queens of Christmas
The kings and Queens of Christmas

Three cheers to the Victorian’s

I think the Victorian’s deserve a big round of applause don’t you?

If your home isn’t already bedecked with cut flowers, you better get festively furnished and give us a go for £24 a pop!

Here’ the glorious arrangement we’re delivering from Monday 18th December

Amaryllis delivered by Freddie's Flowers
Amaryllis from the Realms of Glory

Freddie’s guide to festive flowers and firs

As an avid Christmas lover, the idea of choosing festive flowers and the tree of all trees fills me with joy. I remember running around the carpark-turned-tree-maze sizing them up, trying to find the biggest one to beg my parents to buy. All the while with a childish disregard of the fact that it wouldn’t fit in the house, let alone the front door. Or the car.

I was young back then but not much has changed.

Festive flower and festive firs
A common sight at this time of year. Image credit

Flora and fauna are one in the same. As with your festive flowers, your Christmas tree deserves to flourish. From picking the right shape to the right stand, here are the bits and bobs you need to be the envy of all the evergreens.

 

The delight of the right conifer

When you’re buying a Christmas tree you’ve got two thought processes; to drop or not to drop, and spiky versus soft. Such conundrums put the spruce and the fir head to head.

The Norway spruce

All you need to set the scented scene for Christmas is the smell of pinewood and mince pies. You’re in luck; the Norway spruce is at the forefront of fragrant firs!

The classic Norway spruce. Image credit

Did you know that the Norway spruce is Europe’s most coveted Christmas tree thanks to Prince Albert? in 1841 he dressed this delightful evergreen in lights for his beloved Queen Victoria. The Norway spruce is a real beauty that doesn’t disappoint on looks and hosts fairy lights like no other.  If you want to keep it right royal this Christmas, this is the tree for you.

Illustration of the first Christmas tree
“The Queen’s Christmas tree at Windsor Castle”, 1841. Image credit

I suppose Prince Albert didn’t need to worry about hoovering though. Norway spruces fall foul of some hefty amounts of early needle droppage. A real problem for carpet lovers. No one wants to get a needle through their new Christmas socks.

Lovely but mighty spiky! Image credit

And you certainly don’t want your kids tree hugging for the first time, only to come out looking like a pinewood porcupine.

 

The Nordmann fir

On the other side of things, we have the Nordmann fir. Finnish botanist Alexander von Nordmann (hence the name) brought this tree over from the Caucasus mountains to compete with the popular Norway spruce.

The fluffy Nordamann fir. Image credit

And compete it does!

The Nordmann is climbing the Christmas wishlist with it’s non drop needle claim. Its softer spikes makes it child friendly too. Not that i’d encourage kids to hug this tree either.

A real softy. Image credit

You will have to sacrifice an extra couple of quid and find a fabulously festive candle to fill the forest fragrance void though.

Too much? I think so! Image credit

The demand for needle rights

Okay, so you’ve chosen the nature of your tree, let’s make sure you know how to nurture it! There’ll be no unnecessary needle droppage in your household.

  • Ready it, steady it and saw the bottom

We know to snip the ends of all our festive flowers. And the Christmas tree is no exception! When you’re ready to take the green giant (or not so giant) out of the cold and into your home, saw a bit off the base (about an inch is perfect). This will  allow the trunk to take up the water good and proper.

Approach with saw-tion! Image credit

And just as every bunch of festive flowers needs the right vase, every tree needs the right stand. If your tree trunk’s a little too thick, don’t go sawing the bark off to wedge it in – the bark actually absorbs the most water. Instead it might be time for a stand upgrade.

  • Give your tree a very regular festive refill

Trees drink a lot. We’re talking up to 2 pints of water a day. That’s definitely more than your average bunch of festive flowers! Top up your tree’s tipple just like you do Grandma’s sherry glass and all will be well (and merry).

 

  • More festive away from the fireplace

Tempting as it is, your Christmas tree won’t thank you for the cosy spot by the fire. It’ll go that ‘i’ve just been on holiday in Barbados’ brown. And for a tree, that’s not a good look.

It’s not a good look for Ross in Friends, either. Image credit

Festive flowers to finish

Now you know the secrets to the almighty evergreen, how about you pop the icing on the Christmas cake? We’ve got the flowers to compliment that little bit of forest you’ve brought into your front room. 

festive flowers
Feeling festive! Here’s our roses, bouvardia, eucalyptus cinerea and silver parvifolia.

 

So what are you waiting for? Get festively furnished and give us a go for £24 a pop!

A solid(ago) choice

Solidago

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.

A solidago field in India

Golden fields

Soli-yay-go

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.

Edison and a solidago plant
Edison and his solidago plant

Solid-useful

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.

People arguing over their gardens
Garden Wars

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?

Catherine Jeltes - Abstract Flower Blue
Catherine Jeltes – Abstract Flower Blue

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.

Solidago

Klimt's Woman in Gold
Klimt’s Woman in Gold

Chrysanthemums

Van Gogh's - The Starry Night
Van Gogh’s – The Starry Night

Carthamus

Jackson Pollock - Hot 9
Jackson Pollock – Hot 9

Oriental Lily

Degas - The Star
Degas – The Star

A Red Rose

Rothko - Mauve and Orange
Rothko – Mauve and Orange

A work of art, or Freddie’s Flowers?

A Freddie's Flowers arrangement
Purple lisianthus, pico lilies, purple alstroemeria and solidago

 

Chagall - Blue Violinist
Chagall – Blue Violinist

The verdict…

”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.

 

 

A Freddie's Flowers arrangement
A Freddie’s Flowers arrangement

See how I arrange this bunch here:

Our fleurs are so incredibly fresh that some of them will arrive closed. They’ll open up over the next few days and we hope you enjoy watching them open up.

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.

 

 

Flower of the week: lavender

You might know cut limonium in its less tongue-tying title of sea lavender. How charming – the lavender of the sea! If you think you’re experiencing de-ja-vu right now you’re right. Well, kind of. We’ve covered the sea side of this beautiful flower already.

So instead I’m going to linger on the flower that cut limonium is commonly and rightly named after. And, seeing as lavender is a common scent filled sight of purple haziness to us here in the UK, it’s a flower worth taking the limelight.

The stunning Mayfield lavender Farm in Banstead, Surrey. Image credit

Long lasting lavender legacies

Lavender has many a prosperous property. The Romans were big fans of lavender (as well as roses). The Romans used to douse their baths, themselves and any fabric they could get their hands on with the soothingly perfumed flower oil.

It makes total sense then that the word lavender derives from ‘lavare’ which is ‘to wash’ in Latin. In the 16th Century the love of lavender was at a high – lavender (sprigs and all!) were sewn into sheets in the hope of keeping pesky bed bugs at bay.

Lavender in all its gloriously ‘good for you’ forms. Image credit

 

How flowers can help with sleep

Need a little help getting those solid 8 hours in? Lavender’s scent is often employed as a natural relaxant to sooth and calm, helping you drift off and into a good night’s kip.

Just make sure you’re putting a couple drops on your pillow and not shoving a lavender sprig up each nostril! 

 

Lemon and limonium

Anyone else new to knowing that lavender is related to mint? What a glorious scent filled family that is!

I suppose this is why lavender can follow in mint’s footsteps when making of a good cake or cracking cup of tea. There’s clearly logic in having a lavender sprig in your minty mojito too!

Image credit

Hold on a sec, let’s think back to The Great British Bake Off final. We all remember that moment when Paul Hollywood didn’t think that lemon and lavender would work in Sophie’s showstopper cake.

Sophie’s winning cake

He clearly didn’t know the family history. Like lemon and mint, lavender and lemon is (clearly) a winning combo when executed right. Come on Paul, surely your taste buds know better than that.

 

Back to the lavender of the sea.

 

Don’t underes-stem-ate the cut limonium

Cut limonium is a lot thirstier than it looks! Those skinny stems can suck up a lot of water so make sure you don’t find your flowers in a vase full of drought.

Top the arrangement up with fresh water regularly and you’ll be loving the limonium for days on end.

Cut limonium used in the Freddie's Flowers box this week

Top tip – leaving the limonium out of water on purpose (after the other flowers have gone on) is a great idea! Limonium dries wonderfully. Maybe it can join your dried celosia from a few months back?

 

Inventing new words for lavender

I saw cut limonium and the word ‘fluvely’ just fell out of my mouth. 

Cut limonium is, as the clumsy but effective new word suggests, both fluffy and lovely; the perfect cut flower to compliment any arrangement. With its unique texture and purple hue any arrangement would be lucky to have it!

All sorts of flowers, particularly paler ones like white lilies and phlox, work in unison with the lavender stems. And we all know that alstroemeria are always a good idea.

 

cut limonium coming in the Freddie's Flowers boxes this week

I’m sure your arranging skills are as strong as the scent of lavender in a Roman bath but here’s a little look at how to arrange this one.

 

Want to see what all this lavender and limonium malarky is about for yourself? Give us a go for only £24 a pop!

 

Laurel for the victors

The fauna of youth

In this weeks arrangement we’ve added the foliage of all foliage. The fountain of youth for flora and fauna. This stuff just does not get old. The ever-green Laurel. I think it looks rather splendid amongst the roses, bouvardia and gypsophila don’t you?

A photo of this weeks arrangement
This weeks extravaganza

Marcus L-Aurel-ius and co

When you think of laurel, you think of a few things. The first one that comes into your head is laurel wreaths worn by dashing Romans and Ancient Greeks. Swanning around starkers after defeating a lion or something and wearing a glorious crown of laurel leaves. But why?

A laurel wreath is a symbol of victory and honour. In ancient Greece, wreaths were awarded to victors, both in athletic competitions, including the ancient Olympics and poetic meets.

Worn by some emperors as a token of their own divinity. The Roman Emperors Trajan, Caligula and Marcus Aurelius are all seen on their coins wearing a laurel wreath on their heads.

A image of a Roman coin
Marcus L-Aurel- ius 

The Story of the laurel wreath

Apollo got shot by Cupids arrow and fell big time for the nymph, Daphne. But alas Daph did not love him back… At all. So Daphne’s father Peneus decides the best way to save his daughter from love-crazy Apollo is to transform her into a laurel tree. (We’re not quite sure what his reasoning is on this one, but apparently it made sense to the ancient Greeks.)

Apollo feels rubbish about how it all went down, so he “honours” Daphne by making the laurel his sacred tree. He also gives the tree some of his own eternal youth to make it an evergreen. So, even though Daphne is the one who turns into the tree, the laurel ends up being a symbol of Apollo himself. The god is often depicted in art as wearing a wreath of laurel, and his lyre and bow are usually decorated with laurel leaves.

Have you ever heard someone say, “Don’t rest on your laurels” when warning another person not to get too cocky after a big win? Well, now you know where that comes from – the phrase references none other than the laurel wreaths that were awarded for a victory. It’s kind of weird that what started out as a symbol of Apollo’s defeat in love became a symbol of human victory.

Painting by Antonio del Pollaiolo
Daphne and Apollo by Antonio del Pollaiolo.

Who remembers?

Other than laurel wreaths the other one that comes to mind is Laurel & Hardy. For those of you that don’t know, Laurel and Hardy were a comedy double act during the early Classical Hollywood era of American cinema. They seemed to have disappeared on TV now but I remember when I was younger they were a big part of my telly watching.

Photo of Laurel & Hardy
Laurel & Hardy

 

Let’s have a cheeky peak

This arrangement is a breath of fresh air. And actually features a flower called ‘baby’s breath’ (Gypsophila). A lovely delicate arrangement but with the laurel making it also look rather handsome.

What’s in the bunch?

Avalanche roses

Avalanche roses
Gorg avalanche roses

Bouvardia

Bouvardia
Bouvardia to die for

Laurel

A photo of this weeks arrangement
Holding up the fort – Laurel

Baby’s breath – Gypsophila

Gypsophila
A breath of air

Our fleurs are so incredibly fresh that some of them will arrive closed. They’ll open up over the next few days and we hope you enjoy watching them open up.

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.