A Midsummer Night’s Dream!

Midsummer is one of the longest-standing celebrations in human history. Although it passes us by in the UK, for many cultures it is as significant as Christmas.

Midsummer is one of the longest-standing celebrations in human history. Although it passes us by in the UK, for many cultures it is as significant as Christmas. Just like Christmas, it has its roots in Paganism, with one marking the longest days of the year and the other marking the shortest. Also like Christmas, it combined with a Christian festival (in this case St. John’s Day on June 24th) to become a kind of bumper party – and who doesn’t love a party?

In this country the word Midsummer makes people think of a murderous village or Shakespeare’s fairies and Mechanicals. As we approach the longest days of the year, I thought it would be fun to showcase some of the most interesting Midsummer celebrations from across Europe. 

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Latvia 

They take Midsummer very seriously in Latvia. They also do it brilliantly: think bonfires, beer and cheese (what more do you need?). Like most European countries with pagan traditions, the festival also includes plenty of mandatory dancing and songs. Men called Janis (John) are made to wear crowns of oak leaves. Obviously. 

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Austria 

In Austria, it is traditional to mark the Summer Solstice with the lighting of beacons across the mountains. These fires are said to be an offering to the earth. These days you can use cable-cars, drones or Google Images to get a good snapshot of the tradition, which does produce a rather magical effect. 

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Portugal 

In Portugal, they celebrate Midsummer (St. John’s Day) as part of a succession of Saint’s days. The festival is most prevalent in Porto. Among the more bizarre rituals, participants can carry flowering garlic and hit each other with them… on the head. This is supposed to represent the chastising of the rebellious young St. John. 

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Russia 

In Russia there is a Midsummer tradition whereby couples jump over bonfires holding hands. If they let go as they jump the relationship is doomed to fail. Cheery. 

There is also a tradition of making flower garlands – now you’re talking my language – and floating them in water. Their movements are interpreted as predictions of the future. 

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UK 

Aside from popping to see a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream we don’t have many widespread Midsummer traditions in the UK. Well, apart from if you’re a Druid, of curse. Druids and Pagans traditionally head to Stonehenge to see the perfectly aligned sunrise on the Summer Solstice, linking them with revellers across thousands of years who have done exactly the same. 

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Sweden and Scandinavia

Nobody does Midsummer like the Scandinavians. In Sweden, the festival is the second most important holiday of the year. The iconic symbol of Midsummer (Midsommar) is is the  Maypole, which is covered in flowers and foliage and placed in a public place. Traditional foods and drink are consumed (in great quantities, of course) and often traditional clothes can be worn. The party lasts all day and all night, as long as the schnapps keeps flowing.

Traditionally, children must collect seven flowers and sleep with them under their pillow – this will help them to dream about the love of their lives. 

In Norway and Finland they celebrate in very similar ways. In addition, they light bonfires as is traditional all over the continent. In Norway plants and herbs are thought to have magical properties. 

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These are just a few of the most fun and strange Midsummer celebrations from across the continent. Reading about the partying makes me wish I’d booked a trip to Scandinavia to take part! For all of us who are stuck here over Midsummer (and hopefully enjoying lovely weather…) we can always bring a little summery magic into our own homes. If you’re missing some Midsummer madness then be sure to get a delivery of Freddie’s Flowers to brighten the place up! 

If you’d like to turn your home into the best flowery midsummer 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.

My aquatic faves from ChelSEA in Bloom!

Over 90 shops, restaurants, hotels (and even one dental practice) up and down Sloane Street, Duke of York Square, Pavilion road and the Kings Road jazzed up their shop fronts and windows this week to be crowned the winner of the Cadogen Chelsea in Bloom festival.

Chelsea in Bloom

If you managed to get past all the Instagram influencers who seem to swarm the area of Chelsea more than usual this time of year, you would have got a glimpse of the latest Chelsea in Bloom installations. And this year, the florists have gone all out!

Over 90 shops, restaurants, hotels (and even one dental practice) up and down Sloane Street, Duke of York Square, Pavilion road and the Kings Road jazzed up their shop fronts and windows this week to be crowned the winner of the Cadogen Chelsea in Bloom festival. Even the local rickshaws were dressed up.

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The theme this year was ‘Under the Sea’ which transformed Chelsea to Chel-SEA! Highlighting the importance of conserving and protecting the fascinating underwater world that is the sea, and all living things that call it home.

Once you get past the shoals of people taking selfies in front of the displays then watch out for floral octopus tentacles, allium, sea anemones and sea horses made from hydrangeas.

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So why the under the water theme this year?

They have partnered with charity Plastic Oceans UK, whose aim is to stop plastic pollution reaching the oceans within a generation. WHAT A GREAT CAUSE! With our boxes being nearly completely plastic-free I could walk around with a clear conscience. However, with single-use plastic being such a horrific problem I thought it was the best theme to raise awareness and money that Chelsea in Bloom has ever done!

Amazing London florists and flower companies from all over team up with the Chelsea shops and get their creative on! And they really don’t do it half-heartedly either!

Here are a few of my faves:

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Free people – Free people’s design by Worm London hit the nail on the head with this beautifully understated yet effective design of a washed up seascape. They used fishermen’s nets and an exposed floral coral reef vibe. Earthy pinks and browns with a lot of reeds and blooms. Although it was simply beautiful it was meant to represent the dying reefs all over the world.

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The Marshall Wace – Their installation for this year’s Chelsea In Bloom is a collaboration with ‘Surfers Against Sewage’. They highlighted the damage of single-use plastic and other waste materials are doing to our oceans and marine wildlife. The installation includes rubbish collected from “The Big Beach Clean”; an annual event organised by ‘Surfers Against Sewage’. The sea has been made with fresh hydrangeas, gypsophila and limonium. Personally, I thought this was the best! It hit home on how we really need to clean up our single-use plastic act!

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Club Monaco – This was a hybrid, mixed-media installation combining sculpture, painting and floristry. Fabric covered rock formations in warm pinks, coral and light sand was used inside and outside of the windows. Large commissioned paintings sat in each of the windows providing the backdrop; an abstract oceanic landscape of pinkish hues. Clusters of freshly cut florals and plants create coral-like arrangements across the seabed rockery.

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Hackett- Their display this year was following the inspiration of twenty thousand leagues under the sea, with the Hackett window featuring a full giant octopus with large tentacles sprawling through the sea windows inside and outside of the building, featuring a yellow submarine and deep-sea divers. Alongside fish, starfish and all other deep-sea creatures and plants, visitors also had the opportunity to have their picture taken amongst the scheme and become part of the scene themselves, wrapped in the tentacle of the octopus. Fun and actually kind of scary!

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It’s really worth the trip!

There were so many each one better than the last. If you’ve never been to Chelsea in Bloom I suggest you whack it in your diary for next year because it really is incredible. Seeing how innovative florist can get with their flowers blows your mind and also with this years theme being such a hot and serious topic at the moment! Stop that single-use plastic people!

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.

 

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!

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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.

 

What really goes on behind the scenes at Freddie’s Flowers…

o what really goes on behind the scenes here at my Freddie’s Flowers HQ? There’s always a hustle and bustle in the Freddie’s Flowers office.

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So what really goes on behind the scenes here at my Freddie’s Flowers HQ? There’s always a hustle and bustle in the Freddie’s Flowers office. Whether it’s the sound of the phones going off or all the office dogs running around in total madness, there’s never a silent moment. I thought it was about time I shared with you what really goes on behind the scenes…

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Flower fights

Starting off the week with the Monday morning fight over who gets to arrange the boxes of flowers delivered to be displayed around the office. All the customer service team huddle around the boxes shouting orders ”Maddie, get the scissors. Dan, where’s the flower food! Alice, you haven’t followed the leaflet!” It’s nice to see that even though they are talking about flowers all day they still love the concept of the company and love what we sell. And with all the hustle and bustle that brings we start the week as we mean to go on.

Bacon rush

Now, this is equal to the end of the week fight, the Friday morning bacon rush. The bacon gets delivered on a Monday and one person each week is put in charge to be the ‘keeper of the bacon’. This usually consists of one of us standing watch over the fridge so no one takes any sneaky slices of bacon. No one is to touch the bacon until we can all enjoy it on a Friday morning. Munching on our bacon sandwiches over a cup of tea and a chat we are then all ready to start the working day.

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Va-Va Bloom

There is no time for a sit-down cuppa for the Events Team however, they are all go-go-go! Creating the beautiful displays you see around about London in our bikes or pop-ups. They whip together the most beautiful baskets of flowers all week long, this is usually done with Bruce Springsteen blaring and a lot of laughter. But my gosh, do these guys know their flowers. Then off they go in the vans all over England to spread the word of what we do. You may have seen them around? Next time do come and see hello. They are a really friendly bunch!

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For the Gram

Behind every Instagram post is a story of hard labour that doesn’t always go to plan. They do always say ‘a picture says a thousand words’ and those words can sometimes be words of joy and sometimes words that shouldn’t be repeated. We recently went to Hampstead to shoot some images of my flowers for the Gram. What you don’t see in the snap (see below) is two people squatting just below the shot in case the wind blows the vase off the ledge into the pond (it happened many times) and all the time getting honked and snapped at by the aggressive swans circling them like Great White sharks.

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All our lovely images are taken by our world famous photographer, Harry. He used to work in our Customer Service team but found out he was rather good at taking pictures of flowers. So, boom! One day we suddenly found ourselves with a flower photographer. And what a great job he does.

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And that’s just a snippet of a few things that happen around and about the office during the week. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the dogs!

At the top of the hound hierarchy is my French Bulldog Claude. She’s Queen Bee of the Freddie’s Flowers HQ and is usually seen barking orders at most people here. Especially me. Then we have Malt, Betty, Solo, Yoko and Toby. So if you hear any loud barks in the background of your phone call it’s the dogs, not because we’re barking mad.

I hope you’ve enjoyed being a fly on the wall in my HQ, there will be lots more behind the scene snippets to come.

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.

 

 

 

 

A Guide to Flowers in art!

Flowers have featured in visual art ever since humans first daubed paint on a cave wall. It is easy to see why – flowers are beautiful, fleeting and symbolic… and far less fidgety than a human muse.

Flowers in Art

Flowers have featured in visual art ever since humans first daubed paint on a cave wall. It is easy to see why – flowers are beautiful, fleeting and symbolic… and far less fidgety than a human muse. I’m no artist myself, but I wanted to take you on a quick guided tour of some of my favourite flower-inspired art.

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Renaissance Fan

Everybody loves the Renaissance painters – they’re like the Jackson 5 of art. But we tend to associate them with Cherubs or Madonnas rather than flowers. But, look a little harder at some of the most famous art of the Renaissance and you’ll see flowers everywhere.

Botticelli painted many of the most famous works of the period. His Birth of Venus alone features both a flower nymph and the goddess Flora, spilling petals. Even more impressively, his luscious Primavera depicts approximately 190 varieties of flower, with 130 identifiable. After you’ve given our boxes a try, you too will be able to identify 130 types of flower!

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Dutch (Flower) Masters

The Dutch are skilled people. Not have they produced some of history’s most loved artists but they’re also the world’s best flower growers. It comes as no surprise to me that the Dutch painters turned to their national speciality for artistic inspiration.

From Van Dyck to Rubens, the Dutch Masters loved incorporating their national symbol into their paintings. In fact, Rubens’ Madonna with Wreath is giving me ideas for the Christmas season!

The Dutch are also keen painters of flower still life. Almost every Dutch painter of the 17th Century had a go – it was a bit like the Instagram of the day, with the noteable contributions from Brueghel, van Veerendael, Davidz de Heem and Frans van Dael. Honestly, stick a paintbrush in your hands and a few extra vowels in your name and you too could give it a go.

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Desperate Romantics

Back on home shores, our own Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood carefully incorporated flowers into their mythical, symbolic work.

John Everett Millais’ Ophelia is a British classic, and sure enough, it contains loads of amazing floral detail. For the natural elements, Millais actually painted from nature, in the Surrey countryside. Fortunately, he didn’t make his model lie in a real river, but painted her in a bath. It still didn’t stop her getting pneumonia – that’s the price you pay for art.

The flowers in the picture are so detailed that, according to the Tate, at least one Professor of Botany took classes to study the picture, as he was unable to get them out to the country. This wouldn’t be an issue now as they could just get the flowers delivered directly to their door for £22!

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First Impressions

In previous blogs, I’ve covered flowers in Impressionist art, and these can be found here.

But, I couldn’t do a post about floral art without mentioning the most recognisable flower paintings of all. No, not the ones your niece did in Reception, but Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

Given these are an iconic classic, it is amusing that many scholars now think he was inspired to paint these pictures because they were quick and easy money-spinners.

Even if this is true, as I write this I’m looking at our very own sunflowers, from our Indian Summer box, and I can confirm that a gorgeous sunflower is all the inspiration you need.

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Vienna to Tokyo

As we head into autumn, I’m reminded of my favourite painting by Gustav Klimt: The Kiss. It is an incredibly famous image, depicting two lovers smooching on the edge of a flowery meadow. Not only are the flower details beautifully realised, but the painting uses gold leaf to give the whole thing a shimmering, autumnal feel – it reminds me of the glorious golden Solidago we’ve got in our upcoming Autumn arrangements.

Klimt’s work was heavily inspired by the techniques of Japanese art and you can see the floral link – with gorgeous cherry blossoms and wildflowers, the work of painters such as Hokusai almost makes me want to take up a paintbrush too! Just look at his Bullfinch on Weeping Cherry and you’ll see where Klimt gets his ideas.

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Flowers that Pop

Now, at Freddie’s Flowers, we like to combine contemporary looks with classic blooms. One artist who did this amazingly was Andy Warhol. He might have been more famous for pictures of Soup Cans and Marilyn Monroe, but to my mind, the best of Warhol’s work was his series of flower prints.

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They’re colourful, sharp and distinctive, like all good flower arrangements. Warhol famously used silk-screen printing to produce his hibiscus blossom designs and this means that each of his Flowers is every so slightly unique – just like our boxes of flowers there is a slight variation. I think this is a great approach to painting flowers, as no two blooms are the same. That’s the fun of a gorgeous fresh bunch!

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Many other 20th Century artists also turned to flowers as a great subject for their work. Georgia O’Keeffe’s close-cropped, colourful and symbolic paintings could have been a direct inspiration for Warhol. The closeness of her work, such as the amazing Red Canna is incredibly modern, like the pictures you snap and send into me!

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Jeff Koons went one further, with his cartoonish sculptures of arranged flowers. His Large Vase of Flowers is an enormous, bright realisation of a 3D bunch that looks somehow real and completely false. Made in 1991, it has looked great for 27 years… slightly longer than one of our boxes, but only just.

The Modern Weiwei

Even today, artists are still featuring flowers in their work. Conceptual artist Ai Weiwei filled the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall with clay replicas of seeds in his Sunflower Seeds, a very modern take on floral art. 

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The dissident artist was unable to see his impressive work come to fruition as the Chinese government had confiscated his passport. In protest at this, Ai created another noteworthy flower piece, With Flowers. Every day, Ai would place fresh flowers in the basket of a bicycle outside his studio in Beijing – a symbol of his hope and independence. Finally, after 600 days (and 600 bunches of flowers!) Ai’s passport was returned and he was able to travel once more. Part-performance art, part-documentary piece, it is a thoroughly worthy addition to my run-down of flowers in art.

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You may have heard of the brilliant American artist Kehinde Wiley – he has just painted Barack Obama’s Presidential portrait for the Smithsonian Museum. Wiley specialises in photo-realistic portraits of African-American subjects, set against luscious and distinctive florals and patterned backgrounds. Obama is backed by flowers representing his history; blue Kenyan lilies, Hawaiian jasmine and Chicagoan chrysanthemums. That fabulous mixture almost sounds like one of our boxes!

A contemporary echo of the pattern-work of the likes of William Morris, Wiley’s floral backdrops makes his portraits distinctive and fresh while giving his work a hyper-real edge. 

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Both Ai Weiwei and Kehinde Wiley bring the idea of flowers in art right up to date, showing us that flowers still have a place in the gallery… or in your home.

Having a piece of conceptual art in your living room is probably not very convenient. But at Freddie’s Flowers, we can deliver the flowers that inspired the art, hassle-free directly to your door. What could be more simple – or artistic – than that?

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.

On-Trend Dining!

Whether it is a classic family meal, or a sophisticated soireé the table layout is of the upmost importance.

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Table decoration ideas for the perfect party

Whether it is a classic family meal, or a sophisticated soireé the table layout is of the upmost importance. Not only do they provide the perfect ambience for the meal you are about to embark on but also a great conversational topic.

Conversation starters can pop up from almost anywhere but the table layout is the first place I go to (apart from the recent weather we’ve been having). And at some dinner parties conversation starters are essential.  I usually get put next to the, lets call them the more difficult of guests because I fall under the awful category of ”I hope you don’t mind but you’re so easy to talk to I put you next to Great Uncle Bernard”. So if I can start with ”Bernard, doesn’t the table look absolutely fabulous tonight?” I am one happy bunny.

So lets have a look at a few table decors I’ve noticed around and about that I think are rather great to have a go at.

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The first rule of dinner partying

First of all, the first of the commandments of a good table layout is to embrace flowers wherever possible. A dinner party without flowers is like going shopping without your bag-for-life and having to get a plastic bag. AKA so not cool. So flaunt flowers in all their glory with a fresh arrangement in the centre and dotted about through out le table as much as you can. Of course the best flowers to have on the table are of course my flowers.

A lovely way of doing this is by getting tiny cups with fresh cut blooms and place at each setting for some sweet-sweet smelling ambience.

Of course if you don’t have lots of tiny cups, (I mean unless you’re part Sylvanian why would you?) another way (and maybe easier) of bringing more floral flair to your place settings is by placing or tucking stems and sprigs on or into the napkin. Et Voilà! La fête est un triomphe!

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Innovation invitation at its best!

I recently went to a D.P where they had chalkboard paper place mats. CHALKBOARD PAPER! Have you ever heard of such a superb revelation. Not only can they double up as place mats AND name places but also for the after dinner entertainment. Provide your guests with a bit of chalk and watch their face as they realise they’ve been eating off their own pictionary board all night!

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Seed them away with something to take home

Being a man of flowers this is an idea I could wait to do for my own soireé at home. Using seed packets as name places. Slot them into a bit of wood and staple or glue a bit of paper with the persons name on and not only does it give the table a little je ne sais quoi but it is also a little treat for the guest to take home at the end. And when they grow what ever seed it is at home they will always think of the wonderful time they had at your amazing party.

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Flowers make the world go round.

So there you have a few of my top tips for a lovely-jubly table layout. Dinner parties and lunches are my most favourite times and I always look back on each one with such fond memories so it is so important to make it look great. Flowers are integral. Do not forget it!

If you’d like your dinner party table the trendiest table in town, 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.

 

 

 

 

Behind the scenes at the latest Freddie’s Flower arranging event…

Flower Arranging with Freddie’s Flowers at The Garden Museum!
Yup, that’s right folks. We’ve started doing flower arranging workshops!
Read all about our evening event at the Garden Museum. And find out how you can come join us for any future events too!

New Beginnings and flower arranging!

It’s September and that means Back to School! The excitement, the anticipation, the nerves… I still have nightmares about forgetting my P.E. kit and doing it in my vest and pants. Fortunately these days, September makes me think of new beginnings rather than old gym shorts. 

So – in the spirit of new beginnings – I figured that just because we’re no longer at school doesn’t mean we can’t get together and learn a thing or two, right? So, in the past few weeks some of my brilliant mates have been running our first Flower Arranging Workshops to sharpen up your flower styling skills. 

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What a perfect place to start… The Garden Museum!

The sessions are a completely new thing for us, and we thought long and hard about where to launch them. Then it struck us: where better than the Garden Museum in South London, where we’re currently sponsoring their fabulous Flower Fairies exhibition?! It was a no-brianer; swing by the exhibition, learn some flower arranging skills and leave feeling florally enriched and ready for the new year ahead. 

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Here we go…

So, armed with 24 boxes of our freshly-cut flowers, 24 of our fab vases and a wealth of knowledge, some of my team hot-footed it across London (in our vans, we didn’t make them walk) ready to share our know-how. 

We set up our session in Lambeth’s wonderfully renovated Garden Museum; transformed in 2017, it is surely one of London’s best-kept secrets. Their main space is the perfect backdrop for our flowers, and we couldn’t wait to welcome our first class. Our vases were filled, our secateurs sharpened and our first participants welcomed into the fantastic museum space, excited to get going. 

And what a great couple of evenings we had, talking about different flower varieties, arranging methods and flower-care pointers. It was fantastic to meet both customers and non-customers, and to explain how to get the most out of our wonderful £24 regular arrangements. 

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A few of my favourite things…

We put together a wonderful box to arrange, including plenty of my favourites. Athena Roses – bread to be scentless and thornless – formed our stem-grid, accompanied by Snapdragons and Solidago. Next up were Irises, the gorgeous inspiration for the famous Fleur-de-Lis. The final element was fabulous Mohawk Aliums, a member of the chive family, but the one that inherited all the good-looks. Once the arrangement was complete, we wrapped them in the brown paper and string that come in all our boxes, ready to take home for further practice. It wouldn’t be school without some homework, now would it?

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A big thank you!

The attendees of these first sessions have been brilliant, and your questions have really kept us all on our toes. We’ve loved hearing about how you arrange your Freddie’s Flowers, and teaching you a few things we’ve picked up along the way. From mums and daughters on birthday outings, to friends having a catch up (and even one couple on a hot date!), we’re thrilled that people have jumped at the chance to get green-fingered.

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Stay tuned and have a go.

And the floral fun doesn’t stop there! Since the sessions at the Garden Museum, we’ve also held classes at the stunning Hayman’s Gin Distillery in Balham and our wonderful local Gail’s Bakery. We love doing the classes, and are planning loads more. If it sounds like your thing, make sure you are on our mailing list so we can let you know when we’re running a class in your neck of the woods. Flowers and a good laugh – sounds better than double Maths, right?

Or, even better, give our boxes a try – they’re £24 a pop and include arranging instructions. Once you’ve had a go, come to a class and we can sharpen your skills! 

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A floral education!

As I always say to my little pup Claude: you can teach an old dog new tricks. Even though I’m no longer at school, and nobody is nicking my lunch money, it doesn’t mean I can’t get together with a group of people and learn something new. So, next time we’re running a class, I’d love to see you there!

If you’d like to have a go at flower arranging, 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.

Misti’s flower diary; Cocktails, confessions and a professional ice cream eater.

I never thought I’d say it but I like espresso martinis. Wait, that’s not true. I love them.

I HAVE A CONFESSION

I never thought I’d say it but I like espresso martinis. Wait, that’s not true. I love them. Until a few weeks ago, I steered clear of them. I had always lumped them in with tartinis and cosmopolitans and other such cocktails synonymous with Sex & The City. In my mind they were clichéd and dated and consumed only by women of a certain age. Well I guess I’ve reached that age! Because recently I had my first one and it was terrifyingly delicious.

Misiti and Helena
Mini me

One of the perks of being married to a drinks writer is that you often have to taste things. Have to. It’s research. And as the book he is presently writing is about home cocktails, we had to make some. Had to. Did you know that when you shake the ingredients for an espresso martini then pour it into a glass, there is a foamy cream on top just like on a regular espresso? It’s magical. Perhaps not quite as magical as Spain, but nearly.

Helena and Henry laughing
Havin’ a laugh

THE RAIN IN SPAIN

Right after Easter Monday, my family hopped on a plane and travelled to where sherry rendezvouses with shellfish. There in the Andalusian province of Cadiz, in the seaside city of Sanlucar de Barrameda, we sunned ourselves like lizards and swilled sherry like Shakespeare. At least Henry and I did–once again for work. Helena just ate ice cream like it was her job.

Helena on the beach
Running around

Spring flowers were in full effect everywhere you looked. Red hibiscus bushes lined the streets while the heavenly scents of orange blossoms and jasmine commingled and lingered in the air. It was divine. The balmy weather guaranteed you could smell the fragrant flowers before you saw them. In the gardens at Palacio de Orleans-Borbón, Helena ran loops through the shady lilacs and miles along the citrus scented walls.

Oranges
Los Naranjos

One evening, we watched the sunset from the top of the Guadalquivir Hotel. Over the course of an hour, we listened to birdsong while the sky turned from blue to pink to peach. We sipped cold drinks as the waiters brought us bar snacks with fruit jellies para la nina on the same plate. Then we ambled back through the old town to our favourite bodega where the jamon iberico was plentiful and perfectly sliced and a copita of sherry cost only €1.20.

Sunset in Spain
Sun downers in Spain

HOME AGAIN HOME AGAIN JIGGITY JIG

Exiting the plane at Heathrow was a rude awakening. The queues at border patrol were unbelievably long just as they were for the loos in the baggage claim area. Outside the weather was wet and cold. Of course, I was in sandals and there was traffic the whole drive home. In the kitchen there was nothing to eat and in the garden all the spring flowers lay sad and sodden on the earth.

La Belle Rose
La Belle Rose

Monday couldn’t come fast enough. By which I mean, my Freddie’s delivery. Like a good cup of tea, Freddie’s flowers always set me right. Last week’s white roses, double daffodils, and strong gold tulips bright as the Spanish sun definitely cheered me. After arranging them, I felt inspired to see even more spring flowers. So I walked to Greenwich Park where the cherry blossoms were showing off. Ditto the wildflowers and the squirrels. And you know what? I felt happy to be back in London even if the sherry is more expensive.   

Architecture


Featured photo by Jenny Smith

Misti’s flower diary; Spring in my step.

Friday afternoon, I went for a walk on the heath and couldn’t recall the last time the weather had been so glorious.

SPRING IN MY STEP

Friday afternoon, I went for a walk on the heath and couldn’t recall the last time the weather had been so glorious. Spring flowers of every colour were everywhere. I thought the weekend would be the perfect time to pack away my woolly jumpers and plant bulbs for summer lilies. Then Saturday morning came and winter returned like an ex-lover who refuses to let you break up with them.

My heart broke for the camellias and the daffodils that were once again covered with snow. This year the poor flowers can’t seem to catch a break. I learned that even on my balcony, it’s not safe. My geranium sadly met its end.

My six-year-old, however, thinks the snow is brilliant. For her, it means snowwomen and snowball fights and going out for spicy Vietnamese pho–my favourite cure for a cold. For me, it means getting stuck in Portsmouth. I’ll explain.

Picture of a snowman
Snowwoman!

THE BEAST FROM THE EAST

I had been asked by the Portsmouth Literary Hub to come teach an evening about food writing while a local supper club catered the event. As I waited at Waterloo Station, I wondered whether or not I’d make the event. It turned out that getting there was easy. Getting back was where I ran into difficulty. For over an hour, I stood on the platform in the blowing snow. Luckily, I had two of the evening’s hosts keeping me company. When I finally left, what should have been a two and half hour-long journey became four.

At each stop, a man in a high visibility vest would take a hatchet and knock off the ice had that frozen the train doors shut. It was like Dr. Zhivago out there, a total white out. Then the heating went off. I desperately tried to think of other things.  

So I thought about my evening. Mostly about one of the guests, Ms. S. Forget the snowstorm outside. A blizzard couldn’t keep her away. She entered the building with her cane and ALL the animal prints. Years ago, she was a broadcast journalist in Benghazi and confided “Young Gaddafi was a dreamboat.” That evening she wrote a poem about me that she gave to me to keep and I will forever.

Misti with books
All the books.

HOME IS WHERE THE TART IS

When I finally got home, everything was lovely and warm. The scent of the garlic and sautéed vegetables and grilled turkey lingered in the air. Hours later it still tasted nice. So did the rice my husband left on the stovetop. On the living room floor, there was a notepad that he used to score his Qwirkle game with Helena. She won. Upstairs, she was snuggled in her bed covered with stuffed friends. I put lip balm on her, brushed my teeth, washed my face, and finally crawled into bed.

The next morning I was so tired I felt jet-lagged. I was also unbelievably happy to be home. It was my husband’s birthday and we had a lunch reservation for two. Actually, it became a reservation for three once we received word that school had been cancelled due to the snow.

Upon our arrival at Winemakers in Deptford, Gallant Galahad greeted us. He was the restaurant’s dog. Lunch was perfect except there a slight sadness that hung in the air as the restaurant would be closing its doors after that weekend.

My husband doesn’t get excited about cakes the way I do. So I made a treacle tart for his birthday instead. I had never made one before. It was extremely easy to do and ridiculously good. The recipe I used was Tamasin Day-Lewis’s from her book Smart Tart.

Picture of a homemade pie
Home is where the tart is.

ONCE MORE WITH FEELING

Recently I’ve been doing lots of yoga in the hopes that it will somehow counteract all the baked goods I’ve been making to keep out the cold. Unfortunately I can’t say it has, but I do feel my flexibility improving. Just like the spring flowers Freddie’s been delivering, I feel myself unfurling after a long winter.

Today the sun is shining and the sky is bright. I have just made lemon curd and I can’t help but have Eastery thoughts. Especially as this Saturday, I’m taking my daughter to Fortnum & Mason to make an Easter Bonnet. I hope it will be festooned with spring flowers—daffodils, lilies, primroses, and the like—and I hope she’ll wear it with aplomb like Judy Garland in Easter Parade.

This weeks Freddie's Flowers arrangement
All the colours.

Misti Traya fell in love with an Englishman and moved from Los Angeles to London in 2009.  After her daughter was born, she began a blog called Chagrinnamon Toast that won the writing category at the 2014 Young British Foodies. She was also named runner-up for the Shiva Naipaul Prize. She has written for Gawker, Jezebel, Look, Mslexia, The Pool, The Spectator, and Stella Magazine.

Love flowers? Fancy being one of Freddie’s Flower People? Sign up to try our lovely flower deliveries at £24 a pop.

Misti’s flower diary; Flying kites and tasty bites

February, you festive, lovely, short, breezy month! You are everything January is not and I love you for it.

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

February, you festive, lovely, short, breezy month! You are everything January is not and I love you for it. I can’t believe how fast the days are flying by. At this rate, March and all her spring flowers will be here in no time. Have the strong winds helped? If so, I am willing to overlook the fact that my favourite pot of red geraniums blew over and broke.

 

Flying kites
The flying koala

Let’s go fly a kite!

Honestly, nothing cheers me quite like a crisp, bright, beautiful, blue day– especially a windy one. This month has been full of them. Which is why my daughter has gone kite crazy. Her uncle in Australia sent her kite with a koala on it for her birthday more than a year ago. For this reason or that, we never got it up in the sky until this month. All I can say is that we are making up for lost time. Anytime my daughter looks out the window and sees the tree branches swaying she says “To the heath, Mummy!” and out we go.

 

Flowers to decorate
Decoration sensation

Social Butterfly

This February it feels as though we’ve been going out a lot and not just for postprandial walks in the park. Really the family social register has been rather full. At the top of the month, we had a friend’s birthday party to attend. I baked a chocolate cake and, luckily thanks to Freddie, had waxflower on hand to decorate.

 

The Ivy Café, Blackheath
The Ivy Café, Blackheath

Southern Charm

I had the best buttermilk fried chicken and whiskey of my life on a friend’s boat in the Old Ferry Wharf. It was so good that I shall forever refer to his end of Cheyne Walk as Charleston Upon Thames. Before walking home, I stopped to marvel at the view. Was there ever a prettier sight than the Albert Bridge at night? She is so beautiful she looks like she’s wearing pearls.

Speaking of pearls, there were plenty about at the opening of the new Ivy Café in Blackheath. Le Tout Blackheath was there. Seriously, Le Tout. How else do you think I got invited? The art deco décor is stunning, particularly around the bar which was full of vases holding spring flowers like lilies—my personal favourite. I kept thinking I’d see Bertie Wooster coming round the corner. He never did, but the wait staff did and with plenty of champagne.

 

Bad romance
Bad romance by Emily Hill

Bad Romance

In the run up to Valentine’s Day, I attended the launch party for a brilliant new book by the wildly talented, Emily Hill. The title? Bad Romance. The book is full of short stories, “tales from the happily never after,” that are deliciously dark and wickedly funny. I love it so much I’m getting copies for all my girlfriends and you should too. Yes, I baked biscuits for the occasion. They were my take on Necco’s Conversation Hearts.

As fun as this month has been, it’s also been exhausting. Thankfully, Freddie has taken it upon himself to deliver a visual Vitamin C. His yellow lilies, roses, solidago, and forsythia from a few weeks back were as satisfying and energising as any supplement I could have taken. They were so inspiring that we booked a trip to Spain this April. I can’t wait to see what the spring flowers are like there. I also can’t wait for proper sunshine and lots of seafood. Roll on, spring!

 

Author of Bad Romance
With the lovely Emily Hill

Featured photo by Joanna Kosinska

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!

 

Misti’s flower diary; board games, baking and Flower box making

Helena, my six-year-old, was home sick from school. After a movie and some Calpol, we read one of her favourite books…

Building blocks from a Freddie’s Flowers box

Several bake sales ago, I discovered a brilliant new use for the boxes from Freddie’s. This week I learned of another. Helena, my six-year-old, was home sick from school. After a movie and some Calpol, we read one of her favourite books, Iggy Peck Architect. It inspired us to create a structure of our own.

Structural success!

Options for building materials were wine boxes (my husband is a drinks writer) or flower boxes. We chose the latter and even did a little landscaping with some of this week’s fresh flowers.

Fresh flowers to tie the Freddie's Flowers box together
Thlaspi and waxflower ribbon works a treat

The thlaspi looked particularly pretty when paired with the previous week’s waxflower. Bright pink and pale green is such a cheerful winning combination–one that I know has definitely helped me avoid a post-holiday-malaise.  

 

Baking the bad weather away

Today is beautiful and blue. The air outside is cool as a cucumber and crisp as a cracker. That said, most of this January has felt unusually cold and grey. All I’ve wanted to do is hibernate. How lovely it’d be to curl up for a long winter’s sleep and emerge with the sunshine and scented blossoms of May. Then again maybe not. I really do love going for country walks and seeing the fresh flowers of spring pushing through the earth. I’d be cross if I missed them, especially the primroses.

Seeing Spring in snapdragons

True to form, I’ve successfully managed to distract myself from the cold weather by keeping busy in the kitchen. The Harry Potter Cupboard under our stairs is presently stocked with stacks of jars of marmalade. For Epiphany I made a Kings Cake and even devised a method of making puff pastry that doesn’t involve bashing 250 grams of butter into the dough. As for bread, I have baked so many loaves that I now have arms like Madonna. Okay that’s an exaggeration but I am noticeably stronger.  

 

Qwirkle crazy, Qwirkle mad

My family has also kept busy with Qwirkle. When I say busy I mean become wholly obsessed with. Which is odd because we are not a board or parlour game family.

Qwirkle is a tile-based game that looks a bit like Dominoes and is played like a hybrid of Rummikub and Scrabble. My father got it as a present for Helena as it encourages lateral thinking. While she loves it, we love it even more. The moment she’s tucked up in bed, the adults in the family battle it out.

 

Out with fermentable flavours …

Do you know what FODMAPs are? Neither did I until a few weeks ago. They are Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols and as far as I can tell, they are what make life delicious. Which is why, as someone who loves cooking and eating, I find it difficult being on a low FODMAP diet. It’s so restrictive that it makes cooking for vegans seem easy. Too many delicious things are not allowed, including alliums. The other night I made a Bolognese so bland, it made my child cry.

 

… and in with fresh flowers and an old time favourite 

For the time being, I’ve had to shelf my flours and cover the flat with fresh flowers instead. Honestly, I’m beyond thankful for Freddie.  

Fresh flowers are good for you!

To balance out what I’ve given up, I have decided to take up something as well–Whisky and soda. My husband’s grandmother was right. Some things are classic for a reason. If you asked Nanny how she was, she’d respond with a warm smile, pat your hand, and say “Whisky.” It really is a lovely drink. I swear one was smiling at me last weekend.

 

Misti Traya fell in love with an Englishman and moved from Los Angeles to London in 2009.  After her daughter was born, she began a blog called Chagrinnamon Toast that won the writing category at the 2014 Young British Foodies. She was also named runner-up for the Shiva Naipaul Prize. She has written for Gawker, Jezebel, Look, Mslexia, The Pool, The Spectator, and Stella Magazine.

Love flowers? Fancy being one of Freddie’s Flower People? Sign up to try our lovely flower deliveries at £24 a pop.


Featured photo by Annie Spratt