Freddie’s Flower People: Samantha Bond

Star of screen and stage Samantha Bond tells us about why she loves weekly flower surprises and reveals her favourite bloom…

Freddie’s Flowers customers are all wonderful people… and here’s another one! Star of screen and stage Samantha Bond tells us about why she loves weekly flower surprises and reveals her favourite bloom…

You’d expect Samantha Bond to be garlanded with bouquets — many of her most famous characters would expect nothing less. Lady Rosamund from Downton Abbey is used to living in the grand style, whether at home in Belgrave Square or visiting the family in the country. And if James Bond didn’t bring Moneypenny a bunch of flowers on his return from each latest mission, well, then he certainly should have done.

Samantha’s had a fascinating and varied career that has taken her from playing Juliet to Kenneth Branagh’s Romeo, to the erratic Auntie Angela in Outnumbered — recently, she’s even appeared in her first stage musical, an adaptation of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

But when not on stage or on screen, Samantha Bond loves her Freddie’s Flowers deliveries. She says, As an actor, I am often spoiled with flowers, particularly when in the theatre, but the new varieties that appear every Thursday are a constant delight.’

 Home for Samantha is in south-west London. As a child, she grew up in a showbusiness family — her father an actor, her mother a producer. Her own family have continued the tradition; her husband and both her children are all in the business. Another family tradition that they’ve kept up is that of gathering for a regular Sunday lunch. And the ever-changing bouquets that arrive at the door every week help to make her new home even more naturally lovely.

‘We had just moved into our lovely new house when a flyer from Freddie’s Flowers popped through the letter box. The notion of surprise fresh flowers weekly and the ingenious concept behind the business intrigued me. I signed up immediately.’

So, which bunch would bring a smile to her face when she opens the box? My favourite flowers are probably hydrangeas, but not so practical in the house!’

Hydrangeas: classy, elegant, and constantly surprising us with their ability to change. We can’t think of a more suitable flower.

Hydrangeas_corner

Are you one of Freddie’s Flower People? You don’t have to be famous – we just want to see your arrangements! Share your own Freddie’s Flower pics with on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or drop us an email at freddie@freddiesflowers.com

Or if you haven’t already done so, sign up for lovely flower deliveries at £24 a pop here!

Marianne North – the most remarkable artist you’ve never heard of

This extraordinary, independent Victorian woman travelled the globe and painted flowers like nobody else. Introducing the inimitable Marianne North…

This extraordinary, independent Victorian woman travelled the globe and painted flowers like nobody else. Writer Nigel Andrew introduces the inimitable Marianne North…

Even by the standards of intrepid, globetrotting Victorian spinsters, the flower painter and tireless traveller Marianne North was an extraordinary woman.

In an age before air travel and motor transport, she crisscrossed the globe, living and painting in Jamaica, Canada, the United States, Brazil, Tenerife, Japan, Ceylon, India, Borneo, Java, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Seychelles and Chile – all in the space of a decade and a half.

Wherever she went, and whatever the obstacles in her way (cliffs, swamps, jungle), she carried on painting her astonishing, botanically accurate, vividly coloured oil paintings of the exotic plant life she found. And virtually all of her flower paintings – some 833 – can be seen together in the Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens.

 

Restored Marianne North Gallery Interior
Restored Marianne North Gallery Interior. Image: RBG Kew

‘I am a very wild bird’

Born in 1830 into a wealthy and well connected family, Marianne shared her father’s passion for travel and botany and, when she found herself alone, free and rich following his death (in 1869), she decided to indulge them both, along with her new-found love of oil painting – which she described as ‘a vice like dram-drinking, almost impossible to leave off once it gets possession of one’.

She abhorred marriage – ‘a terrible experiment’, in her view, that turned women into ‘a sort of upper servant’ – and disliked company, so most of the time she lived, travelled and painted alone. ‘I am a very wild bird,’ she declared, ‘and like liberty.’

Her paintings survive her in such quantity and in one place because, having held a public exhibition of her work in 1879 and disliking the sudden celebrity it brought her, Miss North decided to donate all the works to the Royal Botanical Society at Kew. She also offered to build a gallery at her own expense to display them to the public.

Marianne North Gallery, Press launch
The Marianne North Gallery after restoration. Image: RBG Kew

 

The gift was reluctantly accepted by the director Sir Joseph Hooker, and the gallery – a solid, rather chapel-like building in a corner of the Gardens – was duly built. It was recently restored, and is quite unlike anything of its kind – indeed Kew claims it is the only gallery devoted to a single female artist, with full public access, anywhere in the UK.

 

A very tropical palette

The effect of Miss North’s paintings en masse is somewhat concussing – those colours are so strong and bright! Her palette was certainly well adapted to the tropics. She typically painted her plants not as specimens in isolation but as organisms in an ecosystem, creating pictures that are beautifully composed and highly pictorial as well as precisely descriptive.

Burning Bush and the Emu of Chile
Burning Bush and the Emu of Chile. Image: RBG Kew

 

Ipomoea and Vavangue with Mahe
Ipomoea and Vavangue with Mahe. Image: RBG Kew

 

Native Vanilla Hanging from the Wild Orange
Native Vanilla Hanging from the Wild Orange. Image: RBG Kew

 

Often her paintings include fauna as well as flora (as in Burning Bush and the Emu of Chile) and her plants often frame a view of their habitat (as in Ipomoea and Vavangue with Mahe [an island of the Seychelles] or the beautiful Native Vanilla Hanging from the Wild Orange).

Northia seychellana
Northia Hornei. Image: RBG Kew

 

Sometimes she zooms in and fills the canvas with a single plant (as in Northia Hornei, though note the bird), at other times she is essentially painting a view with a little botanical garnish (as in The Permanent Snows, from Santiago) and occasionally she’s content to paint what amount to cut flowers (as in Cultivated Flowers, painted in Jamaica).

Cultivated Flowers painted in Jamaica
Cultivated Flowers, painted in Jamaica. Image: RBG Kew

‘Tea or coffee and biscuits’

It’s sobering to reflect that, if Marianne North hadn’t painted in oils, but in the more usual (and ladylike) delicate watercolours, little or nothing of her work would have survived her tropical travels and the ravages of time. Even her oils needed some repair work when the gallery was restored in 2008. They are as fresh now as when they were painted, and still hanging exactly as Miss North arranged them (hung very, very close). She also painted the frieze and the decorations around the doors.

The Permanent Snows
The Permanent Snows. Image: RBG Kew

Her plans for the gallery were blocked only in one particular – she wished visitors to be served ‘tea or coffee and biscuits’, but Sir Joseph Hooker said no. In response, the indomitable Miss North painted tea over one door of the gallery and coffee over the other.

In the course of her travels, Marianne North discovered a number of new species, and several are named in her honour, including Areca northiana (a feather palm), Crinum northianum (an Amaryllis relative), Northea seychellana (a tree of a previously unreported genus) and Nepenthes northiana (a pitcher plant that she was the first to paint).

When her travels ended in 1885, she retired to Gloucestershire and lived quietly there until her death in 1890. She was only 59, but she had lived, travelled – and painted – more in her productive years than most would achieve in several lifetimes.

Marianne North Gallery, Press launch
A visitor to the Marianne North Gallery. Image: RBG Kew

 

You can buy prints of Marianne North’s work and plan your visit to her gallery at the Kew website.

Nigel Andrew is a writer and host of the Nigeness culture blog. Thanks to Kew Gardens for supplying the images. 

 

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. 

Wildflowers and waggle-dancing: The Hive at Kew Gardens

The wonderful new interactive Hive exhibit at Kew Gardens is a must-see for all flower-lovers…

The buzzing new interactive Hive exhibit at Kew Gardens is a must-see for all flower-lovers…

Among the lawns and beautifully-tended herbaceous borders of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, a strange aluminium form emerges. It draws you in, a winding path circling the mound on which it stands. There’s a hum of noise.

After you climb through a meadow of wild flowers, you waggle-dance yourself inside the seventeen-metre tall structure, built from 170,000 parts. You can look up to the sky beyond or down through the glass floor to watch other visitors milling about below. Coloured LED lights blink above you. Small children lie flat on the glass to watch each other scurry about.

JE_KEW_140616_9943
Photo: Jeff Eden, RBG Kew

 

This is the Hive, an artwork created by the artist Wolfgang Buttress and first exhibited as Britain’s pavilion at the Milan Expo in 2015. If you think it’s designed to make you feel like a bee, that’s exactly the idea. The Hive even hums and buzzes in response to the activity of real bees in a more traditional hive nearby. The busier the bees, the brighter the lights. The artwork’s not only aiming to make us marvel at it — which it certainly does — but also to make us think more about the natural world around us.

JE_KEW_HIVE_150616_0285
Photo: Jeff Eden, RBG Kew
The wildflower meadow that’s been planted by Kew Gardens contains thirty-four species of native wildflower and three different grasses, many with magical names. There are not only the more familiar daisies and poppies, forget-me-nots (below) and wallflowers, but also Meadow Buttercups and Cats Ear, Lady’s Bedstraw and Birdsfoot trefoil. In the hedgerow, you’ll find hawthorn and blackthorn, wayfaring tree and dog rose.

Forget-me-nots and a bee

 

It’s not only the bees who love wild flowers; we all need them. According to Abby Moss of the Grow Wild project, which aims to get more people growing flowers in wild places, the UK has lost 97% of its wild flower meadows since the 1930s. Those meadows provide homes for bees and other pollinators, which in turn provide food for birds, hedgehogs and bats. And they all thrive on a variety of plants to live on. The more diverse the flowers and plants we let grow, the more birds and bees will flourish.

Richard Deverell, the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, says ‘Not only is it heartbreaking to lose the beauty and colour these native flowers give the UK landscape, but the plight of pollinators has a very real impact on the food we eat ourselves.’

So we all feel better for the beauty and colour of flowers in our lives, whether we’re bees or not. We can bring them into our homes, but we can also find unloved spaces, no matter how small, and make them grow.

JE_KEW_HIVE_150816_2636
Photo: Jeff Eden, RBG Kew
The Hive is open at Kew Gardens until November 2017. Find more information on the Kew website here.

Photo top: Jeff Eden, RBG Kew

 

Love flowers? So do we! Make your home naturally lovely all year round by signing up for a delivery box for just £20 a pop. 

Freddie’s Flower People: Polly Devlin

Here’s another wonderful person we’re lucky enough to have on our weekly rounds: the writer, editor and broadcaster Polly Devlin OBE…

We’re constantly amazed by the extraordinariness of our customers. Here’s another wonderful person we’re lucky enough to have on our weekly rounds: the writer, editor and broadcaster Polly Devlin OBE…

Polly Devlin says she was persuaded to give Freddie’s flower boxes a go by a ‘handsome man’ who came one evening, unannounced, to her door. Of, course, she says, she ushered him in sharpish because she ‘couldn’t resist his spiel which was the opposite of a spiel.’

Polly’s always been a woman who has moved between the country and the city; growing up in a remote corner of County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, she set off for Swinging London when she won Vogue magazine’s famous talent competition – working as the Features Editor. In 1967, she moved to Manhattan where she interviewed all the megastars of the era: Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Andy Warhol and Barbara Streisand to mention just a few.

 

‘The minute I could, I filled my houses with flowers’

Her homes have made the pages of magazines themselves — and flowers have always been a part of them. Polly says ‘my mother wouldn’t let flowers into the house when we were small because they made a mess — it’s always down to the old rag and bone shop of the heart, isn’t it? — and the minute I could, I filled my houses with flowers.’

Her favourite flowers? Roses. Polly grows lyrical about her love of them:

I’m Irish and when I look at these fabulous flowers I think… Only the English could have taken this sultry, furled, ancient tenacious decadent flower, one which survived thirty-five million years and immeasurable changes of climates, and christened her Mrs Honey Dyson and hung her in bouncing white frothy cascades from apple trees.

Only the English could have looked deep into the enormous flat furled complicatedness of a rose carried thousands of miles from an island in the Indian Ocean and called it a cabbage rose.

Only the English, in admiring the elegant aristocratic newcomer who had been imported by the East India Company from behind the closed gates of China, could call it a Tea Rose.

She doesn’t think that all the time, she admits. Only sometimes.

 

‘I don’t arrange. Anything. Ever’

Polly even named her eldest daughter Rose — her other two daughters also have the sylvan names Daisy and Bay. (They’re all amazing, successful people too, by the way – Rose Garnett is Head of Creative at Film4, Daisy is a journalist and Bay is a well-known fashion stylist.)

Polly is a writer of novels, short stories, a book on fashion photography and another on conservation: A Year in the Life of an English Meadowwritten with her husband Andy Garnett, tells how she and her family restored fields, made lakes and planted thousands of trees on their land in Somerset.

She’s currently writing a book about New York houses, a short story for an anthology, and preparing for one of her regular semesters teaching at Barnard College in New York.

It’s no wonder, then, that with so much going on in her life, she allows her Freddie’s Flowers to look their natural best. ‘I don’t arrange,’ Polly says. ‘Anything. Ever.’

 

Are you one of Freddie’s Flower People? You don’t have to be famous – we just want to see your arrangements! Share your own Freddie’s Flower pics with on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or drop us an email at freddie@freddiesflowers.com

Or if you haven’t already done so, sign up for lovely flower deliveries at £24 a pop here!

 

 

Image top via BBC – Polly is a regular on the fiendish Round Britain quiz.

Dutch Flowers at the National Gallery – Don’t try these at home!

Marvel at the skills of the Dutch flower painters – but don’t try these impossible arrangements at home!

The art of flowers reached a peak in 17th century Holland, as the glorious exhibition currently at the National Gallery shows. Guest writer Nigel Andrew marvels at the skills of the Dutch flower painters – but warns: don’t try these impossible arrangements at home…

 

Dutch flower fever

In 17th-century Holland they took their flowers very seriously – so seriously that they began to want paintings of them, paintings inhabited by nothing but flowers, with a nice vase and perhaps the odd butterfly or bee to show off the painter’s skill.

This fascination with flowers had its roots in the scientific revolution that was having a big impact on life in Holland at the time, with botany and horticulture becoming subjects of intense interest. At the same time the cultivation of exotic plants by well-off individuals and in the new botanical gardens drove a thriving trade and fuelled the kind of passions that sparked the infamous ‘tulip mania’, at the height of which a single bulb could change hands for the price of a town house.

Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, 1573 - 1621 Flowers in a Glass Vase 1614 Oil on copper, 26 x 20.5 cm Bequeathed by Mrs Sally Speelman and Mr Anthony Speelman in memory of Mr Edward Speelman, 1994 NG6549 http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG6549
Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder – ‘Flowers in a Glass Vase’ (1614). Note the two tulips! Image credit: National Gallery

 

That bubble burst, of course, but flower paintings continued to be in high demand right through the 17th and 18th centuries – and a fine selection of them can currently be seen in Room 1 at the National Gallery (until 29th August).

It’s one of those compact exhibitions – just 22 paintings – that are such a joy because you can give proper attention to each picture and come out at the end refreshed rather than exhausted.

Their rich colours gleaming from the walls of the softly-lit gallery, the paintings are hung in chronological order, with usefully informative labels (no art-crit jargon), enabling you to follow the development of Dutch flower painting across the best part of two centuries, from its rise to its high point and on to what looks very much like its fall.

 

The invention of flower painting

A portrait of Jan Breughel the Elder and his family, c.1612, by Rubens. Image credit.
A portrait of Jan Breughel the Elder and his family, c.1612, by Rubens. Image credit.

 

The story begins with Jan Breughel the Elder, who virtually invented flower painting and gained huge fame from it.

He is represented in this exhibition by a vigorous, brushy depiction of an arrangement of tulips, chrysanthemums, narcissi, roses, irises and other flowers in a well-painted glass vase. Look a little closer and you will find a butterfly, a beetle and a delicate fly.

The style developed by Breughel – dark background, flat picture space, symmetrical arrangement, each flower shown (as it were) full-face – became standard in the first phase of Dutch flower painting. The virtuosity, however, increased rapidly, as can be seen in Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder’s exquisitely painted Still Life of Flowers in a Wan-Li Vase, which comes complete with three pearly seashells, a Red Admiral butterfly, a dragonfly, a caterpillar and a bee.

Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder A Still Life of Flowers in a Wan-Li Vase
Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder – ‘A Still Life of Flowers in a Wan-Li Vase’ (1609-10) Image credit: National Gallery

 

By the time you reach this magnificent picture, you might be thinking, ‘Just a minute – tulips, lilies, peonies, irises, marigolds, narcissi, roses, columbines, fritillaries, pinks, all in perfect full bloom at the same time? Surely not!’ You might also be thinking that the arrangements themselves are often structurally impossible.

And you’d be right on both counts: these are not paintings of actual flower arrangements but of specimens – many of them too precious ever to be used as cut flowers – arranged by the artist on the canvas (actually not canvas – wood and copper were preferred, as showing off the colours more strongly). The aim was to display these flowers to best effect and with the maximum of botanical accuracy, not to provide ideas for home flower arrangers.

Osias_Beert_-_Basket_of_Flowers_-_Google_Art_Project
Osias Beert the Elder – Basket of Flowers (1600/1650). (Not from exhibition)

 

Some of these 17th-century pictures also carried a moral message. A painting by Osias Beert the Elder (no Youngers in this exhibition) emphasises the transience of natural beauty by showing fallen petals and leaves affected by insect damage. Another of Beert’s hammers the point home with an inscription: ‘What you see in these flowers, which appear so beautiful to you, will vanish. Beware. Only God’s world flourishes for ever.

Jan_Davidsz_de_Heem_-_Vase_of_Flowers_-_Google_Art_Project
Jan Davidsz de Heem ‘Vase of Flowers’ (c.1660) Image credit: NGA

Stillness and dynamism

Dutch flower painting reached its peak with Jan Davidsz de Heem, who introduced movement and dynamism into his arrangements, with flowers facing in different directions and stems and tendrils breaking out in all directions. His Vase of Flowers livens things up with honeysuckle, ears of wheat and a bunch of redcurrants, and the complex reflections on the glass vase are beautifully rendered. This is flower painting with real impact.

Star of the show for me, however, is Dirck de Bray, whose Flowers in a White Stone Vase is a simple and perfectly balanced composition. This simplicity and the relatively loose brushwork give it an almost modern feel, and it has a welcome quality of stillness that contrasts with the dynamism of De Heem and Rachel Ruysch, whose strong diagonal compositions are full of movement.

Rachel Ruysch, 1664 - 1750 Flowers in a Vase about 1685 Oil on canvas, 57 x 43.5 cm Bequeathed by Alan Evans, 1974 NG6425 http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG6425
Rachel Ruysch ‘Flowers in a Vase’ (c.1685). Image credit: National Gallery

 

Ruysch, whose father was head of the Amsterdam botanical garden, became internationally famous in her lifetime, but her fame was as nothing to that of the ultimate superstar of Dutch flower painting – Jan van Huysum.

Van Huysum was a master of texture, lighting and detail. In his Hollyhocks and Other Flowers in a Vase, the precision of his rendering of the hollyhock leaves and the crepe-like petals, just beginning to curl at the edges, is quite astonishing.

Jan van Huysum, 1682 - 1749 Hollyhocks and Other Flowers in a Vase 1702-20 Oil on canvas, 62.1 x 52.3 cm Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876 NG1001 http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG1001
Jan van Huysum ‘Hollyhocks and Other Flowers in a Vase’ (1702-20). Image credit: National Gallery

Over the top?

However, Van Huysum also represents the point at which Dutch flower painting tipped into a kind of unreal decorative extravagance that, while hugely popular in its day, now looks like a sad falling-off from the best of what went before.

Van Huysum’s Flowers in a Terracotta Vase, a virtuoso piece on a grand scale, shows which way the wind was blowing. It’s full of brilliant painting – the grapes, the bird’s nest – but the arrangement and the setting are entirely artificial, the palette is brighter and lighter, the traditional dark background has been abandoned, and the whole effect is… well, way over the top; there’s just far too much going on here.

Paulus Theodorus van Brussel, 1754 - 1795 Fruit and Flowers 1789 Oil on mahogany, 78.4 x 61 cm Presented by Frederick John Nettlefold, 1947 NG5800 http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/NG5800
Paulus Theodorus van Brussel ‘Fruit and Flowers’ (1789) Image credit: National Gallery

 

And it only got worse, as the arrangements became ever grander and ever more impossible, each picture a riot of flora and fauna, with exotic fruits – pineapples, melons – joining in the fun. By the time we reach the three works by Paulus Theodorus van Brussel that end the exhibition, the decline into mere decorative prettiness and virtuosity for its own sake is complete.

However, the actual painting of individual flowers retains its superb quality to the end, and this exhibition – the first of its kind in London in 20-odd years – contains plenty for any flower-lover to enjoy, marvel at and take inspiration from.

Just don’t try these impossible, towering arrangements at home.

 

 

Dutch Flowers continues to 29th August 2016. More information is on the National Gallery website, with a useful look at the exhibition in detail here

Nigel Andrew is a writer and host of the Nigeness culture blog.

 

A note on images – we have illustrated this post with images in the public domain and available to use under the Creative Commons license. Not all the pictures in the exhibition are so available, so we’ve used alternatives and provided links to the images on the National Gallery website in those cases. We have also made a donation to the National Gallery via Justgiving to help them continue their magnificent work!

 

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.

Six splendid, unusual vases for showing off your flower arrangements

We’ve hunted around for receptacles worthy of your arranging skills! Here are six stylish, unusual and very affordable flower vases…

Great artists need canvases, composers need orchestras, and champion flower arrangers like you need vases! (Or urns, or oversized milk jugs… or anyway something nice in which to plonk your latest Freddie’s Flowers delivery.)

We’ve hunted around for some suitable receptacles worthy of your skills, so without further ado, here are six stylish, unusual and very affordable flower vases that can be ordered online now…

 

1. Silver-finished Florence glass vases by Lime Lace

florence glass vase

If you like to split your arrangements over a few vases then these petite, shabby chic beauties from indie boutique Lime Lace would be perfect. The glass has a distressed silver finish for a naturally lovely antiquey sort of feel. Absurdly affordable, too.

£6.95 each from Lime Lace here.

 

 

2. Stockholm aquatic vase by Stelton

stockholm aquatic vase

How’s this for a bit of timeless Scandi design quality? It’s an aluminium and enamel vase by Swedish duo Bernadotte & Kylberg. We love the ocean blues on simple white, and reckon it would be ideal for showing off your flowers without competing with them.

£114.50 from Made in Design here

 

 

3. Lily vase by Bristol Blue Glass

Bristol Blue lily vase

Speaking of blue, the legendary glass-blowers of Bristol have all sorts of fab flower receptacles in their armoury, but we especially like this classic lily vase. All Bristol Blue Glass pieces are handmade and therefore totally unique. (Incidentally, Brizzle is one of areas that we deliver Freddie’s Flowers free!)

From £108.00 direct from Bristol Blue here.

 

 

4. Retro German ceramic vase by Carstens

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Carstens was a West German ceramic company operating between 1945 and 1984, and there are plenty of cool retro pieces to be had online, like this textured sand-coloured vase. It’s one of several Carstens vases available from the very stylish family-run Homeplace store.

£36 from Homeplace here.

 

5. Ceramic Flower Jug from Papa Stour

 

papa stour

Designed by Lara for the Scottish craft and design boutique Papa Stour, these lovely, quirky flower jugs are made from soft slabs of clay, with delicate rims and edges. There are three versions, two stripy ones and a leafy one.

£48 from Papa Stour here.

 

 

6. Silver Milk Churn from Wedding of My Dreams

milk churn

Or if not a milk jug, how about a milk churn? Ridiculously affordable at a tenner each, these are officially wedding table centerpieces, but so what? They’d be great for anyone who wants a bit of country rustic to go with their artfully plonked flower arrangement. Why should brides always have all the nice stuff, anyway?

£10 from Wedding of My Dreams here.

 

 

There are of course zillions of lovely vases out there, so we’ll definitely be featuring more receptacles in future posts.

Have you spotted some beauties? Do you even make them? They don’t have to be vases – Freddie’s flowers can look splendid in anything from champagne bottles to wellie boots!

Please do share your suggestions with us on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.

 

Or if you have the vases but need the flowers to go in them, sign up for Freddie’s naturally lovely flower deliveries at £24 a pop here.

Freddie’s Flower People: Zoë Wanamaker

Freddie’s Flowers customers are all naturally lovely people. Take, for example, the one and only Zoë Wanamaker…

Freddie’s Flowers customers are all naturally lovely people. Take, for example, the one and only Zoë Wanamaker…

It’s the early days of Freddie’s Flowers (i.e last year). Picture our Freddie speeding through the streets of West London behind the steering wheel of his flowermobile (a milk float bought on eBay), stopping and starting to make deliveries, and only very occasionally hitting top speed of 8mph. It’s raining and, as ever, he’s being followed by queues of angry, hooting motorists and is laughed at by crowds of schoolchildren who stop and point on their way to school.

Float
The infamous flowermobile

 

You have to ask yourself: How on earth did Freddie keep his morale up? How did he maintain a cheery demeanour on the doorstep? How did he just keep going?

A love of flowers and a mission to make everyone’s home more naturally lovely helps, of course. But it might not have been enough. So thank the Lord for chance encounters with inspiring people.

Imagine on such a day knocking on a front door and finding yourself looking at Madam Hooch (from the Harry Potter films). This is how Freddie found himself one otherwise trying morning. Madam Hooch (aka Zoë Wanamaker) was nice to him, even offering him a (possibly magical) cup of tea. She went on to become a loyal customer and we thought we’d check back with her – not least to thank her for her support back in those early, venturesome days.

Zoë loves flowers so was actually pretty sure to look kindly on our offer. She considered Freddie’s Flowers a “charming and inspired idea” that’s “uncomplicated and affordable”. A year later and we’re very happy to hear that “flowers light up my day and a home”. It doesn’t matter too much which ones either: ‘‘90% of flowers are my favourites”.

Having a naturally lovely home to come back to is important to her: she’s a busy lady. She’s just finished a run starring in Elegy at the Donmar Warehouse, has narrated a couple of TV documentaries (Handmade: By Royal Appointment and Mr v Mrs: Call the Mediator) and has been doing work for charities, Breast Cancer Care and Child Rescue Nepal.

With hardly a pause, she’s now working on a new series for television, the intriguingly-titled Britannia. We only know the title so are guessing it’s about one of: (a) the personification of Britain (the lady with the helmet, shield and trident) (b) a lady who happens to be called Britannia, (c) the Roman province comprising modern-day Great Britain or (d) the hybrid tea rose of that name.

Whilst we’d quite like to see Zoë dressed as Britannia we’re really hoping it’s (d).

Can’t wait.

tea rose britannia
The Britannia tea rose – probably not the subject of Zoë’s latest TV show

 

Are you one of Freddie’s Flower People? We want to see your arrangements! Share your own Freddie’s Flower pics with on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or drop us an email at freddie@freddiesflowers.com

Or if you haven’t already done so, sign up for lovely flower deliveries at £24 a pop here!

Hyacinths for the Soul, or Why everyone deserves a naturally lovely home

Yes, we all know flowers are beautiful, colourful, fragrant… but why are they so IMPORTANT? Allow us to explain…

Yes, we all know flowers are beautiful, colourful, interesting, fragrant… but why are they so important? Allow us to explain…

How’s this for a true, wise and very learn-by-heartable little poem? It’s by the 13th century writer Saadi of Shiraz:

If, of thy mortal goods, thou art bereft,
And from thy slender store two loaves
alone to thee are left,
Sell one & from the dole,
Buy Hyacinths to feed the soul.

At Freddie’s Flowers, we couldn’t agree more!

There are lots of good things about flowers, of course. But the really important thing about them is that they feed the soul.

And they do that by transforming your home into a more beautiful, colourful, sweet-smelling place. Or as we like to say, they make your home more naturally lovely.

peonies

As Freddie’s Flower People (aka our customers) keep telling us, the joy of weekly deliveries is that when you have a steady stream of gorgeous flowers coming into your house, life just seems better. Your vases are continually being filled by splendid new arrangements, and then you can mix and match and use flowers in different rooms until your whole house becomes – as Freddie himself puts it – ‘like a big evolving artwork’.

Not bad for £20 a pop, eh?

Certainly there are worse ways to spend your spondoolicks. For example…


 

Eight common things that don’t make your life more naturally lovely at all…

1. Spending money on not really getting fit

Three visits to the gym, all of them in January, for the frankly eye-watering cost of an Annual Membership…. A cross-trainer in the spare room (aka the world’s most expensive clothes drier)… Sometimes we forget that walking in the park is free (and you can stop to smell the flowers, too.)

 

2. Stocking your cupboard with spices you’ve never heard of and will use possibly once ever

Don’t we love those exciting recipes from the Levant and Middle East, especially from that lovely Ottolenghi? Look amazing in the colour supplements, use lots of healthy ingredients. Just one problem: you need  spices with names like baharat, za’atar and ras el hanout. They sound wonderful, smell divine…It’s just that after your night of experimentation, they will sit in your cupboard unused for the next decade or two.

 

3. Dressing up clothes for men

Sadly, it turns out that constantly upgrading your clubs, bags, trolleys, shoes, gloves, balls, tees, polo shirts, binoculars, visors, sunglasses, trousers, umbrellas and ball cleaning devices doesn’t actually make you play golf like a pro. And for those MAMILs*, dressing in skin-tight, fluorescent lycra doesn’t mean you’ll be able to enter the Tour de France next year, either. [*Middle Aged Man In Lycra]

 

4. Surreal coffees

That Gingerbread Banana Caramel Mochaccino seems pretty conservative choice now that somebody has invented the Deconstructed Flat White, consisting of espresso coffee, milk and hot water served separately in three beakers on a wooden plank:

decontructed flat white

5. Obscure kitchen gadgets

The kind with a function so incredibly specialised that nobody can remember what it is, and when you pull it out of the back of the cupboard you’ll just stand around looking at it and trying to guess. Is it some sort of egg poacher, or do you use it for peeling kumquats?

 

6. Fashion fads

Shoulder pads, crocs, ‘clear’ bra straps that are still perfectly visible, platform sneakers… they all must have seemed like a good idea to somebody at some time. Surely?

 

7. Diet fads

Research shows that literally millions of pounds are disappearing from British wallets on diet books and weird foods – from macrobiotics to caveman grub – and yet hardly any pounds are disappearing from British waistlines.

 

8. Fad clothes that will fit after you’ve been on the fad diet

From the peg to the wardrobe to the charity shop, without once gracing your person. Sigh.

 


Thankfully, Freddie’s Flowers customers don’t have to fret about any of that sort of thing, because they’ve discovered that the secret of domestic bliss is to be constantly surprised and delighted with fresh flower deliveries.

When you think about it, it’s positively criminal that some people haven’t cottoned on to it yet.

So if you have a friend who could do with some ‘hyacinths for the soul’, why not share this post with them on Facebook and help make the world a slightly more naturally lovely place?

freddies

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.

Freddie’s Flower People: Rosie Millard

Freddie’s Flowers customers are all naturally lovely people. Here’s one of them – broadcaster, author and North London resident Rosie Millard…

Freddie’s Flowers customers are all naturally lovely people. Here’s one of them – broadcaster, author and North London resident Rosie Millard…

Have you heard of ‘nominative determinism’? It basically means your destiny follows your name. So our own dear Freddie Garland was bound to get into flowers wasn’t he?

How about journalist, broadcaster, author, marathon runner and mother of four, Rosie Millard? With a name like that of course she loves flowers. But are roses her favourite?

“I do love roses of course and we have a wonderful Rambling Rector currently going mad in our garden, but my absolute favourite flower is the glamorous and luxuriant peony, inspiration for artists and lovers alike.”

We got to know Rosie as an appreciative customer: “I think it is a brilliant and inspired service and it gives me joy every day.” And we wanted to know more about her as she seems to be, well, flower-powered.

 

‘Naughty bits’

She was the BBC’s Arts Correspondent for a decade and continues to contribute to TV and radio as a freelancer. She writes columns and features for a variety of publications. Her first novel, The Square, an entertaining romp through one of London’s leafy (and, secretly, quite licentious) squares, was published last year (available here). Rosie lives on a square herself but insists she made all the naughty bits up.

She also supports some interesting and very worthwhile projects. Most recently she was appointed Chair of Hull City of Culture 2017. Is Hull a flowerful city?

“It certainly is. When we won the title City of Culture 2017 the name of the city was spelt out in flowers at the Marina. It is a surprising city too; independent, distinctive and very warm, with its own train service, its own phone exchange and now a Premiership football team!”

 

‘Superwoman’

And did we mention she’s a mother of four who runs marathons? She once ran a marathon on the Great Wall of China. Her next challenge is the slightly shorter Humber Bridge Half Marathon at the end of June, then the Vitality British 10k, which follows a fabulous route in central London on 10th July and then the Chicago Marathon on October 7.

“My training has just been boosted by news that I’m doing a training run with Olympic athlete Perri Shakes Drayton along the Thames. Followed by eating RAW FOOD at Rawligion, a restaurant which saves on cooking costs by not doing any. Plus the news that my friend Colin Hancock is coming over from Africa to do the 10K with me. All of which is very exciting except when a mate of mine ran with marathon legend Haile Gebrselassie and he was so brilliant that he (the mate) felt like giving up. NEVER.”

Blimey.

We guess if nominative determinism was really a thing she would probably have been named something like Rosie Superwoman.

Anyhow. We like to think our flowerful stuff helps keep her on top of things. Here’s a lovely photo she’s taken of a recent arrangement (lilies, alstroemeria and ruscus – these are just a third of them, she divided her most recent super-abundant Freddies Flowers delivery across three vases):

 

rosi-millard-flowers
Rosie’s lilies, alstroemeria and ruscus arrangement
If you’d like to try to keep up with Rosie, she blogs here and tweets from here. She’d love to hear from you.

Are you one of Freddie’s Flower People? We want to see how you’ve done your arrangements! Share your own Freddie’s Flower pics with on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or drop us an email at freddie@freddiesflowers.com

Or if you haven’t already done so, sign up for lovely flower deliveries at £24 a pop here!