When the flower came for tea.

There’s more than one way to drink a cuppa, and in the depths of winter, a sweet-scented flower tea can bring back the sunshine. 

 

There’s more than one way to drink a cuppa, and in the depths of winter, a sweet-scented flower tea can bring back the sunshine. 

Forget potpourri. The best thing to do with dried flowers is drink them.  Tisanes, herbal infusions have been warming cockles for thousands of years.

The idea isn’t that strange to us, a pot of mint tea after dinner, chamomile tea before bed. These soothing beverages have stayed with us, while we ditched other more outlandish tisanes in favour of cups of good, strong black tea. But at this time of year, when the weather is grey and the days are dark, floral tisanes can breathe a bit of summer warmth back into our lives. And with flower beds being a bit sparse, a stock of dried edible flowers are perfect for brewing up with.

Dried Flowers Overhead

 

How to make a Tisane

The general rule is to use one tablespoon of dried flowers for every 250ml water. Don’t use boiling water. Apparently, this is a no, no. The ideal temperature is around 80°C, so stop your kettle before it boils. Steep teas for three to five minutes before straining into a cup.

Important health and safety note: before you start brewing up, remember to only make teas with edible-grade dried flowers. As tisanes have historically been used as herbal remedies, it’s best to check they won’t interfere with any medicines you’re taking or have an impact on any conditions you may have. We don’t want any lawsuits on our hands now, do we?!

Jasmine

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Jasmine tea normally means green, white or black tea scented with jasmine flowers, which has been prepared in China for thousands of years. A tisane of dried jasmine flowers is mellow and aromatic, less scented than an infusion made with the fresh flowers would be. Try combining jasmine with rose petals or a strip of fresh lemon or orange zest for extra fragrance.

 

Rose

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Everyone who has had a piece of Turkish delight knows what rose tea tastes like. Fresh, dried or distilled into rosewater, rose always delivers that full, summer garden in bloom flavour.

Traditionally rose tea is drunk to help relieve menstrual cramps, and it’s also thought to be good for sore throats, digestion and stress. Rose is brilliant for scenting black tea. Try steeping a combination of dried rose petals, black tea and lightly crushed cardamom pods and serving it with a slice of lemon.

 

Lavender

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A love-it-or-loathe-it tisane. Lavender is a flavour that doesn’t give up. Dried or fresh, that heady, bee-and-butterfly-luring scent is just as strong. For some people, it’s too much like soap. But for lavender lovers, a cup of pale blue lavender tea is perfume heaven.

Lavender is always associated with sleep, which makes lavender the perfect night-time tisane. Combine it with chamomile blooms for extra snooziness. It’s also said to be good for digestion, so try it after a meal instead of mint tea (or mix a spoonful of dried lavender in with the mint sprigs).

 

Elderflower

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The powdery smell of lacey elderflowers is the scent of spring. Elderflower tisanes capture that delicate, fruity fragrance. It’s naturally sweet and won’t become bitter if it’s left to stand, so you can confidently make a pot knowing the last cup will taste as good as the first (although be warned, it’s thought to be a laxative, so perhaps don’t drink gallons of it).

Elderflower teas have historically been used to treat coughs and cold. Add a slice of lemon, a chunk of ginger and a dash of honey for a soothing drink when you need a little relief from a scratchy throat and runny nose (that everyone seems to have at the moment).

Hops

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Hop flower tisanes have a green note to them, redolent of thick stems of field rhubarb or orange skin. A rich, juicy bitterness that increases the longer you brew the tea for. Hops have long been used as a sedative and this tea is best kept for bedtimes. Try adding a strip of orange zest to round out the flavour, and honey to take the edge off the bitterness.

 

Calendula

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More commonly known as marigold, calendula petals have a peppery, tangy flavour that translates into a savoury tisane with a hint of spice and sourness. Thought to be good for digestion, cramps and period pain, this sunshine yellow tea makes a great afternoon pick-me-up.

So there you go. All you need to know about floral teas. Eat your heart out Dry January we’ve just found a tasty and delicious way around those sober January blues!

Top florists throughout history!

With my boxes, you are all flower arrangers. I give you the flowers and you get to create and bring out your inner florist. But was there ever a time when floristry wasn’t the in thing?

With my boxes, you are all flower arrangers. I give you the flowers and you get to create and bring out your inner florist. But was there ever a time when floristry wasn’t the in thing? The answer is no. From the beginning, humans have been hunter and flower gatherers. We just can’t help it, we’ve always had a thing for flora and fauna.

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Flowers fit for a queen

The first recorded plant hunter was Queen Hatshepsut, an Egyptian pharaoh who reigned for over 20 years in the fifteenth century BC. Her reign was peaceful and prosperous, prompting a cultural renaissance that gave rise to celebrate paintings, sculptures and temples. It is thanks to these that we know of Queen Hatshepsut’s plant gathering exploits.

In the middle temple of her palace in Luxor’s Valley of Kings, are reliefs showing an expedition of five ships sent by the Queen to the land of Punt to gather exotic goods.

Earliest known flower arranging dates back to ancient Egypt to 2,500 BCE.  Egyptians were the first to cut and place flowers in a vase to decorate and add colour to their surroundings.

Egyptians were known as the first florists by trade and commissioned to place very high stylized arrangements around burials, processions, and table decorations. These florists would carefully select flowers that had a symbolic meaning with emphasis on religion.  A big seller was the garland of flowers worn by loved ones and left at the tombs.

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Reliefs showing an expedition of five ships sent by the Queen Hatshepsut

Greek & Roman

The Greeks and the Romans used flowers while incorporating herbs and olive branches with their floral design. Romans’ prefered flower was the rose, using them for dressing tables during many meals due to its overwhelming fragrance, which was known as the “Hour of Rose.”

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Europe

Floral arranging finally reaches Europe by 476 AD.  Big arrangements were popular in churches and monasteries where flowers were used for food (to eat) as well as decoration. An essential part of arranging was with herbs, which was used as a spiritual symbol in arranging.

Italy was the first in Europe to incorporate flowers in paintings, specifically in vases, thus creating a need for floral design. Adorning your balcony with different colours and petals in baskets was an inviting sign to your home.

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Moving onto my fave florist and explorer of all time:

Marianne North

Even by the standards of fearless, globe-trotting Victorians, 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 and on her own.

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.

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Marianne North painting in the jungle

 

Centuries and centuries have passed, but one thing remains, flower arranging is a timeless art and will continue to be important in centuries to come. If you fancy becoming a florist, why not give my boxes a go?

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Homemade flower food recipes!

Read my blog this week to find out how you can make your own flower food when it’s all run out!

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A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

We’ve all been there. Your gorgeous Brassica are lasting longer than you thought they
ever could. You’ve changed the water every three days and, as we recommend, you go to
change the water again. But disaster strikes! You’re out of flower food! What can be
done?!
For some, this scenario is a regular occurrence, especially as Freddie’s Flowers tend to
last a couple of weeks. Our fabulous flower food does a brilliant job of keeping flowers
looking healthy and happy for longer… but if you run out all is not lost! I’m going to take
you through how to make some of your own.

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The following are the main elements you need to make your own flower food:

1. Sugar

The main nutrient in flower food is sugar, which gives your flowers the energy they need to
stay bloomin’ marvellous. When making your own flower food, you need to start with the
sugar. We recommend standard white sugars which can dissolve in water, though some
have been known to use lemonade or tonic water (full fat only, no diet options here). I’d
advise against using brown sugar or cola – if you have a clean vase it might look a little
icky!

2. Acid

A natural acid is important to add to your flower food. The injection of a small amount of
acid will balance the pH of the water and help to combat bacteria that can build up in your
vase. Lemon juice works a treat (and has added fragrant benefits!) but some swear by a
small amount of vinegar – white only, brown vinegar won’t be aesthetically appealing.

3. Anti-Bacterials

You may have heard that it is useful to put a copper penny into a vase to help flowers last.
Well, there’s some truth to this tale – what you’re doing there is engaging the anti-bacterial
properties of copper to help the flowers last.
Unhelpful bacteria in your vase will shorten the life of your glorious blooms, which isn’t
what we’re after at all. It might sound counterintuitive but a small amount of an anti-
bacterial fluid such as bleach will help keep the water, and the inside of the vase, bacteria-
free, and will keep your flowers looking better for longer! Standard-strength household
bleach will do – make sure you’re handling it carefully as you usually would.
As long as you’ve got the elements sugar, acid and an anti-bacterial you’ll be fine. In fact,
the gin and tonic contains these elements (tonic = sugar, lemon = acid, gin = anti-bacterial) so perhaps tip a bit of your evening tipple in the vase!

But, if you want to do it in a more exacting way, here is my recipe for homemade flower
food that will work a treat:
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons bleach
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine these three ingredients and add to 1/2 litre of vase water.
Please do give this a try and let me know how you get on! Be sure to adjust
measurements depending on the size of the vase and the volume of water used.
Also, please let me know if you have any tips of your own – I’m always amazed by the
things people add to their flowers to make them last.

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I’m off for some sugar, acid and anti-bacterial of my own, in the form of a well-earned G&T!

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Best Places in Manchester for Flower Lovers

Manchester might not have the floral reputation of Amsterdam, but I’ve spent a lot of time there recently and when not ‘avin it large I’ve discovered a world of flowers I didn’t know existed.

When you think of Manchester, what comes to mind? Football maybe, or great music. Industry, technology, Coronation Street or Old Trafford perhaps. But flowers? Surely not.

Manchester might not have the floral reputation of Amsterdam, but I’ve spent a lot of time there recently and when not ‘avin it large I’ve discovered a world of flowers I didn’t know existed. I thought I’d share some of what I’ve found.

The floral revolution

In the 19th Century, Manchester was the beating heart of the Industrial Revolution and it still has a reputation for innovation. However, like everything in my life, there is a floral connection. Manchester – and the towns of Lancashire and Cheshire – was the centre of the cotton trade, from cotton mills to processing, modern Manchester is founded on the humble cotton plant. The damp weather that Mancunians know and love actually provided the perfect climate for cotton spinning, often using Manchester inventions such as the famed Spinning Jenny spindle. In fact, the cotton flower has become an unofficial symbol of the great city.

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Manchester during the Industrial Revolution

There’s a Picadilly up North!

If you want to hark back to that era, head to Piccadilly Gardens. Created at the tail end of the Industrial Revolution, the site has long been a haven of green in the centre of the city. Between the top of Market Street and the Northern Quarter, this little spot is a great place to soak up some verdant greenery and to spot a flower or two. Added, Piccadilly Gardens is home to a great little flower market which is ideal for picking a few elements to add to a Freddie’s Flower bouquet!

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Picadilly Gardens

War of the Roses

At the Piccadilly Flower Market, you’ll be sure to find red roses. If you do, snap them up as they’re the perfect flower for the area, especially if they’re a Rosa Gallica. This rose was the inspiration for the red Lancastrian Rose, the heraldic symbol of the very local House of Lancaster. During the Wars of the Roses it was the red Lancastrians versus the Yorkists with their white rose, so if you’re flower shopping in Manchester you’re red through and through (sorry Man City fans, but roses don’t come in blue).

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Parklife

To get away from the city centre – and it’s footballing rivalries! – you can take a trip down the Oxford Road to the fabulous Whitworth Park. Home to a gorgeous variety of flora and fauna, this haven is right next to the bustle of Manchester’s many Universities and Colleges. It is best viewed in the Spring or Summer, but never fear; if the weather is a bit Mancunian (read: a bit wet) you can take shelter in the beautifully renovated Whitworth Gallery. You’ll still be able to enjoy the fabulous parklife, as the cafe has a fantastic panoramic extension which thrusts right into the greenery.

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Whitworth Gallery

Get on the flower band-wagon

The student area of the city has spawned many of Manchester’s great bands, all of whom seem to be into their flowers. From the album covers of New Order to the name of The Stone Roses, Manchester bands have looked to florals for a bit of a contrast with the harder edge of industrial city life. However, nobody did it better than Morrissey who, when playing Top of the Pops with The Smiths, brandished fronds of fabulous gladioli as he sang. The Smiths are Manchester’s greatest band, and gladioli are one of my favourite flowers – when we have them in our boxes next year, I might have to whip out my Morrissey impression!

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The Stone Roses

Out ‘n About

Manchester has long been known for natty dressing, and it remains a very trendy place. Floral prints are very in right now, and you’ll be sure to find a great flowery shirt or two in the Northern Quarter’s fantastic vintage shops. Or pop into Piccadilly Records to root out some of those flower-inspired album covers from Manchester bands. Added, head across to Fig and Sparrow for coffee and a slice of one of their famous rose-petal topped cakes. Don’t worry if they’re closed, their shutter has been spray-painted with a Sparrow amongst leaves and flowers!

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You’ll be busy as a bee

A more recent symbol of the city is the Worker Bee. Thought to represent the industrious nature of the people of Manchester, the symbol was adopted into the city’s crest in the 1840s. I love the little Manc Bee; it links the beautiful, natural surroundings of the North West with the Industry that made the city the hub it is. In fact, they remind me of our brilliant drivers who deliver boxes all over the Greater Manchester region. We depend on them, just like we depend on bees!

I hope I’ve given you a good idea of the great floral things to see and do in Manchester. I love this city and am thrilled we’re getting to spend more time there, bringing our weekly flowery magic to the North. Please do let me know if there are any other great floral finds I need to check out in Manchester!

If you live in the North, the South, the East or the West get fresher than fresh flowers delivered to your door for £24 a pop!

Top Instagram Accounts I amore!

My top four flower accounts I am totally digging at the moment. I love how a photo of flowers can transport you into a world of inspiration.

All hail Instagram!

The Gram (as it’s known… according to the younger people in the office) has the awesome power of being able to transport you all over the world in a matter of minutes. One minute you’re in a sunflower field in Cornwall, next you’re staring at a cactus in the heart of the Namibian desert.

Insty pulls together a growing community of florists and flower lovers and puts more people under the floral spell every day. There are literally thousands of mind-blowing flower accounts out there. I could spend all day scrolling saying ‘ooooo and ahhhh’. And sometimes I do…

Though your Instagram is often overwhelmed with selfies and #tbt postings, it is, without doubt, an amazing source of inspiration and offers a special peek into the world of some very creative individuals. With this in mind, I thought it only fitting to indulge in one of Instagram’s most beautiful niches, that of the bloom-obsessed, flower arrangement creating, floral-foraging community. From professional florists prepping weddings, to expressive artists making us see flowers in entirely new ways.

So let’s have a look at some of my faves. Each account is wonderfully unique and I really can’t help but get that pang of #inspo when I look at what amazingness they have conjured up.

Jo Flowers

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@joflowersofficial

Inspired by the great gardeners in her family, Jo’s connection to growing began at an early age, and has never left her. She trained in the classic techniques of floristry, honing her craft and developing her skill, before bursting onto the floral design scene in 2011. Her horticultural prowess and synchronicity with nature means she is one of the most innovative designers in her field today.

There is a real sense of the shabby aristocratic in Jo’s designs and I just can’t get enough of her glorious creations.

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@joflowersofficial

Poppy Barach

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@poppybarach

Poppy’s photography is all taken in natural light, mostly early morning, her favourite time of day apparently. Often using light to draw the viewer into the realm of darkness where she finds great beauty and mystery. Through her images, she records a brief personal moment in time. Whether she brings elements indoors, shoot on site or with a model, she’s guided by instinct and whatever she finds in nature that moves her that day. Her props are often small, subtle and seasonal. She includes only what is most essential in conveying her contemplative mood.

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@poppybarach

Janne Ford

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@jannelford

Janne Ford studied textiles at uni and has a real eye for creating a perfect picture. Walking her dog each day in the woods and on her local common really keeps her in tune with the day-to-day changes in nature and light as the seasons evolve. Creating and photographing a still life, using what is available naturally or foraged locally just for the sheer joy of creating is one of her favourite things to do.

Flicky Wallace

Dot and the dandelion

Dot and the Dandelion, created by Flicky, is a florist focused on designing distinctive and elegant flowers. Influenced by the rural countryside of her childhood, Flicky creates colourful and natural designs with the best selection of wholesalers and foraged, found materials. Flicky studied photography and transitioned from photographing nature to working physically with it.

Her wonderful floral creations really are one of a kind. Her arrangements remind me of a modern day, trendy Elizabeth Bennet (if she was a florist of course). They perfectly capture the English country-side don’t you think?

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@dot_and_the_dandelion

My top accounts!

So there you have it. My top four flower accounts I am totally digging at the moment. I love how a photo of flowers can transport you into a world of inspiration. Down the rabbit hole to endless ideas and thoughts. Each picture has a story behind it and I love making up my own stories behind each one.

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My secrets to getting the most out of your flowers!

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

How To Make Your Flowers Last Longer

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

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

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Vase… are you ready?!

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

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Feeling the Inch

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

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Leaf Life

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

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

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Fed and Watered

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

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

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

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

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Location, Location, Location

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

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

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

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

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

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Man Down!

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Bigging up the Brassica!

Welcome to the magical history tour of the wonderful brassica. Over the last few years, brassicas have become increasingly popular in flower arrangements, I love ornamental vegetables in flower arranging.

Vegetable – schmegetable!

Welcome to the magical history tour of the wonderful brassica. Over the last few years, brassicas have become increasingly popular in flower arrangements, I love ornamental vegetables in flower arranging. We love the bohemian idea of having a veg in with flowers so that is exactly what we have done in this week’s arrangement. It’s all about the weird and wonderful.

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

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Trending for millenniums

Cabbages have been cooked and eaten for more than 4,000 years. Other than its culinary prowess, the cabbage is said to have medicinal properties. For example, the Ancient Greeks recommended consuming the veg as a laxative and it was used an antidote for mushroom poisoning. The Roman philosopher Pliny The Elder recommended cabbages as a hangover cure! Similarly, the Ancient Egyptians ate cooked cabbage at the beginning of meals to reduce the intoxicating effects of wine.

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

You almost can’t open a history book without cabbage popping up. Manuscript illuminations show the prominence of our green leafed friend in the cuisine of the High Middle Ages and its seeds feature among the list of purchases for the use of King John II of France when captive in England in 1360. What was he going to do, dig a tunnel with them? Cabbage has been trending for yonks! The Instagram of the 1300s wouldn’t be awash with avocados and rainbow lattes, it’d be brassica, brassica, brassica.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And hey presto, you have a lovely fluffy brassica!

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Big up the brassica

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

If you’d like to turn your home into the best flowery spot, why not sign up and have some Freddie’s Flowers delivered to your place? It’s only £24 a pop and I think you’ll be quite delighted.

A complete guide to eryngium!

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

The ultimate guide to eryngium.

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

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

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Spikey by look, spikey by nature.

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

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Just bee’ing wonderful.

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

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Not just for decoration

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

Not just for autumn.

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

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The best way to dry your eryngium.

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

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The Queen of Eryngium – Ellen Willmott

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

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

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

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Too good to miss.

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

If you’d like to turn your home into an eryngium dream, why not sign up and have some Freddie’s Flowers delivered to your place? It’s only £24 a pop and I think you’ll be quite delighted.

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.

Get Inspired by the Botanical Gardens of the World!

Let’s have a wonder around some other beautiful botanical gardens around the world. In the words of Aladdin ”I can show you the world (of gardens)”. There are so many beautiful gardens all around the world. Maybe you’ve been to some of them?

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Gardens you simply must visit

Now being an Englishman I suppose I might be biased but I think we can all agree, as a country, we know what a good garden should look like. I mean, we have gardens down to a tee. Even here in London where gardens might not be as big in the country-side we have so many wonderful parks and the best garden of them all, Kew!

I like to think with my arrangements I bring a little bit of the outside into your home.

Here are a few of my favourites:

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Kew Gardens

There is nothing I like to do more than spend a day of my weekend walking around Kew Gardens. It is like swapping bodies with a bee. Meandering around so many different and wonderful plants, trees and flowers. It’s a place of real inspiration for me when thinking of new designs for my arrangements.

Founded in 1840 Kew houses more than 30,000 different plants and has over seven MILLION preserved plant specimens. It really is a marvel and it’s on our doorstep!

But I thought we would have a wonder around some other beautiful botanical gardens around the world. In the words of Aladdin ”I can show you the world (of gardens)”. There are so many beautiful gardens all around the world. Maybe you’ve been to some of them?

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First stop: Rio de Janeiro. – Jardim Botânico

Christ Redeemer looks down on this botanical extraordinaire. Lucky old Christ, ay? This exotic 137-hectare garden, with more than 8000 plant species, was designed by order of the Prince Regent Dom João in 1808. It has an orchid house, a Japanese garden and has rare plants from the Amazon rainforest. Whilst wondering around you can hear the sounds of the jungle around you. Whilst at Kew you can hear the coo of pigeons, in Jardim Botânico  you’re more likely to hear the sounds of macaw’s and monkeys.

A bit closer to home:

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Gardens of the Palace of Versailles

Steeped in history and splendour, the sprawling gardens of Versailles, one of the world’s most recognised landmarks, are the former stomping grounds of King Louis XVI and his queen, Marie Antoinette. In 1661 Louis XVI appointed André Le Nôtre to design the gardens, which took over 40 years to complete and include an orangerie and abundance of ornate fountains. When I went here last year I couldn’t help but have a real strut in my step as I waltzed around this truly magical wonderland.

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New York Botanical Garden

NEW YORK, NEW YORKKKKKK… Dun dun dun de dun. Founded in 1891, this 250-acre botanical oasis in the Bronx supports over one million plants that thrive in a variety of climates, from the tropics to the desert. With over 50 different gardens, this National Historic Landmark receives more than one million visitors per year.

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Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Established to conserve South Africa’s indigenous plants, this extraordinary display of vegetation from the savanna, the karoo (a semidesert natural region of South Africa… I had to google it), and other growing regions. Its grand backdrop of Cape Town’s Table Mountain. Sugarbushes, pincushions, and heaths are some of the plants that make up the more than 7,000 species in this epic garden.

And lastly (there are so many amazing gardens and not enough blog writing time)…

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Claude Monet’s Garden, Giverny

I think this is my second favourite garden in the world (Kew being numero uno of course). Founded by a nonprofit organisation committed to the preservation of the house and gardens of the amazing impressionist painter, Claude Monet. The impressive flower and water garden in Giverny attracts over 500,000 visitors a year, all eager to see the greenery that inspired the great artist. And inspired you will be.

I remember going to Monet’s garden when I was very young with my flower mad parents and I think it was the first time I really appreciated the surroundings I was in. It truly is the most incredible place (other than good old Kew). It has an air of total calmness (slightly muffled by the sound of American tourists) and you can totally understand why it was Monet’s favourite place on earth.

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Planning ahead!

So there you have it, a little tour around some gardens around the world. I wish I could go to them all right now. How wonderful it would be to take a year off and travel the worlds gardens. I feel a retirement plan forming…

If you can’t go off on a whim and visit all these gardens then have a look at my arrangements I bring each week. Each bunch is your own mini botanical garden. Bringing the gardens of the world to you.

If you’d like to turn your living room into a beautiful garden, 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.