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

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

I HAVE A CONFESSION

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

Misiti and Helena
Mini me

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

Helena and Henry laughing
Havin’ a laugh

THE RAIN IN SPAIN

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

Helena on the beach
Running around

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

Oranges
Los Naranjos

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

Sunset in Spain
Sun downers in Spain

HOME AGAIN HOME AGAIN JIGGITY JIG

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

La Belle Rose
La Belle Rose

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

Architecture


Featured photo by Jenny Smith

What wonderful interior trends are so hot right now?

Since the beginning of floral time flowers and interiors have gone together like bread and butter or cheese and wine. So I thought I would take you through a few of my favourite trends of 2018.

They go together like birds of a feather

Since the beginning of floral time flowers and interiors have gone together like bread and butter or cheese and wine. So I thought I would take you through a few of my favourite trends of 2018. You know me, I’m all about the latest fashion.

 

So what are these innovative ideas?

Keen for green?

Green interiors
Keen for green

Not only am I talking about keeping the Earth safe but also keeping the colours on trend in your house from all those style gurus out there. Forest/cactus and jungle are the greens we must have in our homes according to 2018’s mantra. As a lover of all things green Freddie’s Flowers are all over this.

Doors that make a statement

Doors that make a statement
Hello door

Show stopping doors are popping up all over London at the moment. It’s hard to walk down the street without thinking you could be on the set of Teletubbies with the colour palettes flying around. But my lord am I a fan. It certainly brightens up rainy London makes you feel like you’re walking on the set of a musical, ‘Singing in the Rain’ maybe?!

Gelato Hell(at)o

ice cream colours
Ice cream colours

Walls that make you want to lick them. No, I’m not talking about Willy Wonker’s guided tour around his factory, but the fact that ice-cream colours are all the rage for your home. Who wouldn’t want a room that looked so good you could eat it?

Foliage is a go-liage

Jungle interiors
Jungle is massive

Not only is green apparently the perfect backdrop colour for your home but so is masses of foliage stylishly designed all around the room. Cascading leaves, tumbling down to give the perfect rainforesty feel. Enjoyed The Jungle Book? Well you now can live it in your home.

Mediterranean inspiration
Marvellous Med

Magnificent Mediterranean

Geometric shapes are the latest must have in terms of light fittings, tiles and shelving it turns out it’s inspiration behind it is the Mediterranean. The colour palette draws from the bold colours and easy styles of the Mediterranean villages. And bring in the flowers! Brilliant tones of orange, blue and gold to pop against hues of beige and cream. Bright sunflowers, blue agapanthus and orange dahlias burst against Sahara roses. That is a room i’d like to be in.

Botanical prints
Botanical style

Botanical prints

While botanical prints have always been in style and will always be in style, what makes this seasons must have so fresh and so high in demand is hand-drawn or painted prints. Sketches on fabric. What’s not to love?!

 

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

Get that flowery feelin’

Now what goes so well with the latest interior fashion fads? Flowers of course! Top up your homey haven with a fresh weekly delivery of Freddie’s Flowers. Our arrangements will make any room in your house pop.

 

If you’d like to turn your home into the best on trend flower 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.

 


Featured photo by Liana Mikah

My favourite easy-to-do Easter table looks

As the weather changes and England shakes off its winter coat, Easter arrives to remind us

The flower bunny

As the weather changes and England shakes off its winter coat, Easter arrives to remind us of the new life that is growing in all the beautiful plants around us.

Are you starting to lose sleep over the idea of Easter? How much food to get? Is Cousin Bill bringing his latest squeeze? Is there enough room? Flowers! What flowers shall I get?

Well take your panic hat off and throw it away because I am hear to hold your hand and guide you through this Easter. Well on the flower front. I can’t help if Cousin Bill brings his date or not.

Easter eggs
Choccy woccy do dah

With our arrangements this week I thought I would show you some fun ideas to spice up your Easter table or your Easter day. Not that there is anything wrong with the old classic of flowers in a vase, but just incase you wanted to add a bit of panache with your Easter.

Here are a few ideas that maybe you’ll want to try out.

Garland by name, garland by nature

Your very own Freddie’s Flower crown. With my last name being Garland I know I’ll be wearing one throughout Easter. And if you make your own please send pictures to us. We would love to see your own flower crowns. Simply made with Pink Floyd alstroemeria, Le Belle roses and pink lisianthus. Bringing a little bit of Woodstock 69 to the table.

Where is Peter Rabbit?

Easter displays @lovegrowswild
The flower bunny @lovegrowswild

Why not try this rather unique table display? Be warned, Peter Rabbit might try to gatecrash your lunch. But it would be worth it for this winning look.

Eggsellent

Egg vases
lifebyrosie

Wondering what to do with your left over eggs after breakfast. Here is a lovely idea to spice up the table to make it as Eastery as possible.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Or actually in this case, do.

Egg basket
Egg basket

Go out and find yourself a hen or if that’s too much faff buy some eggs. Give them a paint and add them in with some of our flowers. They will bring out your inner funky chicken when the kitchen turns into a dance floor after lunch.

Just hanging around

image by www.sarahkaye.com
Stick to something special

Whenever I am around and about walking Claude I always pick up things along my way. Sticks and twigs are absolutely perfect for making displays out of. A few coloured eggs, a couple of ribbons and hey-presto you have yourself a wonderful mini Easter egg tree.

Tulips
Ring a ring a tulips @percol_coffee

Over to you

So at the risk of sounding like a Blue Peter (rabbit) presenter, why not try it out at home and come up with Easter ideas for your table. If you do try any of these out or your own ideas then please do send us a picture as we would love to see our flowers being all clever and brightening up your home this Easter.

For your Easter floral look why not Sign up to a weekly box of Freddie’s Flowers for just £24 a pop. We deliver a different selection each week for you to arrange. They’re fresh from the grower, too!

 

Misti’s flower diary; Spring in my step.

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

SPRING IN MY STEP

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

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

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

Picture of a snowman
Snowwoman!

THE BEAST FROM THE EAST

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

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

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

Misti with books
All the books.

HOME IS WHERE THE TART IS

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

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

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

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

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

ONCE MORE WITH FEELING

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

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

This weeks Freddie's Flowers arrangement
All the colours.

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

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

Our favourite British wildflower walks this Spring

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

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

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

Most common mistakes people make when flower arranging

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

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

Fear not! I’m here to help.

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

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

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

Anne J

Here are my five top guidelines:

 

   1. Choose the right vase

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

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

the perfect vase for flower arranging

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

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

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

2. Necessary accessories for long lasting flowers

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

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

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

 

     3. Cut and water pronto

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

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

4. Find the right home for your flowers

Don’t put your flowers …

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

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

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

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

           

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

 

5. Remember to refresh regularly

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

 

You’ll flourish at flower arranging

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

Time, patience and practice are your three best flower friends. Sign up to a weekly box of Freddie’s Flowers for just £24 a pop. We deliver a different selection each week for you to arrange. They’re fresh from the grower, too!

 

Misti’s flower diary; Flying kites and tasty bites

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

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

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

 

Flying kites
The flying koala

Let’s go fly a kite!

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

 

Flowers to decorate
Decoration sensation

Social Butterfly

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

 

The Ivy Café, Blackheath
The Ivy Café, Blackheath

Southern Charm

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

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

 

Bad romance
Bad romance by Emily Hill

Bad Romance

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

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

 

Author of Bad Romance
With the lovely Emily Hill

Featured photo by Joanna Kosinska

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

What’s the deal with the date?

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

Little lady Luna

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

 

Thank god for the year of the dog

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

Respect and companionship amongst others is the key to success

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

 

Every dog has its day, its year and its flower

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

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

Claude and a bucket load of lucky flowers

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

 

Freddie’s flower-loving four-legged friends

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

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

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

 

Alternative flowers and their mythical powers

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

Claude’s guarding these mythical peonies. Paws off!

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

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

 

Affirming a friendship through flowers

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

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

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

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

 

The proof is in the post

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

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

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

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

 

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

Alternative flowers, of course!

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

A seaweed collection sample. Image credit

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

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

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

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

 

Amaryllis

Meaning: ‘splendid beauty and pride’.

Amaryllis as alternative flowers

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

 

White tulips, alstroemeria, aster, white roses

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

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

 

Pink blooms, irises, pink snapdragons, waxflower

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

alternative flowers

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

 

Rhododendrons

Meaning: danger, beware, I am dangerous

Beautiful put packed with foreboding. Image credit

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

 

Alternative flowers for an alternate message

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

Ollie and Harry know friendships are better when flowers are involved

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

 

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

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

Building blocks from a Freddie’s Flowers box

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

Structural success!

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

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

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

 

Baking the bad weather away

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

Seeing Spring in snapdragons

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

 

Qwirkle crazy, Qwirkle mad

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

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

 

Out with fermentable flavours …

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

 

… and in with fresh flowers and an old time favourite 

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

Fresh flowers are good for you!

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

 

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

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Featured photo by Annie Spratt

Flower of the week: avant garde tulip

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

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

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

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

Quintessentially Dutch. Image credit

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

 

Alternative flowers in the form of a tulip

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

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

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

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

Freddie's Flowers bending tulips
Look at them bend!

Now here comes the history bit ….

 

Over from Ottomans and into Dutch delirium

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

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

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

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

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

Carolus Clusius, the European tulip enthusiast. Image credit

People went bonkers for these alternative flowers.

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

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

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

 

Beauty and the break

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

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

Varying degrees of breaking. Image credit

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

 

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

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

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

 

Bye bye beautiful bountiful bulbs

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

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

 

Hello heavenly bunch

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

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

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

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

Ode to Scotland

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

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,

That’s newly sprung in June;

O my Luve’s like the melodie

That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

  A red, red rose – Robert Burns

Robert Burns
Robert Burns

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

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

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

Picture of heather in Scottish landscape
Scottish perfection

History of Burns Night

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

Bringing in the haggis
Bringing in the haggis

The order of the night

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

A thistle, symbol of Scotland
The Flower of Scotland

Legend of the thistle

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

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

White heather
Magical white heather

More myths and legends

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

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

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

Scotland's national animal
Scotland’s national animal

And finally back to why the unicorn

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

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

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

 

On a bank of flowers – 1789

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

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

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

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

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Featured photo by Simon Migaj