Freddie’s guide to festive flowers and firs

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

I was young back then but not much has changed.

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

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

 

The delight of the right conifer

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

The Norway spruce

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

The classic Norway spruce. Image credit

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

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

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

Lovely but mighty spiky! Image credit

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

 

The Nordmann fir

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

The fluffy Nordamann fir. Image credit

And compete it does!

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

A real softy. Image credit

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

Too much? I think so! Image credit

The demand for needle rights

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

  • Ready it, steady it and saw the bottom

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

Approach with saw-tion! Image credit

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

  • Give your tree a very regular festive refill

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

 

  • More festive away from the fireplace

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

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

Festive flowers to finish

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

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

 

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

A solid(ago) choice

Solidago

A solid(ago) favourite of mine in the plant world. Which is why I include it in our flower boxes every now and then. Solidago is a splendid plant with very green leaves and a glittering of tiny yellow flowers on top.

Solidago is usually found in large open areas such as meadows, prairies and savannahs and graces the land it grows on with a wonderful golden sprinkle. It’s also rather aptly known as ‘goldenrod’. It’s name comes from Latin ‘solidare’ meaning ‘solid’ and it’s a relative of our dear Daisy.

A solidago field in India

Golden fields

Soli-yay-go

Inventor Thomas Edison aka -Mr Light Bulb-, experimented with goldenrod to produce rubber, which it contains naturally. His experiments produced a 12 ft-tall plant that yielded 12% rubber.

The tyres on the Model T, given to him by his friend Henry Ford were made from good old solidago. Old Henners was deeply interested in the regenerative properties of soil and the potential of alternative crops. He was keen on the idea of using plants like peanuts and soybeans to produce plastics, paint, fuel and other products. Ford had long believed that the world would eventually need a substitute for gasoline, and supported the production of ethanol as an alternative fuel. Wise chap that Mr Ford.

Edison and a solidago plant
Edison and his solidago plant

Solid-useful

In herbal medicine solidago is used in a traditional kidney remedy. Some practitioners use it to counter inflammation and irritation caused by kidney stones. Solidago is also believed to help with cleansing of the kidney or bladder during a healing fast. Some Native American cultures traditionally chew the leaves to relieve sore throats, and the roots to relieve toothaches. Please don’t start gnawing away on the solidago that arrives in your flower delivery. Our stuff is purely for decorative purposes.

People arguing over their gardens
Garden Wars

Garden wars (should be a tv show)

Solidago is, in some places, considered a sign of good luck or good fortune. Considered weeds by many in North America, but they are prized as garden plants in Europe. British gardeners adopted good old solidago to have in their gardens long before Americans did. Goldenrod began to gain some acceptance in American gardening during the 1980s. Finally they realised solidago was cool. Us limeys are so ahead of the times, are we not?

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

I spy with my little eye, something that looks like flowers

Sometimes I look at paintings in galleries and a flower just pops into my head. Almost all the time the painting will not have any link to the flower I think of. Not even in the background. Think I’ve gone mad? Probably. But here are a few examples. Decide if i’m mad after.

Solidago

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

Chrysanthemums

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

Carthamus

Jackson Pollock - Hot 9
Jackson Pollock – Hot 9

Oriental Lily

Degas - The Star
Degas – The Star

A Red Rose

Rothko - Mauve and Orange
Rothko – Mauve and Orange

A work of art, or Freddie’s Flowers?

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

 

Chagall - Blue Violinist
Chagall – Blue Violinist

The verdict…

”Yup, Freddie’s definetly lost it”.  But still a fun thing to do when you’re in a gallery. I recommend giving it a go. A bit like our flowers if you haven’t given us a go yet.

 

 

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

See how I arrange this bunch here:

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

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

 

 

A few flowerful secrets to make sure you’re party season prepped

Christmas and all its frivolities (including Christmas flower deliveries) are here! ‘Who wants a mince pie?’ chimes around offices, homes, playgrounds and winter picnics (if you’re brave enough). We’ll be opening advent calendar windows before breakfast in no time.

I absolutely adore Christmas. Just love it. So bring on the plethora of pies, parties and pleasure that all that mulled wine, chocolate and good cheer brings. To enjoy the season robustly, one must be in robust health. Nothing worse than coughing all the way through the carol concert, or sneezing all over the cheeseboard. Continue reading “A few flowerful secrets to make sure you’re party season prepped”

Misti’s flower diary; ”Pretend you’re a firework”

Autumnal flowers and fairies

My daughter lost her first tooth Halloween morning. She was standing at the basin in her Batgirl costume getting ready for school when suddenly I heard a scream. I ran in. Helena had a toothbrush in her mouth and was dripping minty foam—not an uncommon occurrence in our home at 8:15 a.m. Then I noticed. She was holding a tiny tooth in her hand. “Mummy, my toof fell out! Am I thtill allowed thweets Tonight?”

Misti's daughter, Helena
The little tooth fairy

Getting blustery

That weekend, we stayed with my husband’s family in Buckinghamshire. On the way in, we stopped off to buy some autumn flowers for his mother. I chose blue hydrangeas. It was the first weekend where the weather wasn’t just chilly but noticeably cold. Even my Scottish mother-in- law talked about lighting a fire. We didn’t, but that’s not the point. The fact that it was up for discussion means it was properly cold. Not Aberdonian cold, but cold enough to note.

Misti and her husband in a field
Perfect walking weather

Pubs, fires, dogs and walks in the rain

With no fire on the hearth at home, we went to the pub two days in a row. On Saturday, we went to The Royal Standard of England, which claims to be the oldest freehouse in the country. Some people might argue this point, but I don’t care. Here’s something you can’t argue: Their pies are actually the best around. I’m talking top and bottom crust. Not just a puff pastry hat sitting atop a stew. Then on Sunday after a lovely roast lunch and a few bottles of Riesling, we looked outside at the rain and decided it was the perfect time for a walk. So we put on our boots and through the fields and autumn flowers we went. Six miles later, we made it. For me, a good pub needs several things—a dry sparkling cider (preferably Aspall’s), a fireplace, and dogs. Because Dog pubs are the best pubs and pub dogs are the best dogs.

The Royal standard of England
Perfect pubbing

Prentend you’re a firework

On Bonfire Night, we watched fireworks on the heath and my daughter has been pretending to be fireworks ever since. She thinks it’s the most brilliant game. So modern dance, watch out! Helena’s the new Martha Graham. We were supposed to meet our friends, but none of our phones were working. Finally, I got a text saying they were by the people holding sparklers. There were a lot of people and sparklers there that night, but in the darkness, amongst the throngs, I heard a laugh I recognised. It was our friend’s son, my daughter’s good buddy.

Misti sitting around flowers
Fashion for flowers

Flowers are forever the theme in my life

After the fireworks, we went to theirs for raclette, which really was the best way to end a glittering night with friends. Speaking of friends, fashion designer Erdem Moralioglu is an old friend of my husband’s. They were flatmates in East London about fifteen years ago. Erdem’s designs are quintessentially English. His fabrics and prints are full of flowers. Wearing a dress of his is like wearing a garden. Recently, he collaborated with H&MHenry and I attended one of the press events and I wanted it all. In the foyer of the hall where the event was held, there was an impressive pop-up field of autumn flowers. Dahlias, Nigella Damascena, Roses, Irises, and Poppies. When we got home, I snapped a photo of my husband. Freddie’s lovely lilies were at the edge of the frame. No matter where I go, flowers are forever the theme in my life and for that I am grateful.

Bonfire night
Remember, remember.

Reasons to be thankful

This week I’m particularly grateful, as American Thanksgiving is Thursday. For those of you who don’t know, Thanksgiving is a federal holiday that was proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Over the years, its meaning has evolved.  For me, it has nothing to do with celebrating the Pilgrim Fathers. It is about giving thanks and sharing what you have. It is a day to invite not just loved ones and friends, but also strangers into your home. It is a day to volunteer and feed the poor. Of course these are tenets that should be part of our daily lives, but Thanksgiving highlights them. It reminds us of the kindness and generosity of spirit we should embrace the whole year through. So with a thankful heart I wish you and yours a very happy Thanksgiving. And thank you, Freddie, for the gorgeous flowers that will be my centrepiece.

Drawing of thanksgiving
Gobble, gobble

 

Misti dressed as Mary Poppins
A spoonful of sugar (and flowers) helps the medicine go down

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.

Flower of the week: lavender

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

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

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

Long lasting lavender legacies

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

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

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

 

How flowers can help with sleep

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

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

 

Lemon and limonium

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

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

Image credit

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

Sophie’s winning cake

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

 

Back to the lavender of the sea.

 

Don’t underes-stem-ate the cut limonium

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

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

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

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

 

Inventing new words for lavender

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Laurel for the victors

The fauna of youth

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

A photo of this weeks arrangement
This weeks extravaganza

Marcus L-Aurel-ius and co

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

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

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

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

The Story of the laurel wreath

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

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

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

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

Who remembers?

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

Photo of Laurel & Hardy
Laurel & Hardy

 

Let’s have a cheeky peak

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

What’s in the bunch?

Avalanche roses

Avalanche roses
Gorg avalanche roses

Bouvardia

Bouvardia
Bouvardia to die for

Laurel

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

Baby’s breath – Gypsophila

Gypsophila
A breath of air

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

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

 

Photo gallery – October’s weird and wonderful

Photo gallery

Nothing makes us happier than when we see photographs of our flowers in their new home. Thank you to our lovely gang of customers who have sent in and posted photographs. Swapping jumper for thick coats we are well on our way to winter now and our beautiful arrangements have been mirroring the seasonal change. Saying goodbye to summer with lisianthus and sedum. Welcoming the changing of the leaves with blustery brassicas and bouvardia. Lovely indoor fires with fuego blooms, red lilies and  carthamus. And a halloween extravaganza with kangaroo paws.

So here is a little gallery of a few of the photos you lovely people sent in. We wish we could put them all up!

We reckon your arrangement are works of art, so they deserve their own gallery. Share your own Freddie’s Flower pics with on FacebookTwitter or Instagram, or drop us an email at freddie@freddiesflowers.com – and perhaps you’ll feature in the next one!

 

A vase of a pottery head
Talk about a fashion statement @tinyartandcraftgallery

 

Carthamus and kangaroo paws
Cartha-may-i @travellingcatdarcy

 

Flowers and music
A floral playlist @haleymmyles

 

Flowers and a box
A Mexican standoff @houseofthreelondon

 

Pumpkins and flowers
A halloween special @scumblegoosie

 

Lilies and healthy food
Flowers and food @yogagis_yoga

 

Flowers outside
Not actual lemons @canalsidecalm
A cup of tea surrounded by flowers
Time for tea @carpediememmie

 

Flowers on the bedside
Lazy mornings @teandbiscuits_x

 

Flowers in a coffee shop
Coffee and fleurs to start the day @sound.coffee.happiness

 

Flowers and pumpkins
Hello halloween @chagrinnamontoast

 

Flowers in a bike
I like to ride my bicycle @jennandiris

 

Open lilies
Indoor fireworks @jacquiruddock

 

An autumnal bunch
Moody and mysterious @sound.coffee.happiness

 

Paintings and flowers
Art and art @greatthings17

 

Tiles and flowers
We need those tiles @fairydoo

 

Red lily and carthamus
Halloween heaven @alisonlovesvintage

 

Detail of a red lily
Lovely lily @rosalindfurlong

 

Flowers and cushions

Pineapples and cabbages @katy_at_the_manor

 

Flowers and interiors
Interiors to be jealous of @cruzma

 

Flowers at the breakfast table
The perfect brecky @teandbiscuits_x

 

If you haven’t already why not give us a go and you can get a lovely box of Freddie’s flowers fresh flowers delivered straight to your door for just £22!

 

Roses and a picnic basket
Last of the picnics @callmeliz92

The best of friends throughout time

Flowerful fave – Iris and lily

This week is an absolute banger. Not only are we mega fans of it but the flowers in it have been a favourite of peeps for thousands of years. They were big with the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians and pretty much every person in Europe since people could even say the word ‘flower’. So I mean it’s pretty much got the approval of every one… Ever!

Book cover for Iris & Lily
Iris and lily – The best of friends

Since Iris is the Greek goddess for the Messenger of Love, her sacred flower is considered the symbol of communication and messages. Greek men would often plant an iris on the graves of their beloved women as a tribute to the goddess Iris, whose duty it was to take the souls of women to the Elysian fields” ~ Hana No Monogatari: The Stories of Flowers

 

The blue Lotus aka iris
The Ancient Egyptian dream flower @worldofluciddreams

(Has always been) so hot right now

Ancient Egyptian kings and queens totally dug the iris’ exotic nature. Drawings have been found of the flower in a number of Egyptian palaces.

Irises were used to make perfume, and used as a medicinal remedy. The dried powder from the iris is said to act as a good snuff, useful to excite sneezing to relieve cases of congested headaches. Pieces of the dried root are occasionally chewed for bad breath. Bet it didn’t taste too good though.

During the Middle Ages, irises were linked to the French monarchy, and the Fleur-de-lis eventually became the recognised national symbol of France.

According to French historian Georges Duby, the three petals represent the medieval social classes: those who worked, those who fought, and those who prayed. It’s also meant to symbolise the holy trinity.

Fleur de l’ets figure out if its an iris or lily…

The exact French translation of Fleur de lis is: Lily flower

So which one is it, lily or iris? Basically it’s both. However predominantly it symbolises a lily but it depends who you’re talking to.

 

The symbol of France
Fleur-de-lis

Not so silly lily

Created from the breast milk of Hera, wife of Zeus in Greek mythology, the lily flower is the symbol of purity. The Roman goddess of beauty, Venus, was so jealous of the lily’s white purity that she caused the pistil to grow from the flower’s center to ruin is beauty. Good luck, Hera. It didn’t work. Although cats might disagree.

The first lily picture that I can find a record of appeared in Crete around 1580 BC. I told you people have liked them for a long, old time.

The Old Testament, New Testament and many other ancient books across a variety of societies mention lilies. The flowers still represent purity and abundance in Greece, where brides wear crowns made of lilies and wheat. I know I keep banging on about it but people really are big fans!

Photo of a lily
Phoooarrr!!!

Symbolising sensation

In most cultures in history, the lily represents purity, chastity and virtue. However, the lily is a symbol of death in some civilizations. Sprinkled on the graves of innocent children, saints and martyrs, lilies can represent purity in passing.

Flora explorer

European explorers crisscrossed the globe, searching for medicinal plants during the Victorian era. One notable explorer, Augustine Henry, became so obsessed with lilies and switched the goal of his expedition from finding medicinal plants to locating new types of lilies.

Augustus Henry
Flora explorer – Augustine Henry

Lilies have been raised as ornamental, medicinal and food plants for millennia. In Asia, the bulb of the Madonna lily (Lilium candidum) was cultivated for use as a poultice on tumors, ulcers and skin inflammation. Lilies to the rescue!

Food for thought

In China, lily bulbs have long been prepared as food. They are starchy and similar to potatoes when cooked. The ancient Greeks and Romans also raised lilies as a food crop and for ornamental gardens. Greek soldiers even carried the bulbs to eat and use as medicine.

Many First Nations tribes in North America used wild lily bulbs. They were boiled and steamed fresh, flattened into thin cakes for storage, or ground into a flour to thicken soups. I wouldn’t recommend mooshing up your arrangement to make cakes though. The bulbs were also used for healing wounds, swelling and snake bites.

Now let’s have a look at our bunch

Brindisi Italy
Brindisi – Italy

LA Lily ‘Brindisi’

Named after the Italian town for its soft pink colour, this lily shines out against the deeper Oriental variety.

Painting of irises by Monet
Monet was a big fan

Iris ‘Blue Magic’

A favourite muse of Claude Monet, these will quickly pop open to reveal an explosive centre.

Photo of a lily
Looking babes

Oriental Lily ‘Mambo’

These lilies are simply incredible with a lovely appley scent, their beautiful deep red colour is hard to beat.

Photo of eucalyptus
Eucalyptus in all its glory

Eucalyptus ‘Cinerea’

A touch of silvery green foliage grown by my good friend James in Ireland

Photo of lilies, iris, eucalyptus
Whambam thank you man

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

If you’d like to turn your home into the best flowery spot, why not sign up and have some Freddie’s Flowers delivered to your place? It’s only £22 a pop and I think you’ll be quite delighted.

A rose and a Rose

When flower talk crops up, fresh roses delivered to the doorstep might spring to mind. For a birthday, perhaps. An anniversary, or a heartwarming gesture of you’re-great-and-a-good-friend kind of thing. Maybe for no other reason then just because? I like the idea of that the best.

Seeing as us Brits love roses, it’s only natural to dwell on them. So let’s uncover more about our favourite flower and my favourite Rose. Continue reading “A rose and a Rose”

Double, double toil and trouble…

Fang-tastic flowers

In this weeks blog I’ve decided to explore some of the weird and wonderful flowers out there. All inspired by the flower carthamus which you will find in our arrangement this week, oh, and it’s halloween too of course.

Carthamus Tinctorius

This flower rather reminds me of a pumpkin and what an apt flower to put in the halloween arrangement. I mean look at it… It’s a hybrid of a pumpkin and a little firework and with it being halloween and bonfire night season it’s a perfect autumn arrangement.

A photograph of the flowers carthamus
Pumpkin, firework hybrids

Cartha-must-have

Carthamus, also known as Safflower is one of humanities oldest crops. The Ancient Egyptians used it to dye their clothes and made garlands out of them. They even found them scattered about in the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

Death masque of Tutankhamun
Death masque of Tutankhamun @brisitishmuseum 

Not just a pretty (fluffy) face

Traditionally, the carthamus crop was grown for its seeds. The seed oil was used for preventing heart disease. And it was used as a cooking oil. It was also used to colour cosmetics and to dye fabrics.

Photograph of this weeks arrangement with carthamus, lilies and lorel
Lanterns, pumpkins and fireworks in this weeks arrangement

Shakespeare and his potions

To get in the spirit of all hallows eve here are some spells and potions. You may know Will Shakespeare for his poetry but did you know he’s a master of potions, too?

A image of love potion taking over Bottom from a midsummer's nights dream
Love potion taking over@thistleandtoad

Love potions

One of Shakespeare’s most famous potions is used by the fairy Puck in A Midsummer Nights Dream.  It’s made from a flower called ‘love-in-idleness’, otherwise known as the wild pansy (viola tricola).

The juice of it on sleeping eye-lids laid
Will make or man or woman madly dote
Upon the next live creature that it sees –
Oberon

As you’ll remember, the stuff actually works (in the play) and it wreaks havoc on several characters. After Oberon drops the love juice in sleeping Titania’s eyes, the Fairy Queen wakes up and falls in love with Bottom. Puck also squeezes the love potion in Lysander’s eyes and, when he wakes up and sees Helena, Lysander forgets all about his girlfriend and becomes fixated on her instead. This goes on and on until Oberon and Puck take pity on their victims and whip up an antidote, which is the “juice” of a different kind of flower – “Dian’s bud”.

Poisons

Is it really a Shakespeare play if there is no poison or potion in it? I don’t think so.

Apparently Shakespeare was not content with just being the greatest playwright ever in the English language but he was also an expert amateur botanist. With a deep knowledge of home grown and exotic plants showing in his work.

According to Mary Willes (Author of ‘A Shakespearean Botanical’) Shakespeare mentions 49 specific flowers, veg, fruit and herbs in his plays.

And another one bites the dust

Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole; With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial;And in the porches of my ears did pour.’

Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 5

King Hamlet, father to Prince Hamlet and brother to Claudius dies seemingly in his sleep, but the young prince soon discovers that poison in the ear was in fact the cause. With Shakespeare’s knowledge of botany he knew exactly what to mix up to make a deadly potion. (In the plays).

Scientists and scholars have wondered what Shakespeare meant by “cursed hebenon”. There may be a few possibilities including hemlock, nightshade, yew, ebony and henbane. Indeed henbane looks the closest in spelling, and the active ingredient in henbane is hyoscyamine, which if concentrated to a high degree could be lethal to humans.

A painting of the three witches from Macbeth
Double, double, toil and trouble @gettyimages

As it’s Halloween we can’t ignore the most evil and probably hands down the scariest characters in the whole of Shakespeare’s works; The Three Witches from Macbeth. I thought I would include their most gruesome spell. Don’t try it at home.

The Witches’ Spell

A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.
Enter the three Witches.

1 WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
2 WITCH. Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.
3 WITCH. Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!
1 WITCH. Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
2 WITCH. Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
3 WITCH. Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,—
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingrediants of our caldron.
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
2 WITCH. Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Act IV, Scene 1 from Macbeth (1606)

Plants to beware(wolf) of

Wolfsbane

Wolfsbane has long been associated with werewolves. In most stories, wolfsbane has been known to keep werewolves away. However, if you ask J.K Rowling, it also prevents a person from turning into a werewolf during a full moon.

A photo of wolfsbane outside
Beware of the werewolves

Witch Hazel

A detailed photo of witch hazel growing on a tree
Witchy witch hazel

Not only is this plant interesting because it blooms in the autumn, it also has some pretty cool seed pods. When the seeds are ready, the pods pop and the seeds shoot outwards. In fact, this pop is so powerful that you can actually hear it! Witch Hazel plants produce thin yellow petals that look wild and stringy.

Doll’s Eyes (Actaea Pachuypoda)

berries that are known as doll's eyes because of their eye like appearance
Creepy old dolls eyes

This plant is pretty toxic so most herbivores avoid them. However, birds appear to be immune. By carrying the berries, birds help spread the Doll’s eyes’ seeds to new places. This plant is named after its white berries, which look like old-fashioned china doll’s eyes. Sure, they are berries, but we wouldn’t want to be walking alone in a forest with hundreds of little eyes watching you? No thank you!

Dracula Orchids

A photo of the Dracula orchid which looks like an open mouth
RRRAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

Dracula orchids smell like mushrooms. This is done on purpose to trick fruit flies that pollinate mushrooms into pollinating them as well. Sure they are pretty scary but I’d take them any day over these guys up next.

Skull Orchids

A photo of a string of skull orchids
On all levels. No thank you.

Actually part of the snap dragon family. When in bloom, snap dragon flowers are absolutely beautiful. However, their seed pods look much more macabre, looking like little skulls hanging off a branch.

Ghost Plant

a photo of ghost plants that only grow in the dark
Probably the creepiest of all the plants

Ghost plants can only exist where this fungi is present, which makes it very difficult to grow in gardens (not that you would really want to unless you were Morticia Adams). Not only are Ghost plants white but they also live in the dark. Unlike most plants, they don’t rely on light to grow.

And on that creepy note I hope you all have a wonderful halloween. And if you’re not already a customer why don’t you not trick but treat yourself by signing up to Freddie’s Flowers.

 

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

 

 

Flower of the week: Anigozanthos

When I name drop anigozanthos stems, I tend to get a resounding ‘anigo-what?’.

No I’m not mumbling about about a girl called Annie who goes to Zakynthos on holiday. Believe it or not I’m talking about a flower that’s baffling in both name and floral nature. Try saying anigozanthos right first time. Impossible. How about when it’s broken down in bitesize syllables; a-ni-go-zan-thos? Still needs practice. Continue reading “Flower of the week: Anigozanthos”

Pumpkin perfect!

The Four Seasons

Most people know them as spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Not in our house. My daughter renamed them–Buttercups, roses, conkers, and Christmas. While it’s a bit sweeping, she is not wrong. I have been slightly disconcerted though, as she is five years old and still doesn’t know the months of the year. Recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter. She’ll learn them. What’s more important is that she has learned to observe the physical world around her and knows the meaning of what she sees. The presence of autumn flowers such as chrysanthemums or seeds like conkers coincide with the return of cox apples and she knows that.

A photograph of a bowl of apples
Apples, apples, apples!

Food Glorious Food

I love cox apples. Each Sunday, I buy bags of them at the farmers’ market. Honestly, they’re the best apples, so crisp and tart. I keep bowls of them around the flat. In the kitchen, in the office, in the living room. You never know when or where you are going to want a bite. I am ashamed to say how many pies I’ve already made with them. My pie quota for the year? I probably hit it last week and not just because of all the perfect apples but because I also have a weakness for sweet potato pie with pecans and molasses. I describe the latter as the James Brown of pies, by which I mean it has soul. If you haven’t tried it, you should. It’s much better than pumpkin. Not that I have anything against pumpkins. I just prefer them for decorating is all.         

A photograph of a homemade apple pie
The ultimate winter warmer

The Great Pumpkin

Last weekend, we went to Pumpkin Moon in Maidstone, Kent. It was the most brilliant way to spend a Saturday. My husband, who insisted that the British don’t celebrate Halloween like the Americans and certainly wouldn’t have a pumpkin patch with all sorts of festivities like I grew up enjoying in the States, was pleasantly surprised. There were fields full of gourds of all shapes, colours, and sizes. There was face painting and storytelling and all kinds of crafts and the most enormous delicious hot dogs you’ve ever had in your life. Okay, maybe not in you life, but certainly at a fair in Kent. There was even a maize maze where my daughter ran around with a wand she’d made pretending to turn us into scarecrows amongst the rows of corn and autumn flowers.   

Photograph of Misti's husband and daughter dressing a pumpkin
Pumpkin mad

No Place Like Home

One of the things I love most about this time of year is the way everything looks all ablaze. Red ivy covers the houses on our street. The leaves on the chestnut trees have turned orange and are flecked with gold. Autumn flowers from Freddie are always my favourite. Just as the chill outside sets in, his weekly arrangements add instant warmth inside. After carving our first jackolantern, I placed it on a small table next to a bowl of apples. With a wave of my daughter’s ghostie wand, we transformed our flowers from Freddie into a Halloween display. Now evenings in could not be cosier.

Leaves changing colour on an ivy wall
Ivy wall

Champagne and Potato Chips

To quote Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch, “Don’t worry. Everything’s fine. A married man, air-conditioning, champagne and potato chips. This is a wonderful party.” Indeed, this whole month has felt like one long party. For starters, it was my birthday. My husband gave me a beret and, as I love and take tap dance, he took me to see An American in Paris. The week after, I saw my friend, Charles Hagerty, a fellow American in London, give a star performance as Clifford Bradshaw in Cabaret alongside Louise Redknapp and Will Young. It really has been a month of celebrations and champagne and potato chips and pies and pumpkins and festive autumn flowers. I just can’t wait for the popping of corks to become the bursting of fireworks on Guy Fawkes Night. Can you?!  

A table with apples, a pumpkin and flowers
Halloween table

 

Photograph of Misti's daughter, Helena
The pumpkin fairy

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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