Chelsea Flower Show, Darling!

Freshly cut grass fills the air and the smell of flowers stops you in your tracks. This can only mean one thing… Chelsea Flower Show is here!

London in bloom!

It’s that wonderful time of your year again where mother nature has cranked it up a couple of gears and everywhere you look is prettier than the last. Freshly cut grass fills the air and the smell of flowers stops you in your tracks. This can only mean one thing… Chelsea Flower Show is here!

Chelsea Flower Show aka Mecca to all flower lovers. And guess what? We’re going to be there this year!

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So why is Chelsea Flower Show such a big deal to budding horticulturists?

For gardeners and garden designers, Chelsea has several attractions. First and foremost, it is an absolute spectacle! Here the finest, most inspirational designers flaunt their knowledge and verve. The most extravagant, the most beautiful gardens are on view at Chelsea rather than the Hampton Court or the RHS Cardiff shows. Green-fingered suburbanites can marvel, and return to their gardens filled with excitement and wonderment. As well as providing ideas, the show offers practical help. One hundred and six exhibitors sell everything from seeds to sit-on lawnmowers. It really is the show of all shows!

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Fun facts about the Chelsea Flower Show:

The first ever Chelsea flower show was in 1862 and was originally called the Royal Horticultural Society’s Great Spring Show… Boy, what a mouthful!

It started out as a single tent and made a whopping profit of £88. It wasn’t until 1913 that it moved to its current turf in the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

In 1932 the rain at the Show was so severe that a summer house display fell to pieces. Sounds more like the Chelsea Flower Flow!

In the 1950s, the Duke of Windsor – formerly King Edward VIII, was taken with a fashionable rockery and had the whole exhibit relocated to his private estate. He was so enthused that he even helped to move it himself.

The Great Pavilion is roughly 11,775 square metres or 2.90 acres, enough room to park 500 London buses.

Of the firms that exhibited at the first Show in 1913, three can still be seen at the Show today: McBean’s Orchids, Blackmore & Langdon and Kelways Plants.

Despite the First World War, the show still went ahead between 1914 and 1916. It was however cancelled during the Second World War because the War Office needed the land for an anti-aircraft site. Many people were unsure whether the show would be resumed, but it eventually returned in 1947.

One of the most controversial gardens in the show’s history was Paul Cooper’s ‘Cool and Sexy’ garden in 1994, which featured a grille which blew jets of air up the skirts of unsuspecting women. Good luck trying to do that in 2019, Paul!

Each year the show welcomes 157,000 visitors over the five days.

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Have you got your ticket? What green-fingered questions have you got lined up to ask? I can’t wait to have a look at all the incredible creations. It’s the best inspiration for my boxes!

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

 

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.

Flowers and the Greek myths – Five common flower names with legendary backstories.

Ever wondered why ‘ordinary’ flowers have such strange and exotic and mythical names? Discover why in this weeks blog.

Ever wondered why ‘ordinary’ flowers have such strange and exotic names? Well often it’s because they’re named after characters and stories in Greek mythology. Here are five legendary tales behind common flowers…

Flower Legends

Aren’t flower names wonderful? True, they’re quite often impossible to spell (antirrhinum, anyone?) and, as Shakespeare pointed out, by any other name they would of course smell as sweet. But the exoticism of an ‘agapanthus’ or the musical sound of an ‘amaryllis’ is all part of the joy of having loads of flowers in your life.

So where do these strange and mysterious names come from? Well, a great many come from very old stories. Flowers are closely intertwined with our shared history and culture, going back across the centuries.

In the time of the Ancient Greeks, flowers were the very essence of myth and legend, playing key roles in all sorts of dramatic incidents. It was when gathering flowers in the springtime (including the rose, crocus, iris, violet, lily and larkspur) that the goddess Persephone was abducted by the god Hades and consigned to a life in the Underworld for a portion of every year (thus also consigning the rest of us, above ground, to winter).

 

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Persephone is snatched by Hades – painting by Simone Pignoni, circa 1650

 

And many of our flower names today stem directly from particular legends. Iris, for example, means ‘eye of heaven’, and is named after the Greek goddess of the rainbow, who was said to carry messages between Earth and the gods.

Here are five more of the most evocative flower name origins – some you probably know, others may surprise you…

 

1. Narcissus

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John William Waterhouse – Echo and Narcissus (1903)

 

Narcissus was a young hunter famed for his ravishing good looks – and nobody admired those looks quite as much he did himself. Indeed, he disdained all those around him, including the mountain nymph Echo, who fell deeply in love with him but was cruelly rejected.

But in the end the beautiful young man’s choosiness turns out to be his downfall, when he comes across a pool of water on Mount Helicon. Seeing his face reflected in the waters, Narcissus instantly falls in love with his own image and, becoming completely entranced, is unable to leave. He eventually wastes away to nothing, and in the spot where he dies a narcissus flower springs up.

You could say he’s his own worst anemone.

The story has inspired many works of art and literature over the centuries, notably the Italian baroque master Caravaggio and the Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali.

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Caravaggio – Narcissus (1597-99)

 

The legend of Narcissus also had an influence on the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, who took up the theme when he wrote about ‘narcissistic tendencies’.

So two thousand years later and the myth of Narcissus lives on, both in our word narcissism for excessive self-love, and of course through the narcissus genus of flower, from which our lovely, yellow-trumpeted and quite unpretentious modern daffodil springs.

 

2. Hyacinth

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Jean Broc, The Death of Hyacinthos (1801)

 

Hyacinthus was another doomed, handsome youth. The Spartan was a great pal of the god Apollo, and they frequently enjoyed a game of discus (Ancient Greek version of frisbee) together.

Unfortunately during one of these games the discus whacks Hyacinthus on the head, killing him. Beset by grief, Apollo refuses to allow the passage of Hyacinthus to Hades, and instead forms a flower from the bloodstained earth. And thus appears the hyacinth – the petals of which, according to one version of the legend, are stained by Apollo’s tears.

A three-day Hyakinthia festival dedicated was held in Sparta once a year thereafter, at Apollo’s command. It’s worth noting that the hyacinth as we know it today is not the same as the Greek hyakinthos, which was more akin to the lily or larkspur.

 

3. Peony

Paeon of Amathus

Paeon was a healer, working under the instruction of Asclepius, the god of medicine. He was pretty good at it too, healing the wounds of gods Hades and Ares, among others.

However, Ascelpius (above) become jealous of his student and threatened to kill him – at which point Zeus, the king of the gods, stepped in with an act of divine intervention, saving Paeon by transforming him into a peony flower.

The myth of Paeon may actually have some basis in reality, since the peony was used for a variety of medicinal and health purposes in ancient times, including for pregnant women.

(Read our complete guide to peonies here.)

 

4. Sunflower

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Sir Frederick Leighton – Clytie (1895)

 

Funnily enough, the Greek myth of the sunflower is anything but sunny. It tells the story of the nymph Clytie who is consumed love for the sun god Helios.

Unfortunately, Helios is more interested in her sister, Leucothoe. In a jealous rage, Clytie tells their father about her sister’s affair with the god, who responds by burying poor Leucothoe alive.

Strangely, this does little to help Clytie win Helios’ affections. He continues to spurn her and in her despair she strips naked and sits on a rock for nine days doing nothing but staring at the sun.

Without food or water she gradually wastes away and turns into the heliotrope (aka turnsole, aka sunflower), which according to long-standing but wrong belief, turns its head to follow the sun’s passage across the sky every day.

(Read our complete guide to sunflowers here.)

 

5) Hellebore

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William-Adolphe Bouguereau – The Youth of Bacchus (Dionysius) (1884)

The hellebore – or Christmas rose – was used by the ancients for a variety of medicinal purposes, including treating paralysis, gout and even insanity. In one particular legend it was used to cure the madness of the daughters of the King of Argos.

Cursed by Dionysus, the god of wine, the poor women of Argos are rampaging naked through the streets, crying and screaming – much like on a Saturday night in many of our town centres.

Fortunately a renowned soothsayer and animal-talker called Melampus of Pylos turns up bearing a good supply of hellebores, which he uses to help cure the women of their malaise. At last, a happy ending for our heroes of Greek legend.

For his payment Malampus is allowed to take a third of the goods of the city of Argos (presumably filling in the correct catalogue numbers on a little form and taking it to the counter first).

 

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A classical arrangement from Freddie’s Flowers!

 

So there you have it. Whether it’s pretty heroes turning into floral versions of themselves, tragic stories of unrequited love, or using a bit of Christmas magic to stop madwomen from running rampage in Argos (we’ve all been there), for the Greeks flowers were, literally, legendary – and played a central role in how they viewed the world and understood the ordinary things of life.

We reckon that seeing the world through flowers is a pretty good philosophy. If you do too, why not sign up for our naturally lovely weekly deliveries at £24 a pop and transform your home into a floral Elysium (that’s the Greek version of heaven)…

Freddie’s Complete Guide to Peonies

With their fancy frills and gorgeous colours, peonies are really just show-offs. Here’s everything you need to know about them…

Peonies are really just shameless show-offs, with their fancy frills and gorgeous colours. Here’s everything you need to know about these seasonal sensations…

Try creeping up to a flower person and suddenly whispering ‘Peony!’ at them. You’ll see their ears prick up, their eyes go all misty and there’s a decent chance they’ll say in a dreamy voice: ‘That’s my favourite flower, how did you know?’

Because peonies are, let’s face it, sensations: great explosions of frilly petals, bursting out in the most outrageous manner from tiny tight buds.

They’re show-offs, really. Perhaps that’s why one of the most popular contemporary varieties is named after that legendary diva, the French actress Sarah Bernhardt, who looked like this:

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The flowerful Sarah Bernhardt in around 1878

 

Whenever we’ve included Sarah Bernhardts in our Freddie’s Flowers boxes we’ve had rave reviews from our customers. Well, just look at them…

In terms of arranging peonies, you don’t have to do much really as they’re perfectly fine on their own. Pop them in a vase and they just keep opening and opening, filling your room with scent and colour.

 

A brief history of peonies

Peonies as popular garden and cut flowers actually date back much further than La Bernhardt. The genus Paeonia (the only genus in the family Paeoniaceae) is native to Asia, Europe and North America, with around thirty or forty varieties worldwide.

They’re named after Paean, a physician in Greek mythology who was turned into a flower by the god Zeus. But historically, they’re most associated with the Far East.

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Portrait of a peony by Chinese artist Yun Shouping, 17th century

 

In China they’ve been cultivated since at least the sixth century, initially for medicine and then increasingly as ornamental flowers. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the Japanese began cultivating them in earnest, creating cross-breeds between herbaceous and tree peonies called ‘Itoh’ (or ‘intersectional’) peonies.

And European peony-mania really began in 19th century France when the great floriculturalist Victor Lemoine began creating the glorious ancestors of the varieties we see today.

 

Growing your own peonies

In general, you plant peonies in the autumn and they flower between mid-spring and early summer. They have a reputation for being quite tricky to grow: you need to plant them in full sun and they often require staking as the stems may not be strong enough to keep the large flowers upright by themselves. They’re also vulnerable to a ghastly fungal infection called peony wilt.

But if you fancy having a go, the RHS has a good guide to growing peonies here.

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Freddie talking all things peony with specialist grower Mr Scobie

 

Freddie’s Peony Facts!

1. Confucius used to eat them

In Ancient China peonies were used for flavoring food, and Confucius liked them so much that he once said: “I eat nothing without its sauce. I enjoy it very much, because of its flavour.”

 

2. You’ve got to hide from woodpeckers when picking them

…otherwise, according to an ancient superstition, if one sees you it might peck out your eyes.

 

3. Renoir loved them

The great Impressionist painter Auguste Renoir painted lots of peony pictures. This is just one of them:

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 August Renoir – Peonies (1880)

 

4. They’re bashful, or possibly angry

In various varieties of floriography (‘the language of flowers’) peonies represent ‘bashfulness’ or ‘shame’ because their petals apparently conceal mischievous nymphs. On the other hand, in Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s terrific flower dictionary they mean ‘anger’.

 

5. They’re very popular in Japanese tattoos

The 18th Century painter Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s illustrations of Sumarai warrior myths feature a lot of peonies, which in Japanese culture have a masculine, devil-may-care symbolism. His designs are still very trendy for tattoos.

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Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s peony-covered Samurais

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.