Sweet William(s)

Oh sweet, sweet william

To prepare you for one of my favourite flowers featuring in my boxes soon I thought I would tell you a little bit about them first. They really are as lovely as their name and last a long old time too. The exact origin of its common English name is unknown but it first appeared in 1596 in botanist John Gerad’s garden catalogue. Starting the long discussion of who they are named after!

A close up of sweet williams from our box
Sweet William from our box

Who is this is William and is he actually as sweet as the rumours?

There are many possibilities of who ‘sweet william’ took its name from. One is that the flower is called sweet william after Gerad’s contemporary William Shakespeare.

Another idea is that they are named after the 18thC Prince William, Duke of Cumberland to honour the Duke’s victory at the Battle of Culloden and his general brutal treatment of the king’s enemies.

A portrait of Prince William, Duke of Cumberland
Not so sweet William – Duke of Cumberland @wordpress.com

Now if you ask me, I think that they are named after the Duke. Why? Well i’ll tell you why. The Battle of Culloden was a battle in Scotland between the Duke, son of George II and Charles Edward Stewart, The Young Pretender. On the Young Pretenders side were the Scots. The Scots were on the losing side and their name for the flower ‘sweet william’ is ‘stinking billy’. Probably after the Prince who trounced them in the Battle. To me that makes more sense!

Our own sweet Williams

The Victorians with their love of the language of flowers, Sweet Williams signified gallantry. And we have a few favourite William’s of our own.

  • At the wedding of our Prince William and Kate Middleton, Kate had sweet williams in her wedding bouquet to symbolise her love for her bridegroom. Good choice Kate!
Kate Middleton's bouquet with sweet williams in.
Sweet Williams for her William
Etching of William Wilberforce
William Wilberforce @regencyhistory
  • William Wilberforce was a pretty sweet William indeed. He was the leader of the movement to stop the slave trade which led to the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 which abolished slavery in most of the British Empire. Well done Will, you sweet man!
A picture of shakespeare surrounded by words
The man of many talents, William Shakespeare @woolf.cam.ac.uk

Playwright, poet, botanist and all round genius!

Who would we be if we didn’t mention the most famous sweet William of them all? 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 homegrown and exotic plants showing in his work.

”Shakespeare’s botanical references are not mere literary devices; they take us to the very heart of social life in Elizabethan and Jacobean England” Mary Willes

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

What is so genius about old Will is that he used his botanical knowledge to perfectly describe his characters. For example – he describes Falstaff (an overweight Knight in The Merry Wives of Windsor) as a ‘gross, watery pumpkin’. Have that Falstaff!

 

Wonderful William

We hope you enjoyed the sweet williams as much as we have and have a think of all the wonderful William’s in your life!

Here’s flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age.
The Winter’s Tale (4.4.122-7)

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.

The flora and fauna that inspired Shakespeare!

As we approach his Birthday (April 23rd), I find myself thumbing over some Shakespeare for my literary floral hit. Sure, he might have tried to “compare thee to a summer’s day” but spring’s his season

“These flowers are like the pleasures of the world” – Cymbeline

We all love combining our passions: cheese and wine; bed and breakfast; Netflix and relaxing. I’m always looking for ways to combine my love of flowers with other interests. Flowers and Literature? Sounds perfect, doesn’t it. 

As we approach his Birthday (April 23rd), I find myself thumbing over some Shakespeare for my literary floral hit. Sure, he might have tried to “compare thee to a summer’s day” but spring’s his season, and there’s no better time to look at the many, many references to English flora and fauna in the plays and poetry of our National Bard. 

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A few favourite quotes by Bill.

“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – Romeo and Juliet 

Shakespeare’s most famous Tragedy is awash with romance and with flowers – it goes to show that in the Elizabethan period flowers were as much a part of the dating scene as they are now. The line above is often quoted, pointing out that, just because Romeo is a rival Montague, it doesn’t mean she’s any less lovely to Juliet Capulet.  By using a rose – the finest of all romantic flowers – Shakespeare really does let us know this is a timeless love for the ages. “He wears the rose of youth upon him” is how Shakespeare puts it in Anthony and Cleopatra – our national flower being an emblem of vitality and youthful passion. This is hot-headed, energetic romance. “Of all the flowers, me thinks a rose is best.” He writes in Two Noble Kinsmen. Swoon. 

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“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, 

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, 

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.” – A Midsummer Night’s Dream 

The riotous woodland comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream is another play that is stuffed-full of floral life. From the distilled flower-juice love potion to the names of the Faries, flowers crop up everywhere. But, this description of Fairy Queen Titania’s sleeping place really does use flowers to create a picture of luscious beauty and serenity. Given the fact there were limited sets and props back in the 16th and 17th Century, Shakespeare has to paint a picture with words, brilliantly creating the impression of a forest carpeted with fabulous flowers. 

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“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance: 

pray you, love, remember: and there is pansies, 

that’s for thoughts. 

There’s a daisy: I would give you some violets, 

but they withered all when my father died.” – Hamlet 

Flowers aren’t just used to denote love or rich forestry. Hamlet’s sometime admirer Ophelia hands flowers out during the scene in which she is said to go ‘mad’, each one representing a different part of her emotional turmoil. Rosemary to remember the dead, pansies represent thoughts. Fennel and columbine (not mentioned here) are said to denote infidelity and falseness. Daisies here represent innocence and violets are supposed to represent faithfulness (which is why they have withered away!). Shakespeare gives us a glimpse into the countless meanings and symbolisms these different flowers had at the time – and some even still carry today! 

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“When daffodils begin to peer, 

With heigh! The doxy over the dale, 

Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year; 

For the red blood reigns in the Winter’s pale” – A Winter’s Tale 

Nobody was better at associating the passing of the seasons with our rich floral life than Shakespeare. “At Christmas I no more desire a rose, than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth” as how he put in in Love’s Labour’s Lost. Each season has its particular pleasures, but in A Winter’s Tale the sight of spring is chief among these. We’ve had daffodils in our boxes recently and I can certainly confirm that the sight of these yellow beauties as they “begin to peer” does indeed pep you up! “Sweet o’ the year” indeed. 

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“To gild refined gold, to paint the lily

To throw perfume on the violet…

Is wasteful and ridiculous excess.” – King John 

 Forgive me if I am gilding the lily (to use the misquote..!) but there’s room for one or two more. Shakespeare recognises the fantastic richness and luxury of flowers, seen here in King John. Lilies don’t need to be painted, they’re bright enough. Violets don’t need perfume. Just put them in your house and enjoy… and we at Freddie’s Flowers can certainly help with that side of things. 

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One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” – Troilus and Cressida 

Well, we can all agree on that. Adding a bit of flower-power to your life – through a spot of Shakespeare or a Freddie’s Flowers delivery – really does soothe the soul. So this April 23rd I heartily recommend you raise a glass to our national writer and his fantastic, flowery work. 

Love flowers? Love Shakespeare? So do we! Make your home naturally lovely all year round by signing up for a delivery box for just £24 a pop here.

Fun ideas for your Easter table!

Fun, floral ideas on how to decorate your Easter table this Easter!

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 here 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

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 in case 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?

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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

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Wondering what to do with your leftover eggs after breakfast? Here is a lovely idea to spice up the table to make it as Eastery as possible. Empty your old eggs, add water, make a little string nest so they don’t topple over and then hey presto! You’ve got mini egg vases. Perfect for the Easter table.

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

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.

Stick to something special.

image by www.sarahkaye.com

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

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!

Dizzy for Daffodils!

If I had to pick a favourite flower, I think it would be the daffodil. Does that make me a narcissus?

So without any doubt, my favourite flower is the daffodil. The bringer of spring, the start of a new season… the daffodil. I always think the daffodil is a very happy, excited flower. It looks more comfortable and relaxed in the garden or in a little jar on the kitchen table than any other flower like it feels completely at ease. As a finishing touch, it has bright, happy, sunny colours.

You wouldn’t think that daffodils would be so diverse. After all, they only come in a limited palette of yellow, orange, and white, and are under pretty much any tree or patch of grass anywhere at the moment.

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So let’s explore the different types:

February Gold

This is usually the first daffodil to bloom that I know of. There are probably others that are earlier, but this is the most common extra-early daff, and to me, it signals the beginning of spring, no matter what the calendar says. With this warm weather we’ve had they’ve popped out a tad early this year. And who says there is no such thing as Global warming…

Tete-a-Tete

This little cutie only grows6 inches tall. It gets along well without much special care. It’s small its fun and is the absolute perfect type of daff to put in a jar on the kitchen table or on a bedside table. Who doesn’t like waking up next to the smiling faces of yellow daffodils?

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Yellow Trumpet

These are the ones you see in every perimeter of your vision at the moment. They say you are always within a metre of a rat in London. Well at the moment you are always within a metre of at least 20 daffodils in London.

Ice Follies

After the classic, big yellow trumpet daffodils, Ice Follies is the most popular variety worldwide. The flowers are big and pearly white with a large, flat yellow cup. Like most daffs they make wonderful cut flowers, and most have a light, sweet fragrance that embodies the essence of spring.

Now you will notice in this weeks box a little yellow surprise. Yup, you’ve guessed it. I’ve given you a bunch of daffs. This variety is called ‘Great Leap Double Daffs’. They have more than one flower on each stem and are a little present from you to welcome you into the glorious season that is Spring.

I had the pleasure last week of actually going up to Lincolnshire to meet the wonderful flower grower, Tim Clay. Fields and fields of beautiful yellow daffodils everywhere. As you can see in this photo of me having the time of my life up there. Being surrounded by one of my favourite flowers is a real tick off the 2019 bucket list. Utter heaven.

Here’s a lovely video of me talking to Tim all about being a UK Flower Grower. I hope you enjoy?

Enjoy the daffodil season. It’s over quickly but it’s a beautiful one. It certainly puts a spring in my step.

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!

Getting wild about wildflowers this Spring!

It might only be March, but with the weather we’ve been having it feels like Spring is in full force!

It might only be March, but with the weather we’ve been having it feels like Spring is in full force, just ask any hayfever sufferer and they’ll confirm it! But as a non-sufferer, I am just loving it. I even did an arrangement video in a t-shirt the other day! 

With the temperature rising and the sun beginning to peep out from the clouds, it is the perfect time to tear yourself away from your flower arranging and to get outside. And what better excuse to take in some of the floral delights of the British countryside. 

At this time of year, we are blessed with an abundance of fantastic wildflowers right on our doorstep. Here’s a guide a few of my favourites to look out for when you’re out and about. 

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Snowdrops 

One of the first flowers of the year to bloom, the adorable little snowdrop can be seen from early January. If it has been very mild you might even see a few in December. They are famous for their attractive little white buds and for carpeting forest floors, looking just like snow… perfect when the weather is getting a little warm!

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Primrose

The sweet yellow Primrose is a real sign that Spring is coming. Like the Snowdrop, they can be seen from January, but they tend to hang around a little longer and can be spotted in fields and forests right up until the early Summer. Seeing them never fails to lift the mood! 

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Daffodil 

Nowadays we think of Daffodils in little vases at home, but they are of course a wildflower that is native to the UK. Wild daffodils are a glorious sight, making me think of Easter and getting us all in the mood for roast lamb, Easter egg hunts and fighting your siblings over the last slice of cake. I love daffs, they are such a sunny flower and always put a big smile on my face.

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Bluebells 

The most iconic of all the British springtime wildflowers, the fabulous Bluebell is a national favourite. There is nothing better than stumbling across an untouched patch of Bluebells, silently carpeting the ground like a foresty sea. And they really do mean Spring is upon us, they tend to be around during April and May, leading us wonderfully into the Summer months. 

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Easy Purple Orchid 

These wonderful, deep purple flowers are seen towards the end of Spring. They’re recognisable for their interesting shape, striking colour and the fact their leaves are spotted. This purple flower is often found growing near Primroses so you might get a double spot! 

There are plenty of wonderful wildflowers to spot at this time of the year; these are just a select few. Do let me know if I have missed your favourite – I’m always on the lookout for more. 

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We’re wild for them

Even better, please do get in touch with pictures of wildflower spots, or of your own Freddie’s Flowers. In fact, if you pick a few wildflowers perhaps you could add them to your weekly arrangement, giving it a seasonal twist! 

You will find a little wildflower surprise in your box this week. I met the lovely Emily from a great new company called Seedball. Seedball are all about helping the butterflies and bees in our gardens and balconies. It’s a really simple way of planting wildflowers without too much knowledge. In each box, there are six seed balls, each containing about 40 wildflower seeds. I hope you enjoy and spread the wildflower love and plant your own!

 

Happy rambling, enjoy the weather and enjoy my Seedball video! 

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.

What really goes on behind the scenes at Freddie’s Flowers…

o what really goes on behind the scenes here at my Freddie’s Flowers HQ? There’s always a hustle and bustle in the Freddie’s Flowers office.

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So what really goes on behind the scenes here at my Freddie’s Flowers HQ? There’s always a hustle and bustle in the Freddie’s Flowers office. Whether it’s the sound of the phones going off or all the office dogs running around in total madness, there’s never a silent moment. I thought it was about time I shared with you what really goes on behind the scenes…

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Flower fights

Starting off the week with the Monday morning fight over who gets to arrange the boxes of flowers delivered to be displayed around the office. All the customer service team huddle around the boxes shouting orders ”Maddie, get the scissors. Dan, where’s the flower food! Alice, you haven’t followed the leaflet!” It’s nice to see that even though they are talking about flowers all day they still love the concept of the company and love what we sell. And with all the hustle and bustle that brings we start the week as we mean to go on.

Bacon rush

Now, this is equal to the end of the week fight, the Friday morning bacon rush. The bacon gets delivered on a Monday and one person each week is put in charge to be the ‘keeper of the bacon’. This usually consists of one of us standing watch over the fridge so no one takes any sneaky slices of bacon. No one is to touch the bacon until we can all enjoy it on a Friday morning. Munching on our bacon sandwiches over a cup of tea and a chat we are then all ready to start the working day.

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Va-Va Bloom

There is no time for a sit-down cuppa for the Events Team however, they are all go-go-go! Creating the beautiful displays you see around about London in our bikes or pop-ups. They whip together the most beautiful baskets of flowers all week long, this is usually done with Bruce Springsteen blaring and a lot of laughter. But my gosh, do these guys know their flowers. Then off they go in the vans all over England to spread the word of what we do. You may have seen them around? Next time do come and see hello. They are a really friendly bunch!

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For the Gram

Behind every Instagram post is a story of hard labour that doesn’t always go to plan. They do always say ‘a picture says a thousand words’ and those words can sometimes be words of joy and sometimes words that shouldn’t be repeated. We recently went to Hampstead to shoot some images of my flowers for the Gram. What you don’t see in the snap (see below) is two people squatting just below the shot in case the wind blows the vase off the ledge into the pond (it happened many times) and all the time getting honked and snapped at by the aggressive swans circling them like Great White sharks.

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All our lovely images are taken by our world famous photographer, Harry. He used to work in our Customer Service team but found out he was rather good at taking pictures of flowers. So, boom! One day we suddenly found ourselves with a flower photographer. And what a great job he does.

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And that’s just a snippet of a few things that happen around and about the office during the week. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the dogs!

At the top of the hound hierarchy is my French Bulldog Claude. She’s Queen Bee of the Freddie’s Flowers HQ and is usually seen barking orders at most people here. Especially me. Then we have Malt, Betty, Solo, Yoko and Toby. So if you hear any loud barks in the background of your phone call it’s the dogs, not because we’re barking mad.

I hope you’ve enjoyed being a fly on the wall in my HQ, there will be lots more behind the scene snippets to come.

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.

 

 

 

 

Why flowers are not just for Valentines Day!

Have a read to see why flowers aren’t just for Valentines day. That way every day is Valentine’s day!

 

Why is giving flowers considered romantic?

Over the course of history, especially throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there was a huge fad known as ‘floriography’, which officially solidified the start of floral wooing. Victorians used bouquets to deliver a message to their love interests to let them know they fancied them.

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Shocking Victorians!

Victorians established the enduring link between romance and flowers (especially red roses) as we think of it today. The Victorians were obsessed with the language of flowers, or floriography, developing distinct meanings for every shade of flower imaginable and using this language to send flowers to friends, lovers, and more. Think of it as the Victorian version of emojis. Professing feelings publicly was not considered acceptable at the time, so the language of flowers and the gifting of a red rose was a subtle way to express affection in this rather restricted era. How scandalous those Victorians were!

Have a look to see what some of the flowers meant:

Red rose                     romantic love

Narcissus                   unrequited love

Pansy                          you occupy my thoughts

Periwinkle                   fond memories

Ranunculus                 you are rich in attractions

Violet                           faithfulness

Lily                               purity

Thrift                            sympathy

Daisy                           innocence

Tulips                          I declare war against you!

Blimey, poor people that got tulips. Don’t take it this personally when I send you tulips. I just like them. I don’t want to declare war on you. I don’t think Freddie’s Flowers would do very well back in the Victorian era if people took each flower in my box this literally. I would be sending a lot of mixed messages!

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Getting with the floral times!

But in recent times flowers have moved away from just a romantic gesture. People are realising that rather than waiting for someone to send you flowers one must take control of the reins and realise we’re in 2019 and no one has to wait for anyone to do anything anymore. Secret courting flowers are a thing of the past. ‘Tis the era of having your own flowers. Which is why my deliveries are such a lovely weekly gift to yourself.

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Gosh, flowers really are good for your soul!

I want you to enjoy getting flowers weekly, because looking at a bunch of flowers you can’t help but feel anything but happiness. The fifteen minutes it takes for you to arrange your flowers is relaxing, it will take you to your happy place and relieve stress. Goodbye life anxiety (for 15-20 minutes). It is the perfect way to just switch off and concentrate on something solely for you.

It is scientifically proven that flowers actually do make you happy (whether you like it or not), looking at pretty flowers triggers your happy chemicals in your brain like serotonin for example. You automatically feel a sense of pride and excitement that releases serotonin. It is actually probably best for you to sign up straight away if you haven’t already for the happy endorphins we guarantee with each delivery.

Flowers give us a connection to nature too. Something to disconnect us from our fast past hectic lives. Bringing the outdoors in is what 2019 is all about, especially until it’s warm enough to actually go outside.

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Colour really does make a difference.

And the colour of them… let’s talk about what the colour does for us!

Chromotherapy is a theory invented by Edwin Dwight Babbitt that connects colours with a sense of feeling. There are seven colours that we connect with when we look at them.

Red – makes us feel grounded and instinct of survival

Orange – brings out emotions, creativity and sexuality.

Yellow – a sense of power, a sense of self and confidence

Green – unconditional love, sense of responsibility

Blue – Physical  and spiritual communication

Indigo – intuition, forgiveness, compassion and understanding

Violet – connection with universal energies, transmission of ideas and information.

So you might have noticed last week when I sent out the lovely yellow arrangement (lilies, Good Time roses, forsythia, waxflower and Solidago) you were feeling particularly empowered and self-confident.

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Surround yourself with floral fabulousness

So there you have it, flowers are not just for Valentine’s day no more than a puppy is not just for Christmas. Flowers increase nothing but positivity in your life and it is simply imperative that everyone must constantly surround themselves with them at all times. Think of the serotonin levels!

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.

When the flower came for tea.

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

 

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

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

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

Dried Flowers Overhead

 

How to make a Tisane

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

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

Jasmine

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

 

Rose

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

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

 

Lavender

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

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

 

Elderflower

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

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

Hops

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

 

Calendula

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

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

Homemade flower food recipes!

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

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A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

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

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

1. Sugar

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

2. Acid

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

3. Anti-Bacterials

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

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

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

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

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Best Places in Manchester for Flower Lovers

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

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

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

The floral revolution

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

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Manchester during the Industrial Revolution

There’s a Picadilly up North!

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

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Picadilly Gardens

War of the Roses

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

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Parklife

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

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Whitworth Gallery

Get on the flower band-wagon

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

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The Stone Roses

Out ‘n About

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

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You’ll be busy as a bee

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

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

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

Top Instagram Accounts I amore!

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

All hail Instagram!

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

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

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

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

Jo Flowers

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@joflowersofficial

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

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

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@joflowersofficial

Poppy Barach

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@poppybarach

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

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@poppybarach

Janne Ford

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@jannelford

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

Flicky Wallace

Dot and the dandelion

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

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

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@dot_and_the_dandelion

My top accounts!

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

Get fresher than fresh flowers delivered to your door for £24 a pop!

My secrets to getting the most out of your flowers!

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

How To Make Your Flowers Last Longer

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

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

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Vase… are you ready?!

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

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Feeling the Inch

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

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Leaf Life

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

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

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Fed and Watered

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

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

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

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

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Location, Location, Location

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

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

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

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

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

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Man Down!

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

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

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

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

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