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.

 

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.

Flower Pressing

Fun things to do with your flowers after their vase life ends. Make your flowers everlasting!

At this time of year, it’s still a little bit too cold to stay outside too long to enjoy the great outdoors. But, just because I’m in the house rather than outside doesn’t mean I don’t want to have beautiful flowers around me at all times. Now, my Freddie’s Flowers deliveries are a great way to keep nature close at hand in the colder months, brightening the darker days. However, if you want another way of bringing them into your life, I thoroughly recommend pressing flowers.

It might seem a bit Victorian but everything comes back into fashion (maybe not mullets…). I love pressing flowers and it is a really wonderful way of preserving gorgeous florals to enjoy when there’s less greenery around outside. It’s also ridiculously easy.

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First, select your flowers. Why not use some from your Freddie’s box! Maybe when they are just on the cusp so you can enjoy them as much as possible in the vase. As the flower will be pressed to remove moisture you don’t want anything too chunky and flatter flowers work better. If you did want to press a rose or a bloom you can always cut the flower in half with a sharp knife or scissors.

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Once you’ve chosen your flowers you need to prepare them. I recommend giving them a drink for a few hours in some fresh water with flower food (FF customers, you know the drill!). If you’re taking the flowers from an arrangement that is already in a vase, you can skip this bit!

After giving them a drink make sure you dry them off with a paper towel. Take an A4 sheet of good quality paper and fold it in half. Place the flower carefully inside the paper, making sure it is flat and secure.

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For the pressing itself, you will need a good, heavy book. As the pages might get a bit damp, don’t use that priceless first addition you have on the shelf! Slip the folded paper inside the centre of the book and place on a table. Stack a few more heavy books or other objects (paperweights, bricks, children, dogs…) on top of the first book and make sure everything is balanced securely.

Believe it or not, when you’ve done this you’ve done the hard bit. Simply leave the flowers pressing for two to three weeks, changing the blotting paper every few days. You can use tweezers to pick up the flowers if they’re very small or delicate. After a few weeks pressing, the flowers will be fully dried and preserved.

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The rest is up to you! You can use your dried flowers in a variety of ways. Display them, frame them, stick them on cards – you’re really only limited by your imagination and how many heavy books you can get your hands on.

You know me, I’m all about regular fresh flowers. But our boxes are always stuffed, and a few buds could easily be snipped off and pressed. The fresher the flowers the better they will be preserved once pressed. In fact, our deliveries are perfect for the job!

I’d love to see pictures of any flower pressings that people get up to. Or even better, stick them to a card and send it to us in the office! It really will make us happy here in Freddie’s Flowers HQ.

It’s the perfect way to make flowers last forever!

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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.

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!

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

Flowerful highlights from Chelsea Flower Show

A humongous green teddy bear, a moroccan quarry and a bevvy of giraffes; the RHS Chelsea Flower Show was rammed full of flowerful discoveries this year. There were 28 show gardens in total, 157,000 visitors, approximately 30 million flowers (that’s an educated guess) and the tickets sold out 2 weeks in advance. Continue reading “Flowerful highlights from Chelsea Flower Show”