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.

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.

Cocktails are so floral right now!

What could be better than flowers and cocktails? Have a read to see what floral cocktails are our hot picks for this sizzling Summer.

Floral mixes and Freddie’s best picks!

What could be better than flowers and cocktails? (Other than cut flowers brightening your home)? I simply cannot think of two better things. Strictly for research purposes only of course, I have been ‘researching’ some of the delicious cocktail trends in London. I can confirm, through my vigorous testing process, that cocktails have a very strong floral theme this summer. Visually identifiable by the cut flowers that decorate them.

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Summer in a glass – @elledecor

So Old Fashion’ed

Move over G’n’T. Sayonara voddy lime and soda, you’re old news now. Step up, flowers. Mixologists all over London have got the flower power and are inventing these wonderful creations that taste fantastic and are also very aesthetically pleasing.

And what better timing. Cut flowers are in people!

The only downside is that they sometimes look far too pretty to drink. My love of flowers has taken me to meet some of the botanically inspired mixologists behind the blossoming cocktail creation. They’ve shared their intoxicating knowledge with me.

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A cocktail of ingredients

I learned it’s all about ‘’less juice and more infusions’’ according to one mixologist as I sipped on my aquavit, lavender, lime juice and rose extract cocktail called ‘The birds and the bees’. It’s all about floral liqueur, essence or syrup in cocktails these days for added depth and complexity. The classics are all rather old fashioned nowadays. Lavender, violet, hibiscus and elderflower are taking the place of tonic, soda and plain sugar syrup.

Here are some of my favourites for you to try:

The Lavender Martini. Take your inner mixologist out for a spin and try this at home, folks!

  • 1 oz. crème de violette
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1/4 oz. Domaine de Canton
  • 1/4 oz. St. Germaine elderflower liqueur
  • 1 dash Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters
  • Lavender
Floral cocktails mixology
The Lady Rose

Or what about the Lady Rose?

  • 1/3 oz. rose syrup
  • 1/3 oz. pomegranate syrup
  • 1 1/3 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. cranberry juice
  • 3 fresh strawberries
  • Red rose
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The Lotus Flower cocktail – Darbaar – Liverpool Street

Perfect picks

I recently stubbled upon a wonderful pop up square called Ecclestone Yards in Victoria where I thought I would try their lovely floral cocktails (for the research, for the research) and I highly recommend going there for a taste or two.

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Hibiscus flower

There was a Chelsea Flower Show inspired cocktail I tried when we went to the Show called the ”Chelsea Summer Blush”. Now people, I won’t lie to you. This nearly knocked my socks off but it was so tasty I might have had two. The Chelsea blush included sloe gin, crème de violette, lemon juice, egg white and a spritz of lavender essence. I wish I could tell you the measurements but like I said, I had two.

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”Drink me” – Disney’s Alice in Wonderland
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”Mixologist of tipulars”

Mixolo-history

It has only been in the last 10 years that the cocktail renaissance has really taken off. Cocktails are now an art – they’re innovative and that’s all down to the genius of the mixologists. You might think the term ‘mixology’ is a rather fancy name, like calling a florist a ‘floristronaut’ but I think its a perfect name for them. And I may just adopt ‘floristronaut’.

The term ‘mixologist’ came about when a hotel guest wrote in the 1860s about an encounter he had with a man in a hotel. A drunk hotel guest accidentally wandered into his room late at night, and when confronted, the drunk guest explained that the ‘mixologist of tipulars’ (barman) had told him his room was that way. As annoyed the guest was about the drunk intruder he rather liked the phrase ‘mixologist of tipulars’ and wrote about it in an article. It caught on.

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La Vie en Rose – Cocktail at The Wright Brothers, Soho

Best flowers for cocktails?

The easiest and probably the best flowers to add a bit of razzle-dazzle to your drinks are:

Elder Flower – A British summer classic and never fails to work

Lavender – Very relaxing and will ease you into your cocktail mood

Hibiscus – Spicy and dramatic with a hint of citrus

Strawberry flower – Simply perfect for a lovely sweet drink

Drinkin’ about Town

London is thriving with pop ups and new cool dives for people to come and have a tipple after work or on their day off and with this wonderful weather we’ve been having, a floral cocktail seems to be the perfect sundowner. I highly recommend going out and giving them a try this weekend or when you get a chance. There’s absolutely hundreds out there.

Of course if you don’t choose the booze then take a look at our blog on ‘How do you drink your flowers? – Floral teas and tisanes”.

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.