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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

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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!

Affirming a friendship through flowers

People say how they feel in such different ways these days; a text, an email, a bunch of alternative flowers, maybe even a messenger pigeon.

People say how they feel in such different ways these days; a text, an email, a bunch of alternative flowers, maybe even a messenger pigeon.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to bang on about Valentine’s day – it’s too early for even me, a flower enthusiast, to talk the language of lurve with flowers quite yet. I simply love that there’s a day dedicated to friendship! Calligraphy pens at the ready, people, today is the official ‘send a card to a friend day’. Totally void of gushy love stuff; just pure appreciation.

So January had January blues whilst February gets friendship, that’s more like it! But what’s even better? Discovering that there’s a language that goes above and beyond the epistolary gesture. And, knowing me, it comes in the form of flowers, of course …

 

The proof is in the post

That feeling of knowing that someone’s thinking of you is, as Tina Turner would say, simply the best.

These days, a card can say more to us than a bunch of flowers can. Just think how many different sections there are in a card shop! Flowers tend to mean love, thanks, apologies, condolences, that sort of thing. Back in the day, a single flower, varying in colour or form, could hold real depth of meaning.

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A card for every occasion. Image credit

Seeing as the first penny postage stamp wasn’t introduced until 1840, greeting cards weren’t exactly popular for a fair old while. But for the middle class Victorians, there was an ever increasing popular way of communicating a little bit of love and appreciation. Or hatred. Ooh!

 

When you can’t send a card, what’s your alternative?

Alternative flowers, of course!

The Victorians were big flora and fauna enthusiasts. I’ve heard that even seaweed collecting and fern sampling were up there with their favourite pastimes. What a joyous day out; pootling along, petticoats pulled up, keeping an eye out for a new seaweed species.

A seaweed collection sample. Image credit

But when they’re not out collecting fauna? They were deciphering floral code. Sounds way more MI5 than it is but floriography was a big deal. 

To the untrained eye, a bouquet was a bouquet but boy oh boy are the meanings deeper than that. When a bouquet was hand delivered to the doorstep (not in big brown boxes, yet), the blooms held a mountain of meaning.

The meaning lies within the pages and the petals. Image credit

Flower dictionaries in hand, let’s have a little look at what subliminal floral messages we’ve been sending out recently:

 

Amaryllis

Meaning: ‘splendid beauty and pride’.

Amaryllis as alternative flowers

Remember when we plonked a boxful of splendidly beautiful red amaryllis on your doorstep just in time for Christmas? They were certainly something to be proud of, don’t you think? Just you wait for the white ones coming up!

 

White tulips, alstroemeria, aster, white roses

Meaning: ‘I am worthy of you; your charm, innocence and daintiness. I offer devotion and fortune’.

Wowie! If you’re a Freddie’s Flowers customer you’ll be getting tulips this week and the next three weeks (tis the season) so now you know my intentions!

 

Pink blooms, irises, pink snapdragons, waxflower

Meaning: ‘a rich, faithful and wonderful friendship towards a gracious lady’

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Irises are the top alternative flowers when it comes to friendship. How fitting on ‘send a card to a friend day’.

 

Rhododendrons

Meaning: danger, beware, I am dangerous

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Now, I’m not one to dwell on what alternative flowers you might send to an enemy. Always fun to know though, eh? There’s simply no confusion when it comes to a rhododendron. Thank god we don’t pop them our flower deliveries!

 

Alternative flowers for an alternate message

So, when sending a card to a friend, why not try hiding the message in a Freddie’s box? And a cute little pressed flower in the card that they can keep until next year, too? Be sure to pop a flower dictionary in there so there’s no misunderstanding!

Ollie and Harry know friendships are better when flowers are involved

Go on then, start deciphering the messages embedded in your blooms by giving us a go for only £24 a pop!

 

Flower of the week, astrantia

In our flowerful Freddie’s Flowers boxes, being delivered this week, we have a very sweet and unique flower.

Astrantia has many names. It’s known prettily as Hattie’s pincushion, less prettily as Great masterwort, and rather humorously as Melancholy gentleman.

This week's flower box
This week’s flowerful arrangement

The name astrantia is either derived from the Latin ‘aster’ which means star, or from ‘magistrantia’ which means masterwort. If we go with the star derivative (let’s do that, it’s much nicer!) it’s easy to see how the romans got there – the bracts* look like many pointed stars.

*A bract, flower fans, is often mistaken for petals but are in fact the leaflike structure that sits below the flower or cluster of flowers (known as an inflorescence – which reminds me of fireflies and neon jellyfish).

Do take the time to closely admire your astrantia. You may even feel moved to reach for the macro setting on your camera as the clusters of tiny flowers really are stunning up close!

Astrantia delivered by Freddie's Flowers
Astrantia from Freddie’s Flowers

 

When you’re arranging them with other flowers, place them a little lower or higher than other elements in the arrangement. This way you’ll spot and appreciate them from a distance. You could set one aside and pop it in a small milk bottle or little dinky vase and pop on your night stand or bedside table, then you can admire it all by itself.

Keen gardeners will know that astrantia isn’t just a joy when delivered in a flower box. They grow well in the english country garden, as long as they have good soil, dappled shade and some moisture. (They also have aromatic roots, which is just for the gardeners as I won’t include any roots in your box. It’s a flower box not a veg box, after all!).

Absolutely the best way to care for cut astrantia is to handle it very, very gently indeed. They are delicate flowers.  

Astrantia in a teapot
Astrantia in a teapot

Alongside the astrantia this week we have some marvellously poptastic LA lilies. These are a winning combination of Easter Lilies and Asiatic Lilies. They are big, pink, boombastic and proud of it.

It’s easy to remove lily pollen if you prefer not to it in your beautiful home. Take a piece of tissue and pluck the stamen off.  Here’s a very short vid to show what I mean.

Removing pollen from lilies

You’lI notice I send lilies out closed for three reasons. Firstly, it’s so enjoyable watching flowers unfurl and open – it’s something I love about flowers so I share that in the boxes. Secondly, the lilies last a lot longer when we deliver them closed. And lastly, it gives your arrangement this brilliant second wind as it develops over the week. It’s almost as if you get two two different designs! Do move the arrangement around your house and admire and enjoy the flowers in different spots as the arrangement blooms.

I’ve also added alstroemeria to this design. I hope you love the colour of these. They’re a deep maroon-purple which bridges the colour gap between the astrantia and lilies.

Your alstroemeria will be closed when your flowers are delivered and they can look a little sad, but as soon as you put them in water and refresh them, they’ll perk up in no time.  They’ll open out a couple of days after your delivery.

Finally we have some gorgeously lacy green bell, also known as Thlaspi. I just love, love, love green bell. It’s a stunning foliage that brings a beautiful vintage feel to an arrangement and, if you separate out each little branch, it adds an elegant and delicate wodge of volume to the design.

The sun is shining on the trees on Wandsworth Common as I type this and this week many people across the globe will be celebrating Buddha’s birthday. I mention this because my favourite thing about flowers in the home is benefiting from flower arranging as a form of meditation.

Flowerful meditation
Zen and the art of flower arranging

Fresh flowers are good for the soul and there is an element of mindfulness to opening a Freddie’s flower box, sorting the flowers into their little groups, then trimming and styling them. It’s a meditative 20 minute routine that myself and many Freddie’s customers love and look forward to. Especially in today’s busy times!

 

Connecting with nature and beauty is just so reviving, grounding and soothing. And you get something beautiful to look at afterwards. Happy days all round!