Early Spring Scents

IMG_5520By the time I got to the supermarket this week the best flowers had sold out, so instead I looked at what was in my garden.  At this time of year flowers are delicate and sometimes inconspicuous and can be easy to miss, but brought inside and put in a little vase or cup can be really appreciated.  They also can have an amazing scent, just a little sprig can fill a room with fragrance.  I found Winter Box, Sarcococca confusa which is coming to an end of its flowering, but still had some of its tiny fragrant flowers and shiny black berries.  I also cut a piece of Daphne, whose pink flowers fill my garden with a strong scent.  The hellebore although unscented, I floated in a small cup so I could see its lovely subtle colouring.

IMG_5523Other scented flowers you may find in your garden are, Winter Iris, Witch Hazel, Viburnum bodnantense, hyacinths, daffodils, some crocus and a little later some varieties of tulips.  Just pick what catches your eye or nose!

 

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Making the Most of Valentine’s Flowers

img_5514If you should receive some lovely flowers for Valentine’s Day here are some tips on how to show them off to their best, and how to ensure they last.

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Hand-ties and Aquapacks

handtie-vaseA hand-tie simply means the florist has arranged the flowers in their hand, spiralling and angling the stems to create the rounded design you see above.  To show off this type of design to its best choose a vase which is wider enough for the stems to remain angled – the more squashed the stems the more the flowers will push together at the top.  I find a fishbowl vase works well, or you can buy a specific hand-tie vase like this.  If your flowers arrive not in water, remember to recut the stems before placing in the vase of water.

Some hand-ties come in an aquapack – which is a cellophane wrapping that holds a ball of water around the stems.  This has the advantage of keeping the flowers constantly in water, with no immediate rush to get the stems into water.  This is how my flowers were packaged.

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It is possible, but not ideal to keep the flowers in the aquapack – but remember to top up the water level by holding the bouquet over a sink and slowly pour water into the centre of the flowers.  It is better if you can to remove the aquapack and put the flowers in a vase.

To remove the aquapack hold the flowers over a sink and pierce the ball of water – let the water drain away.  Remove the outer cellophane packaging, but do not cut through the twine underneath that binds the actual flowers. You will only need to recut the stems if they are too long for your vase.

All Roses

img_5517Whether you receive a bouquet like those above or a single rose, the general care advice is the same.

  • Recut the stems using sharp scissors/secateurs ideally on an angle
  • Remove any lower leaves
  • Use rose flower food if possible – diluted in lukewarm water
  • Find a clean vase that suits the shape of the flower arrangement
  • Keep away from direct heat and sunlight, drafts and fruit
  • Keep the water level topped up
  • Enjoy their rich, velvety beauty

 

Heavenly Hyacinths

img_5501Hyacinths a flower that divides opinion due to its powerful scent; I personally love the fragrance, the delicate bell like florets and the colour especially those in the blue to violet range.  This bunch of soft blue hyacinths and orange tulips create a complementary colour scheme.  I added some twigs for interest, but also to help support the heavy flower heads of the hyacinths.  I used a small fishbowl vase, you could also use a jar, jug or any vase that has quite a small opening that will support and hold together the heavy flowers.

How to Create

Unwrap the flowers, and gently wash off any grit/soil from the stems.  Remove any damaged leaves, but leave some around the bulb flowers to give them extra strength.  Cut some twigs so they will be just longer than the flowers.  Put the twigs into the vase so they point outwards, crossing over in the middle to give a framework.  Add any foliage into the centre.  Cut the hyacinths so they will be just above the top of the vase, put in the vase so they are evenly spread.  Add the tulips, again trying to distribute evenly around the vase.  Dilute the flower food and add to the vase.

Hyacinth Vase Life

Hyacinths will last longer if you are able to leave on the basal base of the stem – however this isn’t always possible if you need them to be shorter you will have to cut the stems!

Vase inside a Vase

img_5496Spring arrives early in the world of cut flowers – so this week the best flowers in the supermarket were these red tulips.  I still wanted to keep an element of Winter to the design so added sheets of silver birch bark.  To do this I used two cube vases and put the bark in between.  You could also fill the gap with moss, stems of pussy willow or cornus, or as we get closer to Spring lime coloured sisal or raffia. You could also use a round vase with any round beaker or jar inside.

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How to create

Find two containers of similar size, check one will sit inside the other.  Choose your material to go between the layers – if you are using stems of twigs cut them to fit the height of the vase, then add them vertically until each side is filled.  I have overlapped the bark and put it in at different angles so it wasn’t too uniform.  Hold a handful of tulips so the flowers are at a similar height then cut the stems so the flowers will be just above the vase, put upright in the vase and repeat until it is full, (I used two supermarket bunches). I kept quite a lot of leaf on the tulips to make them sturdy, break up the red and fill the vase easier.  My tulips aren’t perfectly even in height, its up to you how regular you want them to be.  Dilute your flower food in cold water and add to the inner vase.

Arranging tulips

Tulips offer us an amazing variety of forms and colours, are readily available and inexpensive.  Select the ones with nice strong stems and tight flowers, then you will get the full pleasure as they open and you can see their spectacular centres.

Tulips are phototropic and bend towards the light, to keep your stems straight to start off with – don’t unwrap the flowers straightaway keep them tight in their wrap and stand in cold water for a while.  You will also notice that tulips continue to grow even after being cut! Either enjoy the developing design as the flowers grow into new positions – or take out of the vase and recut the stems.

January Simplicity – Floating flowers

img_5477After the excess of the Christmas decorations, I went for a simple, fresh design.  I was able to keep some of the amaryllis flowers from last week’s design; as I had just a few individual blooms on a short stem the ideal design was to float them in a bowl.  A low bowl with floating flowers looks lovely on a coffee table, or as a table centre for a party.  You could use lilies or for a more fun look, gerbera.  This is also a perfect way to display hellebores, which should be appearing in gardens soon.  In this design I used glass cubes, but you could vary what you put in the vase – from natural stones to more glittery accessories.  The advantage of this design is it forces you to appreciate the flower close up – this particular flower made me think of a Georgia O’Keefe painting and of course her words…

okeefe“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the
moment.”

 

How to create

img_5478A very simple design to create.  Put your glass or stones in the bowl.  Cut off the flower heads with minimal stem. Add water then float the flowers on top.

New Year Glitter

img_5471I in fact created this design for a pre-Christmas party, but this would also be perfect for a New Year’s party.  The white amaryllis (hippeastrum) should be bought in bud, they will open into beautiful large blooms that have a pearlescent finish.  I love the combination of lime green with the white.

mont-blancI added silver glitter twigs and in the bottom of the vase, glass nuggets shaped like icecubes.  Just before the party I added submersible lights to the water – which made the whole vase light up.  If you wanted a less glittery design for going into January you could swap the glitter twigs for pussy willow or contorted willow instead.

How to Create

I used a heavy vase that would support the weight of the flowers and twigs.  I put a few of the glass nuggets in the vase.  I cut one of the twigs longer than the rest to give height to the centre of the design and put this roughly in the middle.  Don’t worry if at this stage the twigs don’t stand up.  To prepare the amaryllis, cut them to the length you want then to prevent the stems splitting and curling – put sellotape around the bottom of each stem.  Add the twigs and amaryllis to the vase checking it looks good from different angles.  To help support the stems hold in the correct position and add more of the glass nuggets to the vase directing them to the base of the stem.  Ideally dilute bulb flower food and add to the vase, otherwise add water to cover the glass cubes.

Supporting Amaryllis

After a while you may find the stems of the amaryllis can’t support the weight of the flowers and the stems fold over – in this design I was able to tuck the flower heads through the twigs to give them extra support.  An alternative method is to put a cane or stick inside the hollow stem of the amaryllis.

 

Winter Ivy with Roses

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This design has the classic Winter/Christmas colour scheme of red and green, made even more seasonal by combining the red roses with berried ivy and hypericum berries.  The dozen fairtrade roses came from a supermarket and had a lovely velvety texture, I picked the berried ivy from my garden, but this should be easy to find in local woods and parks.  The hypericum berries and pittosporum were from a previous weeks arrangement, but you could add any berries and foliage – look out for foliage that will lighten up the arrangement you could use eucalyptus or any white/silver foliage from your garden.  I chose to use a large fish bowl vase and create a round design, but this combination of flowers would also look good in any glass or metallic vase – again something with shine lightens the dark flowers.

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How to create

img_5463Remove all the lower leaves and thorns from the roses.  To do this hold the rose upright near the top and move a small knife downwards to take off any leaves and thorns, try not to damage the stems.  As it was over a week old I removed any shriveled berries from the hypericum and removed the lower leaves from the other foliage.  For this all round design I started with the largest rose and added the other flowers and foliage in a spiral – angling each stem, I grouped the hypericum and ivy together so it would have more impact.  When I was happy with the design I tied off with string to hold in place then cut the stems at an angle so it would sit nicely in the vase.  Finally I diluted the flower food and added to my vase.  If arranging the flowers this way sounds too tricky create a more casual look by arranging in the vase, start with any heavy foliage then add the rest stem by stem – again try to have the largest flowers in the centre and group your ivy and berries rather than scattering them through the design.