Late flowering garden roses

IMG_0069I finally pruned the climbing rose in my garden, which still had some beautiful ‘Madame Alfred Carrière’ blooms.  A white rose, with just a hint of blush pink – they have a lovely gentle scent – so I placed them in a couple of bud vases to enjoy this reminder of summer as the autumn evenings draw in.



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.


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.


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


Winter Ivy with Roses


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.


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.

Autumn Leaves for Halloween

halloweenAutumn is a second Spring when every leaf is a flower – Albert Camus

My front garden has been full of amazingly coloured sycamore leaves, which I wanted to use in a Halloween/Autumn design.  With an inexpensive bunch of bi-colour red/yellow roses and alstroemeria from the supermarket and of course a pumpkin (expertly carved by my daughter and friend); I hope to have captured the flaming reds and oranges you can see outside at this time of year.  If you don’t have time to create the leaf collar the flowers looked good without this extra finish.


How to Create

Unwrap the flowers, remove any lower leaves –  I also had to remove some thorns from the roses using a small knife.  I had collected some leaves the day before so they had a chance to dry out a bit.  I created a circle of roses and altroemeria in my hand, put the biggest rose in the centre.  When I was happy with the shape I tied the flowers together using string/raffia.  Choose any vase tall or short with an opening not too big for the flowers.  Holding the stems against my tank vase, I cut the stems so the flowers would sit just above the neck of the vase.  Dilute the flower food and add to the vase.

To create the leaf collar, I cut a length of decorative copper wire (you could use garden wire instead) and threaded through each leaf, (I removed the stalks first).  You will have what looks like a leaf garland.  Tuck the beginning of the wire into the top corner of the vase – you might need to push away the first leaves to create some bare wire.  Then holding the wire and leaves across the top of the vase, just separate the leaves a little so they form a collar around the flowers, it’s good to have some overlapping and different angles they don’t have to be perfect!  Tuck the end of the wire into the vase to hold in place.



Autumnal Roses

img_5432I wanted to create a table design that was also suitable for a housewarming gift for a friend.  I have posted a rose cube design before on my site, but this time I wanted to create a domed effect with the red roses.  The roses and alstroemeria were from a supermarket, but responsibly sourced (the roses are Fairtrade and the alstroemeria are from a British grower).   I went for rich warm colours which work well in Autumn, but of course would also make a lovely Christmas design.  To make this more Autumnal you could add berries, seedheads or rose hips.

How to Create

I used a 10cm chunky cube vase for this design, but you could also sit the flowers in a small fishbowl style vase.

I removed all the lower leaves from the roses and alstroemeria.  These roses had no thorns to remove.  I cut a length of string ready then started to create a dome of roses in my hand.  To create a tight dome you need to hold the flowers high up the stem, keep turning and adding a rose to create a circle, with the central flowers slightly above those on the outside.  I tied the string around the binding point (where you are holding the flowers).  Then using the vase as a guide, cut the stems so the roses would sit just above the vase rim.  When I sat the roses in the vase they naturally fell apart a little, so I inserted three stems of alstroemeria in the gaps.  I diluted some rose flower food and added this to the vase, making sure all the stems were in the water.

As this was also an Engagement present I added a diamante pin – to add some sparkle!



Seaside Roses


A simple modern design of soft peach roses in a cube vase complemented by seashells for a summery feel.  This would also work with white or cream roses, or other colours could be accessorized with glass cubes/marbles, pebbles.  If you were having a party this design could be repeated in sets of 3 or 5 to create a lovely table centrepiece surrounded by nightlights.

“I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.”

Emma Goldman – well maybe both would be good!

How to Create

I used a glass cube about 12cm square, which I filled about halfway with mixed shells.  Dilute your flower food and pour into the vase.  I then created a grid using narrow sellotape across the top of the vase.  You will need to create gaps for 9 roses, so 2 lengths of sellotape in each direction.  Try not to bring the sellotape too far down sides of the vase that way it won’t be visible.  I selected the 9 best roses from my bunch, and cut the stems so they would fit above the shells, remove all remaining leaves.  I then slotted each rose into the grid, as more roses are added they support each other.   Make sure the water reaches the rose stems and top up a little if needed.