Category Archives: Flower arrangements

Can daffodils ever be modern?

As I’ve mentioned before, daffodils aren’t my favourite flower. In fact, for me they really only belong in cottage gardens. They are cheery though, and zillions spring up in our garden every year. I religiously go around cutting them all, preferring them in a big arrangement in the house than peppering our garden.

This year I got to asking myself, can daffodils ever be modern? To meet that challenge I turned to one of my favourite flower arrangement books, Flowers By Design by Jeff Leatham, who arranges for the fabulous George V hotel in Paris.

I was very lucky to receive this signed copy from my dear friends Arabella and Kouky, and it provides me with regular inspiration. Here was the image I needed to get me excited about my daffodils:

And here is my interpretation below. Okay, so I may have cheated a little by not using fully opened daffs, but I think I have achieved my goal – they look smart and crisp, and I’m actually looking forward to seeing them open.

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Winter flower arrangement: dried hydrangeas

When the garden is at it’s least showy, we need to get creative with flower arranging. I like winter, and I think it is important to find beauty in what is traditionally considered a bleak season. I like to celebrate the time that nature takes to shut down and have a rest, and that’s why I’m enjoying these brown, dried hydrangeas. Having survived outside through months of rain and snow, they have understandably faded from their vivid blue. Their delicate skeletons and frail anemic petals beautifully represent the end of nature’s last cycle.

I am not normally a fan of dried flowers, as they seem a close relative of those other dust-collecting ornaments, the silk flower. But in this case, I think the wintry look is right for the time of year, and will provide a fantastic contrast for when we can finally pick spring flowers.

The white vase is an Alvar Aalto design, produced by Iittala. The clear vase is actually a tumbler!

Autumn flower arrangement: gourds

There is something buried in our psyche that attracts us to anything in miniature, and the same goes for baby gourds. Not only are they ‘cute’, but they are infinitely interesting and exotic. RB and I were at a garden centre yesterday and found these little ornamental gourds (with the exception of the baby butternut, which was a runt from our own plot).

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They are a little on the pricey side, but with how long they will last they provide some visual value for money, not to mention a talking point – from a mini turk’s turban to the strange sputnik looking one. And whilst they are not strictly flowers they do make an excellent and colourful arrangement that will last during the busy holiday season.

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I have piled a few into the pot with a Cambria orchid.

You can grown these gourds yourself and I may give it a go next year. Seeds of some interesting varieties are carried at Unwins and Nicky’s Nursury.

Two new modern pots

RB and I were delighted to finally find two pots we love for which we have had our eyes peeled for months. The first is for three giant phalaenopsis orchids, and the second is for the Acer palmatum ‘beni kawa’ we received as a house-warming gift (thanks mom and Richard!). The pots were found at the amazing Absolute Flowers in Maida Vale, and at £60/£100 were relatively reasonable compared to their other gorgeous but pricey merchandise.

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Elephant garlic

RB’s sister Julia, a seasoned allotmenteer, gave us two cloves of elephant garlic for Christmas as she knew we were preparing our first vegetable garden. We had to get them into the ground in winter, so when we got around to it we hadn’t planned for the raised beds yet, let alone worked on the clay soil properly.

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So it was a bit of pot luck, and although they have been harvested small, we are quite pleased they look like garlic and not a host for rot. Julia suggested harvesting when the plant flowers, which is what we’ve done. The photo above shows the one flower, which reached 6 ft high.

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If we grow elephant garlic again I would certainly work the soil so that it is less dense in order to allow the garlic to grow large. I would also leave them in the ground longer, perhaps until the flower fully blooms, maybe even until half the leaves have yellowed like with normal garlic.

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We have put the garlic in the late afternoon sun to start the drying out process, which we will continue in a cool dry place for a few weeks.

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I can’t say we’ve grown prize elephant garlic, but the unopened bloom adds a great modern twist to this flower arrangement given to us last night.

Spring flower arrangements

Perhaps arrangement is too strong a word, and I should say ‘branches in a vase’. I love to take long flowering branches and make dramatic displays. Here are a few recent ones.

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Magnolia stellata. It only lasted a weekend but looked great, if a bit white wedding, especially with the glass tea light holders.

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These yellow flowers grow 7 feet high in our garden. I am not fond of yellow, although I like the height and ethereal nature of these.

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Spring blossom in tiny vases decorate the dining table.

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Ornamental quince give a more Japanese look.