Thursday, 8 March 2012

Cold days and a sniff of spring

The dark days of winter are not the best of times for working with flowers. But they have given me some time for experimenting, especially for finding ways of arranging flowers without floral foam. This first arrangement has been made using chicken wire to hold the flowers in place. I was pleased with the way it worked. The flowers stayed in position really well and there were some advantages over foam – it was easy to take out a flower and re-arrange it (this isn`t a good idea with foam as too much re-arranging makes the foam disintegrate) and the flowers have access to far more water which means they last longer than they would in foam. I used bought flowers supplemented with foliage from our garden – juniper, eucalyptus, fatsia leaves and ivy – placed in an urn I acquired from my father’s house to make the arrangement. The urn is quite an ugly thing, but I think it has a kind of majesty.

Look at this ingenious idea for making my second experiment - a wreath shape without floral foam.

The flower design involved making little bunches of flowers and foliage that were placed in test tubes held in place in two concentric circles of metal. I used winter colours – white roses and carnations with deep burgundy chrysanthemums and hypericum berries. This made an attractive and quite dramatic table centre. The test tubes needed re-filling every day – but the flowers lasted well for at least a week.

Although we had some frosts in January, we had some gorgeous bright days too. There were a few flowering survivors from 2011 that lasted well into January, like these roses, pinks, antirrhinums and geraniums.

One of the best things we have in our garden in winter is sarcococca (also known as Christmas box). This is a wonderful shrub with deep green leaves and little white flowers which appear in January and February. They smell wonderful and really brighten up the winter.

Here is an arrangement using the sarcococca along with other foliage from our garden and some bought tulips, alstroemeria and roses. When buying flowers through the winter I have chosen English or fair trade flowers wherever possible. I used this vintage blue jug (I am building up my collection of vintage containers) which I think has a pleasing shape and colour.

As we moved into February, the first signs of spring began to appear. We have two sorts of crocus in our garden at the moment, a beautiful camellia, a robust hellebore, lovely primula (yellow and purple) and the daffodils started to appear at the end of February. Here is a flavour of it all:

Mike has been germinating seeds for me over the last month – different colours of scabious, corn flowers, cosmos (white and pink), small sunflowers, meadowsweet, white antirrhinums, ammi and moluccella (bells of Ireland). I hope these do well and that I will be making arrangements with them in the summer.

Lots and lots to look forward to in the coming months.