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Winter Inspirations

When the temperature drops from the gorgeous moderation of Autumn into the deep dark depths of brrrr,….we tend to rug up, and hibernate venturing outdoors a lot less and living out our daily lives within the comforts of our heated homes/offices.

For this reason alone, it is vitally important to dress our homes and bring the outside in with fresh flowers and plants, making our home into the sanctuary we desire.

The great thing about winter is that we can often enjoy longer vase life (as long as the heater isn’t sitting next to the vase!) and immerse ourselves in the fragrance that many winter blooms bring; think hyacinth, johnquils, erlicheers etc.

Some of our favourite winter blooms:

Tulips

Image; National Geographic

The tulip is a perennial bulb that traditionally flowers from winter- spring. A number of species and many hybrids are grown in gardens or as plants. Tulips typically have 2-6 strap shaped leaves depending on the species, with a single flower arising from the centre.¬†Tulips continue to grow after being cut, and are orientated by the sun. The direction of the growth will change and move as the sun moves throughout the day, resulting in a sometimes wayward display of crazy untamed blooms in a vase. I love this, but some may find it frustrating! ūüėõ

The best way to control this, is to cut them short and keep them in a smaller thinner vase so they appear more upright.

Hellebores

Image: Garden Coach Pictures

Hellebores are also known as the ‘Winter rose’ or the ‘Christmas rose’ (as they originate in the Northern hemisphere where¬†Christmas takes place within the cooler months) however oddly, they are not related to the Rose at all.

Hellebores are favoured by gardeners as they are frost resistant and evergreen, and of course because they provide a beautiful display throughout winter and spring. The Hellebores are available in a wide variety of colours ranging from the traditional cottage garden variety pure white blooms, through to pink, red flushed, maroons and purple. There is also the ‘Stinking Hellebore’ with is drooping pale pistachio green bell flowers.

Johnquils

Image: Moosey’s Country Garden

Narcissus johnquilla (johnquill/rush daffodil)¬†is a flowering bulb that is native to Spain and Portugal. It has long rush long leaves, hence the name ‘rush daffodil’. It bears up to 5 fragrant heads of flowers, which have been cultivated since the 18th century for its oil, used today in many modern perfumes. They do not have a long vase life, and as they are poisonous to other flowers, ¬†it is not recommended that they are mixed with other blooms in a vase, as they will shorten the vase life of those flowers also.

Hyacinth

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Image: Zastavki

Hyacinths are winter and spring flowering bulb that is characterised by long, narrow leaves that are folded lengthwise. They are a highly perfumed bloom that has flowers growing in dense clusters along the length of the stem. The common hyacinth (Hyacinthus Orientalis) has blooms that open into star shaped flowers, and should not be confused with Muscari Botryoides, The Grape Hyacinth.

Hyacinths are available in a variety of colours including white, cream, lemon, pale pink, hot pink, mauve, violet, blue and green.

Cymbidium orchids

Image: Image Juicy

Cymbidium orchids slowly begin their season in late Autumn, but are readily available and utilised throughout the winter months, with greater variety available in the colours and size of the blooms. The Cymbidium (or boat orchid) can have a bloom diameter of between 5-10cm, and are available in every colours from white to green, yellowish-green and cream, yellow, brown, pink, red, orange and even black. The blooms last about ten weeks making them a fantastic value cut flower.

Some varieties are known to have a fragrance, but most notable is the fact that Cymbidiums can withstand cold temperatures as low as 7ňö C, even lower for short periods making them a hardy variety of flower for growers.

Even for the most uncreative people, it is easy to decorate your home with Cymbidiums. Use a large torpedo shaped vase and place a simple green monsteria or some doddavine at the base, now place the Cymbidium stem within the vase, completely enclosing the flower spike.

Blushing Bride

Image: Hargraves Nursery

Blushing Bride (Serruria florida)  is a species of Protea, endemic to South Africa. It is known as Pride of Franschhoek.

Blushing Bride flowers¬†have¬†papery white floral leaves, surrounding feathery tufts of white to pinkish flowers. Flowers are white/cream or pink. ‚ÄėSugar ‚Äėn‚Äô Spice‚Äô is a well-known variety with pink flowers and deep, rose pink¬†stripes on the white bracts (floral leaves).

With its muted colour palette, it is often a bloom favoured by brides having ceremonies between June- November, and it is believed that the plant received its name because it was traditionally used in bridal bouquets in South Africa.

Blushing Bride grows well in Australia in plantations as the climate is similar to its native South Africa. It also grows well in Israel and the US.

Kale

Image: A Colorado Courtship

Many varieties of kale and cabbage are grown for their ornamental leaves, which are brilliant white, red, pink, lavender, blue or violet in the interior of the rosette. Ornamental kale is as edible as any other variety. Kale is a vegetable in the species Brassica Oleracea, which also includes broccoli, cauliflower, and brussell sprouts.

Kale can be utilised in a variety of way as the blooms are grown in a variety of sizes. Smaller rosettes are ideal for bridal bouquets and buttonholes or smaller vase arrangements. The larger rosettes can be used in grouped frontal arrangements or in eye catching corporate displays.

Be warned! As ornamental kale is a type of cabbage, the water can quickly start to smell so we recommend changing the water daily.

Poppies

Image: McKenzies Seeds

I don’t know many people who don’t love poppies. With their vibrant colour and instant artistic appeal, it is hard to fault them. With colours from white through yellow and orange, to pinks, reds, maroons and deep crimsons. Their tissue like delicate blooms consists of two layers, the outward layer; 2 dark furry sepals (which drop off as the bud opens) and the inner layer; 4 ¬†(sometimes 5 or 6) brightly coloured petals. The buds are ‘nodding’ or bent slightly downwards.

Poppies do not like a vase full of water, so an inch or two at the base of the vase is optimal. You will also notice that the base of the stems is darker in colour as they are scolded before sale. If you cut this section of the stem off to display them in a shorter vase, we recommend firstly scolding them again before placing them in a vase.

Wowzers! Who knew winter had so much to offer!? For a person who thrives in summer and relishes the hot sticky humidity that the beginning of the year brings, I am like a fish out of water in these colder months, but, after taking a moment to appreciate all the pretty things I get to play with, I may very well change my mind….

Til next time

Fwf x

 

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Image from : http://theviewfromgreatisland.com/25-ways-to-put-springtime-flowers-on-the-table/

More than just a Feast for the Eyes

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘You eat with your eyes’¬†or heard something being described as looking ‘Good enough to eat’? All the time right?

Anyone who has ever seen a sloppy mess of non descript terracotta/brown/grey casserole, knows only too well, that even before a spoonful of the dish has softly grazed across your lips, you have¬†decided that it isn’t going to taste any good. Right?¬†Well if you can manage to get passed the appearance,¬†some dishes¬†can¬†pleasantly surprise you. So often is the case, particularly with these hearty winter one pot wonders, the aesthetic can leave a lot to be desired.

Now take a second to imagine a gorgeous little peak of light and fluffy cake, topped with softly whipped buttercream and topped with vibrant blooms, lightly covered in a dusting of icing sugar. Mouth watering? Stomach rumbling? Race you!

Image: Lushome

There would be no stopping me get at that cake! And why? Because it looks so darned good.

Presentation is key, and on trend right now, is the use of edible flowers to take dishes to a whole new level.

When Any Bloom Will Not Do…

“Edible Flowers” are blooms that can safely be consumed. They are fresh, organically grown and vary from season to season. Flowers that are intended to be eaten should be grown in an environment that is not exposed to harmful pesticides. Therefore, flowers should not simply be purchased from your florist as they have been sprayed with chemicals that are not suitable for human consumption.

That said, this new need for pesticide free flowers, has resulted in a new industry and new business opportunities popping up. Flowerdale is one company that specialises in the production of edible flowers, leading the industry in raising food safety standards within the hydroponics food industry. Furthermore, the company works closely with the end user to ensure they are supplying what modern tastes demands. Offering an assortment of flowers, edible foliages, shoots, microgreens, sprouts, petite vegetables, salad greens as well as herbs.

Whilst edible flowers have been used for centuries, and across many cuisines and cultures (think Middle Eastern Turkish Delight), they have seen a renewed popularity in the last few years and are being used in a variety of applications. The modern take on this ancient idea focuses on the simplicity of the presentation and the delicacies in flavour.

Many flowers that are technically edible can be far from palatable. With their powerful and unique flavors, textures and colors, edible flowers have gained popularity as a creative and innovative ingredient for the culinary world; from salads, to main courses, desserts and drinks. For best flavor, flowers should be fresh; wilted and faded flowers, and the unopened buds of most species, can be distasteful, often bitter. Right now, the trend seems to focus on fresh blooms, however the classic preparation of edible blooms involved crystallising them. This would add some sweetness to the bloom.

Wonder what a rose petal tastes like? Exactly how it smells! The more fragrant the rose, the more fragrant the taste when you eat them! The essence permeates the petal, leaving the soft rose fragrance lingering in your mouth.

Crystallising flowers

Want to Do It Yourself?

The Old Fashioned Way: Sugared Roses on TheHistoryKitchen.com #history #vintage #recipes
Image: Tori Avey
Image: Mummy Pages
Image: Meadowsweet Flowers

Recipe from FOOD

Ingredients;

  • 20 -50 fresh rose petals
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • baking¬†paper

Method;

  1. Use a fork to lightly beat the egg white and use the paint brush to ensure all surfaces of the petal is then covered. Use the tweezers to hold the petal.
  2. Then dust the petal evenly with the sugar, place on the baking parchment/greaseproof paper so they are not touching and leave to dry in a warm room.
  3. It will take approx 2 hours to dry.
  4. Store them in an airtight tin, in between greasepoof paper for up to 3-4 months.

 

Showcasing¬†the trend to use edible blooms as well as the understated simplicity being embraced in modern day weddings, a new style of wedding cake is emerging and fast gaining popularity, the Naked Cake. The cake is layered and filled, and then simply ‘masked’ with the thinnest layer of icing to lightly coat the top and perimeter and even out the shape of the design. I’m a HUGE fan!

Image; Buttered Side Up
Triple Lemon Cake with Edible Flowers
Image: Buttered Side Up

The image below¬†is where the idea for this whole blog began…. Un-birthday‘s “The Floral Faux Pav”- a delicious example of a modern take on a classic, together with the power of the flower! The woman behind this masterpiece walked away from her corporate career to start building a life of passion, knowing that if she kept pursuing the ‘idea of success’ and ticking all the boxes that came along the way, she would know in her heart that she had in fact taken the easy way out. She dreamed of the day where she would bake and create.

And create she does. Her take on the way a cake should look is incredible.

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Image: Unbirthday

And another example of her brilliance:

 

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Image: Unbirthday

Remember edible blooms can be used as garnishes or be incorporated into more savoury dishes as well.

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Image: Erin Nudi

But before¬†we get too side tracked with rabbit food, continue perusing these sweet treats below….

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Image: Fine Dining Lovers
Image: BRIT+CO

How beautiful is this cake? To me, it looks like a trillion tiny butterflies have landed. Amazing

Image: Lushome

So that is it for another week. Wipe you mouth, and clean the drool off the keyboard….

Fwf x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image: Lushome

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Koke wha tha? Kokedama.

Kokedama, in English, literally means “moss ball”. Essentially the plant root base is removed from the pot and kept intact, surrounded in a mud cake of wet Akadama soil and Keto (peat), then wrapped in moss and all held together with wire or nylon, string or twine. This is how the ornamental plant continues to grow. Sometimes known as the poor man’s bonsai, Kokedama orginated in Japan, where the balls were displayed on alter-like platforms, before they gained popularity in the Netherlands, then the US and worldwide.

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DIY instructions via Clemmo’s

Want to give it a try? Watch a brief video in DIY kokedama via Better Homes and Gardens here.

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A variety of Images featuring the ‘Hangman’ and a gorgeous assortment of kokedama in different settings: Zowieso

Like most houseplants, kokedama are not in a huge quantity of soil, and therefore need regular water. A kokedama is a style of presenting and keeping a plant, but does not change the way the plant should be cared for. This means that if the plant normally requires a lot of light, it still does, and similarly if it requires filtered light or a shaded position, this is no different when it has been made into a Kokedama. Thirsty plants will require more frequent watering, and plants that prefer a more arid environment can do with less fluid.

Check out the pictures we have here to help inspire you! You can try to create one of these yourselves, (with the help of Clemmo’s or BHG DIY instructions above) or ask Emmra, our resident Botanical Creations Director! He loves getting his hands dirty and making special pieces that set Florist with Flowers apart from the rest! Our team continually aims to raise the bar, stocking a range of houseplants in unique containers, perfect for home or special gifts.

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Mister Moss is renowned for his kokedama. This one was found on Design Milk and is a fine example of his work. Love the coloured twine

 

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Pretty Poppies fashioned into a stunning string garden via My Desy

 

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Carnivorous Pitcher Plant Kokedama via Indoor Gardening Tips

 

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Succulents are popular plants as they are low maintenance, and therefore are ideal for Kokedama. Image via Pinterest
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What beautiful way to display an orchid! Divine! More a traditional style of kokedama (placed, not hung) Image: Flickr

 

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Gorgeous display of kokedama found on A Cultivated Nest

 

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String Gardens via Turbulences Deco

 

But why stop there? Suspend several moss balls at varying heights to create an eye catching display that is unique. Or like, Fedor Van der Valk of the Netherlands, take it one step further by suspending his bound botanicals from pulleys. Generally acknowledged as the king of contemporary kokedama, Van der Valk calls his creations “string gardens”, and they have caught everyone‚Äôs quirkier side.

The Hangman: Fedor Van der Valk in his studio via The Telegraph (UK)

So what do you think? Love them? Hate them? Want to make one for every person in the world that you know for Christmas????

Regardless of whether you are a fan or not, you have to admit that these days it seems a glorious plant alone is just not enough. ¬†They want plants miniature, enclosed or ¬†hanging….or manipulated and altered in some way. They like special and unique presentations whether it be a pretty pot, uniquely shaped terrarium or wrapped in neon string!

Well, you know what they say……you have to give the punters what they want…..

Fwf x

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FLOWER POWER- Heal the World with flowers

When some people wake up feeling less than fabulous they take themselves off for a spot of therapy. Retail therapy that is. Or perhaps they go out for a coffee to get the heart started or wind down with a drink with a friend. Some people swear by exercise to get the endorphins going, you know, the ‘happy’ hormones. Everyone has their go-to method.

So many of my clients come in and tell me that flowers make them feel better. They make them happy. They laugh and tell me that must be why we are such happy people, because we get to work with them everyday. Maybe it is. But the truth of it is that flowers can heal, and that is just another reason to treat yourself to the power of the flower!

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Echinacea Purpurea:

Echinacea, the purple coneflower is believed to be the closest thing to a cure for the common cold, so with the decreasing temperature taking place here at the moment, everyone should be stocking up! It stimulates the activity of cells that fight all sorts of infection. In fact, it makes our immune system more efficient; attacking bacteria/viruses/abnormal cells, simulating new tissue growth for wound healing and reducing inflammation in skin conditions and arthritis.

It is most successful in increasing¬†Phagocytosis; the consumption of invading organisms by white blood cells and lymphocytes, by 20-40%. And has been noted to inhibit the enzyme (hyaluronidase) which is secreted by bacteria to help them gain access to healthy cells. Research from 1950’s showed that Echinacea managed to completely counteract the effect of the enzyme, which meant that it prevented infection in open wounds.

Echinacea was initially used internally for treatment of colds, coughs and flu as well as respiratory conditions, urinary tract infections, boils, acne, candida, herpes and persistent infections. Now it is being used more for the treatment of external wounds, skin regeneration, skin infections, eczema, and inflammatory skin conditions. It kills yeast and slows/stops bacteria growth, but also stimulates the growth of new tissue.

 

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Lavender

Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) is a fragrant herb with a pretty purple bloom that contains an oil that seems to have sedating qualities and may relax certain muscles.

It is component of compounds used for herbal and alternative medicine/aromatherapy that is most commonly used for restlessness, migraine, headache, insomnia, anxiety, nervousness and even depression. It can be utilised best in tinctures, as an essential oil in teas, salves etc, but can also be used in heat bags, burning the essential oil, (to help with insomnia) adding the oil to a warm bath for muscle relaxation or inhaling the oil vapour which is believed to help with pain management.

I did not know that the oil actually has antiseptic properties and is therefore good for cleaning scrapes and cuts that may contain foreign material. Linalol is an active substance in lavender that heals sores, burns and other wounds. Pain and inflammation are reduced at the site of pain.

Lavender is believed to reduce anxiety and other nervous conditions.You can place a sachet with soothing leaves and tuck it into your drawer or under your pillow or alternatively add essential lavender oil to your bath water for a calming end to your evening. It can relieve headaches just by dabbing a small amount of oil onto your temples, and similarly the oil can be used in an aromatherapy massage to unknot the muscles and relive spasms, particularly helpful during a womans menstrual cycle.

Versatile Lavender can even be taken as a diluted essence. Simply add one or two drops of the essence in a glass of water, for depression, hysteria, and fainting.

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Calendula (Calendula Officinalis)

Calendula has been used medicinally for centuries to treat conjunctivitis (as it helps to reduce the swelling and redness of eye infections), eczema, gastritis, minor burns including sunburns, warts, and minor injuries such as sprains and wounds, cramps, coughs, and snake bites. In animal studies, it has been shown that Calendula reduces inflammation, increasing blood flow and promoting production of collagen.

Calendula posesses both antiseptic and antiinflammatory properties, so is great for treating a variety of skin ulcerations, eczema, acne, as well as being utilised in mouthwashes and gargles for the same reason, to soothe and heal mouth ulcers, or sore throats.

Calendula has a high content of flavonoids, chemicals that act as antioxidants in the body. Antioxidants are thought to protect body cells from damage caused by a chemical process called oxidation. Oxidation produces oxygen free radicals, natural chemicals that may suppress immune function.

As a mum, I have come across Calendula by way of a fantastic nappy rash cream. It is known to be good for both acne and nappy rash, as well as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and candida. A tincture applied to a cold sore can also encourage healing.

Today, Calendula is being examined for it’s anti-cancer properties. In combination with herbs such as Echinacea purpurea, Scorzonera humilis L., and Aconitum moldavicum, there has been evidence of success in treating certain cancers (e.g Heren’s carcinoma) according to the Fedkovich Chernivtsi State University in the Ukraine.

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Hypericum perforatum-Sint Janskruid-06

 

St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum)

St. John’s Wort ¬†is the number one treatment in Germany for depression and has become popular again as an antidepressant worldwide. Chemicals such as hypericin, hyperforin, and pseudohypericin are found in St Johns Wort, and are thought to be the major sources of its antidepressant properties. Although St John’s Wort may be effective in reliveing mild- moderate depression, it can take several weeks to see maximum antidepressant effects.

NOTE; St. John’s Wort should not be used with alcohol and some other foods.

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Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera Biennis)

All us ladies know the healing properties of Evening Primrose Oil very well. In fact, Evening Primrose Oil has been called the most sensational preventive discovery since vitamin C. The plant is well known for its healing properties, relieving the discomforts of PMS, menopause, menstruation, endometriosis and fibrocystic breasts but on top of that it has been found to contain a pain relieving compound phenylalanine and is increasingly being used to treat chronic headaches.

It is also being studied as a treatment of: easing joint pain and swelling of rheumatoid arthritis, preventing diabetes-associated nerve damage, reducing the symptoms of eczema, acne, rosacea, counter impotence and female infertility, nourish hair, scalp and nails, .

 

Wowzers, well, aside from adding colour and fragrance to your home, some plants bring much much more to our lives. Amazing hey? Florists truly are a lucky bunch!

All hail the power of the flower,

Fwf x

 

 

 

 

 

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