Subscribe to our Free Newsletter and get the latest from Garden Help:
Videos & Projects
For a limited time we are also giving a FREE GIFT to every new subscriber. Sign up and receive your free copy of '12 Months in the Garden'
Spring is the most exciting season, as we anticipate the garden bursting back into life - buds burst open, bulbs bloom and colour once again returns into our life. As a floral designer, I am always thrilled to work with whatever flowers are in season. They are at their optimum and encapsulate the essence of that point in time. Commercial, British-grown bulb flowers, like tulips, iris and hyacinths, are readily available throughout the grey month of January and extend throughout the Spring season. Soon they are joined by Narcissi, Muscari, Ranunculus and Anemone. These blooms are always inexpensive and provide a riot of colour and fragrance to dress our homes throughout the early part of the year.
Whether you are arranging the first delicate snowdrops gathered from your garden or a bunch of fragrant ‘Soleil d’Or' narcissus then I hope my tips and ideas may be useful in helping you to create some dynamic yet quick and easy flower displays that will remain fresh and vibrant within the home.
When gathering any flowers from the garden, always avoid picking when it has been frosty, rainy or there has been a heavy dew. I always take a bucket with me and pop the stems into a few centimetres of water to avoid an air lock forming within the stems.
If you purchase flowers, always re-cut a couple of centimetres from the base of the stems, remove any plastic or cellophane wrapping and place the re-cut stems in around 7 - 8 cm of water. I always use flower food in the water.
Give your flowers time to drink and hydrate before arranging them indoors, ideally 7 - 8 hours somewhere cool and dark is preferable before subjecting them to warm indoor temperatures.
Traditionally, daffodils (Narcissus sp.) were advised not to be rearranged with other flowers, due to the toxic sap which they exude from the base of the stem. I have discovered that if you re-cut their stems and place them in a container for a few hours before arranging with other Spring flowers that the excess sap escapes and if you then try not to re-cut them when arranging, then there is no detrimental impact upon the other flowers.
Hyacinths are wonderful flowers for fragrance and longevity. Always try to leave the swollen bulbous base attached to the stem, as this is a food/energy source for the flower. As the blooms fully open, they often become top-heavy and you can support the stems by carefully inserting a wooden skewer or thick support wire internally inside the hollow stem.
Iris may sometimes be harvested too early and, if they have been refrigerated, may never open. I advise only buying these elegant blooms when you can see some of the true colour of the flower in between the green bud.
Ranunculus are often subject to Botrytis (fungal) attacks on the stems. You are best to immediately remove them from all packaging and strip away all of the foliage.
Daffodils are often sold dry (not in water). This is fine for a few days, but be vigilant when buying. Look for bunches where the stems are green, straight and fleshy as opposed to curled, grey/green and dry to the touch, otherwise they are old and may not open into bloom.
Create displays of Spring flowers in vintage jugs, earthenware pottery, mini glass vases or ceramic pottery rings. For larger arrangements I tend to use chicken wire to support the stems. Branches and twigs of pussy willow, hazel catkins, Forsythia, Ribes and Cornus all look sensational with early Spring flowers.
My favourite foliages to use at the beginning of the year are tree ivy, with its plump berries, Skimmia, Rhododendron, golden Choisya and the ever-popular Eucalyptus. Two shrubs that I grow in order to mix with early Spring flower displays are the intoxicatingly super- scented winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) and the shiny green lily-of-the-valley scented Sarcococca. If you do not have these in your garden, then you really should consider growing them!
When arranging foliage, again cut it from the garden and allow it to have a drink overnight somewhere cold and dark first. For woody stems, I scrape away some of the tough outer bark and then diagonally cut up into the base of the stem in order to split it open, therefore enabling it to hydrate more efficiently.
There are many formal rules and guidelines about how one should create flower arrangements. My ethos is to let your eye be your guide and arrange the flowers how you feel they look best. After all, we, like the flowers, are all different and we all have our own personal style and taste. I am a great believer in trying not to over complicate this delightful art form.
Just enjoy being creative and the flowers will do the rest!
This story was published on: 01/02/2024
The New York Botanical Garden
New York, United States
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Cape Town, South Africa
RHS Garden, Wisley
Woking, United Kingdom
Aswan Botanical Garden
Dubai Miracle Garden
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan