Archive | June 2017

British Flowers Week 2017

 

Its British Flowers Week! 19th to 25th June.

Time to commend, celebrate, and champion all the fantastic British Flowers in our gardens and – more importantly – those that we should be buying in our shops.

There are lots of reasons to buy British flowers, the same reasons we should choose to buy our food from local suppliers:

  • There are less air miles or road miles involved, so less carbon emissions and a better impact on the environment
  • Less distance travelled means a fresher bloom that will last longer in the vase. It wont have been chemically treated to last the journey.
  • Those local growers and small florist businesses need us to buy their flowers, more than the supermarkets, keeping small and family businesses alive.
  • To help support and encourage British flower farmers also means we are supporting British Wildlife. Bees and other pollinating insects need their habitats to be maintained and flower farms are key to this.
  • British Blooms are great value, and when in season their cost improves, they are the best way to get a perfect specimen, rather than something average and mass produced.
  • British flowers usually have a superior scent to those imported. Roses are a great example of this – try a sniff next time you’re at a generic supermarket stand of cellophaned bunches, then compare to a rose from the garden.

 

To celebrate, I am going to pick and post a bunch from my garden every day this week.

Monday 19th

What better way to launch British Flowers Week than with some red white and blue.

My Sweet William are amazing this year, so many bright red flowers. I’ve matched with some white Sweet William, astrantia, mock orange, and with blue lavender, salvia, veronica and cornflowers, amongst others.

Tuesday 20th

This may seem like cheating slightly, as I am using a photo of an arrangement (or 16) I did for a party last week. So they aren’t flowers picked today, but they are all British flowers (from my aunt and cousins glorious gardens in Herefordshire and Norfolk respectively). 

Green and Lime was the colour scheme and Alstroemeria were the shining star. Matched with green alchemilla mollis (ladies mantel), hedera and hosta leaves, I sprayed some allium seed heads gold for some sparkle, added some orange heuchera flowers for height and some purple veronica and medolino sticks for interest.

Sixteen 60cm vases with raffia, cellophane and lights was a tall order (!), but it was a real team effort and a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Wednesday 21st

A simple one today. Just roses. Perhaps the most symbolic representation of the British garden (I’m not going to say ‘English rose‘ as we are in Wales!).

The orange ones here are David Austin, and the white and yellow are roses I have inherited in the garden. Such calming colours. I’m going to be using the petals from these to make natural confetti for my step-daughters wedding in October, so picking them will have double uses!

Thursday 22nd

Here is a bunch I picked for myself yesterday. I picked them early in the morning, left them in the cool all day with a drink and then got around to arranging them yesterday evening. It was a bit of a thrown together arrangement as I was in a bit of a hurry. I used tape on the top of the jug to help them stand up.

I’ve not grown zinnia before, so am loving the lime green and pale yellow contrast to the bright orange calendula ‘Indian Prince’. One solitary dahlia ‘Burlesque’ included as it is very early, but such a vibrant red/orange.

I’m still trying to get my photography right, so tried a few spots for the stills, and then took a video too, as I think this really shows up the quality of the flowers.

 

As for the rest of the week? Well, I admit I ran out of time as we were away for a few days. Made a mental note to start early with the picking and arranging next year and post a daily photo based on a previous days work. Kind of obvious!! 

Anyway, a few pictures of the garden to finish off the week. I’m so pleased with how its beginning to turn out, although there is still lots to do.

The long border with its ‘new’ stone wall

 

 

 

 

Dahlia Burlesque

 

Sweet Williams.

Elderflower Cordial

It’s the time of year for Elderflower cordial. I can smell the flowers as I walk by the trees at the moment and the fragrance is so evocative of summertime – fresh and sweet.

                        

The recipe is very easy, but there are a few tips I have picked up over the years to ensure you get super sweet, fragrant cordial. This is good for mixing with juice or water, or (of course) Prosecco. There is also a gin cocktail which is a favourite of mine. Recipe below.

You will need:

20-25 heads of elderflower

Zest and juice of one lemon

1 litre boiling water

1kg of caster sugar.

My lovely trug, coming into action again!

 

 

 

Always pick the flowers on a dry day and in a clean place, ie. away from a busy road.

Don’t wash the flowers, but give them a good shake to get rid of any bugs/debris.

 

 

 

Place the flowers in a large bowl (I usually trim mine from the stalk with scissors and with half inch of stem).

Add the lemon zest and pour on the boiling water. Cover with a cloth and leave for 24 hrs, stirring occasionally.

 

 

 

Using a sieve, strain the mixture into a jam pan or heavy bottomed pan. Muslin or coffee filter papers are good to use at this point, as there are still sometimes little bugs that get through.

Add the sugar and bring the mix to the boil, then turn the heat down slightly and stir until all the sugar crystals have dissolved. It’s up to you how thick you want the syrup now. Thicker is good for pouring on ice-cream/ yoghurt etc.

Decant into sterilised bottles. The syrup should keep in the fridge for a few weeks, or you can pour into ice cube trays and freeze.

 

Gin and Elderflower Cocktail

1 part Gin

1 part Elderflower syrup

Tonic or lemonade or soda

Pour over ice and lemon and enjoy