Flower arranging: Top three flower hacks you never knew!
There are three lesser known truths when it comes to growing your own flowers and they’re not acknowledged as widely as they should be. These “hacks” are related and can be applied after all the growing, planning, hope and often disappointment which front ends the stages of bringing plants to the point of bloom. From there on in things become infinitely more trouble-free. The first of these truths is - garden flowers picked for your home simply do not need arranging. Of course you CAN and I’m in awe of those professionals that do; but the ratio of fiddling, faffing, preening and cutting versus the aesthetical pay off are out of kilter.
The second home truth is - it doesn’t matter what you use to display them in!
The nearest jug, previously used for custard, a drinking glass, egg cup, empty tomato can, jam jar, cracked teapot, will all pay as much dividends as a crystal cut vase or collectors porcelain mantel. There are diminishing returns for anything more fancy because nothing is more beautiful than cut flowers from yours or anyone’s garden. You can discard the principles of floral design; disregard colour, balance, form and scale because, like good ingredients in cooking, the flowers will (loudly) speak for themselves. This no-faff approach also avoids any unnecessary mechanics like highly detrimental floral foam, something made from formaldehyde and never degrades.
In growing your own flowers you will have access to an incomparable joy; the simple and pleasing action of picking and gathering them. To me this is the epitome of living in the moment. It’s also the real meaning of “Carpe Diem” and a practical embodiment of mindfulness. But more than this, to pick flowers is to participate in an act of sheer decadence. It’s not that you suddenly become a skipping May Queen, more that the moment can transport you nostalgically and there is comfort in its ritualistic actions. The requirement to do it early morning amongst the dew and birdsong or the fading light of the gloaming, when the colours fluoresce, makes for an idyllic time visiting what feels like old friends from the bare earth. The only equipment needed is a pair of scissors, a hat, a bucket of sloshing clear water and hot tea. Cutting flowers can promote an outburst of thought, curiosity, delight and this can manifests as pure joy. Cut a haphazard collection of stems from a garden border, pause to watch the hoverflies and anything under these circumstances placed in a jar in any order will be a beautiful creation.
Unfussy, haphazard, colours that clash, single stems, no foliage, all foliage, bare branches, tiny violets, flowers you will never see in a florist, the seed heads of a dandelion, colours you never thought you would like. I guarantee that they will all arrange themselves. If your vase looks like a mad ensemble of your garden border than you have succeeded. Garden floristry is fool-proof.
The charm continues when you place the flowers in a room as suddenly that room will possess beauty. An infinite beauty that surpasses the fabric of the curtains, the cushions, the ornate and even artwork. The focus will not be on the vase, it is just a vessel that promotes gratitude and accommodates the privilege. Your eyes will be drawn elsewhere as garden flowers in a room are lanterns that brighten, emblems of nature’s achievements and a truthfulness of real seasonality. The room now shares a commonality with the garden and chances are your choice of garden plants will reflect the colours of your home thereby magnifying a sublime synergy .
The degree to which the flowers will last indoors varies, from a day to many weeks. But as they age their petals soften and mute taking on material-like textures. Some flowers go on to become everlasting, garden flowers in general demonstrate extraordinary beauty in decline. Watching the transition is as golden as it is slow. Garden hydrangeas can sit in water and as the stems draw as much as necessary and the water slowly evaporates, its mophead mutes to soft pink, grey or mauves effortless becoming shadowy and graceful. It will then last for years with freshly cut flowers appearing alongside them again the following season it’s easy to surround yourself in garden delights. When the opera of flowery summer abundance ends winter brings seed heads and twigs and an opportunity to continue the hobby. Bringing branches indoors in winter will connect you to your own garden at a time when such a connection is hard to retain. This link to barren hedges and the trees beyond and creates a shared commonality of the season and makes the non-growing season bearable.
The third and final truth is this laissez faire approach to arranging and displaying can only apply to garden grown flowers. Garage forecourt flowers, flowers burdened with high environmental costs in the air miles they have travelled, the greenhouse gases emitted and the chemicals used, are not privy to this magic. The beauty is not there, don’t even look for it. The distinction between garden flowers and flown in cut flowers once “seen” is impactful. After all one is created with, of and for love, the other only for commerce.
Samantha Chaplin is an award winner gardener who lives and writes in the New Forest where she grows flowers for drying. www.hedgepink.co.uk