How to Pot your Pickings:
A guide to pairing flowers and vases
I know it’s a weird old time but how glorious that the skies are blue, the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming. After what feels like months, even decades, of rain, how lovely to be finally outside. The blossom is out on the apple tree, the magnolia is in its very brief and spectacular flower, the lawn is speckled with primroses. Even in the most shady spots hellebores and pulmonaria are adding spots of colour.
There are so many different ways of using your garden blooms. From pretty posies of mixed woodland flowers to bold displays of single varieties; from messy bunches of greenery to a single, simple stem. Think about where your arrangement is going to live in the house. I like a small posy on a bathroom shelf but a matching pair of vases of something dramatic either side of a sofa; a sturdy bunch of a single variety on a kitchen table and just a few blooms for a window sill.
Some things are perfectly designed as vases. Some things are perfectly repurposed as vases. Use milk bottles, tea cups, jugs and bowls. I have a perfectly shaped army specimen jar which I bought in a junk shop hundreds of years ago, tapered just enough at the rim! For the purposes of this exercise, we have used all sorts of containers around the shop and photographed them in some of our favourite spots around the building. When you cut flowers for your display, make sure you trim any blossoms and leaves which will be below the water line. Anything submerged in water for a long period will just rot and turn the water brown!
Check out the Toppu vase with a few branches of magnolia. And how glorious do the stems of flowering currant look in By Mutti? I have a large Ribes in the garden and hardly ever bring the flowers inside but they are such a pretty colour and make a super simple display.
Nothing nicer than hellebores (Sarah Raven has a top tip for picking, choose stems with at least one seed pod beginning to form. These have a little more lignin, a complex organic polymer, since you ask, deposited in the cell walls, making them rigid and woody). We tried a shorter bunch in a netted jar and a longer stemmed bunch in a Falcon jug.
Bitossi tea cup to the rescue. A simple cluster of primroses, pulmonaira, scilla and, I think, anemone blanda (but I’d have to check with my dad, who did botany A level). It’s also nice to group little glass containers together and limit the varieties you put in each vase. We used our Temple and Colosseum vases with a Vintage List cut glass vase and raided a woodland area of the garden.
With social distancing, we can’t take flowers to our nearest and dearest. Take inspiration from my lovely sister Sandy Suffield. She has been photographing a different display every day and sending a virtual bouquet to any poorly friend.
(Additional imagery from Pinterest)