22 October 2014

Arrange Your Flowers! - # 4 - How To Make Your Cut Flowers Last Longer

This is the fourth instalment of 'Arrange your Flowers' - and it's about how to take care of your flowers - once you have conditioned them and made your arrangement at home.

I have written about this before - but this time I have revised and added lots of new information. 

So bear with me - because this is good stuff and all these tips will make your flowers last much longer!

1. Change the water in the vase every couple of days. The stems will start to deteriorate as soon as they are cut and all the stems sitting in water will speed up this process. Changing the water frequently will remove the build up of bacteria in the vase and your flowers will last longer.

Also try to re-cut the stems when you change the water. Stems can become blocked with bacteria and reduce their ability to absorb water. By making a fresh cut you will give the flower a freshly cut area that will make it able to better absorb water and therefore prolong the life of the flower. This might not always be practical - you don't want the arrangement to fall apart and you don't want the stems to end up looking too short in the vase. But it's a very good idea if you are able to do it.

While you are changing water and re-cutting stems also remove any dying flower heads or wilting leaves. Please, see point number 4 below for the reason behind this. 

A very useful trick if you have a large arrangement or you don't want to take the arrangement out of the vase - is to put the whole arrangement - vase and all in the sink under the running tap and let the water run clear.

You have to be able to pick up the vase - it might be very heavy when full of flowers and water, the sink has to be deep enough for the vase to fit under the tap and you have to dry the outside of the vase - but if you can do all that then you're OK to use this method.

2. Flowers will last much longer if you are able to put them in a dark cool place during the night. A dark place like a garage, or an outside storage area are ideal. Any unheated room or area like a conservatory, balcony or porch is second best.

Just putting the vase outside without any cover at all might be a bit hazardous. In my case I live in a neighbourhood with lots of cats, squirrels and even foxes - so in that case you never know what could happen. But even so wind and rain might not be very kind to your arrangement.

If you live where the temperatures drop below freezing in the winter - then keep in mind that cut flowers don't like it that cold! Find a place to put them where there is no frost.

3. Avoid putting your flowers flowers too close to any heat source like a radiator or heater, in a window with direct sunlight or close to any electronic equipment that gives off heat. Warm and dry atmospheres encourages water to evaporate through the leaves and will dry out any plant material. 

4. Also avoid placing flowers next to any ripening fruit or vegetables. Ripening fruit produces ethylene gas that will make your flowers wilt faster. Different flowers are susceptible to different degrees - but even so it's not a good combination. The flowers most affected are carnations.

Sometimes combining flowers with fruit or vegetables in an arrangements can make striking combinations - just be aware of the effect ethylene gases have on cut flowers and that they will speed up the wilting.   

Decaying plant material also produces ethylene gas so therefore it's important to remove any dying flower heads and any yellowing leaves. This is both to keep the arrangement looking fresh but also to slow down the whole decaying process.

5. Some flowers in an arrangement will last longer then others and or they might not look as nice as they did to begin with. So when this happens don't be afraid of de-constructing the whole arrangement. Discard any faded flowers, cut the stems shorter and make up a new arrangement or several smaller ones. 

Maybe use bud vases or make up a collection of bottles with just one stem in each or make new arrangements in some jam jars. All different ways to make one arrangement last for as long as possible.

6. Always make sure that any container you use is watertight. If you use a glass vase you can obviously be certain - but if you use a vintage vase or container of any other material you can never be certain. Pottery, china and metal are all to be treated with suspicion! It might take a little while for the water to seep through - so be aware of that leaks might not show up straight away. I have learnt from bitter experience and I have ruined many surfaces. If you are not sure - always put a saucer, plate, tray or dish under the vase. Or you can make up the arrangement in a glass jar or similar and place that inside the larger container.

Here are links to previous 'Arrange Your Flowers!'

Have a Creative Floral Day!

~ xoxo ~


[Styling and photography © Ingrid Henningsson for Of Spring and Summer.]

19 October 2014

Florets - Floral Quotes - Five Favourites

Sadly it's the end of Florets - my weekly Sunday post with floral quotes - at least for know. I've been writing it for the last two years and have clocked up close to a hundred quotes.

I would like to thank all of you who so loyally have followed Florets and made many kind comments.

I wanted to show you the quotes that has been the most popular among you guys - they are by Grace Bonney, Rachel de Thame, Shane Connolly, Paula Pryke and Jane Packer. 

"Few things bring a room to life or add that last special something like a beautiful arrangement of flowers. My personal obsession with fresh flowers and potted plants led me to add two floral columns to Design*Sponge and drag several of my editors along to countless flower arranging classes so we could learn more. For some people, flower arrangements can be somewhat daunting, but they can be easy, and exiting to create." 
~ Grace Bonney ~

[Grace Bonney - American, founder of the blog Design*Sponge and author of Design*Sponge at Home.]
[Quote: from Design*Sponge at Home.]
[Foliage: Pittosporum.]
[Containers: Vintage metal milk jugs.]
[Other props: Painted wood panelling, painted wooden cubes and vintage apothecary funnel.]

The transient nature of dazzling autumn colour is a great part of its appeal. You cannot expect to capture something so beautiful and ephemeral, and the inescapable fact that it will never again appear quite the same is somehow reassuring. Seize the moment, look long and hard, commit the view to memory, take a photograph - for the resplendent scene you see today may be gone tomorrow.
~ Rachel de Thame ~ 

[Rachel de Thame - British gardener, author of three books, Gardener's World presenter and designer of the flowers for The Royal Barge at Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in 2012.]
[Quote: from Rachel de Thame's Top 100 Star Plants.]
[Flowers: Dahlia 'Arabian Night', Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight' and grapes from Vitis vinifera.]

"Watching nature and being aware of the seasons also makes flower choice so much simpler. 
After many years in the business, I am still amazed how a few stems of flowers can bring life to even the most unprepossessing space. A breath of fresh air in every sense of the word. And often it IS just a few stems that are needed.
Just a single flower can remind me of a whole garden or a few papery leaves, an autumn wood."
~  Shane Connolly ~

[Shane Connolly - florist and event designer; he designed the flowers for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding in 2011, author of A Year in Flowers, Table Flowers and The Language of Flowers.] 
[Quote from A Year in Flowers by Shane Connolly.]
Flowers: One stem of purple hydrangea.]
[Vase: Vintage jar from Kew's seed bank with the original handwritten labels.]
[Other vintage props: flower painting, fabric ribbon, Victorian metal grate, bone necklaces, book, fabric covered jewellery box, 1940's belt buckle, Art Nouveau ashtray, round miniature black wooden box and kilim rug.]

"Colour is the most important element in any flower arrangement because it sets the mood of the display - the colour can be vibrant and arresting or calm and soothing. The technical skills involved in arranging flowers can be learned but I believe we are born with our own personal response to colour. The way we 'see' colour can be very different from the next person and what one person may consider to be bright and colourful, another may consider garish."
~ Paula Pryke ~

[Paula Pryke - British, London based florist, founder of Paula Pryke Flower School and author of fifteen books.]
[Quote: from Living Colour by Paula Pryke.]
[Flowers: Orange Chrysanthemums.]
[Vase: Vintage clear glass apothecary jar.]
[Other Props: Rag weaving from Anthropologie.]
[Styling and photography: © Ingrid Henningsson for Of Spring and Summer.]

" One of the quickest ways to make a living room feel special is to use flowers. They remind us of the natural world, the changing seasons and the planet that we live on. We often choose to accessorize with cushions, lamps or other bits and pieces, but I believe that it's flowers that truly bring a living room to life."
~ Jane Packer ~

[Jane Packer - (1959-2011) British florist and founder of Jane Packer Flowers and flower school, author of thirteen books.]
[Flowers: purple stock flowers.]
[Vintage props: Light green Art Nouveau glass vase, French window shutters and book by Dante.]
[Styling and photography by Ingrid Henningsson for Of Spring and Summer.] 

Have a wonderful Floral Sunday!

~ xoxo ~


[All images: Styling and photography © Ingrid Henningsson for Of Spring and Summer.]

17 October 2014

A Bunch for the Weekend - # 26 - Ornamental Cabbage and Chrysanthemums

This week on 'A Bunch for the Weekend' - I'm featuring Ornamental Cabbage and four different Chrysanthemums.

I love the ornamental cabbages that you can find at this time of year and I wanted to use some of the green ones and combine them with white and green Chrysanthemums. I wanted to make three small, low arrangement using some old jars leaving the green and white to be the dominant colours. 

You'll need:

- 3 stems of Ornamental Cabbage - in this case the variegated green kind
- an assorted selection of white and green Chrysanthemums
- 3 neutral coloured jars - the ones I'm using are vintage cream coloured jars, but they could also be glass jam jars
- some brown wrapping paper, baking parchment and some hessian fabric
- a handful of clothing pegs and some natural twine

For conditioning the flowers - you'll also need:

- florists snippers or scissors
- a florist bucket

As always - condition the flowers by removing any leaves that would end up below the water line in the vase. Cut the stems at an angle - to increase water absorption. Put in a clean container with tepid water and leave in a cool place over night or at least a few hours before making the final arrangement.

You need to cut all the stems quite short as the jars are not very tall. Place one cabbage in each jar - the lower leaves should rest on the edge of the jar. If you are able to find more than one kind of Chrysanthemum - put two or three in each jar and mix them up - so that each jar is a bit different 

I tide some natural coloured twine around the neck of the jar and just made a simple double knot - leaving the long ends to trail down the side. 

I added a few textured but neutral coloured pieces of paper and fabric - for the whole arrangement to sit on. A piece of hessian also called burlap - with frayed edges.

Add extra texture with some brown wrapping paper, a few sheets of baking parchment and some clothing pegs.

Use the arrangement down the middle of a dining table - on a side or coffee table - together or separately.

This arrangement definitely says autumn by using ornamental cabbage and Chrysanthemums - being two classic autumn flowers - but it's also has a light and airy feel to it.  

Have a lovely Floral Friday and a Happy Weekend!

~ xoxo ~


[Styling and photography © Ingrid Henningsson for Of Spring and Summer.]

15 October 2014

FLOWERS by ingrid and titti - Harvest Table

This time on 'FLOWERS by ingrid and titti' - the theme is Harvest Table.

My inspiration for this FLOWERS came from all the warm red, orange and yellow autumn colours that I saw at my local farmers' market and street flower sellers. I wanted to make a harvest table with a little bit of a difference. 

My pick for the day was some sunflowers - the only ones I found was yellow - even though the the burnt orange and more maroon ones are my favourite. I love the contrast between the bright yellow petals and the dark, dark brown centre - what a stunning combination. 

Next on my list was a handful of stems of Chinese lanterns - that has the tongue twister Latin name - Physalis alkekengi.

Chinese lanterns are beautiful when dried - hang them upside down - tied with a rubberband - that tightens as the stems dry out and the bunch will not fall apart. Hang them in a well ventilated, dark and dry place for a few weeks. You can then put them in a vase or container and enjoy their beauty for a long time.

The last flower/plant I choose was crabapples or Malus sylvestris as they are also called. There are many different kinds of crabapples and they come in yellow, red, light green and some are yellow and a bit orange blushed with pink - my favourite.

To decorate the table I just laid a branch straight on the table - quick and easy and I cut a few of the little apples off the bottom of the branch and scattered them around on the table - as a playful gesture.

Crabapples can be expensive to buy - but just one, two or three branches in a glass vase is very effective and stunning. If you have a tall glass vase - leave the branches as long as you can, just put a little bit of water in the bottom and leave all the apples and leaves intact at the bottom of the branches and enjoy the amazing woody stems of Malus apples through the glass vase. 

They can last for several weeks and when you are done with them the birds and squirrels will enjoy eating them in the garden. 

You can also harvest the crabapples and cook with them - you can pickle them and you can make jelly and cordial.

I also wanted to play around with other kinds of 'harvesting' or to be more precise 'collecting'. My husband has collected old classic Penguin paperbacks since 'forever' and the amazing orange colour on the spines is a perfect match with the Chinese lanterns.

Over time I have accumulated a collection of garden twines in all kinds of different colours. These brightly red and orange ones fitted right in with the Harvest Table colour scheme.

I just adore these colours - especially like on a day like today when it has incessantly been pouring with rain all day. Just looking at the colours makes me in a better mood! 

As well as putting a few stems of Chinese lanterns in a vase - I also cut off quite a few and put them in a vintage wooden bowl - adding a few green ones works well as a contrast.

Titti Malmberg - the other half of FLOWERS - is also featuring a harvest table over on her blog HWIT BLOGG - please go over to there and see what she has done.

You can see all our FLOWERS posts HERE and on Pinterest.

Have a Lovely Floral Day!

~ xoxo ~ 


[Styling and photography © Ingrid Henningsson for FLOWERS and Of Spring and Summer.]

12 October 2014

Florets - Floral Quote by Hans Blomquist

"For me, plants and foliage are an essential element of any home: they bring an interior to life. Even better, they absorb carbon dioxide and are very effective at purifying the air, removing pollutants and toxins such as formaldehyde. I leave my plants to grow freely - I don't like anything too manicured or too neat, preferring a random, jungly effect. Some of my favourites are scented geraniums for their wonderful perfume, Sparmannia africana for its large, light green leaves and Muechlenbeckia complexa, which grows with great vigour and has a dense tangle of dark stems. In the natural home, foliage or flowers should be as close to nature as possible: think of a long branch studded with blossom in the spring, an armful of flowering grasses in summer, and bare, leafless twigs in autumn."

~ Hans Blomquist ~ 

[Hans Blomquist: Swedish-born, Paris-based interiors stylist, art director and author of two books The Natural Home, published 2012 and In Detail, published October 2014.]
[Quote from: The Natural Home by Hans Blomquist.]
[Flowers: Sedum, ferns and ivy - all from my autumn garden in London.]
[Container: Large vintage preserving jar.]
[Styling and photography © Ingrid Henningsson for Of Spring and Summer.] 

PS. I'll be taking a break from Florets for now. I have some new and exiting plans for a new series of blog posts - and guess what - it will involve lots of flowers!!   

Have a Lovely Floral Sunday!

~ xoxo ~


10 October 2014

A Bunch for the Weekend - # 25 - Pink Dahlias and Pink Snowberries

This week on 'A Bunch for the Weekend' - I'm featuring some large pink Dahlias and some branches of pink snowberries. 

I love the subtle pink in both the Dahlias and the snowberries so I wanted to combine the two in an arrangement - as well as making a small arrangement using the cut off lower branches from the snowberries - I also wanted to display some of the heads of the Dahlias in a different way.

You'll need:

- 10 stems of a large Dahlia
- a good bunch of branches of snowberries
- a large quite heavy or sturdy container in a neutral colour
- a small vase in a contrasting colour
- some kind of low container to float the Dahlia heads in -  in a matching colour to the small vase
- florist snippers and a pair of secateurs

As always - condition the flowers by removing any leaves that would end up below the water line in the vase. Cut the stems at an angle - to increase water absorption. Put in a clean container with tepid water and leave in a cool place over night or at least a few hours before making the final arrangement.

You need a large container that is sturdy enough to hold the branches of snowberries - with a lot of berries they become very heavy. Start off by putting the snowberry branches in the container - they will bend and gracefully arch over the sides of the container. They will be hard to restrain so just let them do their thing and let them go wherever they want to go.

You'll probably need to cut off some of the lower, smaller branches - these will make up the second small arrangement of snowberries. 

Next put in the Dahlias - cut them a bit shorter to sit below most of the snowberries - by gently feeding them in-between the branches. 

For the floating arrangement use a low container - a bowl or similar. I have used a vintage cast iron Yorkshire pudding mould. Cut off most of the stems and float them in a little bit of water.

I have then used a matching black mini vase for the lower cut off branches and made a very small arrangement with only snowberries. 

The contrasting black gives the whole arrangement a bit of drama. The Dahlias last for about 4-5 days - but the snowberris lasts for longer. Any berries that might go brown - just gently twist them off and if you re-cut the ends of the stems they will last for about a week or even longer.

Have a lovely Floral Friday!

~ xoxo ~


[Styling and photography © Ingrid Henningsson for Of Spring and Summer.]

8 October 2014

Arrange Your Flowers! - # 3 - How To Condition Your Cut Flowers

This is the third instalment of 'Arrange Your Flowers!'. The first one was about the essential tools that you need. The second one was about the importance of keeping your tools and containers clean and in good working order.

This the third one will be about how to trim your flowers and branches when you condition them and why. 

You'll need:

- a pair of flower snippers
- a pair of florist's scissors
- a pair of secateurs - if you are doing any thicker branches
- all your tools should be clean and sharp
- a clean florist's bucket filled with tepid water
- a bucket or similar to collect leaves and ends of stems 

1. Your flowers will have an elastic band around the stems and will probably have some kind of cellophane or be wrapped in paper for protection.

You will have to remove the elastic bands and the wrapping - use the pair of scissors to snip the elastic and cut the cellophane from the bottom up towards the top. Cutting it will be easier than to try to lift the flowers out of the cellophane. It's just too easy to damage the flowers if you try to do it that way. 

The one exception to removing string around flowers is if you have been given or sent a fancy hand-tied bouquet from a friend or florist. Do not remove the string or raffia around the flowers - it's there to hold the flowers in place and if you remove it - the lovely and probably very expensive arrangement will fall apart. Instead just trim the ends of the stems, remove any foliage below the water line and plunge the whole bouquet straight into a vase with water.  

2. Next remove all the lower leaves on the stems that would end up below the water line in the vase. Leaves sitting in water deteriorate faster than stems and produces bacteria that will shorten the life of the flowers.

How you remove the leaves depends on what kind of flower it is. Sometimes you can tear, sometimes you have to snip them off with a pair of scissors or snippers.

What's important is that you do it cleanly and don't tear or damage the stems. Any damage just like any leaves left on will further deteriorate in water and increase the growth of bacteria. 

Work on a flat surface and tidy away as you go along. 

3. You should now have pile of flowers with their lower leaves removed ready to be trimmed and put in water.

For any soft stems use either your floral snippers or scissors.  
Cut each stem at an angle - make the angle as sharp as you can - this exposes more of the stem and allows more water to be absorbed. But be careful not to to crush flowers that has soft or hollow stems - it's easily done. If this happens re-cut the stem with less of an angle. 

Cutting the stems at an angle also means that the stems will not sit against the bottom of the vase and reduce any uptake of water.

Make the cut just above a node - the slightly thicker part of the stem from where the leaves grow - on most flowers you can find the nodes at regular intervals along the stems. Cutting just above a node helps water absorption.

Have your container of water ready and after the cut immediately plunge the flower into water.

4. I cannot emphasise the importance of keeping your cutting tools as sharp as you possibly can.

It's very easy to crush the soft stems when you cut them - so the sharper and cleaner the cut - the less damage is done to the bottom of the stems, the more water will be absorbed and the longer the the flowers will last. 

5. You will need to use a pair of secateurs or strong snippers to cut any woody stems. Again, cut at an angle - above a node and then make another additional vertical clean cut up from the base of the stem. 

For a long time you were given the advise to crush or mash the bottom of woody stems with a hammer. Don't do that! It makes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and less water will be absorbed because of the damaged cell tissues.

Again - after the cuts plunge the branches straight into some water.   

Here is a link to the first Arrange Your Flowers! - # 1 - Essential Tools for Cut Flowers

Here is a link to the second Arrange Your Flowers! - # 2 - How to Keep Your Cut Flower Tools Clean and Sharp

I'll be back in two weeks with more advice on how to 'Arrange Your Flowers!'. 

Have a Creative Floral Day!

~ xoxo ~


[Styling and photography © Ingrid Henningsson for Of Spring and Summer.]