Wandering around the garden with a pair of scissors, snipping here and snipping there, is a bit of an August treat for me.
While some people are expert flower arrangers, or just have a natural flair, others just plonk flowers in a vase. But it doesn’t matter what level of skill you have, truly, as decorating the house with flowers from your own garden is one of summer’s many pleasures.
How and when to pick your flowers
- Don’t pick flowers in the heat of the day, as they will quickly wilt. Pick last thing at night or first thing in the morning.
- Don’t try to arrange your flowers straight way. Instead, stick them into a bucket of tepid water and allow them to recover for a few hours or overnight. This will prolong their vase life.
- Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the stem – you don’t want any leaves left below the water level, as they will rot. If there are fewer leaves there is less demand on the stem and the flower is less likely to flop.
- When picking annuals and biennials take out the leading shoot by cutting just above a side branch with a bud. This will encourage more flowers.
- The more you cut some annuals, such as sweet peas (one of my absolute favourites!), the more flowers the plant will produce.
- Take care with lilies – I think we probably all know this, but I’ll say it again – the pollen can stain hands, clothing and upholstery and is poisonous to pets.
Even a very simple arrangement can look stunning. I remember going to a very ‘laid back’ wedding reception that was held in a barn. They had two long tables covered with gingham cloths and the only table decoration were rows of jam jars filled with hedgerow flowers barely arranged, just left to tumble and froth as nature intended - and the effect was enchanting!
Here, I’ve used a plain glass vase - but it could just as well be a large jar, and a zinc bucket, for a more rustic look. To start off, place the flowers in your vase stem by stem and vary the heights. You will need some tall – two or three times the height of your vase – and some shorter stems for support. Don’t be tempted to overfill the vase as this can make the arrangement look cramped. Add foliage such as a favourite grass or leaf stem to give an interesting contrast.
The important thing is not to worry too much about creating the perfect arrangement. Too neat is not a good look, go for ‘natural’. A pretty vase and plenty of colour are really all that is needed. And if the flowers are fragrant that’s an added bonus.