For me, there is nothing better than a big vase of fresh flowers in the house. I love picking up a bunch with the sunday papers and kicking back to admire them with the feeling that the house, like me after a weekend, is once again revived. I love the fragrant smell they carry, the element of nature they bring inside, and the way they make a house feel like a home.
Definitely for me, a home is not complete without a bunch of flowers, they’re as comforting as a warm cup of tea or a burning fire, as indulgent as a favourite magazine or good bar of chocolate to curl up with, as beautiful as any piece of wall art or styled display of objects. As Claude Monet once said, ‘I must have flowers, always and always’.
A little while ago I spent a lovely evening flower arranging with Marks and Spencer in a lofty warehouse-like events space in Stoke Newington, north London. Certainly not a bad way to while away an evening, chatting away to other like-minded bloggers and playing around until our hearts content with big, colourful bunches of sweet-smelling blooms. Get a group of instagrammers or bloggers in a room full of flowers and they can keep themselves quite happy, oh yes.
During the evening we learnt all about the different flower varieties from M&S flower expert Simon Richards; where they’re from, how to care for them, how to make them last, and most importantly (of course), how to stylishly arrange them at home. There’s so much more to flower arranging than simply plonking them in a vase; you can hand tie roses to create a classic, densely packed, voluminous display, or you can be a bit more imaginative and give your dining table a hint of greenery and colour with unusual displays, for example.
Instead of grouping a store-packaged bouquet in one vase, why not separate them out into smaller vessels and use them as a centrepiece? You can also cut stems right down to the flower and let them float in small bowls as individual place setting decorations, or scatter flower petals across the table for a slightly bohemian look.
As soon as I buy a bunch of flowers, I can’t wait to get them home to arrange them. On the way home I’m thinking which vase I’m going to put them in and where I’m going to place them. I think there’s something quite therapeutic about considering each stem, adjusting, tweaking and then admiring them.
Roses are one of my favourite flowers, they’re just so classic and romantic. And it seems I’m not the only one to think so, they’re M&S’s most popular variety. They come from three sources: Kenya, Colombia and Holland. Kenyan roses are the least expensive – the warm climate allowing for a steady flow of blooms all year round, without high-tech expensive equipment – while Colombian roses are grown at altitude which allows the stem to grow slower and thicker, and the flower head therefore bigger. The best of the best though is the Dutch rose. They’ve had over 300 years to perfect their craft and now favour state-of-the-art greenhouses, which also incidentally makes them the most expensive rose. But they’re worth it for their thick flower head, pure colours and softly unfurling petals.
To create a lovely hand-tied rose bouquet, to give to a loved-one or display in a vase at home, we were taught to arrange stems in a diagonal pattern in one hand. That way you can create a densely packed bouquet, without any gaps, that looks rich, indulgent and stylishly made. You start with one stem, holding it near the top just below the leaves, and add another stem to it to make a sort of cross, then you keep adding, always at a diagonal to the first stems. Going round and round, you layer up the roses until you create a beautiful bouquet. It looks quite easy but you have to keep the roses quite close together to create a tight layer of flower heads. You can then tie with a piece of string or twine to hold in place. (there’s also a step-by-step guide here)
As much as I love buying blooms for myself as a little weekly or monthly treat, there’s nothing better than seeing the joy on someone else’s face when you give them a fresh bunch of flowers. Next time I want to give a lovely gift, full of love and creativity, I think I’ll keep in mind these tips and tricks I have learnt to create a hand-tied bouquet with a personal touch.
How do you like to arrange your flowers? Do you have any tips and tricks of your own?
This post was written in collaboration with Marks & Spencer, all thoughts and images are my own. You find more flower arranging tips, including what we learnt on the day and how to arrange a hand-tied bouquet, here.