Fresh flowers at Christmas are a fairly recent innovation – until about 30 years ago they were a luxury winter item, being still fairly scarce and expensive at Christmas time.
In recent decades inexpensive imported flowers from around the world have become available in most supermarkets and garages, as well as the more traditional florists, making fresh flowers at Christmas available to all.
The traditional colours for Christmas are red, white and green, and flowers fit in very well with this.
What kind of flowers?
Spray Carnations, Standard Carnations and Spray Chrysanthemums are now available all the year round, and are so commonplace that they can be overlooked. But they are very good for beginners to start with.
When choosing spray chrysanthemums look for the type with longer stems to the individual flowers, and use the flowers separately.
The local Asda, Tesco and Sainsburys stores usually have a good selection of fresh flowers. Waitrose and Marks & Spencer may seem a little more expensive but can last very well.
For the Christmas season red and white flowers may carry an additional “premium” in some florist shops.
“It should also be remembered that red and white flowers together were traditionally considered “unlucky”. It would be a pity to spoil someone’s enjoyment of the season – and it is more stylish to use one colour or the other. But colours tend to look their best with plan green foliage (rather than variegated). A touch of silver sets off white very well, while red and gold seem a natural combination.”
By Alan Page from Chandler’s Ford
When first purchased, the flowers should be prepared by removing all the leaves, cutting off about 25mm of stem (cut at an angle of 45 degrees), and placed in a large vase or a small bucket water for 24 hours.
If included in the pack use the flower food provided. Otherwise make your own solution by adding one dessert-spoonful of sugar and a “tot” of thin bleach to a pint of water.
Carnations – especially purchased from Asda – need to be bought 4 to 6 days before they are required as they are usually in fairly tight beds. This will allow the flowers to open fully.
Spring flowers such as Narcissus, Daffodils and Tulips are seen more and more in December. It is, of course, a personal choice but they do not really look “right” until February at the earliest.
Next posts – Alan Page will continue to share with you the arts of flower arrangement, and how to make an orange pomander.