Winter Flower Arrangements
Flowers for the House
‘A very few flowers can be made to look well if cleverly arranged with plenty of good foliage; and even when a hard and long frost spoils the few blooms that would otherwise be available, leafy branches alone are beautiful in rooms.’
This is a good buy at this time of year. I had a pot of cyclamen in the house last week. They can wilt quickly in the heat of the house but last for weeks if you put them outside in the cold overnight.
I’ve been talking about the joy of seeing daffodils in my garden blooming for the first time. I can’t bear to pick them though, so I bought a bunch from a roadside stall.
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
From a poem by William Wordsworth
The Dandenong hills are alight with golden acacia bushes, known as wattle trees in Australia. I’ve not been here for so long at this time of year (I’m always in Greece in July and August) so that it is a joy to drive past these bursts of colour. I picked a bunch for the house three weeks ago and have let them slowly dry out in the vase. Like hydrangeas they have dried beautifully, keeping some of their original colour.
From, The Wattle Tree by Dora Wilcox
Winter is not yet gone - but now
The birds are carolling from the bough.
And the mist has rolled away
Leaving more beautiful the day.
The sun is out - O come with me
To look upon the wattle tree!
White Plum Blossom
A tree I’ve never seen in bloom in my garden is the plum tree. (I never got any of its fruit either as the parrots get the plums before me.) I was not sure if the flowers would fall if I brought a spray inside but five days later they are still looking fresh.
This is the only way to have camellias inside. The heavy blooms fall off the stems (in the garden too) but they look wonderful floating in a dish of water.
Infrequently I look at a book of Flower Arrangement by Betty Massingham published by Homes and Gardens in 1976. It is old but the flower arrangements illustrated do not age, and they always stimulate me to try something different. It’s so easy just to get out the same old vase and thrust what you’ve found in the garden into that, but on recently revisiting this book I noticed in one illustration the same white dish that I own was filled with fuchsias, and so I thought I’d give it a try – not very successful. But I found another, more steady vase, and that was better.
(When my nasturtiums bloom I will definitely try an arrangement on another page that puts a bunch in a blue and white Chinese vase.)
A Still Life Painting
One Winter Arrangement I still want to make
A Moss Garden
I used to play with my grand daughters making fairy gardens out of moss and tiny stones with flowers. I want to make one of these for the house, with a little more soil and plantings some small flowers blubs in with the moss.
And I have another arrangement of orchids I'm still waiting to open.
Meanwhile Spring is on its Way
This is a time when one can almost hear an awakening happening in the garden, under the top layers of wet leaves. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his poem ‘Flower Chorus’,
‘O such a commotion under the ground…
Such spreading of rootlets far and wide…’
‘I’ll promise my blossom’ the Crocus said,
“When I hear the blackbird sing.’
And straight thereafter Narcissus cried,
‘My silver and gold I’ll bring.’
And ere they are dulled,’ another spoke,
‘The Hyacinth bells shall ring.’
But the Violet only murmured, ‘I’m here,’
And sweet grew the air of Spring.