Happy Valentine’s day! Every year around this time I love to get inspired to create a romantic combination of flowers. This early in the year there are not many plants from our own gardens that can be used for flower arranging. Foliage is a popular go to for vases and trees such as Eucalyptus are beautiful even in their own right. Beautiful structural dried thistles and seed heads can also be very pretty when displayed en masse in a vase. Nothing beats arrangements of colour in the home and for more vibrant choices I often find myself wandering around the florist at this time of the year. One of my favourite things to do is spend time choosing and combining the flowers myself. As a garden designer, planting schemes in gardens often take years to mature and become the fully grown combination one envisages, so combining flowers in a florist is such a satisfyingly immediate result.
Many plants that we find at the florist are plants that will actually do well in our climate but are often simply not available at this time of the year. This year I have decided to grow more flowers which I can use for flower arranging in my own garden and we can take some inspiration from the florist for our own spaces. This beautiful frothy Valentine inspired arrangement is both modern and natural yet with all the glamour of a proper Valentines day bouquet. It hints at dry climates, scented hot holiday air and brings the scent of Spring to the home.
The flowers I have chosen can be combined to create a really lush display which is beautiful as a gift. Here the Waxflower becomes the backbone of the scheme-creating a strong structural back layer with soft pink flowers at the crown. Waxflowers -or Chamelaucium- are beautiful woody, shrubs belonging to the Myrtle family which are endemic to Australia. These striking evergreen plants which are generally about a metre in height, have tiny wax flowers, making even the foliage itself beautifully structural in an arrangement. The flowers are subtle five-petalled and plentiful on the one branch, almost cloud like in arrangement. Many of the Chamelaucium varieties thrive in hot and dry conditions in the garden so can be tender here in our gardens. I do have one in a pot in my own garden that I simply bring into an unheated glasshouse in the Winter and it has done really well. More to love about this plant is that it is deliciously scented, almost like eucalyptus in scent, and even carries little woody berries after it finished flowering.
Next in the floral scheme comes the Broom, this pretty pink ‘Moyclare’ variety feathers out beautifully to create a delicate backdrop. Many of us are familiar with the common Broom, the European Cytisus scopiarus. This pretty feathery plant is reminiscent of Gorse from a distance and the vivid yellow pea-like flowers have distinct similarities. The ‘Moyclare Pink’ variety of broom is one that is often used in floristry and is also very happy in our gardens here in Ireland. In fact it is a wonderful plant for exposed coastal locations where it stands up to salty air and windy conditions and also brings some welcome colour in Spring.
To finish to off I added the deliciously scented Freesias, also in soft pink, which give dots of stronger blooms and provide a heady citrus punch of perfume to the scheme. I like to plant these outdoors in April for late summer flowering and there are endless varieties of colour in this flower which is native to South Africa. These beauties are also frost tender so the prepared corms are heat treated to give them a growth start and emulate the hot, dry climate of South Africa. Taking that they are not frost hardy, you will most likely only get one year out of this plant but the scent is most definitely worth it!
Whether keeping all these together in one bouquet as an arrangement or separating them into numerous little glass jars and bottles-the result is very striking. One option is to use a collection of randomly sourced old bottles with plenty of different heights and sizes to make a strong impact. Here I used a collection of lovely Kilner jars and bottles which are available in many shapes and sizes, perfect for showing off your romantic collection of blooms.
If you’re looking for something really unique this Valentines day I would highly recommend visiting Gingko florists in Ballsbridge. This beautiful little shop has such a great and creative approach and I am always delighted to see the ever changing, inspiring window displays when I pass. Here Bronagh Harte of Gingko florists in Ballsbridge shares her favourite flowers for Valentines day:
Despite being delicate Clematis creates a big impact in arrangements. When our suppliers have it, it’s one of our go-to flowers at Ginkgo. Clematis belongs to the buttercup family and a simple vase, in purple and pinky tones, is sure to brighten your day.
Lilac is a bit of prima donna but worth the effort! It can be tricky to work with – it doesn’t always get along with others in bouquets. It comes in tones of purple, pink and white. If the woody stems are conditioned correctly it can last a week or more. The scent is intoxicating, transporting you back to balmy summer evenings in the country…
Agapanthus is one of my favourites. It is an elegant clean-stemmed flower with a spiky pompom head in electric blue. It adds texture to bouquets and matched with rich reds and hot pinks, it’s especially romantic.
Gingko florists is located on 48 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
For more call (01)6632801 or visit www.ginkgoflorists.ie
Romance and Black humour –A hilarious Valentine’s read
There are so many romantic novels out there that warm the hearts at this time of the year. My personal favourites are those that serve their romance with a good dollop of dark humour. The debut novel by Irish writer Kate Winter does this beautifully and the novel starts with an intriguing mystery: When Rosie Potter wakes one morning with no recollection of the night before and an absolutely trashed bedroom she puts the mess, and her strange emotional state down to one hell of a crazy night. In actual fact, this is not the worlds worst hangover but she is simply dead. This crazy realisation starts Rosie on her hilarious search to regain her memory, the reason for her demise and figuring out why her boyfriend is not in mourning-all the while wearing her ugliest flannel PJs. It is a genuinely heartfelt and haunting tale with a strong central character and a rural Irish countryside setting that is movie worthy. My favourite part -it is laugh out loud funny and romantic at the same time.
The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) kindle edition is available as a Valentines special on Amazon for only 87p- What a romantic treat!