This week marks the start of flower-buying season, with Valentine’s, followed by Mother’s Day.
I find it difficult to decide which I love more in life, flowers or chocolate.
Dark chocolate is my weakness. Currently I am favouring Green & Black’s Maya Gold, but I’m open to suggestions. Stephen and I are sharing a Hotel Chocolate subscription, so every month we get this:
Note there are two of each, so perfect for sharing, if you love someone enough. If not, by all means hide them somewhere safe and enjoy them alone, in your pyjamas, with a glass of wine.
Flowers give more lasting pleasure, and are the more virtuous choice.
This is a little plea from me, to buy local flowers this Valentine’s and Mother’s Day. In the UK we notch up a hideous number of air-miles from importing flowers that could (and are) grown locally. Support our local growers!
My advice to any romantics out there is to ditch the obvious. Don’t buy a dozen red roses this year. They generally have stunted blooms, without scent, and if I’m being harsh, are utterly without charm. That’s because they’ve been bred to travel well, rather than for beauty. They are picked too young, and so the buds rarely open fully, and are over before the week is out.
Instead, check out locally grown blooms. You will find something that is altogether more sensual and scented, has a looser, devil-may-care attitude, and will impress with its unique natural beauty.
Your local florist might be able to help you, or go to this website to search your locally-grown flower suppliers:
I would be inclined to choose tulips. I love parrot tulips and Rembrandt tulips especially.
For something longer-lasting, go for a potted hyacinth, or iris reticulata. Or daffodils from scillyflowers.co.uk. These are all ideal for Mothers’ Day.
Even longer lasting, why not buy the plants themselves?
It is not too late to buy a bare-root rose or peony!
My romantic choice would be the David Austin English roses ‘Munstead Wood’ (deepest crimson-plum, pictured below).
For peonies, you can’t beat the deliciously fragrant ‘Duchess de Nemours’ (white with a hint of lime, pictured below). This is a tough old peony: it will live for fifty years in less-than-ideal conditions. Pretty good going for a long-term commitment. For something more whimsical, try ‘Gay Paree’, which is cream with swirls of pink.
Or try buying wildflower plugs, and plant a love-meadow!
Let your carefully manicured lawn grow wild and shaggy! Open up to the sensory delights of lying in a wildflower meadow, gazing up at a blue sky whilst bees buzz and flowers waver around your ears. By letting your lawn grow, you will increase biodiversity and beneficial insects in your garden. I would then add plug plants (which is less faff than preparing a seed-bed for an annual meadow). Plant yellow rattle to weaken the grass, along with a mix of native wildflower species. You can choose your own selection at either of these sites:
I would go for field scabious, knapweed, meadow cranesbill, selfheal, meadowsweet and ox-eye daisy in a sunny spot. For semi-shaded areas, try primroses, foxgloves, creeping jenny, wild strawberries and germander speedwell. For moist areas, plant snowdrops, cowslips, purple loosestrife and ragged robin.
Or buy seeds, and let love grow.
Annuals can be grown in a large container, raised bed, or in-and-amongst in the flower border. They just need sun.
My choices would be Cosmos ‘Purity’ or ‘Double Click Cranberries’, Nicotiana ‘Lime Green’, Lathyrus odoratus (sweet pea) ‘Blue Velvet’, ‘Edward of York’ or ‘Painted Lady’ (pictured below), and maybe some Bells of Ireland thrown in. These are all perfect for beginners, and this selection would blend beautifully in a bed, container or vase.
I would love to know your thoughts on buying flowers or plants as gifts. If you have a particular person, occasion or situation in mind, do drop me a line in the comments box, and I am happy to wrack my brain to try to come up with a unique gift for a loved one!