Valentine Flowers

The garden is coming to life.  Wandering round, I can see buds about to burst, catkins and pussy willow already in flower and hellebores flowering their socks off.  More or less safe in the knowledge that I won’t get a bouquet from elsewhere, I’m going to pick a bunch from the garden to cheer me up and believe the promise that spring really is just around the corner.

Just before Christmas I found a silvery punch bowl at the boot fair which despite having spent the intervening month or two out in the garden is still resolutely shiny. So I’ve bought a spray can of matt black metal car paint from Halfords – from a wide range of colours including Rover green and Fiesta yellow, and roughly sprayed the offending bling to make it look tarnished.

A really big bunch of twigs would need a stone in the base of its vase to stop it toppling over. I filled the interior with a ball of scrunched up chicken wire so I could safely position my stems and went off into the garden, armed with secateurs to see what I could pick.

From memory of my mother’s Constance Spry flower arrangements – you need a framework of tall stems, then texture, a little scent, colour and trailers. I picked in threes, cutting woody stems at an angle. Flowering cherry in neat tight bud, pussy willow and hazel catkins for the framework; fern leaves and euphorbia for texture; rosemary and Viburnum bodnantense for scent and colour; hellebores and Arum italicum pictum for interest and trailing Clematis cirrhosa, the season’s most lovely flower.

I filled the bowl with water (ideally it should be refreshed every day) and covered the chicken wire with a handful of moss from the bottom of the garden. I’m looking forward to seeing all the buds come to life and watching the season come and go on my kitchen table. Will tweet as the bunch develops.