Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do


How to make cut flowers last

When to pick

  • Knowing when to pick your flowers is in many ways the most important thing. You want the flowers to be fully mature, but not yet fertilised. As soon as a plant is fertilised it concentrates on forming seeds, it no longer has any use for the flowers and begins to let them wither and die.
  • Spend some time looking at your flowers - particularly look at the very centre of the flowers - if they are very open & fluffy with pollen, then a bee will have already visited & the flower will not last long once picked.
  • If there are several flowers on a stem it is fine for up to 1/4 of them to have been pollinated - the plant will continue to support the remaining ones.

How to pick

Picking flowers is all about conserving as much of the water that is already in the plant as possible.

  • Pick when it is cool - not when there is direct sunshine on the flowers.
  • Use sharp scissors or secateurs.
  • Put the stems immediately into a clean bucket of tepid water.
  • If you are buying flowers rather than picking them, try to keep them as cool as possible until you get them home - don’t leave them on a sunny parcel shelf while you are driving home.

How to condition

Conditioning is the calming down and destressing of your flowers. You want to give them as little work to do as possible.
  • Remove all leaves that will be below the waterline in your vase. This means that there is less for the flower to keep going and also prevents a nasty smelly build up of rotting leaves.
  • Boil a kettle and pour 2 inches of water into a mug. Carefully dip the stem ends into the hot water, count to ten and then put them into a deep vase or bucket of warm water to rest for at least an hour. Warm water goes up the stems more easily than cold.

Preparing your vase


The vase you choose and where you decide to display your flowers will both have a big effect on the vase life.


  • Vases should be really clean as dirt can lead to a build up of bacteria.
  • They should also be big enough so your flowers aren’t crammed together. If they get too squashed they will become hot and sweaty and just a little bit tired.
  • I like to use lots of different sizes and colours of bottles to display flowers - they seem to last longer with some air around them and it is easy to replace the ones that die soonest and keep the arrangement going for a longer time.

Maintenance of vases


  • Do not put vases of flowers in full sun, the heat of the sun makes them sweat and they need to drink faster to compensate, this is why they go floppy.
  • Don’t put them near fruit bowls either as ripening fruit gives off hormones which will encourage them to die faster.
  • Keep an eye on water levels - particularly with spring flowers - as they are very thirsty and can go through a vase of water in a day.
  • Remove any flowers that do die as they will speed up the death of the others.




  • If flowers go floppy or their heads droop, it is because they are not able to drink well enough to get water all the way up the stem.
  • Take them out of the vase and let them relax for an hour. If they have heavy heads like tulips, you can bind the stems straight in a cone of newspaper and string.
  • Then recut the stems and condition them again with boiling water.
  • You can also float multi-petalled flowers like hydrangeas & peonies as they will take up water through their petals – just fill a sink or bath with tepid water and lay the flowers on the surface of the water for an hour or so. Then condition as normal.


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The sun room table, an old enamel basin, hazel twigs and pure glamour from green tinged white trumpets.⁠⠀
I looked up yesterday lunchtime and the garden was full of sunshine. ⁠⠀
There are a few places in the (very messy) house where keeping a bit of negative space, clear surfaces, a sense of breathing out pays off.  This white table is one of them.⁠⠀
I took this on Sunday, disappointingly it is currently cluttered up with things (a nest, two candles, a box of matches, some receipts) to take down to the Studio.
Over the past year I have become increasingly uncomfortable about how we talk about the seasons to the point that I feel I need to say something.⁠⠀
I'm particularly uncomfortable about how we talk about using the seasons as a life guide.  I can understand why this has happened - it is great, easily understood marketing, it is a ready built structure, I'm sure it helps the people who are desperately in need of rules and timetables at the moment.⁠⠀
But it is rooted in a very particular idea of what seasons look like - particularly the 4 defined seasons of the UK, Europe and North America;⁠⠀
Which would be fine if people were talking about their local area, the view from their window.  But that doesn't seem to be the case - this seasonal structure is built up into a programme to follow, the language is very much that 'this is the correct way to think about life'.⁠⠀
But, if you are saying that the dormant season is the time to rest and recuperate, what does that say about countries where the seasons don't look like that.  Is there to be no rest? Is everyone to adopt the seasons in the UK as the 'correct' version? ⁠⠀
Language matters, because language is where our assumptions lie.⁠⠀
⁠The photo is of a rose hip - rose hips are the only berries left in the hedges now.  I used to think that it was because they tasted spiky that the birds left them till there were no other options but recently I found that they have the least calories.  The ivy, rowan and hawthorns produce the Kendal mint cake of berries - perfect for seeing the birds through the cold - so get eaten first.⁠⠀
There is a lot of talk at the moment about what 'seasonal flowers' means - the wonderful @wolveslaneflowercompany have been addressing the issue and they have a great story thread exploring the issue saved in their highlights.⁠⠀
It was a thing that used to bother me a lot when I grew flowers because I only ever sold flowers that grew here, that was the whole point of the business - and in Scotland seasons are very late. I spent a lot of time explaining to brides that not everything is available at every time of the year. ⁠⠀
I didn't ever have cut flowers until April.  I missed both Valentines and Mother's Day. ⁠⠀
This is what I have as flowers in my home through January and February - glamorous, long lasting, amaryllis bulbs are on every surface. ⁠⠀
Elsewhere cut hazel twigs in jam jars are taking over the windowsills. next week I may add in some snowdrops.
Yesterday I sent out a newsletter about extractivism - about the human tendency to push and exploit and keep extracting until we end up with a husk.⁠⠀
It was sparked by conversations I had after the Oxford Real Farming Conference and a realisation that there is a thread that ties colonialism, industrial farming, privatisation of services and the way we often treat ourselves.⁠⠀
I've been having such interesting conversations with the people who replied.⁠⠀
I resend my newsletters to new subscribers on Sundays so if you want to sign up you can click through my profile to the website front page.⁠⠀
We have been frozen here for a while - the top inch of ground thawed yesterday, but under that was rock hard.  Most of the garden is a low flood of slush floating on ice.⁠⠀
The hardy annual plants I sowed in late September and transplanted in October are currently under snow but looking pretty terminal.  The temperature in the polytunnel went down to -6 last week and the salad crops turned to mush.⁠⠀
Were I remotely self sufficient it would be proving a hard winter.⁠⠀
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'See a pin and pick it up and all the day you'll have good luck'.⁠⠀
I have been embroidering a tiny run of linen needle/pin cases to go into the shop tomorrow - and I have embroidered this rhyme inside them - a reminder of the time when pins were made by hand and were to be treasured and looked after. ⁠⠀
It gives a new appreciation to the term 'pin money' too - the modern kinds of pins, shiny in their plastic box that have made us assume that the term meant a small amount, left over change for fripperies. ⁠⠀
In reality it was used as an alternative name for a household allowance - the amount of which was often laid out in the marriage contract - and was the money that a woman had complete legal control over. If it was unpaid a woman could sue her husband or his estate for back pay.
Allium Chistophii are rolling around under the espalier apple trees in the vegetable patch. ⠀
I always hope for a little light self seeding as they go. ⠀
Now they are like glittery tumbleweeds in the frost. ⠀
In truth we bought the airstream to avoid a divorce.⁠⠀
We bought it on Ebay late at night after sharing a bottle of wine.⁠⠀
At the time I was running a business from the house - from a house that was about half the size it is now, a jumble of tiny rooms, painted plywood floors, two small children and a high level of sticky chaos.⁠⠀
I am not a tidy enough person to run a business in a home - even had it been a well run home with storage space - and those years were not remotely well run.  My invoices always had cereal stuck to them, my sewing machine was parked at the end of the dining table, 90% of my working time seemed to be spent looking for something that I was sure had been left 'just there'.⁠⠀
So we looked for something that we could afford so I could move the business out of the house - we priced up a chalet style home office from B & Q - and then, on Ebay, we saw the airstream, badly damaged, vandalised, forlorn.  It came in cheaper than the shoffice . . . .⁠⠀
For a few years - before I built the Studio - this was my workspace and since then it has become a storage area and been sadly neglected while I tried to save the money to repair the damaged back window and the sagging floor.⁠⠀
This weekend we began clearing out all the fabric that was stored in it so that the renovation can begin.  I am very excited.

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