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Winter Flowers – No Such Thing?

I don’t know about you, but as we approach the shortest day of the year, I find I just want to sit on the sofa and stare at the fire. We seem to have had more than our fair share of wet and soggy weather, with a good dash of cold and frosty days so far this season. Working outside at this time of year is a bit of a challenge even for the hardiest of us. There’s lots still to do preparing for next year’s flower harvest, but not a lot of blooms have survived the freeze.

So, we’ll have to wait till spring to get our next British flower fix – or do we?

One of the gardening world’s best kept secrets is the Winter Garden – a place full of fragrance and colour for those who are still out and about exploring at this time of year. Flower Farmers and Florists are delving into nature’s best offerings for inspiration for seasonal floral installations this year.

As part of the Garden Museum’s Winter Flowers Week exhibition, designers have been creating the most amazing botanical sets for winter weddings and Christmas parties and in doing so they are changing our perceptions floristry and ‘celebrating the unexpected joy of winter flowers’.

The stars of the show have been many of the small understated flowers that have the most extraordinary scent like daphnes, wintersweet and winter honeysuckle. Delicate blooms like snowdrops and cyclamen are being used as well as old favourites like hellebores and paperwhite narcissus. The colours are gentle, the fragrance is amazing – winter has a subtle beauty of its own, which would be overpowered by the abundance of summer, but is perfect in the dark, quiet months as the world rests and waits for spring.

I and many other flower farmers are re-thinking what we grow in the winter months. To make these gorgeous flowers available for florists to use and to make British flowers truly available for four seasons.

Not all of us will have been able to visit the Garden Museum in London, for Winter Flowers exhibition week. But if you’d like to see a winter garden in action then the Dower House at Melbourne which opens for the National Gardens Scheme is a good recommendation. I’ll be visiting in February to see what inspiration I can find for winter floristry – hope to see you there.

In the meantime have a good Yuletide and spare a moment over the holidays to plant some winter scented shrubs and then you too will be able to gather the winter-time equivalent of summer sweet peas next Christmas!

Vanessa Swetman


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