Spring heralds the return of my wedding season; a season that properly kicks off in March and which doesn’t stop or slow until December 23rd. I love to look back over previous years and note how early or late the flowers bloomed in my garden as well as arrive in the flower market. This year I see the flowers are blooming later than last by two to three weeks.
Spring flowers have a luminosity and vibrancy all of their own. The green of new growth has a certain softness to the touch and a vibrancy on the eye. From the cheerfulness of a yellow of daffodil and forsythia, to carpets of aconite and crocus in the garden, spring colours awaken the senses softened only by clouds of pink and white blossom in the trees and hedgerows.
Blue is a colour I particularly associate with April; bluebell swathed woodlands, pretty muscari in my flower beds or forget-me-nots' growing in every conceivable crevice in the garden. I used to think of these tiny blue dots as weeds but have since embraced this tenacious little flower. Even the little seed podded stems at the very end of their season can create texture in an arrangement.
There are some flowers which appear timeless, season after season we welcome their return with love and affection such as the aforementioned daffodil, others have grown in popularity. One such newcomer is the hellebore, also known as Lenten Rose they have long been a favourite of mine I particularly admire their bashful downward looking stance. A few years ago they were less widely appreciated as a cut flower and they lent an unusual accent to my bridal bouquets (alas I cannot say the same today)!
Once a virtual unknown on the cut flower circuit, unpopular in part due to their unpredictability and tendency to wilt, hidden in shady corners of our gardens, hellebore s often went unnoticed as the ranunculus and other spring "super models" tulips and narcissus took centre stage. They are currently enjoying a moment of glory amongst florist and horticultural circles with many varieties available with a longer vase life, they are also extremely versatile straddling the foliage-flower boundaries such as the green Argutifolius. There are some twenty varieties to choose from and you will find the plants at every garden centre across the land with a variety for every aspect in the garden, a personal favourite is Helleborus Sternii.
To use in a bouquet or arrangement - cut and scald the stems in boiling water for 20 seconds before using, alternatively cut when the seed sets later in their season.
I particularly enjoy the fleeting availability of a genuinely seasonal flower; I like how I can look back at one of my bridal bouquets and even if I don't recall exactly who I made it for, I will be able to date it by the season just by looking at the flowers I used.
The window in which seasonal blooms appear is often dictated by the weather: a cold spell will delay, warmer temperatures augment and speed up. Polygonatum (Solomon Seal) and the Fritillaria family are particular favourites of mine but the tiny flowers of Spiraea Arguta "Bridal Wreath" is my current floral muse. Its’ delicate white blossom on the finest filigree branches adds a slightly incongruous awkwardness to my arrangements; the branches do not bend willingly but remain steadfastly upright if a little contorted; it has an air of frailty I cannot help but admire. This little flower grows in my garden and blossoms around mid-April it has the most fleeting of seasons but I can extend this by buying in from the Dutch flower markets where it is available at least three to four weeks ahead of my own garden offerings.