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Olympic fever hits us again this week.  The opening ceremony for the Paralympics takes place this evening and the games start tomorrow. Over the past month I’ve wrote a number of blogs about the flowers and plants, today I’m re-capping the most popular Olympic blog posts.

My article about the Olympic victory bouquet was the most viewed Olympic blog.  Everyone has been talking about the bouquets, debating the size and style.  The flowers were presented to the all the medal winners, nearly 5000 bouquets were made.  Jane Packer designed the bouquets using British roses and herbs. Floristry students helped to make the bouquets with Jane Packer staff.  There is more information on the rose varieties and herbs used in the full article here.

The Olympic organisers wanted the flowers for the games to be as sustainable as possible.  I wrote an article about the almost impossible task of using only British grown flowers, including 20,000 roses for the bouquets.  They had to be grown using no artificial heat, light or chemicals.  The rose bushes used for the flowers now need re-homing, details can be found in my article.

Beautiful flower meadows were sown around the Olympic Stadium.  The ‘Olympic Gold Meadows’ are the largest annual meadows ever to be grown in a public park.  They have been in flower throughout the Olympics and will continue to blooms throughout the Paralympics and into the autumn. There’s more information about the types of flowers useds and the planting process in the article.

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In the past week I’ve wrote a couple of articles on the Victory Bouquets given to medal winners at the Olympics and how they were grown sustainably.  Today I’m going to tell you more about the lavender that featured in the bouquets.  It was supplied by Long Barn, a Hampshire based farm.

Long Barn have been growing and distilling lavender for over 12 years. As well as growing lavender they also produce a range of lavender based bath and beauty products, and original gifts for the home and garden.

Langard sourced the components for the bouquets, they contacted Long Barn and asked them to supply lavender for the Olympic Victory Bouquets.  They needed 5000 bunches of lavender each containing 60 stems, one bunch of lavender was used per bouquet.


The staff were a little concerned that the wet weather would prevent them meeting their deadline to grow the vast amount of lavender required.  They harvest their lavender by hand, using traditional sickles in the field.  Long barn said ‘it really was an Olympic challenge! However 300,000 lavender sprigs were successfully harvested and assembled to ensure the tight deadline was met.’

All the flowers for the Olympic bouquets were required to be grown chemical free, which was no problem for Long Barn as they already grow all their lavender without the use of pesticides and herbicides.  They live by a green philosophy producing their lavender naturally, their bath and beauty products are also made with entirely natural ingredients.


Lavender is particularly significant in the bouquets, as it has a historic link with London, it was grown commercially in Victorian times around the capital.  Lavender was an essential part of the ‘British scent’ the designers wanted to achieve, mint, rosemary and wheat were also used.

Long Barn also has a plant nursery and newly opened café.  You can find out more about them on their website.


Jane Packer

Long Barn

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Flowers have been eaten for thousands of years, the Romans used them in cooking, as did the Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures.  The Victorians used them to garnish dishes and decorate cakes.  Some spices we use today are made from flowers, cloves are dried aromatic flower buds and saffron is tiny stigmas from crocus flowers, hand-picked and dried.  Flowers can be tasty and nutritious, as well adding colour and texture to dishes.

There are many uses for edible flowers including decorations, cakes, jams, infused oils, syrups, flavoured butter, cocktails, wine, flavoured spirits, scented sugar and crystallised flowers.  Many edible flowers are high in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C.


Don’t eat cut flowers purchased from shops as they will most likely have had pesticides used on them.  The easiest way to make sure flowers are pesticide free is to grow them yourself.  Pick flowers at their peak and use them the same day, harvest flowers early in the day and only use flowers free from diseases.  Gently shake the flower heads to remove any insects and carefully wash them.

There are many edible flowers including carnations, apple blossom, hibiscus, chives, dill, fennel, lavender, gardenia, primrose, impatiens, rose, nasturtium, runner bean, marigold, snap dragon, pea flower, calendula, violet, borage, phlox, cornflower and mint.


If you’re not green fingered and would rather buy your edible flowers, First Leaf specialise in growing edible flowers.  Based in Pembrokeshire National Park, they sell grow a variety of edible flowers and leaf garnishes.  The flowers are packaged in punnets and shipped overnight in insulated boxes.

There are also a number of poisonous flowers commonly grown in gardens.  They are sometimes mentioned in murder mystery novels, James Bond was poisoned in Casino Royale with Digitalis, which is foxglove.  The following flowers are toxic (although not a complete list) and should never be consumed, monkshood, anemone, clematis, lily of the valley, larkspur, bleeding heart, euphorbia, hyacinth, jasmine, sweet pea, foxglove, daffodil, poppy, mistletoe, columbine, hydrangea, lupin, hypericum, rhododendron and calla lily.

If you’d like to see a comprehensive list of edible plants please click here

To enjoy edible flowers safely follow these guidelines:

Only eat flowers you are certain are edible.

Introduce flowers slowly to your diet in case of allergies, especially if you have hay fever or asthma.

Eat your own home grown produce or products sold as edible plants.


Edible flower salad –

Mixed edible flowers –

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Tatton Park has been holding it’s Biennial contemporary art event since 2008.  The event attracts celebrated artists to Cheshire from around the world.  The current event explores the human urge to achieve flight and Tatton’s aeronautical history.  The grounds of Tatton were used to train parachutists in WWII, and it is now on the flight path of Manchester Airport.  The 17 new works feature sculpture, film, installation and performance.

The event is set in the grounds of Tatton Park which includes a Georgian Neo-Classical mansion, formal gardens and 2,000 acres of deer park.  Visitors will see installations before even parking their car upon arriving at Tatton.  Vex by Dinui Lex is a flying saucer, crash-landed in front of Tatton’s mansion.  Inside the spaceship video communications from Che Guevara in several parallel universes, tell how he came to crash and his ideas about the merits of space travel and dub music as effective revolutionary forces in todays world.


Olivier Grossetête’s installation for the Biennial reflects the follies of the formal gardens and Japanese garden at Tatton. The fragile bridge is unreachable, it starts and ends in the water.  It is suspended by three helium filled balloons, reminiscent of man’s first attempts at defying gravity and how flight was once fanciful.

Trine Messenger is a seven metre long balloon inspired by Hypnos, the god of sleep and surrealist art.  The ethereal balloon has a dream like quality, shaped like a winged head which looks towards another installation further around the island.  The design was created using a mean average of the artist’s faces from biomedical facial scans.  The data collected was used to produce a pattern for the face which was made in fabric.  The piece sits in the formal gardens by the tranquil lakes of the Japanese Garden.


The works are on display until 30th September in the park, gardens and mansion.  As well as Artworks, the Biennial also includes talks by astrophysicists, artist workshops, performances and tours.  Other things to see at the moment in the gardens include Davidia involucrata, the handkerchief tree which is flowering now and the rhododendrons and azaleas are also in bloom.

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Jubilee fever is upon us and the high street has responded with all sorts of party supplies adorned with union jacks.  There are plenty of cheap and cheerful decorations in the shops but if you want something a bit different you have to look a little harder.  We’ve found some great things that’ll help your party go with a swing.

Firstly what British party would be complete without some bunting? It’s an easy way to make any space look festive.  You could also use cute bunting invitations to hint at the style of your party. To dress your table make a runner from some retro print fabric, any of the fabrics in the London Collection would be perfect.  They have several kitsch designs featuring London buses, crowns and Buckingham Palace.

Jubilee ideas

For an unusual centrepiece try a cake stand with small flower arrangements instead of cupcakes.  The arrangement pictured from Red Floral has lots of different flowers in clashing colours, to keep with the Jubilee theme use summer flowers in red, white and blue. Tie your napkins with some ribbon in the same retro style as your table runner.  Berisfords have a range of British themed ribbons printed with union jacks, teacups and Beefeaters.

Strawberry champagne Jelly is a great party desert, how could you not like jelly with fizz?  There is a lovely recipe on Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s website, it’s made with loads of fruit and tastes fantastic.  If you fancy a jelly centrepiece Bompas & Parr have designed a special Jubilee jelly mould.  You could have your very own Jelly Buckingham Palace, guaranteed to be a hit with children and adults alike.

Buckingham Palace jelly

Suppliers for all your Jubilee goodies:
Bunting –
Ribbon – Berisfords Jubilee ribbon – eBay seller Beansbeads
Fabric for Table runner – London collection –
Floral cake stand– Red Floral Architecture, Stephanie Oakes photography
Invitations – bunting party invites –
Buckingham Palace Jelly Mould – Bompas & Parr Selfridges

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