summer flowers

You are currently browsing articles tagged summer flowers.

Common name:  Gladioli (plural), sword lily

Botanical Names: Gladiolus

Origin: South Africa

Colours: virtually all colour except blue.  Pale pastels to vibrant reds and purple, some bi-coloured also.


Gladioli get their name from the Latin word Gladius, which means sword, due to their sword shaped leaves.  They are bulb flowers that produce a single flower spike and several narrow leaves.  There are 260 species of gladioli, nearly all of which are native to Sub-Saharan Africa.  In the wild the gladioli vary greatly  in size and the number of flowers.  The gladioli you see in florist shops today has been hybridised to produce giant ornamental varieties.

Smaller varieties like the one pictured above are often referred to as bridal gladi, they are used in wedding flowers as the dainty heads are a perfect size for bridal work.  Gladioli last well as cut flowers, they have become trendy again in recent years after suffering from an image problem.  Dame Edna was famous for having gladioli and may have contributed their old fashioned image.  They come in so many gorgeous colours there is no need for them to look past it.  Some of my favourites include a deep purple variety that looks almost velvety black and a bright acid green shade.

They are mainly a summer flower available from May to October, though sometimes the season is longer.  A few gladioli look good peeking out above other flowers in a mixed bouquet or a full vase of gladioli in a single colour is glorious when open. They are usually bought closed or a few bottom flowers open, they should not be bought fully open.

Gladioli are often available as locally grown British flowers in the summer months.  To encourage the whole stem to open, the very tips of the flowers (two or three buds) can be gently removed.  Gladioli are thirsty flowers; make sure they are placed in deep water.

Tags: , , ,


Common name:  African lily

Botanical Names: Agapanthus

Origin: South Africa

Colours: shades of blue and white

These lovely flowers have long, strong stems with a round cluster of funnel shaped flowers at the top. When you buy them as cut flowers, they have no leaves, as the leaves grow at the base of the plant from the roots.   Their name comes from the Greek word agape which means love and anthos meaning flower.


Outside the UK, Agapanthus is known as ‘Lily of the Nile’, although it’s not a lily.  They were one of the first plants to come from South Africa.  They arrived around 1650 and have now naturalised on the sand dunes in the Isles of Scilly and Torquay.


As cut flowers they are mainly available in the summer, but a few varieties are available in spring and winter.  They are easy to grow as plants, they like well-drained soil and full sun in the garden. They should be protected from frost with mulch or fleece in the winter as even hardy varieties can suffer from the frost.


Agapanthus is fashionable as both a cut flower and plants in the garden.  Their strong tall stems are often used in large vases and arrangements.  They commonly come in shades of blue from powder blue to a deep indigo; they are rarer in white as a cut flower.  They will last up to ten days in a vase.


Flower Council of Holland

Tags: , ,


Common name: Sunflower

Botanical Names: Helianthus

Origin: South and West USA

Colours: mainly bright yellow, but some varieties are pale lemon, orange and deep red.

Sunflowers are part of the aster family; they are named for their resemblance to the sun.  The botanical name Helianthus comes from the Greek word for sun ‘helios’ and flower ‘anthos’.  They are most well known as large yellow flowers with a deep brown centre.

Sunflowers have only been grown for decorative purposes fairly recently.  Their seeds have been used as a food crop for many years by North American Indians; they can be eaten raw, ground up for bread or roasted.  Sunflower seeds are also used to produce oil, a mature flower produces up to 40% of it’s weight as oil.  The oil was used to soften leather, cook with and as hair conditioner.  The pith from dried sunflower stems was used as filling in life jackets due to their buoyancy, before modern materials were available.


One sunflower is actually made of a disk of hundreds of tiny flowers arranged in a spiral pattern, and an outer ring of larger ray flowers, the central flowers eventually turn into seeds.  Their thick stems are rough and hairy and have large leaves with jagged edges.  Sunflowers usually grow to between 5ft and 12ft.  The tallest recorded sunflower in The Guinness Book of Records grew to 25 feet.

Growing sunflowers is easy in your garden, they should be planted about 12 inches apart.  They mainly require good fertile soil and lots of sunlight.  When the the plants start to get very tall they can be supported by garden canes.

image: Michael Brooks

image: Michael Brooks

Some varieties are available all year round as a cut flower, although they are traditionally a summer flower.  They are so popular as cut flowers; they are one of the top ten best-selling flowers in the UK.  They are available in many varieties now such as prado red a deep reddish brown shade, teddy bear a fluffy double-petalled variety and Sonja a mini variety.

Sunflowers are such large flowers they make great focal points in bouquets and arrangements.  They suit designs with bright mixed colours and work particularly well in autumnal arrangements.  The mini varieties of sunflowers are lovely in wedding bouquets.


Tags: , , ,


Giovanna Falcone and McFly guitarist Tom Fletcher recently tied the knot at One Marylebone in London.  The theme was a romantic, woodland glade; the couple wanted the decorations to give the venue a magical feel.  London florist By Appointment Only provided all the flowers for the day, they created designs in a palette of soft pinks, lilac and papery blues with lots of natural looking foliage.

The ceremony took place in the Soane hall, the vast space was dressed with lots of floral displays and fairy lights were hung with ivy wound through them.  The alter was decorated with a long woodland style arrangement using stocks, lilac, viburnum, roses, hydrangea, spray roses and peonies in pinks blues and creams, with green viburnum and moss.  Behind the alter two large pedestal arrangements were placed with summer flowers and delphiniums for added height.

The beautiful bride wore an ivory Phillip Lepley gown with a vintage lace overlay and bead detailing.  She carried an informal teardrop bouquet of garden roses and peonies in shades of pink and cream, with trailing variegated ivy.

Giovanna’s bride’s maids wore full length dusky pink Kelsey Rose dresses.  They carried small hand tied bouquets of white sweet peas and roses in shades of pink and cream.  The men wore grey suits, with green ties and pink rose buttonholes.


blue hydrangea - Grey Wulf Flickr, lilac - Marisa DeMeglio

The room was transformed for dinner with a combination of low centrepieces and tall canopy arrangements.  The low designs featured summer blooms and candles.  The tall arrangements rested on twisted willow bases and featured lots of summer flowers and natural foliage.  The tables were dressed with paisley cloths in moss green and the napkins were tied with ivy.  For favours the guests were given personalised guitar picks that featured the couple’s initials and the date of the wedding.

The couple also had a magnificent floral arch that many of the photos were taken in front of.  It was packed with summer flowers in soft shades of pink, blue, lilac and cream, with lots of foliage including asparagus fern, photina, ivy and French ruscus.

I think the flowers achieved the magical woodland look perfectly, the bouquets and the venue looked truly wonderful.  Full photos are in OK! Magazine issue 829, May 29th 2012.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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

Tags: , , ,

« Older entries