There's nothing quite like freshly cut flowers to help you feel that everything's coming up roses. So say Sarah Purchase and Claudia Van Rensburg, the founders of north London floral studio Borrowed Light.
A pop of colour and scent are obvious perks, but for Purchase and Van Rensburg, it’s the transitory nature of flowers that really bring something fresh to your living space – helping you to tune into the seasons with new blooms every few weeks. “It’s not like a cushion that you’ll live with for a few years,” Sarah reflects.
Sat beside a wall of drying flowers in their Waltham Forest studio, Sarah and Claudia shared their tips on transforming your home with flowers, from sourcing and seasonality to the hairspray hack that will help to preserve your blooms for the long run.
1 — Support your local florist
If you want to buy flowers in a considered way, support independent florists. They’re more likely to be able to tell you exactly where their flowers come from and have a smaller carbon footprint. Increasingly, you can buy flowers directly from growers on allotments. That’s always worth finding; there’s a load of great allotments around north London.
2 — Follow the seasons
In spring, you've got tulips and ranunculus, and peony season in mid-May. In summer: dahlias, grasses ad garden roses. Sunflowers, too. Winter's about foliage and smell. So, twigs, holly and bright-red ilex berries. But there are some great flowers around then too: lilies are huge and bold, and in late February mimosa is beautiful and bright when it's grey and miserable outside.
3 — Choose the right vase
You need a vase that can support your flowers - so a nice heavy bottom for a bouquet. Remember you can put single stems across lots of vases instead of everything in one - it can feel less intimidating than a big arrangement. It can just be jam jars, maybe 10 or 12, with a few stems in each. Move them around, try different heights. It's a nice, playful thing.
4 — Create your own arrangements
Start off with the foliage - greenery or twigs. Look for some in your garden or the park. Think of it as the scaffolding for your flowers. Once you've got this framework, arrange the rest however you like. For some people, that's grouping varieties of flowers together. Others spread them out evenly. It's down to personal taste.
5 — Location, location, location
Flowers don't like heat. You don't want them near a radiator or strong sun. And if you want flowers to last, don't put them anywhere near fruit - especially bananas. The gas they give off that ripens other fruit has the same effect on your flowers.
6 - Change, clean, recut
Change the water and clean the vase regularly, making sure you don't have any leaves in the water. If you do that every other day, you'll get rid of bacteria and the flowers will last a lot longer. While you're at it, you might as well recut your stems too. At an angle is best.
7 - Consider drying
Hang the flowers upside down, and make sure the stems are well separated and that you're not anywhere too humid. Depending on the variety, it'll take three to four weeks to dry properly. How long they last after that depends on how much they get moved. Once it's dry, it's quite delicate. A light coating of hairspray helps protect them. Good old cheap hairspray.