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Talking Flowers // September

IN BLOOM: LAVENDER

With 39 species, Lavender is an old world genus, thought to originate in Asia. The most versatile flowering plant we use in our fresh Flowercard bouquets, Lavender is actually part of the mint family, Lamiaceae, and can be used in food, medicine, perfumery and decoration.

It certainly crops up in many of our Flowercards bouquets and gifts, such as our Emerald Fizz card (pictured left), which contrasts its lilac beauty with a fresh green print.

A Holy Herb

Lavender was one of the "holy herbs" mentioned in The Bible's Song of Solomon by its ancient Greek name Nardus or Nard: "Nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes, and all the finest spices…"

Lavender is also said to have got its fragrance when Mary laid the clothes of the baby Jesus on a lavender bush to dry, infusing the bush with the wonderful scent we now know so well.

In ancient Rome, you could buy lavender flowers for 100 denarii per pound, which is an astounding month's wages for a farm labourer. The Romans used lavender to scent the water in their famous baths, which explains its Latin name lavandārius, from lavanda: things to be washed.

Lavender in Medicine

The essential oil in English Lavender is used in herbalism and aromatherapy. It appears in balms, salves, perfumes and topical applications. The oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, which would explain its role throughout history as a protector from infection.

During the Great Plague in London in the 17th century, it was believed that a bunch of lavender on each wrist would protect the wearer from deadly infection.

It is also suggested that glove makers in 16th century France, who used lavender to perfume their wares, escaped cholera because of their daily contact with this essential oil. More recently, hospitals during WW1, used lavender to disinfect floors and walls. A much nicer fragrance to recuperate with than disinfectant or bleach!

The fragrance has long been associated with soothing, relaxation and healing, all the more reason to send a lavender themed Get Well Flowercard such as our Floral Dreams design. With Flowercard, you can print whatever message you wish, so you can select any card design and make it into a personalised Get Well card!

Decorative Lavender

Flower spikes of lavender are very popular in dried arrangements and pot pourri, just look how pretty they are in our Lavender scented Pot Pourri gift card (pictured left). Lavender can also be stuffed into cotton sachets to fragrance stored linens and deter moths from damaging clothes.

Royal Lavender

This fragrant flower has been favoured by monarchs throughout history. Charles VI of France insisted on having lavender filled pillows wherever he stayed.

Our own Elizabeth I enjoyed lavender conserve and required fresh lavender flowers every day of the year, a difficult challenge for her gardeners when you consider this flower naturally blooms in the English late summer! Louis XIV of France bathed in lavender scented water, and Queen Victoria was known to use a lavender deodorant.

The overwhelming power of this seductive scent was also used by Cleopatra to seduce Julius Cesaer and Mark Antony, whilst the Queen of Sheba offered "spikenard" (an ancient term for Lavender) with frankincense and myrrh, to King Solomon.

And with our Lavender Fragrancer card (pictured left), you can follow in these regal footsteps and fill someone’s home with the wonderful fragrance of lavender essential oil.

Lavender in Food

If you love your lavender as much as we do, why not seek out all these fantastic foods that include this wonderful plant in the ingredients?

Bees that have gathered nectar from lavender make high quality honey, with the most famous being Monofloral honey from the Mediterranean.

Candied lavender flowers can be used to decorate cakes and dried lavender flowers used to flavour sugar or create fabulous herbal teas.

YOUR HOUSE IN BLOOM

So you've just been sent the most beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers, and you’re wondering, how can I make them last as long as possible? The Flowercard team of professional florists share their top tips for making those fresh flowers last.

1) If you can, buy flowers in bud, not blooms. Watch them open with pleasure, and of course they last longer too!

2) Before you put them in a vase, remove leaves that will be below the water line as they will rot, pollute the water and overwhelm your fragrant bouquet. Cut the bottoms off the stems and place in a clean bucket full of lukewarm water. Leave for about five hours to ‘condition’ in a cool, shaded corner; overnight is ideal.


Roses should have their stem bases crushed and split to about two inches to help them take in water.

Bulb flowers, like daffodils, should have stems snipped by about an inch at an angle. And to stop tulips drooping, push small pins through the stems below the heads. Once flowers are conditioned, you’re ready to arrange allowing air to circulate between each stem!

Forget commercial flower food. A few drops of bleach will reduce the slime caused by bacteria, and a spoonful of sugar will feed flowers just fine.

When you’re happy with your floral display, place the vase in a cool place (away from sunlight) and avoid the fruit bowl: ripening fruit will accelerate flowers’ decay. Pour a little water out of your flower vase, and replace with some fresh water, every few days.

Instead of placing your bouquet of flowers in a window, put them in front of a mirror to keep them cool so you can admire from every angle.

FLOWERCARD PEOPLE

We’re delighted to announce the August winner of our Flowercard People award; it’s Mrs Anita Farrel, from Mid Glamorgan, Wales.

Nominated by her good friend Anna who sent us this email to explain why Anita should get this award.

“Anita is a wonderful person in everyway. She always puts other people before herself, and still does after being diagnosed with Leukaemia some 6 years ago. I am an only child, and Anita was wonderful to me when I lost my mum suddenly when I was just 24, and again when I lost my dad when I was 36. Nothing is ever too much trouble for her and she is like my second mum. For all the love and attention she gives to others, and never expects anything back in return, she deserves one of your Flowercards, so please, please, consider her”.

Well, Anna, you've got your wish! We're delighted to give Anita our Flowercard People Award this month, and will be sending her the Chelsea Garden you requested, with your personal message printed on the front, to thank her for all her kindness over the years.

If you know someone like Anna or Jean who deserves a Flowercard, why not nominate them for Flowercard People? Every month we'll select a winner to receive your choice of Flowercard, with your personal message on the front, for FREE. Even if they don't win this month, they'll still go back into the draw, to be considered again and again.

So what are the qualities we'll be looking for in our Flowercard People Award?

Well, that's up to you! Maybe people who always think of others, individuals who've stayed strong through difficult times, friends who've shown courage, kindness, selflessness and determination. You tell us by nominating them.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR FREE FLOWERCARD NOMINATION

  • Please describe why your nominee deserves a FREE Flowercard in no more than 100 words in an email to talkingflowers@flowercard.co.uk
  • Be sure to include a daytime phone number for us to contact you, should your nomination win.
  • To help us identify your email, please type 'Flowercard Award Nomination' in the subject line.
  • Please read the Flowercard Award Terms and Conditions

MADE WITH LOVE

Do you have a stack of seed catalogues or gardening magazines full of beautiful flower pictures? How about turning them into these fabulous drinks coasters? You could even recycle your Flowercard catalogues too!

This great little project can become a wonderful home made gift, or turn that rainy afternoon with your children or grandchildren into something much more fun and memorable.

Our thanks go to craft blogger Jessica Jones, who shows you just how to make that waste paper into something beautiful on her blog How About Orange? You can read the full tutorial here >

PIC OF THE POSTBAG

"I just feel that I had to let you know that the beautiful flowers have arrived and thought you might like to see them next to the 2 week old Daniella. Please convey my thanks to the whole team at Flowercard, you really went the extra mile and have brought great pleasure to all. Many thanks." Yours, John C

If a Flowercard has made your day or that of someone you know, then please drop us a line to talkingflowers@flowercard.co.uk and tell us. We'll say thank you for those we with a free Flowercard of your choosing.

Coming Soon

Next month we’ll look at drying flowers, as seasonal fresh flowers become scarcer, and give tips on dried flower arrangements to try yourself.

We'll also look at the language of flowers - what flower you should traditionally send when a new baby is born, when a couple marry of when a friend needs to know you care?

Our latest Flowercard People Award will be announced - it could be your friend or relative if you enter them today!

And we'll also share our recipe for Hot Chocolate Spoons - an essential treat to keep away those autumnal chills.

If you enjoyed this edition of Talking Flowers, please tell your friends, or share the link on Facebook. Maybe they'd like to sign up for the magazine too!

TALKING FLOWERS ARCHIVE

Catch up on what you've been missing by browsing through the latest back issues: