Peonies, sweet peas and roses: How to display your cut flowers
If rain threatens to leave your home-grown peonies and roses a soggy mess, now is the time to cut them and bring their beauty and scent indoors.
Sweet peas also need cutting regularly to promote fresh blooms and extend the season, so should be snipped when they appear and enjoyed indoors.
“Peonies, roses, and sweet peas really look their best when they’re displayed in their own individual vases and then grouped together to create a contemporary and chic look, ideal for displaying in your living room or on your dining table,” says celebrity florist Larry Walshe, founder of plastic-free luxury online floristry service Bloom (bybloom.co.uk), whose clients have included Rihanna, Adele and Stella McCartney.
Judith Blacklock, founder of the acclaimed Judith Blacklock Floristry School (judithblacklock.com), adds that in a mixed display, gardeners should use both circular and linear flowers for contrast.
“Peonies, for example, have a dominant round shape, so mix them with something that doesn’t have a round shape, like foxgloves, which are linear, and alstroemeria which will come up year after year in the garden, mixes with everything and will last for three weeks when cut,” says Blacklock.
Here, Walshe and Blacklock offer some more tips and tricks to make the most of your cut flowers…
“If you grow peonies, you’ll always notice they have ants on them, because they feed on the nectar which is abundant from peonies. Just give the flowers a gentle shake and they will run off in another direction,” says Blacklock. “Before cutting, ensure there’s a big flush of colour that has broken through. If you cut peonies without the colour showing, it’s highly unlikely they will open.”
As for on-trend tones, Walshe adds: “If you love peonies, we recommend opting for on trend shades of coral, soft pink, peaches and caramels this year.”
Pair peonies with Alchemilla mollis for a stunning combination, Blacklock suggests.
“Sweet peas should be displayed simply, without anything too elaborate. If you are cutting from the garden, they often have short, wiggly stems. Just using even a jam jar is perfect. The flowers are fleeting, but they are gorgeous and should be beautifully scented freshly picked from the garden,” says Blacklock.
“Sweet peas are linear, so they can be mixed with flowers with a round shape, but not blooms that are as big as peonies. You could mix them with small-flowered roses and cosmos.”
“I wouldn’t put peonies with roses in a display because there’s insufficient contrast,” says Blacklock. “You would if there were other flowers to add from your garden as well, but peonies and roses are too similar.”
Best types of vases
“Stem vases are a great option for decorating the home, as they can be scattered around on sideboards and dining tables to add a pop of colour while only taking seconds to arrange,” says Walshe.
“Roses work well in an elegant tall glass chimney vase, which has clean lines for a classic and timeless appearance. Sweet peas look fabulous in a smaller sized vase to create a more impactful look.”
Blacklock suggests: “Choose a vase that is half the height of your stems. Most people try to arrange flowers in a vase that’s too tall. And if you only have a few flowers, get some foliage, which doesn’t have to be expensive. Tree ivy is one of the best, which is available to all. The plain green shows off the beauty of each individual bloom.”
How to make them last?
“When putting flowers in a vase, always take off any leaves, which will be below the water level,” Blacklock recommends.
Walshe adds: “To get the most out of your peonies, it is best to remove the leaves running up the stem, so that the water and nutrients travel straight to the flower heads as opposed to travelling to each leaf followed by the flower heads. This ensures the best quality water and nutrients go straight to the flower heads as quickly as possible.
“To maximise the lifespan of your blooms, snip the ends of each stem, empty out the old water and thoroughly clean out the vase and replace with fresh, cool, water and flower food every two to three days.”
He says water sterilising tablets work well to keep flowers fresh, while Blacklock adds that a dribble of lemonade in the water will also help prolong the life of your cut flowers. “For sweet peas, I suggest refreshing them daily as they typically only last three to five days at best,” says Walshe. “It’s also important to keep your flowers in a cool environment, away from direct sunlight and free from draughts.”
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