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As the sun shines outside and the air is filled with the scent of summer, now is a great time to appreciate flowers both inside and out.
The theme for flowers this summer is 'On the move'. Not only can you decorate your house with flowers, you can use them as the perfect centrepiece to an outdoor party or BBQ.
Why not save your best crystal and try using brightly coloured plastics or painted tin cans to display your flowers?
Kate Kenyon from the Flowers and Plants Association joined us on Friday 24th June for a live streamed webchat, giving hints and tips on how to create fun bright flower arrangements for the perfect outdoor centrepiece.
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Presenter: Julian Fisher (JF)
Guest: Kate Kenyon (KK)
JF: Good afternoon and welcome to today's webchat. Joining me today is Kate Kenyon from the Flowers and Plants Association, hi Kate
KK: Nice to see you
JF: And you again, this is the second in our series of chats about plants and flowers. A few weeks ago we were talking spring, bulbs -
KK: It doesn't seem that long ago does it?
JF: It doesn't
KK: And yet it's summer already
JF: Glorious weather which means a completely different approach to the house, plants and flowers, how we use them in, around and even outside
KK: Yes absolutely, the joy of the season is that with every new season you get new flowers, new ideas, new fun things to do with them
JF: Excellent well we're going to try and deal with as many topics as we can in the next half an hour or so. Let's kick off. It's a glorious day, we're having a barbecue this evening, taking a bottle of wine along to the host, hostess - bunch of flowers?
KK: Yes a bunch of flowers, will always get you in her good books. Now if you are going to take someone a gift you've got to make sure it's good though haven't you?
KK: Right, I'm going to show you what's the latest in flowers at the moment
KK: What I have here are the most fashionable flowers for summer this year, I've got - look at the colours, see the colours I've got here, you've got really bright, vibrant colours, they're all quite hot, summery, think Mediterranean colours, these are gerberas you can see here, bright daisy-like -
JF: These are gorgeous I love them, vibrant colours
KK: Beautiful aren't they? Snapdragons, you might recognise snapdragons from the garden as well but you can get them commercially grown. And these, these lovely little lime green things are chrysanthemums. And of course delphinium. Now that's a beautiful shade of blue and perfect for this time of year
JF: Can you grow these in the garden because they look a bit too exotic for my garden?
KK: The snapdragons yes, the snapdragons you can grow in the garden, the gerbera no, these are South African flowers, they wouldn't really grow that well in this country it's just too wet and obviously you can take flowers from your own garden but I always think it's nicer to buy them because if nothing else once you've cut them from the garden there's a big hole left there and nothing's going to grown there in time.
JF: They're stronger, more vibrant, beautiful colours
KK: They last longer as well, and if you're going to give them as a gift you want to make sure you give something that lasts aren't you?
JF: Ok so how do we present this?
KK: Right, now the thing about flowers is when you're travelling with them is that they don't travel particularly well, you'll find that it's often quite difficult to transport them, you fear getting water on the back seat of the car and things like that, so what I'm going to do, I'm actually going to put these in a bag!
JF: Good, because, we've had some questions about plant care -
KK: Let's start with that one then.
JF: And one of them was about how to, about transporting flowers in this weather. You buy them in a shop, you've then got to go home or to the BBQ or whatever, sweltering hot car - how do you keep them in tip top condition?
KK: Well obviously the first thing to do if you can is to put them in water. However, if you don't have that option and obviously if you're giving it as a gift you don't have that option, a bag is a very good idea because it will keep them safe from being bruised or being battered, and then when you do get them to their final point you can re-cut the stems and they'll be just fine in water. But to show you how to make this bouquet, you take three of these lovely gerbera
JF: You carry on, I'll have a look at a couple of questions we've had in.
JF: I've got one from Mark: "Should you buy the flowers the day before you tend to arrange them?"
KK: It depends on the flowers. Basically, if you're using nice open flowers like these gerbera then yes you can use them, buy them the day before or even on the day, there's no problem with that. If you're choosing flowers like roses or lilies it's best to actually buy them a couple of days before you will need them because often they're in a very tight bud and if you want them to look their best - it's when I think they're really open and really gorgeous looking - so if you get them a couple of days beforehand it will just allow them time to open. Now what I'm doing here with this bouquet as you can see, I'm just spiralling the stems, and by spiralling I mean just holding them slightly at an angle. It's really quite simple, don't worry about it too much, it is just a question of getting the flowers in there and as you can see it starts to make a really nice hot pink arrangement. Bit of grass just to add in a little extra
JF: Now why do you do that in that kind of twisty?
KK: Think of it as a very well endowed lady you have goat a big top a little waist and a big bottom. It gives a sense of proportion, that nice round shape that you often get if you buy flowers in a florist. I will add a few more in; make it look like we are giving them a gift after all. Take your scissors and cut the ends really nice and short. It doesn't matter how short you cut flowers. Actually the shorter you cut them you'll find they can get plenty of water into them and they can last that extra bit longer.
JF: Right you are tying them and I have a question here from Nancy. Nancy asks "What should you use to tie flowers? Green garden twine? Or will this bruise the stem?"
KK: Green garden twine, if you tie it too tight, will bruise the stem.
JF: She says "Would raffia work?"
KK: Raffia, ribbon, anything. I am just using common all garden string here. I find it gives that really nice natural look and it is easy to do. Once you have finished you bouquet, there we go flowers to go.
JF: Beautiful. That really says summer to me, warm hot colours. We were talking earlier about this earlier and we have a question in from Joan. This question was about just generally how to care for plants in hot weather. I mean it is extremely hot. The hostess when she receives these flowers - where should she put them in the house and how should she ensure that they're going to last in this heat?
KK: Right well, when you get your flowers the first thing to do is to re-cut the stems and by that I mean cut about two to three inches off the end. Do it on a diagonal, I know it sounds fussy but if you do it on a diagonal you've actually got a lot of surface area here which means the flower can take up much more water. Do this on all of them. Put them into a really really clean vase. I can't stress how important it is, because that means your flowers - there's no bacteria in the water, so your flowers will last longer. Use cold water and then use a bit of flower food if you get it. It's a little sachet that you get from florists, supermarkets, and it really does work. I've heard some cracking old wives' tales about using things like lemonade and what have you, but the thing that works best is commercial cut flower food.
JF: Ok last question in on this particular session from Hayley, how often do you replace the water this time of year? Clearly it's evaporating much much faster.
KK: Yes there isn't a hard and fast rule, it depends on the flowers. Basically the minute it goes murky is a good rule of thumb. The minute it starts to look a bit iffy, basically wash out - if you can wash out the vase, if not just push the flowers to one side and run the vase underneath the tap until the water turns clear. In this type of weather it can be as often as every other day, depending on the flowers it could be every four days.
KK: I hope that's helpful
JF: Well Hayley I hope that answers your question. We're going to take a very quick break now, after the break we'll be looking at flowers around the house, where to put them around the house, containers to use them in. Keep putting your questions in we'll be back very shortly.
JF: Welcome to today's webchat with Kate Kenyon from the Flowers and Plants Association, looking at plants and the long, hot summer. Kate we're looking at flowers and plants around the home now
KK: Yes absolutely
JF: Summer time is when our house, we want it to look its best. How can we use flowers to freshen up and make the place look really beautiful?
KK: Well everybody thinks you have to have a nice big crystal vase if you're going to have flowers around the house, but it's not necessarily true. I've got one arrangement here that I want to show you.
KK: Now this has been in a watering can. A watering can is just one of - this one came from a hardware store, nothing special, what we've done is create a really really nice summer arrangement but what we've done is use the colour of the can as a really good starting point for the arrangement, so rather than thinking "oh God what am I going to put them in?" think what have I got that I can use, and you can use anything, you can use old sorbet dishes, you can use pots, tins, anything you've got hanging around the kitchen cupboards or even in the shed as well. The advantage of using things like this in the summer time is of course you can take it outside with you. There's no point worrying about breaking crystal or anything like that, with this you can just take it outside, put it on the table with the barbecue, or if you've got friends round, picnic basket, something like that, and it will look really really nice. So Julian I've got a little challenge for you this afternoon though, I thought we'd make some of our own
JF: Oh good!
KK: Well I know you're not very good with your hands. These are, they're cat food tins actually
JF: Excellent, well we're on containers, we've got questions on containers - Colleen wants to know: "Do flowers survive in metal containers?"
KK: Yes, yes they do. Not long term though
JF: Not as long as if they were in a glass vase -
KK: Yes. What you tend to do is to try and line the container if you can. The best thing to use is actually a plastic cup, and these you can get absolutely anywhere and they're what we've used inside this particular display, just to make sure that a) they've got a good source of water and that it's not tainted by the metal tins. You do often see things sold in galvanised buckets and things in florists but they've always got this liner inside, so yes they do last but you're best off to line it if you can.
JF: Ok well that's Colleen's question I hope that answers you. Big Bro, good afternoon, thank you for joining us Big Bro; "Do the paper vases in florists actually hold water?"
KK: Yes because they're coated with a slight plasticizing material so that although they're paper and they're collapsible and things like that, they still hold water.
JF: Oh right, well that's something I never knew. So, what's my challenge?
KK: Blue or green?
JF: I'll take whatever
KK: Right, you take green. Ok this is a really simple arrangement of things you can take outside
JF: We've fed the cat, we've washed it out, we've painted it
KK: Yes these are cat food tins, I believe, we've sprayed them up using car paint. Again anything you can get from a DIY or hardware store very easily, you'll need a couple of these
JF: Gerberas, my favourite
KK: Yes and some good chrysanthemums.
KK: Now you can get all of these flowers from supermarkets, florists, DIY you know any - there's so many places you can buy flowers these days. These arrangements are not complicated. Start with your big gerberas because they're your focal flowers, these are your big ones.
JF: Ok I'm just picking out the gerberas.
JF: Keep sending your questions in please, another 20 minutes now to go
KK: Rescue Julian from his flower arranging nightmare! And literally just add in the chrysanthemums
JF: Ok, add them in, hang on you're supposed to twist them across aren't you? Am I doing it right?
KK: Yes that's good. This is not a complicated. Excellent you've done that. Take your scissors, and just cut them really short.
JF: Ok, Daniel's got a question for us, hi Daniel; "Can you leave flowers in the cellophane they are sometimes supplied in?" Does that make them sweat a bit?
KK: Yes it does, I wouldn't is the honest answer. They are better if you can get them in water where they can get some air around them. I'm just going to shift that one here -
JF: Ok well Daniel don't just leave those flowers in the car before you take them home tonight
KK: They'll only sweat
KK: There, very simple arrangement
JF: Excellent and just matching your colour scheme around the house
KK: Yes absolutely they're bright, they're cheerful, you take them outside they'll look lovely on a barbecue or anything like that
JF: Fantastic well we'll take another break now, join us again in a second.
The transcripts to Parts 3 & 4 to follow soon