Apart from the anticipation of seeing all my wonderful friends, one of the highlights of preparing for my 4oth birthday party was arranging the flowers. It’s a difficult time of year to know what to do in the floral department. There’s the risk of making arrangements look too Christmassy, but at the same time I wanted them to have a celebratory feel. Pussy willow is a great choice, as the vertical shape kind of mimics Champagne bubbles. It also says spring to me. Amaryllis (correctly Hippeastrum) are undoubtedly Christmas flowers, but the huge blooms are so sumptuous they’re hard to resist. I bought the stems in bud a few days early so they’d open out nicely for the party. The picture below was taken today and I think they are actually looking their best now with a couple of buds still to open. A florist advised me once to put split canes up inside the hollow stems to stop them flopping over under their own weight. I haven’t done that here, but have used the pussy willow as support.
To create an “understorey” in this large rectangular vase I used some lovely red Ranunculus. These irresistible little flowers, which belong to the buttercup family, are also harbingers of spring. I’m no expert when it comes to flower arranging, but I like to experiment and am quite proud of this particular creation. The vase is tricky to handle and expensive to fill, so is reserved for special occasions like these.
On one of our Victorian altar cupboards I went for something a little more freestyle, combining large white Casablanca lilies with silvery sprigs of Eucalyptus globulus and sea holly (Eryngium). I think the greengrocer in the village thought it was his lucky day when I went flower shopping last Thursday. However I did make the addition of some variegated ivy from the garden, completing the intentionally wild and woolly look. The perfume from the lilies as they open up is really powerful. Not to everyone’s taste, but I love it.
I mentioned moth orchids in a previous post and here are more decorating one of our windowsills. The conditions here are pretty good for Phalaenopsis as they receive no direct sunlight. The windows are also painted shut, so no cold draughts. The only drawback is the central heating radiator beneath, so really I should be misting them daily to keep the humidity up. Each one of these pots cost less that £10 to create using plants, vases and black pebbles from Ikea. Pretty good value I’d say as they ought to last 3 months or so. The red glasses are Venetian and look beautiful with tealights inside.
On a glass console I crammed two plants inside a plain white planter to make this simple but effective arrangement.
Now, I know this one does look a bit festive, but I loved the combination of Amaryllis “Black Pearl” with stems of Leucadendron “Safari Sunset”, complete with more pussy willow fizzing out of the top. Not a combination you’d ever see in nature, but suitably glamorous for a party! The Amaryllis flowers are actually much darker than shown, but my photography skills have failed to catch them in their true colours despite much messing around with lighting.
And finally the resident houseplants had their leaves washed and waxed (a first) and we dressed the pots with the line lights we’d just taken down from the Christmas tree. They’ve now gone away until next December and calm has descended on the flat again. All those flashing lights are enough to give anyone a headache!
In a week or so all the cut flowers will have gone over, so I’ll be happy to have these images to look back on as memories of a lovely evening with very special friends. 40, here I come……