Blooming Lovely

"Mozart" Rose hybrid musk at Lavender and Thyme Cottage"Bow Bells" rose an english rose at Lavender and Thyme Cottage

Many of us still have a kitchen that opens directly into a garden so we can grow our own fresh herbs, flowers and vegetables as country people have for generations. On a lovely day there is nothing more pleasant than a lazy stroll around the garden listening to the buzz of the bees and taking in the beautiful scent of the flowers.

Gardeners Song

I  see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world

The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin’ hands, sayin’ “How do you do?”
They’re really saying “I love you”

I hear babies cryin’, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world

Oh yeah!

Louis Armstrong- What a Wonderful World

Will your Flowers Re-Bloom for You?

The process of dead-heading flowers allows us to experience more gorgeous flowers over a longer flowering season, this is relevant for only some flowering plant species. So to help you along a bit I have compiled a list of my favourite flowers that will or won’t re-bloom.

Flowering Plants that WILL Re-Bloom

  • Catmint                        Cut stems to 5cm
  • Columbine                   Cut to side shoots and then when stem spent, trim to basal foliage
  • Daylily                          Snap off spent flowers and then when all spent trim to ground
  • Delphinium                 Pinch off spent flowers, cut finished spikes to leaf bud,  when all spent trim to basal foliage
  • Foxglove                       Pinch off spent flowers and then when all spent trim to basal foliage
  • Geranium                     Some geranium species can be trimmed to 5cm. Species dependent
  • Hollyhock                    Pinch off spent flowers and then when all spent cut to basal foliage
  • Lavender                      Harvest flowers with stems and then cut to healthy foliage.
  • Lupin                            Cut to small emerging buds along stems, when spent trim to basal foliage.
  • Purple Conflower       De-head is optional to side shoots, allow some seedheads to remain for bird feeding
  • Roses                            Snap off roses just underneath the rose unless rosehip production is desired*
  • Salvia                            Cut to side shoots and then when stem spent trim to basal foliage.
  • Shasta Daisy               Cut to side shoots and then when stems spent trim stems to 5cm.
Flowering Plants that WONT Re-Bloom
  • Astilbe                       Tidy up with a trim to the ground
  • Bee Balm                   Cut spent blooms to sideshoots and then when stems spent trim to 20cm
  • Dianthus                   Trim stems to basal foliage
  • Hellebore                  Pinch off spent flowers
  • Iris                              Pinch off spent flowers before they form seedpods, remove stems to the ground
  • Lily                              Pinch off spent flowers, leave as much foliage as possible to feed the bulb
  • Peony                          Cut spent blooms to the first leaf, leave as much foliage to feed the plant
  • Penstemon                Cut spent blooms to side shoots and then when stems spent trim to ground
  • Tall Sedum                No need to dead head; leave seed heads for visual interest and then trim stems in early spring

Our Rose Collection

All our roses are dead headed to keep a tidy appearence, we snap off the flowers directly underneath the flower head . Our rose collection is made up of english (ER), old fashioned (OR) and modern (MR) roses. Our favourite rose is “Windrush” with its delicate single flowers and gorgeous large rosehips. Only some roses produce rosehips*, if you have one of these varieites make sure you leave the roses on so the bush produces its gorgeous rosehips.

  • Abraham Darby ER
  • Auckland Metro MR
  • Black Jade MR
  • Bow Bells ER
  • Charles Austin ER
  • Claire Rose ER
  • Dainty Bess MR
  • Evelyn ER
  • Ferdinand Pichard OR
  • Forever Yours MR
  • French Lace MR
  • Green Sleeves MR
  • Iceberg MR
  • Loving Memory MR
  • Loving Touch MR
  • Madame Pierre Oger OR
  • Macrantha Raubritter MR
  • Mozart MR
  • Perdita ER
  • Queen of Denmark OR
  • Sally Holmes MR
  • Sharifa Asma ER
  • Speks Centennial MR
  • Spiced Coffee MR
  • Windrush ER

Our Peony Rose Collection

We adore peony roses- they smell gorgeous, look lovely in a vase and grow wonderfully in Central Otago. There is nothing nicer than giving a special friend a bunch of peony roses from the garden. My favourites are the whites and creams as their innocent simplicity  looks great in our home.
  • Ann Cousins (Double Cream)
  • Bowl of Cream (Double Cream)
  • Cheddar Cheese (Bomb Cream)
  • Duchess de Nemours (Double Cream)
  • Elsa Sass (Bomb White)
  • Festiva Maxima (Double Cream Pink)
  • Orlando Roberts (Double Red)
  • Miss America (Double White)
  • Pink Parfait ( Double Pale Pink)
  • Raspberry Sunday (Double Pink)
  • Ray Paton (Japanese Red)
  • Sarah Bernhadt (Double Mid Pink)

Floral Design

Flowers are a wonderful way to express your sentiments to someone special or to bring the delights of your garden into your home.

But where do you start? Firstly decide on the style and type of arrangement you would like to make for instance it could be an old-fashioned “tussie-mussie”, door wreath, contemporary table centrepiece or a traditional bouquet. Next decide on the colour, this may depend on a celebration (for instance, christmas) or the colour of the room in which you intend to place the completed arrangement. Like a painting, it should be treated as a decorative element, and when the colours are right, it can add greatly to the feeling of the room. When selecting flowers and greens consider perfume, size, shape and texture. Flowers and herbs can be selected to represent a specific message- refer the the table “the language of flowers”

                                           Language of Flowers


Botanical Meaning
Angelica Inspiration Magnolia Love of nature
Balm Sympathy Mignonette Your qualities surpass your charm
Bluebell Constancy Mint Virtue
Chrysanthemum (red) I love Nasturtium Patriotism
Daffodil Regard Pansy Thinking of you
Daisy Innocence Parsley Festivity
Forget-me-not True love Peppermint Warmth of Feeling
Geranium (rose) Preference Ranunculus You are radiant with charms
Hollyhock Ambition Rose Love
Honeysuckle Generous and Devoted Affection Rose (red and white together) Unity
Jonquil I desire a return of affection Rosebud (red) Pure and lovely
Larkspur Lightness, levity Rosemary Rememberance
Lilac (purple) First emotions of love Sage Esteem
Lilac (white) Youthful innocence Spearmint Warmth of sentiment
Lily (white) Purity, sweetness Stock Lasting beauty
Lily of the Valley Return to happiness Sweet Basil Good wishes
Violet (blue) Faithfulness
White Jasmine Amiableness
Zinnia Thoughts of an absent friend

The artistic style of the arrangement is very much personal preference. For a gift to someone special, I prefer creating a simple “tussie-mussie” of flowers and herbs that represent a specific message, wrapped simply in natural waxed paper and tied with a piece of twine. For the home- Lavender and Thyme Cottage, I tend to create a more contemporary style arrangement, less flowers and more foliage, monochromatic in colour, with balance, texture and perfume.

With the floral arrangement in mind, select a vase with the correct sizing and height to display the flowers at their optimum vantage point. Our vase collection tends to be understated, made from natural materials- stone, wood, glass, brass, copper or non patterned pottery in green to umber hues. For a table centrepiece my favourite vase is a large piece of knarled driftwood that a friend of the family collected on the beach at the West Coast of New Zealand.

Flower Preparation

"Grosso" Lavender at Lavender and Thyme Cottage"Charles Austin" rose at Lavender and Thyme CottagePurple artichoke in flower at Lavender and Thyme Cottage

Gather flowers in the morning or the late evening as sugar reserves in the stems are at their highest which will allow them to stay fresh for a longer time. Ideally the best time is early morning when flower stems are filled with water after the cool night air. If it has been raining and the flowers are wet, shake them gently to remove the the excess water.

"Bow Bells" rose an english rose at Lavender and Thyme Cottage"Sharifa Asma" rose an english rose at Lavender and Thyme Cottage

Most flowers should be picked when they are in bud or half open. The colour of the petals should be starting to show. If picked too soon, they may never open. This is especially true of tulips and roses. The green pointed sepals around the base of the rose should be starting to turn downwards. Irises and daffodils should be half opened. Gladioli should be picked when the bottom three or four florets are open and the top florets are still in bud. Carnations, dahlias, marigolds, hydrangeas, camelias, gerberas and chrysanthemums should be picked when they are fully open.

Fill a plastic bucket a third to half way with luke warm water, as at this temperature flowers take up water more readily than if it was cold. It is preferable also to add a preservative to the water such as a capful of household bleach. Take the bucket of water into the garden with you. Use a sharp pair of secateurs and cut the flower stems on an angle- a slanted cut allows a better intake of water. Remove all the foliage from the lower portion of the stems which would stand under the water line. Place the flowers immediately in the water. Avoid overcrowding the flowers. Place the bucket in a cool dark place and allow the flowers to have a long drink for four to five hours before being arranged. When picking short stemmed flowers use a smaller container.

Give special treatment to certain flowers to give them the longest life possible. Flowers with woody stems do not take water readily. Woody-stemmed flowers include lilac, hydrangea and rhododendrums. To help break down the thick fibres, split the ends of the stem upwards for about 5cm. After this treatment, place the stems in a container filled with warm water and give the flowers a long drink before arranging. Delphiniums will last longer if the stems are placed in boiling water for a few seconds as soon as they are cut, then transferred to the cold. Gum leaves will have a longer vase life if immersed in water for 1-2 hours after cutting.

Cut off the white portion at the bottom of bulb flowes like tulips, daffodils, jonquils, narcissus, irises and hyacinths. Only the green part of the stem can take up water, wipe of any sap before placing stems in water. Keep these flowers separate from other flowers when they are being conditioned as the sap can affect other flowers. The thick sap can clog the ends of stems and prevent the uptake of water. Stand the stems in about 8cm of water and allow to stand at least six hours before arranging. Bulb flowers prefer shallow water.

Flower food such as crushed aspirin, sugar (1 tbsp sugar to 4 c of warm water) or a pinch of salt mixed with baking soda can be added to the water to provide nourishment it needs. Sugar should be avoided for daffodils, daisies and tulips.

Happy Flower Arranging!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s