Sticking with floral tradition


Primroses - Credit: Archant

This Sunday coming is Mothering Sunday. When I was a child, we used to go up to church on the Saturday afternoon, where there would be laid out in the vestry a selection of daffodils, foliage, wet kitchen towel and tin foil.

We would make up dozens of little posies, which were then available to collect in the Sunday morning church service, and present to our mothers.

It worked in order – firstly you would go to collect one for your own mother, then you’d go back and perhaps take them to other female members of your family, and then if there were any left, you would keep going back and presenting them to the elderly members of the congregation, until everyone had a bunch.

It always struck me as a little odd that we were giving these to people who were not our own mum. Looking back on it now, as a 20-something woman, who has no children, but loves getting flowers – I can understand it a lot more! There is something very special about getting flowers, whatever the reason – or even better, for no reason at all.

The tradition of giving flowers to our mums on Mothering Sunday must go back generations. Cards covered with pictures of flowers adorn the shelves of the shops, almost as soon as the pancake mixture and JIF lemon leaves them. I got to thinking about why it is that the marketing people like to associate mothers with flowers so much.

In the modern age, although gardening is becoming more en vogue all the time, there are still many people who do not garden, or who would not necessarily want to receive a plant for Mothering Sunday… I would think there are fairly few though, who would not like to receive flowers. As I sit writing this, I have just received another email, from a large chain of supermarkets, offering me £5 off flowers for Mothering Sunday – proof in itself that we are expected to buy flowers for Sunday!

Giving and receiving flowers is a lovely thing to do – I always feel really happy when I can give some flowers to a friend at a dinner party – there are some fabulous local florists who I like to use regularly, particularly Flowers! Flowers! based in St Christopher’s Place in the centre of St Albans, they always make a bunch of flowers look really special, even if I haven’t spent much on the blooms that I’ve chosen.

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I think it’s really important to support local businesses, and also of course to support the British flower industry. Finding a florist who gets their flowers fresh from the flower markets is always a good idea, as you know they will normally last longer than supermarket purchased flowers. That said, if it’s a choice of supermarket, or no flowers at all – I know what I’d choose!

I’m planning to buy my mum something to last for Mothering Sunday – she has a charm bracelet, which I plan to add to, in thanks for everything she does, but it wouldn’t seem right to not give her some flowers as well, so I shall no doubt be heading to a florist, along with thousands of other people this weekend, to buy some overpriced flowers – it fascinates me that the florists can inflate the prices so much at this time of year, the same as for Valentine’s – but don’t complain to your florist, they are having to buy the flowers in at a hugely inflated price, and are simply having to pass that price on to the customer. I like the idea of a plant, instead of a bunch of flowers, for something which can go into the garden, and have a more lasting effect.

Rose bushes can be bought for about the same price as a bunch of flowers, and will give blooms for years to come. Similarly, with Mothering Sunday falling at this stage in the year, there are some beautiful seasonal blooms which can be purchased in planters. A pretty planter with primroses or narcissi bulbs is bound to be well received, and is so cheerful in the house. A great reminder that spring is well and truly here, and that summer won’t be far behind.

So, whether you’ve decided to go for something completely different, or whether you’re planning to go with what seems to now be “traditional” flowers, enjoy Mothering Sunday, and remember that whatever you choose – it’s the thought that counts!

Focus on: Primroses

Primroses, or to give them their latin name, Primula Vulgaris, are hard not to fall in love with. They have a distinctive yet delicate yellowy green colouring, which sets them apart from the most famous spring flower – the daffodil. They are often to be found adorning the hedgerows, and grass verges in the countryside at this time of year, and due to the fact that they multiply quickly, they can soon form a large patch, which looks great in any garden.

Primroses are often popular for use in hanging baskets, or indoor containers. They provide cheerful spring colour, and will no doubt be included in many Mothering Sunday planters in shops for this weekend.

Digging up wild primroses is an offence – so if you love these flowers, like I do, pop down to your local nursery, or garden centre and treat yourself to one or two!

Things to do in the garden this month...

Make sure you continually deadhead your daffodils – they are so beautiful and cheerful when they are in bloom, but so soon look sad if they have gone brown. Deadheading them allows the goodness to go back into the bulb, ready to flower again next spring;

If you have early flowering rhododendrons, these can also be deadheaded at this time;

Seeds continue to be sown under glass and prick out any germinated seeds as appropriate;

Possibly plant out sweet pea plants if large enough and hardened off;

Put any container plants outside if they have been kept under glass over winter and are considered hardy enough to withstand frosts;

Buy plug plants such as fuschias, geraniums and busy lizzies for growing on before planting up tubs and baskets;

Keep an eye on climbers such as clematis and tie them in as needed;

By now the lawn will have been cut at least once and may need special attention for removal of moss, using a lawn dressing such as a weed, feed and mosskiller. Don’t be tempted to set the lawnmower too low at this stage;

In the vegetable garden, April is the month when many of us really get going. Onion sets and shallots should already be planted, as too should broad beans and peas, but for those who haven’t been tempted to plant their seed potatoes the traditional date of Good Friday is imminent. There are many other vegetable seeds which can be sown in April, such as Boltardy beetroot, parsnips and early sown carrots – all of these can then be sown sequentially over the following months.