Can you have British flowers all year?


Winter doesn’t have to mean resorting to supermarket flowers, says Charlotte Tombs. Perhaps we just need to think a little differently

Create an indoor spring bulb garden in the depths of winter All images: Charlotte Tombs

The answer is YES; with a little imagination, planning, organisation and determination you can have British flowers in your house all year.
Of course, the flowers might not be the same as those you would buy from the supermarket along with your weekly shop. But stick with me – there is a way which is kinder to the planet, which has little to no carbon footprint. If you’re thinking about your eco choices, why are you still buying imported flowers with who knows how many chemicals sprayed on them or fed to them? I certainly know what I’d rather have in my home.

Hellebores provide subtle but splashy winter colour
A simple twig with lichen on can be quite beautiful
‘Plant’ narcissi on gravel in a storm lantern
Dried flowers can be a wonderful investment

Thinking differently
Even in the depths of the coldest months there are winter-flowering shrubs, hellebores, berries, seed heads, winter-flowering honeysuckle … if you look hard enough you can always find a bit of colour.
I think we can be quite conservative in our approach to vases of ‘flowers’. Sometimes a simple group of twigs with lichen on can be quite beautiful. There is also the option of forcing branching by cutting twigs when you can see the first leaf/blossom buds. Bring them inside and place in water – given the indoor warmth you’ll get to watch the leaves unfurl. It is wonderful to watch.
Something else you can do is plant bulbs that have been cooled to fool them into winter dormancy. By planting these specially-treated bulbs (look for ‘pre-chilled bulbs’) you can cheat Mother Nature and have an indoor spring bulbs garden. Some bulbs, such as narcissi, don’t need to be kept in a dark cool place if they have had the cold treatment. Instead you ‘plant’ (more like ‘place’!) them on gravel in a glass storm lantern and watch them grow. The flowers will fill your home with scent. Use your forced branches for these blooms as support for the long stems.
Or perhaps you could invest in an everlasting bunch of flowers – dried ones. I say invest as these have been grown from seed, potted on, planted out, fed, watered and nurtured until they were harvested, sorted, dried and stored … before being made into a vase arrangement for you to enjoy. It seems fair that they are more costly. There is an awful lot of effort in that dried bunch.
Some brides are having all dried flowers for their weddings now. I’m not sure I could go down that route but there is always room to enjoy fresh and dried.
If you have any questions on techniques or varieties, please do send me a message on Facebook, Instagram or email me on
and I’ll happily help.

Sponsored by Thorngrove Garden Centre


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