Happy May Day to you! Just like last year, I’ll be celebrating by making May Day posies in jam jars, and leaving them on friends’ doorsteps. It’s based on the lovely Pagan tradition of May Baskets, which is being revived by my friend Lou as part of her ongoing Nature in the Home project. You can read more about it over on her blog, or look out for #NITHMayDay on Instagram and other social media.
The blooms and foliage above are from a little foraging mission that the littlest and I went on yesterday morning. We picked from verges, and bushes that overhung walls, adding in a little wild garlic from the woods, and some bluebells and assorted foliage from the garden. I’ll be busy this morning making little hand-tied posies to fill the jam jars. I recently attended a brilliant floristry workshop at The Foodie Bugle, with a demonstration of making hand-tied bunches from Polly Nicholson of Bayntun Flowers. Polly is an amazingly talented florist, who grows her own seasonal flowers to use in her exquisite arrangements. I picked up a few tips from her, which will come in handy today. Here they are:
1) The morning is the best time to pick flowers. Prepare the them by stripping leaves from the stems, cutting stems at an angle, and plunging them into cold water.
2) When you are making a posy, turn the bunch as you add the flowers, this will help to give structure and symmetry.
3) Bluebells, cow parsley and hellebores need their stems briefly scalding in an inch of boiling water, this will make them last longer. You can also scald woody stems like lilac, they will need about 20 seconds in the hot water.
4) Be brave enough to use unusual foliage- Polly used beech and sycamore leaves, rosemary, fennel and redcurrant, to name but a few.
5) You can mix more traditional flowers such as tulips with foraged blooms such as cow parsley and apple blossom, to glorious effect.
6) Be creative with your colour combinations and trust your instincts rather than following rules.
7) Bacteria kills flowers- add a drop of bleach to their water and/ or change it every day.