Happy New Year and happy foraging from Stems of Holborn

Happy New Year to you all and happy foraging from Stems of Holborn. The news of two vaccines now available has shed a new light on 2021, and as we should be at the start of a new year, we can start to feel hopeful. Foraged by @stemsfloral……

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Just before lockdown last March, I was asked to supply some mossy branches for a photo shoot for Vogue. Still at the shop in London, I had to make it home before dusk to forage the best mossy branches. This hawthorn, growing on a damp, windy corner of a lane, fitted the bill perfectly.

Foraging

One of my favourite pastimes in the whole world is foraging, and there has been plenty of time for it during the pandemic. I love to look at the countryside close up – like through a magnifying glass – and discover buds beside brown, dried seedheads, mossy patches, ivy clinging to tree trunks, blossoms, berries and grasses.

This is actually blackberry and sloe jam!

Sloe berries grow by the river here, on the beautiful blackthorn trees with their long thorns and spectacular, white blossom in spring. You can pick the sloes, then the blackberries along the lane towards home. We made this lovely jam in the summer. The sloes give it a sharp note.

Blackberry and sloe jam recipe

1kg fruit and 1kg jam sugar

Freeze the sloes, as this will soften the skin and allow the juices to run out. Use two-thirds blackerries and one-third sloes. Put the fruit in a stainless steel saucepan on a low heat and pour in the sugar. Melt very slowly till the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to get a slow bubble, stirring all the time. Heat your jars in a 120 degrees c oven to sterilise for a few minutes. Put a plate in the freezer to cool. When you can see creases in the jam, ( after about 30 minutes), smear a teaspoon of jam on the cold plate. If it hardens, it’s ready.

Foraging in winter is also fun. I have found tall dried teasel, berried ivy, trailing ivy, mosses, cones and branches Soon, the tiny snowdrops will be pusing their way up through the earth, followed by crocuses in gold and purple.

Happy 2021 to you all!

Jan is a florist and has a shop in Sicilian Avenue, Bloomsbury, London.

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Meadow flowers

Meadow flowers in March
Foraging in July

There seem to be lots of corporate events taking place earlier than usual this year, possibly due to the Brexit effect, and all the uncertainty surrounding it.

Anyway, exciting for us to be given new challenges, and no time to feel the exhaustion from the week before!

Wild, natural and meadow flowers are very popular right now. If you’re looking for the natural look, but with flowers out of season, it’s a bit more tricky to recreate in the early part of the year.

Some flowers with all year round availability, like veronica and clematis, have a wild, natural look, with their delicate nature. But fresh grasses and seed heads are not available.

The first image shows the meadow bouquet we created this week, from cultivated flowers. The soft mauves, pinks, whites and yellows of a summer meadow, and the small, delicate blooms of wild flowers have been used.

This image shows what is really on offer in the garden at this time of year – wallflowers, japonica, myrtle, lavender leaves and camellia. The abundance of green, in all its various shades, is missing, and is replaced with blossom and leafless trees.

I’m working with a couple who’ll be getting married in July. I’ve seen the venue, and I know where they’d like flowers, but I hadn’t seen an image of the bride’s dress. They had described it to me. When I finally saw the dress, it was a reminder of how important it is to see the whole picture. The colours were not what I had envisaged, neither in shade nor in quantity.

My favourite time for flowers is in the summer, when we are surrounded by a profusion of green and flowers. Nature provides all the inspiration I need to create amazing designs.

My preference is always to add flowers to a backdrop of foliage, just like we see in the wild. The natural curves, gnarls – and even gaps, allow us to see the true beauty of their juxtaposition.

It’s amazing how certain flowers thrive some years, and not others. Of course it depends on the weather, but not just the recent weather. A dry winter can have an effect on what happens in summer.

The cow parsley was beautiful this year. All of a sudden, one hot day at the end of May finished off all the beautiful white clusters in my garden.

This was soon replaced with the joy of seeing the first digitalis, or foxgloves, as they are affectionately known. Tall and proud, they sway gently in the breeze.






Stems in Holborn


As a florist in Holborn for the past 32 years, I have seen many changes. The home of Stems has always been in Sicilian Avenue.
Central St. Martin’s School of Art and Design, www.arts.ac.uk was opposite my shop in Sicilian Avenue, and Victoria House was The Liverpool Victoria.
So when they both moved out, it felt very empty. Other insurance companies and Building Societies slowly moved out of the area. Then the first www.Metrobank.co.uk opened
Central St. Martin’s is now full of small TV and production companies. Victoria House has several companies, but also the fabulous Bloomsbury Ballroom in the basement – home of the London Cabaret Club www.thelondoncabaretclub.com. In the old Prudential building, we now have the fabulous Rosewood Hotel , www.rosewoodhotels.com
We have the lovely academic buildings of Bloomsbury, and of course, The British Museum. Lincoln’s Inn Fields is the home of The Sir John Soane Museum – a hidden treasure.
We are in Sicilian Avenue itself, with its beautiful towers and turrets.
Holborn is neither the City, nor the West End proper. It is its own little oasis in the centre of the two parts. At weekends, it is full of tourists, visiting The British Museum.
If you want to send flowers, come and visit us, or call us on 07932 052411. You can also order online.

roses and romance


Roses have always been associated with romance ” My love is like a red, red rose…”
We have the luxury of so many colours available all year round, with imports from all over the world. One of my favourites is Memory Lane – a vintage pink, long-lasting rose that opens beautifully. If you have a particular colour rose you’d like to send, give us a call on 020 7831 6776 or mobile 07932 052411 or email janet@stemsfloraldesign.com