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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Learn how to make a Christmas wreath in London or Windsor

Come and join us, Government guidelines permitting, and learn how to make a Christmas wreath to hang on your door or wall.

Wreath

This is a dried flower wreath, but for Christmas, we like to use blue pine, cones, dried apple, orange and cinnamon with seasonal twigs and cones

Christmas wreath

We’ve been preparing our Christmas window with wreath and fairy lights. We have a great selection of plants and pots that make lovely Christmas gifts

The shop and a euphorbia candelabrum

Lockdown has honed people’s appreciation of both good health and nature, so plants willl be a popular gift choice this year, with their healthy, healing properties.

Red and gold wreath

Our classes will be held in Sicilian Avenue, Bloomsbury. A demo will be given, using a wire frame with moss, and the pine and decorations will be added to the wreath. If you prefer to make a table arrangement, we will also demonstrate this.

You will then design and make your own wreath under supervision. You will be delighted with the result!

The Thames at Windsor

The weather has been amazing for the time of year. The swans, geese and ducks on the Thames in Windsor have been missing the swarms of tourists who usually feed them. We’ve made a few trips with some bread.

Raspberries, spinach, chard, broccoli leaves and herbs from our garden

I can’t believe we’re still picking raspberries in the garden in November! Everything home grown just tastes so much better!

Call us on 07932 052411 if you’d like to join us for a wreath making workshop, or email janet@stemsfloraldesign.com for more information.

Flower Shop in Holborn, central London

Send flowers and make someone smile!

September sunrise

I have a flower shop in Holborn, central London, and I have always taken my inspiration from nature. Never one to read fashion magazines, I’d rather be walking in the countryside or sitting in my garden. I see beauty in natural things. I feel blessed for that, and have never felt under pressure to support an expensive lifestyle, but rather to work with the things I love, regardless of earning lots of money.

This superb sunrise was just a few days ago. I transfer the colours to the flowers I buy and use to make biuquets.

Sunrise bouquets

Food and flowers

i like to experiment with colours as a theme, running through my floral designs and the food I prepare. We had a curry with lots of red chillis, fresh coriander, golden mangoes and earthy bread.

curry wkth fresh mint, turmeric and yoghurt sauce

We have been asked to make several very colourful bouquets this week, as people filter back to work in Holborn. It feels like a reason to celebrate each time another small business reopens its doors, having survived lockdown.

Colourful rainbow bouquet

i have a few summer flowers left in the garden, and the herbs are flowering and seeding. My amazing wallflowers just keep on and on, giving me lovely little mauve flowers to add to my herd posies.

Wallflowers,

sweet pas and lemon balm with mint

Some people are choosing to go ahead with their weddings despite the limit on number of guests. I suppose there will be big parties at a later date.
we made these beautiful flower clusters in vintage bottles for a little wedding.
I love to use herbs such as lemon balm, mint and myrtle with small, dainty blooms.





Vintage flower bottles


Bringing Floral Inspiration from the Countryside to the City.

Windsor Great Park

Lockdown brought a new way of life for me. I have owned Stems of Holborn for 35 years, firstly living in Islington, and then for the past 20 years, living in Old Windsor and commuting to London.

i think most of us push the long commute to the back of our minds, or tell ourselves the job makes it worthwhile. But the truth is, it eats up several precious hours. It’s often crowded and uncomfortable, or in my case, necessitates getting up at 5am.
Having had 5 months free of commuting, I see a quality of life that I want to hang on to. I miss the work, but like many other people, I’m looking for a compromise.

oak tree

Windsor Great Park

I am lucky to live very close to this amazing place where you can walk or cycle for miles. There are some very deserted areas, and others with cafes and play areas. I favour the quieter parts, where I can feel at one with nature. I find the colours and shapes inspirational.

A gift to the Queen

He ground beneath these oaks was strewn with acorns – a feast for the squirrels and wildlife. The dead oak was like a grand sculpture. The cumulo nimbus clouds looked beautiful against all the green, and the remains of Storm Francis provided a lovely breeze.

Flowers for Special Occasions

These beautiful flowers were designed to say Welcome home. We filled an apartment in the Coty with vases of colourful, scented flowers. It was a really summery, romantic selection.

summer bouquet

I love these mauve campanula – graceful and strong, they epitomise English summer flowers.

Back to the City

Schools will reopen after The Bank Holiday Weekend. Offices will reopen in the City. Retail and Hospitality in the City has suffered enormously with the absence of office workers. Hopefully, things will gradually and safely get back to some sort of normality. I think we have all learnt something, or been reminded about quality and preciousness of life during the past few months.