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  • Precious Primula

    There are currently 430 species of Primula. These plants are very amenable to hybridization and doubtless many varieties have come and gone over the centuries. The wild primrose seen in Britain at woodland edges, clinging to banks and rocky hillocks has a subtle yellow hue with a darker yellow centre. Seen en masse the colour appears to be darker, but close-up the primrose's hue is of the faintest but prettiest yellow - perfectly suited to Spring's blue sky. It is the primula - polyanthus growing in my own garden that I press. Doing so is fairly easy if using a microwave press with one caveat! It is best to keep checking that the moisture has gone from the flower, but you will still be able to gently tease the flowers away from the cloth. If too much heat is applied in one go then the wafer-thin flowers will stick to the cloth and become very brittle. Another point to note is that the pigment will change once heat is applied to some of the polyanthus colours. ©Sandi Phillips Yellow tends to stay the same, however, pinks turn purple as do the reds. Once pressed polyanthus are quick to turn brown once exposed to light. This is great if your desired effect is one of sepia tones, but not if you are relying on a colour to stay true if it is the centrepiece of your project. ©Sandi Phillips Primula scotica The above primula is endemic to the north coast of Scotland and the Orkney Isles. Its leaves are hairier than other primula. In the UK it is illegal to pick flowers or the plants of wild primula (and that includes the ever-decreasing cowslip [Primula veris]). This form of primula grow on calcereous soil and prefer sunnier and drier conditions to other primula. The cowslip flowers in April and May, so follows on from the earlier flowering primula. The oxlip [Primula elatior] grows in Switzerland and in a small area of the UK. Primula vulgaris subsp. sibthorpii grows in the eastern Mediterranean and is coloured mauve. The mountains of Greece, Majorca and Sicily have Primula balearica, a white subspecies which is rare. A primula is represented on one side of the Austrian five cent euro coin. Candelabra primula have whorls or umbels of flowers on a single erect stem and come in many colours. These varieties of primula thrive in acid to neutral soil which is moist or poor-draining. As with other primula they also prefer shady conditions. ©Sandi Phillips

  • No Shrinking Violet

    Viola odorata (the Sweet Violet) has been known to Man for a very long time. A manuscript of AD 904 written in Persia (translated from the older Aramaic) explained the cultivation of violets. According to the Woodland Trust, this violet is becoming increasingly uncommon. Viola riviniana (the common dog violet) is almost identical to the sweet violet in appearance, but cannot be confused with Viola odorata as it has no scent at all. The Sweet Violet has quite an illustrious history! From the Ancient Greeks who quaffed wine scented with violets to the late 18th century’s popularity in Britain , this shade-loving perennial with tiny flowers certainly knew how win over hearts and noses. Plutarch wrote that in Italy gardeners of the 1st century AD planted sweet violets amongst garlic and onions so that the vegetables’ flavour might be improved. However, I suspect that this might well be the first documented case of companion planting. Perhaps the violets’ scent put off pests such as the onion root fly? Interestingly, while doing my research on violets I found a modern day recipe of ‘Spicy violet pearls’: Combine lemon juice, cayenne pepper, garlic purée and violet syrup and carefully place droplets of this mixture onto white gladiolus petals. In Syria and Turkey violets are used as an ingredient in making sherbet. It is Viola odorata that was beloved by Napoleon. On their anniversary Napoleon would gift to Josephine bunches of violets. Having been banished to Elba it is reported that Napoleon said, “I will return with the violets in Spring”. Violets were Queen Alexandra’s favourite flowers. In the gardens at Windsor as many as 5,000 violets were grown (cultivated in frames). Presumably these were the less hardy Parma violets. In the late 1800s Parma violets were very popular. Ladies of country houses wore them as buttonholes while out hunting. One Irish grower grew 7000 blooms from just a quarter of an acre! A postcard from the end of the 19th century shows violets being harvested in the olive groves of the Côte d’Azur. Violets were grown in fields in Devon and in the late 1800s flower trains bought masses of violets from Dawlish to London Paddington. These were then taken to Covent Garden to the flower girls who made up the violets into nosegays or buttonholes and then sold them from their baskets. Viola odorata flowers were also used in perfumery. Arab perfumers perfected a technique for distilling the oil. In the late 1800s the chemists Tiemann, Kruger and Semmler discovered a way to separate the aroma compounds (known as ionones) in violets. It is likely today that any violet scent found in items is synthetic. Ionones were produced in Haarmann’s factory on an industrial scale along with vanillin. Violets can be used to flavour ice cream, sorbet, sweets and cakes. In Britain the Derbyshire firm of Swizzels makes Parma violet sweets. The firm has been making them since 1928. Found growing at the edges of woodlands, in early spring the violet’s flowers provide nectar for butterflies. If you want to pick violets for your own pressing, then make sure that there are plenty of plants where you’d like to pick them and pick sparingly so that others can enjoy their delightful prettiness and exquisite scent.

  • Musings on Ikebana

    Literally translated, 'Ikebana' means 'to put in flower material', but its more fluid translation means 'flower arrangement'. Historically, in the best room of a Japanese house there was a tokonoma (alcove). This acted as a focal point and within the tokonoma a picture scroll and flowers were displayed. Emphasis is on the form of natural life. Like the drama which makes use of living men on the stage to represent various phases of man's life, Japanese flower arrangement represents various phases of nature by utilising flowers and other objects. In flower arrangement the actors and actresses are the flowers and trees and the stage is the vase. The container for the arrangement should be discreet and tie in with the main flow of the piece. For instance, if a vertical arrangement is wanted, then a tall thin container would be ideal such as is used in Heika. Similarly if the arrangement is a horizontal one, then a low shallow oval or semicircular shape is utilised (as in Moribana). Both Rikkwa and Ten-chi-jin styles are formal, while the Nageire style is free and natural. Here the hanging Ikebana which is cascading is placed in front of the Scroll. This enhances the realistic painting of nature creating a 3D effect for the viewer, almost making the viewer a part of the environment. Margaret Wolfe Hungerford wrote the idiom ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ in her novel of 1878, 'Molly Bawn'. It is this phrase that we still use in our language today. The Buddhist belief that there is beauty in imperfection can also be applied to Ikebana. Although there is an element of precision in displaying the plant material (making sure that there isn't any messy overlapping of branches, stems or flowers), a naturally bent branch or stem is rejoiced in as much as a perfect-looking specimen. (Above) Here the arrangement is being stripped of extra leaves. Margaret Wolfe Hungerford wrote the idiom ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ in her novel of 1878, 'Molly Bawn'. It is this phrase that we still use in our language today. Also the Buddhist belief that there is beauty in imperfection can be applied to Ikebana. Although there is an element of precision in displaying the plant material (making sure that there isn't any messy overlapping of branches, stems or flowers), a naturally bent branch or stem is rejoiced in as much as a perfect-looking specimen. Contacts: See the above website for a short explanation of the eight different schools of ikebana: Ichiyo; Ikenobo; Misho; Ohara; Ryeseiha; Saga Goryu; Shimpa Seizan and Sogetsu.

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  • Terms & Conditions | Pressed Flower Art

    Terms & Conditions Thank you for visiting the Pressed Flower Art website. Your privacy is important to us. To explain how we protect your privacy, we provide this notice explaining our policy which covers both this website and our e-newsletter service. If you do not agree to the terms of this Policy, we kindly ask you to leave the site and do not sign up for the e-newsletter. Collection Of Data For some services, Pressed Flower Art may require your e-mail address or other personal information such as your name, company, etc. Providing us with this personal and identifiable information is, of course, optional. However, in some cases, it may not be possible for us to provide the service in question without receiving specific information from you. Disclosure Of Data Pressed Flower Art will not disclose any of your personally identifiable information without your permission except under special circumstances, for instance, if Pressed Flower Art in good faith believes that the law requires disclosure. Any information collected by Pressed Flower Art will be treated confidentially. Cookie Policy Pressed Flower Art uses cookies to improve the user experience on our website. We do not pass on or in any way collect personal information about you as an individual user. Cookies are placed onto your machine by every website you visit, and most of those websites, including ours, may not function correctly without them. However, if you would like to disable cookies, you can read how to do so in your browser on Pressed Flower Art uses the following cookies: First Party Cookies These cookies are created by to enable the functionality of various aspects of our website Cookie NameFunction Random numbers and letters PHP session cookie which identifies a specific user's session. This will expire when you leave the website. main_WIX! Main cookie which determines what shows to display to the user. Third Party Cookies Third-party cookies are created by companies to provide various services which we use to enhance our site. The only one we use is Google Analytics - a free, powerful analytics tool used to determine where your visitors are coming from and what content they are looking at. No personal information is collected by Google Analytics and we recommend this service to all our clients Cookie NameSourceFunction __utm(x)Google AnalyticsAny cookies beginning with __utm are used to collect information about traffic and user activity. Pressed Flower Art Security Policy When you provide Pressed Flower Art with personal information, that information may be sent electronically outside of the country where you originally entered the information. In addition, that information may be used, stored and processed outside of the country where you entered the information. Whenever Pressed Flower Art handles personal information, regardless of where this occurs, Pressed Flower Art takes every precaution to ensure that your information is treated securely. ​ Unfortunately, no data transmission over the Internet can be guaranteed to be 100 per cent secure. As a result, while we strive to protect your personal information, Pressed Flower Art cannot ensure or warrant the security of any information you transmit to Pressed Flower Art , and you do so at your own risk. ​ ​

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