This week I brought a little of the outside in, in the form of some Hawthorn blossom, and it got me thinking about the wonders of foraging. Where I can, I always try to incorporate blooms into my bouquets from either my garden or from the hedgerows where I live, I think of it as my own little signature. However, I’m also very aware of the importance of doing this sustainably. So, for this week’s blog I’m going to touch on the wonders of foraging, how to do it sustainably and also just some of my favourites to look out for.
There are rules when it comes to foraging – Always look out for signs relating to foraging as woodland areas and hedgerows managed by wildlife trusts are often protected, meaning you are not allow to forage. This is to help protect plant and animal life, so make sure your secateurs remain firmly in your pocket if you see these signs.
Take small amounts – I only forage where I can see that its growing in abundance. A lot of birds will be relying on these plants for their food, so it’s important to not empty their supermarket shelves. Also, remember that it’s illegal to dig up or remove a plant from the land on which it is growing without permission from the landowner – So, don’t be tempted to go out with your spade and start digging things up. If in doubt, refer to the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).
Be careful how you snip – Be careful where you walk, to ensure that you are not trampling on everything and killing the plants that are left. Also, when you cut them, do it with care. Make sure your secateurs are sharp so you can get a clean cut – avoid, pulling, tearing and snapping.
Hawthorn – At this time of year Hawthorn is starting to bloom but in October it will form berries making it a lovely choice to use in wreaths or as like in this picture, as stems in a vase or urn arrangement. You can either use straight away or store in a cool, dark place to dry.
Hazel – Hazel is fabulous in October and early Spring. It produces lovely dangling catkins that can be used in a lot of arrangements. You can also use it to create sustainable structures for vases and pots or as your wreath structure.
Old Man’s Beard – In October and November you should be able to find Old Man’s Beard (Clematis vitalba) in abundance. I used it last year in the below arrangement and it worked beautifully. All you need to do is remove any seeds that are still attached, and then spray the tufted balls with hairspray to make them last.
I’ve also experimented with cutting grasses from my garden and using them in arrangements, and then leaving them to dry to use in wreaths at Christmas.
Hydrangeas work beautifully dried in arrangements and I always have them in my home in October and November. It’s great as you can enjoy them in an arrangement and then dry them out to use later. I’ve found it best to leave them in a vase of about 5cm of water, in a cool room, out of direct sunshine and then wait for them to dry naturally. Once fully dried, I remove them from the vase, snip off the wet part of the stem and then leave upright in a vase until required in an arrangement.
Eucalyptus – My favourite foliage has to be eucalyptus – I just love everything about it; its colour, scent, the different styles. The great thing about it is that it dries beautifully too – making it a great foliage to use throughout the Christmas period.
Cow Parsley – I couldn’t not mention cow parsley as I know it’s such a favourite. It’s such a delicate flower and grows rapidly in the summer between May and June. It likes shady habitats and can be found decorating woodland edges, roadside verges and hedgerows in mass. However, be aware there is quite a strong scent that goes with it so I tend to use it outdoors or as a single stem, if bringing indoors. Just remember, it is hugely attractive to wildlife so do good steady with pruning it.
And finally – If you want more information on what is available month by month then check out this fabulous guide on Countryfile’s website – Click here to find out more.
With love and stay safe, Flowers and Lifestyle by Margot –
Find out more about me – www.flowersandlifestylebymargot.co.uk