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Gardening: Flower power

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A bouquet of natural beauty will instantly brighten a room and displaying floral splendour can have a positive psychological effect by helping lift a low mood and reduce anxiety

Did you know that the ancient Egyptians used flowers to beautify their spaces? From temple offerings in religious ceremonies to decorations for celebrations, flowers like jasmine, poppies and lotus flowers are found in historical Egyptian records.

The Greeks adorned themselves with flowers, and a branch of the wild olive tree became the prized symbol and sought-after crown of the Olympic Games.

In Victorian England, floriography was a language of flowers used to convey messages between lovers who were unable to communicate when chaperones were close by.

Tulips grow in water so to increase their longevity, place them in 5cm of water. Picture: Christoph Hoffmann

The tussie mussie, a small and fragrant posy of flowers and herbs, was wrapped in lace or satin and tied around the stems or placed in a silver posy holder. Each flower in the bouquet was carefully selected to silently convey to the receiver what the giver could not express in a spoken word.

Today modern flowers are still used to convey messages of gratitude, congratulations, sympathy and love.

Floral spectacular

Modern floral designs are eye-catching and colourful, showcasing myriad flowers from around the world. Picture: RHS/Tim Sandall

If you’re interested in learning more about contemporary floral design, don’t miss the Johannesburg International Flower Show, taking place from Wednesday at Waterfall City near Kyalami in Midrand, Gauteng. The event runs for five days until Sunday and is expected to attract around 100000 visitors from across the country.

“Celebrating design and innovation with the country’s leading landscapers, designers and gardeners, the Johannesburg International Flower Show will house some of the best garden and floral displays, making it the show-stopper event that will compare to the internationally acclaimed Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show,” says event director Mike Sham.

Celebrity florist

Celeb floral designer Jill Manson will give a demonstration on using flowers in the home at
the Johannesburg International Flower Show. Picture: Supplied

At the heart of the event is the NetFlorist Grand Pavilion of Flowers, with vibrant flower displays and innovative show gardens, designed by both leading and up-and-coming landscapers in the country.

Renowned florist Jill Manson of DStv’s floral design show Fresh Cut heads the Grand Pavilion creative team. Manson, who has created floral designs and decor for numerous prestigious events, will present a floral demonstration on flowers for the home on Sunday at 11am.

With an 18-year background in floristry, Mason runs one of the country’s leading schools of floral design, the Jill Manson Floral Design School, and teaches all levels of floristry. She is known for her out-of-the-box thinking and non-conformist approach to what is possible in the world of floral art.

Flowers in your home

“Flowers are wonderful for the home,” said Jill Manson. “They are aesthetically appealing and beautiful to look at, and they also change the energy of the home, bringing a softness and contributing to health and wellness.”

Until quite recently, a number of rules dictated the art of floral design, but today a more natural approach and the freedom to express one’s creativity is widely accepted. Some tips and guidelines for keeping flowers fresher for longer do still apply, but don’t feel restricted, especially when arranging flowers for your home.

Stone Kitchen is a water wise and organic garden on a rocky koppie. Picture: Supplied

How can you get the most out of your cut flowers? Follow these Manson tips:

  • When purchasing flowers from your local flower shop or market, make sure you cut the stems when you get home. Cut all stems at least 1cm shorter and put the flowers back into water. Cut the stem at an angle to allow for a larger surface area for the plant to draw water up the stem.
  • When you’re ready to arrange them, remove the leaves off stems so no leaves occur below the level of the water in the vase.
  • To prepare water for a vase, add a teaspoon of bleach, white vinegar and white sugar to one litre water and mix well.
  • Once you have completed your arrangement, place it in an area with good natural light. Avoid spots in direct sunlight, in a draft or too close to a fruit bowl.
  • Change the water every second to third day to assist the flowers to last longer.
  • You can also recut the stems every third day, or when the base of the stem has developed a dark ring along its circumference or cut area. This is caused by the Botrytis bacteria. It leaves a residue on the stems which prevents water absorption.

Event details

The Johannesburg International Flower Show runs from October 30 to November 3. 

Ticket prices are day specific. Adults R175 to R195; pensioners (over 60s) R75 to R95 ; children (eight to 16) R75 to R95.

Times: October 30 and October 31 10am-7pm; November 1 and November 2 10am- 9pm; Sunday 10am-6pm.

Talks and demonstrations are free to show patrons, but seats are limited. For more details and to book tickets, see the

Elgin Gardens open for charity

To celebrate 19 years of charity open gard ens, 13 gardens will be open to the public in the Elgin and Bot River districts October 26 and 27 and next weekend. 

Visit gardens in fertile sheltered sites and rocky slopes, rose gardens, vegetable gardens and shade gardens.

Dates: October 26 and October 27 and November 2 and 3 from 10am to 5pm.

Cost: Some gardens are free, others charge between R10 and R35 for entry. A portion of takings will be donated to a charity of the homeowner’s choice.

Plants and refreshments will be on sale at some gardens. Collect a leaflet with full details from major Western Cape nurseries or download it from the website 

For more details, call Barbara on 021 844 0154 or 078 021 2101.


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