How to make your home – and garden – grow, with Mary Berry

 

Pick by season   

 

Whether you’re buying them from a shop, a market stall or cutting them fresh from your garden, it’s good to remember which time of year works best for which flowers. It’s sad to see a bunch of chrysanths in spring, for example. Here’s my choice to see you through the year.

 

Asters (Michaelmas daisies)
Asters (Michaelmas daisies)

 

AUTUMN 

 

● Penstemons are lovely – though be aware, they don’t last long once picked

 

● Little pot plants of cyclamen, grouped together, look stunning

 

● Small spray chrysanthemums

 

● Asters (Michaelmas daisies, pictured)

 

A pot of primroses is a lovely gift both to give and receive
A pot of primroses is a lovely gift both to give and receive

 

SPRING 

 

● A pot of primroses (pictured) is a lovely gift both to give and receive

 

● Daffodils are also one of my favourites, and what a pleasure it always is to see them, welcoming in the new season – it makes you feel there’s joy to come. Always buy daffodils when they’re still in bud; if you’re picking them from the garden, make sure they’re just about to open

 

Sweet peas (left) look and smell wonderful ¿ if you haven¿t many, mix them in with Alchemilla mollis (lady¿s mantle)
weet peas look and smell wonderful – if you haven’t many, mix them in with Alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle)

 

 
Even just three roses picked in bud and placed in a vase look good and add prettiness to a room
 

SUMMER 

 

● Even just three roses picked in bud and placed in a vase look good and add prettiness to a room

 

● Sweet peas (left) look and smell wonderful – if you haven’t many, mix them in with Alchemilla mollis (lady’s mantle)

 

Hellebores (Christmas roses) last longer if you seal the ends by dipping them into boiling water
Hellebores (Christmas roses) last longer if you seal the ends by dipping them into boiling water

 

WINTER

 

● Evergreens such as holly, ivy and firs are great for decorating the mantelpiece and table. Poinsettias are also festive looking and readily available

 

● Red and white amaryllis last well cut and as flowering bulbs. To make a statement, grow three bulbs in one pot, cover with moss and support with twigs

 

● Hellebores (Christmas roses) last longer if you seal the ends by dipping them into boiling water. For me, the best way with hellebores is to float the heads in a wide, shallow dish or even a soup bowl

 

 Plan your path 

 

Whether you have a window box or two acres of land, a little planning at this time of year can reap enormous rewards in spring

 

Be inspired by what¿s around you and make a note of other people¿s gardens: see what¿s flourishing and looking good there. You will soon learn what grows well in your environment
 

Be inspired by what’s around you and make a note of other people’s gardens: see what’s flourishing and looking good there. You will soon learn what grows well in your environment

 

 
 Bird feeders always enhance a garden. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds advises that sparrows and finches like seeds, and thrushes and robins enjoy dried fruit. Pay attention and you will soon start to learn what each type of bird likes. And remember to protect your bird feeder from squirrels and predatory cats
 

 Bird feeders always enhance a garden. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds advises that sparrows and finches like seeds, and thrushes and robins enjoy dried fruit. Pay attention and you will soon start to learn what each type of bird likes. And remember to protect your bird feeder from squirrels and predatory cats

 

I love the sound of moving water. We have a pond, but you can get all sorts of other water features. Try Homebase (homebase.co.uk) and B&Q (diy.com) for a great selection at prices that won¿t break the bank

I love the sound of moving water. We have a pond, but you can get all sorts of other water features. Try Homebase (homebase.co.uk) and B&Q (diy.com) for a great selection at prices that won’t break the bank

 

 
If you want to try your hand at growing your own vegetables, make use of what space you have. You don¿t need a large area: lots of veg (leeks, potatoes, courgettes, carrots and french beans) can be grown in deep pots, with runner beans and tomatoes in troughs against a wall

 

If you want to try your hand at growing your own vegetables, make use of what space you have. You don’t need a large area: lots of veg (leeks, potatoes, courgettes, carrots and french beans) can be grown in deep pots, with runner beans and tomatoes in troughs against a wall.

 

 Hot-house know-how > If you don’t have the luxury of an outdoor space, create your own oasis indoors. Use window boxes for flowers or herbs and display potted plants throughout the house

 

COME TO A PERFECT ARRANGEMENT 

 

Arrangement

Arrangement
Wash your vases thoroughly and remember to change the water
 
Arrangement

 

Arrangement
How often you need to do this will depend on your flowers, but generally it will be every few days or when it no longer looks or smells fresh

 

1. Wash your vases thoroughly and remember to change the water. How often you need to do this will depend on your flowers, but generally it will be every few days or when it no longer looks or smells fresh.  Chop around 5cm off the bottom of the stalks at an angle. This makes it easier for the flowers to take up the water. If they start to look a bit sad, remove any dead ones and trim the remaining flowers again. This will help them to last longer 

 

2. The flowers should be approximately one and a half times taller than the height of the vase 

 

3. You should place a tall flower in the middle of the arrangement, and then gradually fill in the other stems around it

 

 4. The width of your flower arrangement (ie, the furthest points of your greenery on either side) should be double the width of the vase or container

 

 
A vase of flowers, to me, means home. I think a house without fresh flowers and plants is without a heart. If I¿ve been away, the first thing I do when I come home, after dumping my luggage, is to put a bunch of flowers on the kitchen table
 

A vase of flowers, to me, means home. I think a house without fresh flowers and plants is without a heart. If I’ve been away, the first thing I do when I come home, after dumping my luggage, is to put a bunch of flowers on the kitchen table<./p>
 

Plants come with instructions, so make sure you always read them ¿ or do some research ¿ before investing. If your windowsills are very sunny, you don¿t want to end up buying something like a primula that shouldn¿t be in direct sunlight. Orchids make great houseplants as they only need to be watered once a week and kept out of direct sunlight to thrive

Plants come with instructions, so make sure you always read them – or do some research – before investing. If your windowsills are very sunny, you don’t want to end up buying something like a primula that shouldn’t be in direct sunlight. Orchids make great houseplants as they only need to be watered once a week and kept out of direct sunlight to thrive

 

Get 20 per cent off Mary’s book 

This is an edited extract from Mary’s Household Tips & Tricks: Your Guide to Happiness in the Home by Mary Berry and Lucy Young, which is published by Michael Joseph, price £20. To order a copy for £16 until 29 October, visit you-bookshop.co.uk or call 0844 571 0640; p&p is free on orders over £15.