Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Decorating for Christmas - part 1

My collection of orchids is currently counting 8 different pots of various sizes, 3 of them are in my living room, the rest are crammed next to my small kitchen window. 6 of the orchids are Phalaenopsis orchids and although I have read many places that these orchids don’t have a particular flowering time and can flower whenever, in my house they all follow a set routine and start to send up flower spikes one by one during the autumn and early winter. At one point in early spring I usually have all of them in flower and it is a spectacular sight!

Here is my window sill, with my Christmas star already up. One of the orchids started flowering 2 weeks ago, 2 of the other have spikes and buds and today I discovered one more orchid with a tiny bump on the base which I hope will turn into a flower spike.

The orchid in flower is my favourite Phalaenopsis, just look at those colours, when I discovered this one in Ikea a few years ago I thought it was just made for my kitchen!

It flowers once every year and the flowers last for months.

I have never cut my orchids and put in water, I would have loved to have a vase with flower arrangement in my living room with orchids but it somehow seems such a terrible thing to do, knowing the flowers would not last very long in a vase. The alternative is silk flowers and there are so many beautiful artificial flowers available today that look so real it’s hard to believe they are not the genuine thing.

I have trawled the Internet and bought a few flowers and some Christmassy branches and decided to make a Christmas decoration that would definitely last more than a few weeks.

For flower arrangements I use this 2" metal pin holder and some florist’s adhesive tack which basically is like waterproof Blue Tack – invaluable when making arrangements with heavy branches. I attach a piece at the bottom of the pin holder to make it stay in place and also to some of the branches.

I started with the tallest piece, an amaryllis and then continued to build around it.

And then the rest of the flowers.

To conceal the pin colder I added some gold coloured grit.

The amaryllis is really beautiful and so amazingly detailed! All the flowers and branches came flat packed and had to be meticulously unfurled and spread out.

The orchids are so natural looking, even close up.

And the details make them a piece of art.

And here is the arrangement, on a shelf in the darkest corner of my living room where no flowers will thrive – don’t have to worry about that with these flowers, all they need is a bit of dusting now and then. (click to see a large version of photos)

This post is the first one of two about decorating for Christmas, next one will come next week, but before that post we have Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th, where I will show you what’s still in flower in my garden. Oh yes, I still have some plants in flower, despite being middle of December :-) Until then, take care.

23 comments:

  1. So professionally done, Helene! It so fun to see your warm, welcoming house via the Internet after visiting. I can picture where you have the plants in the window and the corner for the finished arrangement. Very nicely done!

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    1. Thanks Beth, I had some fun hours on the Internet looking for suitable flowers and branches, very exciting when the parcels came!

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  2. Beautifully done Helene! The colors and shapes look very natural together and that's the key.

    I use a lot of faux greenery because the real doesn't last long in our warm climate and can even be a fire hazard as it dries out.

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    1. Thanks Shirley, it’s been fun looking for the right flowers online and I found lots of other flowers I can replace these with when Christmas is no longer the theme.

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  3. Beautiful decoration. I love orchid, especially Phallaenopsis. I like the polcadot pattern.

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  4. One of my orchids still refuses to flower in spite of me following every bit of advice given by various successful reflowerers

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    1. I have one that took a 3 year break on me Sue, I almost gave it up but it has a nice flower spike now.

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  5. Verry beautiful ! And the garden is lovely !

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    1. Thanks, and welcome to my blog!

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  6. Your Phalenopsis with the strange pattern is a real beauty and you manage to let them reflower for you have more buds to come out. Phalenopsis and Cymbidiums are the easiest but not for me. Your Flower arrangement is indistinguishable from real, beautiful.

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    1. Thanks Janneke, I love orchids, could fill my house if I had more space but downstairs there is only this window suitable for orchids. As you can see I have crammed in as many as I can!

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  7. Love your arrangement... it looks wonderful on your shelf :o)

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  8. I take my hat off to anyone that can keep house plants alive. The mere thought of them coming into my house fills them with dread and they promply die!
    I always admire the collection of orchids available at Ikea - the are very popular aren't they?
    Lovely arrangement you've created Helene. I have to admit to being impressed by the artificial flowers available nowadays. I once paid a fortune and I mean a fortune for silk sunflowers, I'm wondering now what I ever done with them!

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    1. Thanks Angie, I didn’t pay a fortune for these, I found two website where I could have spent an absolute fortune but each item was very reasonably priced. Here they are:
      http://www.justartificial.co.uk/
      http://www.christmastimeuk.com/c/Christmas-Floristry-and-Picks/10309

      As for houseplants I apply the same principal as I do in my garden, I choose plants to suit me and the environment and conditions I can give – so no indoor plants that requires frequent watering and a lot of fussing over, plants here have to be able to be forgotten for a while and still be happy! However, most people who struggle to get Phalaenopsis orchids to re-flower give them too much water or water them too often. I give mine a good 30 minute soak every week or so, or even every 10 day or so in the winter. When they get watered I also spray the leaves and compost with an orchid fertilizer (from Amazon). That’s it really. I think the orchids appreciate my warm house which goes quite cold during the night as my heating is on a timer, the day and night difference is beneficial to Phalaenopsis and they don’t mind room temperature as low as 15-16 degrees at night. I am sure there are houseplants for you too Angie, just choose the right ones and you can spend time in the garden and not worry about your houseplants – as I do :-)

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  9. Hi Helene, I love that mottled phalaenopsis orchid! I see why you needed to have this one, it matches perfectly your kitchen wall color. I am really impressed that you get phalaenopsis orchids reliably to rebloom, again. In my house that never happens. Mostly they just die after they are done flowering or just sit there and never show me their blooms, again. Have a nice rest of the week!
    Christina

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    1. Thanks Christina, when I saw that mottled orchid I just had to have it!

      Getting your Phalaenopsis orchids to re-bloom is not difficult, if you follow a few principals, see my answer to Angie above about watering. Make sure you pour off any excess water after a soak so the roots don’t rot or the plant will die. Phalaenopsis re-bloom when the daytime temperature drop, try to move your orchids into a colder room than your living room, my kitchen is ideal as it is colder in the autumn and winter, possibly why mine are starting to flower at this time, but you could have them in your bedroom on a windowsill if that’s more suitable, as long as you remember to water them. It could take up to 9 months before they re-bloom as some orchids only flower once a year so be patient!

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    2. Oh, and when the orchids have started flowering again they can come back in the living room :-)

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  10. What a nice idea to buy so artistically made flowers, Helene! I love them! Looking at the Phalaenopsis in your kitchen and I took a look at mine and ...oh!!! they have new spikes as well. I have only 2 of them.
    I love your last photo, are you there on the photo in national costume?
    Have a nice week!

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    1. Yes, well spotted Nadezda, it is me on the photo in a national dress, the photo was taken 25 years ago, just before I made my own and I had borrowed my aunt’s dress. I don’t get to wear my national dress often living here in London though, not many occasions were a costume like that is suitable!

      Great to hear your orchids have started producing new flower spikes, soon you will have lovely new flowers again :-) Have a great week-end.

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  11. Love your arrangement, and the flowers do look very realistic! I really should get an orchid or two (real or not!) before next winter, they do brighten the room a lot!

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    1. Thanks Ruth, orchids are so great and look nice even if not in flower, I recommend them to anyone – have at least one real somewhere in the house!

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