Today is Dia da Espiga in Portugal. Of course I love a cultural tradition that revolves around foraging flowers! I wrote about this day in Field, Flower, Vase and made a project inspired by the bouquets foraged for home on this day.
One of my first friends in Lisbon, Rita Teles Garcia, taught me about Dia da Espiga and illustrated the concept for the book. We didn’t have space for them in the final edit, so I wanted to share them here.
If you live in the city, you will buy a “ramos” or wildflower bouquet from a flower seller on the street. If you live in the country, you will gather your own in the meadows. I explain further in my book, but each flower has a special meaning and it is important that they are all used together in the bouquet.
Yesterday, my friend Pedro told me his father used to pick him up from school every year on this day to gather bouquets for his mother and siblings. Traditionally the bouquets are put in the house to dry, as you see in the last photo.
Check out the #diadaespiga feed to see all the beautiful bouquets today
Illustrations by @ritatelesgarcia
Pinning down your local flower sources can be a challenge, particularly if you have a certain style you are after. If you want to be a florist, you need to have a solid system around flower sourcing. Flowers are your medium! It is important that you have a reliable source for special ingredients and it should never be just one source. Since this is one of the most common questions I get asked, I have put together some resources for you. I hope you find them helpful!
1. Florist Tricks: Where to Buy Cut Flowers
This 8 minute video will walk you through the basics of fresh flower sourcing as a florist!
2. Field, Flower, Vase: Arranging and Crafting with Seasonal and Wild Blooms
In my floral arranging book, I offer lots and lots of tips around flower sourcing in your area, many unexpected!
3. How to Source Flowers Guide
Here is my tried and true guide for 10 flower sources I use.
4. Source Beautiful Cut Flowers: A Workshop for Floral Designers. Floral Stylists, and Floral Artists
In this 45 minute free training, I offer you all my secret sources, the ins and outs of getting a wholesale floral license, and much more!
Reach out with any questions!
It is lilac season for many of us and I don’t know anyone who can resist bringing this intoxicating flower into their home and floral arrangements. You should know a few things about lilacs though to keep them from wilting and to get the longest vase life possible. Below: How to condition lilacs, how to arrange and style lilacs, and how to eat lilacs!
How to Condition Lilacs
- Put them into water immedietly upon harvesting.
-Slice up the stems in a cross shape. You can also smash the stems with a hammer but florists like to argue about this one. Some say that smashing is too agressive and will actually damage the stems so that they cannot take up water. At any rate, it is important to do more than just cut the stem diagonally, you need to actually break it open so that the stems can take up water.
-Your lilacs will last longer if you remove more foliage than normal. This way the water can get to all of the blossoms. Usually one part of a lilac will wilt in every bunch, you can cut it short to put in a small vase to see if it revives but you should remove it from the larger stem to let the other flowers open.
-In some cases or if the lilacs start to wilt, it will be better to cut them shorter as they will take up water more easily.
-Lilacs are especially sensitive to heat and cold, bright sun, and ethylene gas emitted by fruits.
-Harvest your lilacs when the flowers are closed but just beginning to open.
-They like to be misted with water.
How to Arrange and Style Lilacs
-Lilacs are stunningly gorgeous on their own. Arrange tall stems at slightly different heights into your favorite thrifted ceramic vase at your entryway and smile every time you enter your home!
-Lilacs are perfect filler flowers! Add them with other flowers into bouquets and arrangements to fill space, add texture, and emit fragrance.
-Lilacs also look good cut low into pudding bowls, ceramic cups, or vintage glassware.
-Purple lilacs look sleek with a black vase or backdrop.
-White lilac charms next to other spring favorites like snowdrops, spirea, or violets.
-Filler on filler. For a rustic, casual look layer in purple lilacs with waxflower and heather or layer in white lilac with white spirea and white waxflower.
How to Eat a Lilac
Please only eat flowers that you know or organic and safe to eat. You can download our full guide here. We take no responsibility for sickness resulting from the ingestion of edible flowers.
-Syringa vulgaris is the species most commonly known to be edible.
-Lilacs are one of the more pungent edible flowers. Use them sparingly.
-Lilac water. Infuse sparking or simple water with lilac blossoms overnight in the fridge for a refreshing floral drink.
-Make a lilac syrup to add to cocktails, lemonades, or cakes.
-Decorate cakes sparingly with lilacs (the fragrance can overwhelm)
-Lilac sugar. Lillac is one of the edible flowers that works well for floral infused sugars.
For more on edible flowers, check out our full length class that does a deep dive into extracting floral flavors, safety, history, and identification of edible flowers.
Lilac Styling and Arranging Inspiration
Ok, I got a little homesick writing that post. Lilacs are one of those flowers that are linked with my childhood in the best way. Does this ring true for you?