A vase of dainty blooms can brighten up the darkest of days. With many spending Christmas apart from family members, it’s a good time to create some festive cheer from a distance. After all, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of opening the door to an unannounced bouquet.
In the UK, almost 90 per cent of our £3 billion flower industry uses imported cut flowers. Every bouquet comes with air miles attached, so it pays to look local and support florists buying from UK flower growers or seeking more sustainable paths to bring blooms in from abroad.
With that in mind, we’re rounded up the best florists to buy your festive flowers from across the country. Whether your perfect bunch is loudly coloured or pared-back and minimalist, here’s our top pick of Christmas blooms…
For something different
In the frosty soils of Britain’s mainland, yellow Narcissus only venture into view in springtime but the Isles of Scilly, wrapped in warmer climes, sees the canary-coloured flowers arrive in time for Christmas. That’s why the cheery blooms are the islands’ preferred festive flower crop, and thanks to Scilly Flowers, mainlanders can now also enjoy their starry presence on the festive table. The local company import delicate multiheaded narcissi, wrapped in paper, straight to the UK in biodegradable boxes, bringing their richly scented, star-shaped blooms to your home. 40 scented narcissi, £19 from scillyflowers.co.uk
Cottage garden favourites
True to her ‘grown not flown’ motto, all Caroline Beck’s flowers are cut from the ditzy dancing plants from her elegant Victorian walled garden near Durham or foraged locally. You can expect delicate cottage garden favourites, plucked from her selection of over 200 varieties of scented flowers, herbs and foliage which arrive as a ‘bucket’ ready to be arranged, and dramatic foliage wreaths that combine the ethereal skeletons of rusted bracken with forest green rosemary springs and rotund pinecones. This is one for the Northerners – Verde only delivers around Durham, Teesdale, North Yorkshire and Northumberland. From £15 for a half bucket, carolinebeck.org
Don’t expect to order a 20-head bouquet of Christmas roses from the Great British Florist. From day one, this brand has aimed to support British growers, meaning there’s often not enough of each flower to produce single-plant posies. Instead, using whatever cut flowers have arrived in the studio that day, they cut down on excess waste and ensure every customer’s bouquet is unique by mixing and matching the best of the season. In winter, with British stocks running low, their seasonal posies use a mix of fresh and dried blooms and can be delivered up until 21st December. On occasion, British blooms are supplemented with a stem or two from a neighbouring country but each box comes with a ‘stem count’, telling you how many of your bouquet flowers are from local growers.
Their flower farm florists tip for keeping blooms fresh for as long as possible? Avoid putting your flowers near your fruit bowl, as the ethylene gas released from ripening fruit can prematurely age your flowers.
Seasonal box of cut flowers for Christmas pre-order from £39, greatbritishflorist.co.uk
A longer-living bouquet
If the ephemeral characteristics of cut flowers are a bug-bear, check out London-based Shida. Florist Katherine Whitchurch preserves flowers and foliage by replacing their sap with 100 per cent plant-based glycerine and dyes, maintaining the flower’s cell structures. This gives the blooms the same structure as fresh cut flowers, but ensures your display lasts up to a year.
For a festive display that will transition well into the new year, Whitchurch recommends the red blooms and structural green foliage of their Gatsby bouquet, where crimson hydrangea blooms pop beside the dusty green oval leaves of eucalyptus. For experimental home florists, the challenge of making a scandi-style door wreath might be more satisfying.
From £36 for a wreath-making kit and £45 for a Gatsby bouquet, shida.florist
Scented roses galore
Covid-19 chaos has left Kenyan bloom-growing communities vulnerable this year, with the country’s flower farms exporting less than a third of their production to Europe. As most cut flowers in the UK making their way to our shores in airplanes inbound from Kenya, it’s fair to have legitimate worries about air miles, but that doesn’t mean leaving Kenya’s flower industry out in the cold this Christmas.
Hampshire’s The Real Flower Company try to offer the best of both worlds, sourcing much of their bouquets from an organic rose garden in the South Downs, supplemented with blooms from their fair trade Kenyan sister farm. Take a look at the Christmas collection – copper, plum and gold bouquet exclusively available in December provides the freshness of British foliage alongside jewel-like exotic blooms grown under Kenya’s sun. The David Austin Tess Christmas wreath offers a festive ring of red roses bolstered by wintry foliage – and with their emphasis on scented blooms, you can be sure to add a blousy, classical rose fragrance to Christmas festivities.
David Austen Tess Christmas Door Wreath from £110, realflowers.co.uk
For reasonably priced deliveries, try Bunches. Their Festive Foliage bouquet isn’t just visually striking – its flash of Eucalyptus stems and conifer leaves provide a crisp Christmas scent, while the pastel tones of the Lilac Frost arrangement offer a bright alternative to classic reds and golds. Top of the bunch, for us, are their plastic-free letterbox bouquets. The classic Robyn box arrives with crimsons sprays of carnations, alstroemeria and cloud-like white Ghysophila. And the best part? The family-owned business is aiming for 100% plastic free delivery and 10% of all their profits got to charity.
Letterbox bouquets from £26, bunches.co.uk
Short on time but still keen to shop local for some Christmas bouquets? The Flower Shops collates a network of high street florists across the country and offers same-day delivery of flowers at reasonable prices.
Providing ‘bouquet templates’ to local shops owned by skilled independent florists, you’re able to order generous bouquets for reasonable prices, and your blooms will be hand-delivered to your door by the maker (rather than Royal Mail). This year, their Christmas bouquets are filled with cerise roses, spicy red lilies and aromatic winter foliage.
Christmas bouquets from £34.99, theflowershops.co.uk