With Mother’s Day approaching, my sister and I found ourselves planning how best to treat our wonderful mum. Flowers, chocolates, a lot of food related suggestions cropped up, and then we began to reminisce about being little, and how Donna (@hortensiabloom on instagram) would teach us from such a young age about plants, flowers, trees and all sorts of horticulture (edible and not!). We would go on adventures armed with watercolours and soup in a flask to find new flowers to draw and places to explore, or trek to the woods and take plaster-of-paris casts of deer prints. This inspired me to go back to little Imogen days, and not pick up a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates (haha sorry mum!) but create something with a little bit of thought and love, for the biggest inspiration in my life! 💛 So, I have put some suggestions (seasonal, of course!) together for gifts you can make as a gift, or make together, and spend the time making more memories…
Cue, GORSE! Vibrant, hardy yellow petals nestled among tough little spikes, they are native to the UK and although they’re more commonly found battling the seas of the South, their hardiness has served them well and now you can see these pockets of sunshine across London and all over the UK! Don’t be lured in when picking these pretty little petals, if your keen forager fingers are unprepared you won’t do it twice! Very delicately remove the petals that you will need, or if you’re a little more heavy handed, bring some gardening gloves and clippers and snip off a branch, ensuring you only take as much as you need, and leave plentiful behind (the first rule of foraging).
Gorse can be used in so many crafty ways, here are my suggestions…
White Chocolate and Gorse Truffles
• 200ml Organic Double Cream
• 300g Organic White Chocolate
• 25g Butter
• Handful Gorse Flowers
1. Bring the cream to the boil in a pan and pour over the chocolate (broken up into little pieces to make melting easier). Add the butter and leave to melt, stirring until smooth. Ensure the cream is boiling to melt all the chocolate.
2. Whisk until fluffy and slightly lighter in colour.
3. Chill until firm. Using a melon baller dipped in hot water, scoop the chocolate rounds to make your truffles and rest on greaseproof paper.
4. For decoration, as it is a special occasion, i used a mixture of gold leaf and sugared gorse petals (instructions for this below)
5. Store in the fridge and eat within 3 days.
Sugared Petals: after picking, place the petals in water so they'll stay fresh. Dilute 1 egg white with a few drops of water. If you'll be serving crystallized rose petals to pregnant women, young children, the elderly, or anyone whose health is compromised, be sure to use powdered egg whites. Holding a petal with tweezers, gently brush both sides of the petal with egg whites, and sprinkle each side with caster sugar. Shake off the excess sugar, and place the petal face-up on greaseproof paper and store the flowers in a cool place to dry for at least eight hours, moving them slightly as they dry so they won't stick to the paper. Petals and flowers can be stored in an airtight container for up to a year. Store at room temperature.
I stumbled across the superb Thomas Bloom flowers on instagram @thomasbloomflowers - and loved the idea of not only having wreaths for Christmas, but all year round!
A gorse wreath will be a prickly job, so make sure you have your reinforced gardening gloves at the ready! You will need a sturdy frame which you will be able to pick up from your local flower shop or you could fashion one from a metal coat hanger if you feel really Blue Peter. Once you have the frame, arrange the branches with longer, bushier strands at the back, and working clockwise (at about a 45 degree angle) make little bunches that are attached with florist’s wire. Work all the way round and fill in any empty spots. Now the prickly part is over you can marvel at your creation!
Gorse Fabric Dye
You can have so much fun with natural dyes, and don’t need to look any further than your own back garden or local park. Gorse as a dye produces a soft pastel, lemony colour that is very delicate so great for a t-shirt, apron or any natural material! I’ve gone for a 100% cotton apron.
How To: Botanical Dye
• First you need to prepare the fabric you’re going to dye. As we are using plants, we have to use a vinegar fixative. Combine one part vinegar and four parts water and boil the fabric in this mixture for one hour. Rinse well with cold water once done.
• For the dye, you need to put the petals in a pot, with double the water to the amount of petals you have. Obviously this requires a little more gorse picking, but if you wanted a more intense yellow you could mix this with Weld (also known as Dyers Rocket) which creates a more vibrant end result.
• Bring the petals and water to the boil and simmer for an hour. Strain the petals and return dye to the pot.
• Place the wet fabric in the dye pot and simmer until you reach your desired colour - the longer you leave the dye the stronger the colour will be.
• Wash the fabric separately and hang to dry.
*Remember to wear gloves when dyeing anything or your hands will end up a similar shade!
They’re all the suggestions for now, if you have any more or give these ones a try let me know how you get on!! Happy Mother’s Day xxx