I want to start by saying thanks for the lovely response I had to this post, where I talked about how our bank account is pretty much running on empty at the moment; there have been loads of times lately when I’ve really wanted to go to an antique market or search for lovely vintage dresses on eBay, and have ended up having a right huff because we can’t afford it, and to hear that there are others in the same boat was quite comforting. We can all be skint together!
The good thing is, I’ve always been a fan of a freebie and have never been afraid to rummage in a skip for something that ‘might come in handy one day’ *eyes mountain of scrap wood in the garden*, so I’ve got a good fair few thrifty tips up my sleeve that keep us cheery on the bleakest of days. I thought since there are so many of us in the same position, I’d start a new series here on the blog; ‘Frugal Friday’ is going to be made up of ideas for crafting, upcycling, decorating, making and doing for absolutely nothing (or as close to free as you can get!).
I’m starting with my top tips for free (or super cheap!) ways to get some floral loveliness into your home this summer; for me, I can be on my last few quid and have the right hump, but I can’t help but feel cheery with little pots of flowers all over the place. Arm yourself with some craft scissors and a basket, and let’s go!
1. Change your definition of a flower
In the photos above, quite a few things were found growing up random walls and hidden under bushes; technically, they’d be known as weeds, but as the old saying goes, a weed is just a flower that’s grown in the wrong place. Basically, if it’s not in someone’s garden, and it’s colourful and not half-dead, it’s going in the vase – I couldn’t tell the difference between a wildflower and a weed, but to be honest, I don’t care as long as it looks nice.
2. Utilise otherwise wasted blooms
When trying to find flowers for free, there’s only so much you can find growing in fields and around the local park – and personally, I don’t advocate leaping over someone’s fence to snip off a few hydrangeas. What I do tend to do, though, is snip things off of bushes that have overgrown and are trailing on the path – I think if the only thing a flower is going to see in it’s short life is a dog’s cocked leg, a toddlers sticky hands or a set of bicycle tires, I’m going to take it home and appreciate it.
3. Shop smart for plants
Obviously, if you want a good supply of flowers throughout the summer, you can’t just rely on overgrown bushes and colourful weeds – you’re going to have to spend a bit of your hard-earned cash on something for the garden. My favourite plants, which tend to give me the most flowers for the smallest amount of money are:
- Nigella (Love-in-the-Mist)
- Alyssum (which also smells incredible)
The best thing about these plants is that (and do correct me if I’m wrong, someone, because I’m definitely not an expert!) the more you cut for displays, the more shoots and buds the plant sends out – win-win in my opinion!
My best tip when buying is to stay away from garden centres – I love the garden centre as much as the next person, but by heck, do they like to overcharge sometimes. My best bargains have come from Wilkinsons (yes, really!) and more lately Waitrose – I really rate their plant range this year; I personally haven’t seen anything over £8 for a large hydrangea, and most things come in at around the £4-£6 mark. Rather brilliantly, they’ve also marked which plants will attract and help the bees – something which we seem to be lacking this year, sadly. Other places that are great for plants are summer fetes and fairs, church sales and even just peoples houses; we often drive out into the country to find people selling plants for pennies – a really good resource, and you get an afternoon of beautiful scenery too.
Another great tip is to save seeds – last year, I bought seeds from the marvelous Higgledy Garden, and then saved the seeds; this year, I’ve got random Nigella popping up all over the place. There is a special knack to saving seeds (which I didn’t follow last year, whoops), and there are some great resources online that can be found through Google – I’d definitely recommend it if you’re the thinking-ahead type.
4. Clash the colours
When I sort my flowers into a display, there’s pretty much no technique involved; I mostly just organise them by size (big ones in the middle and at the back, and small ones to the sides and at the front), and I don’t really think about colour.In fact, if anything, I like to have as many different shades and tones in one display as possible – I’ve never been a fan of organising things to coordinate (our home is a testament to that!), and I like my flowers to look as much like they’ve just been plucked from the countryside as possible. Minus the insects though, preferably.
5. Be creative with the container
Personally, I think half the fun of displaying flowers in your home is deciding what to put them in; I can’t remember ever using traditional vases, as I prefer shorter displays that will sit on a shelf or balance on our narrow mantle. I’ve used milk jugs, teapots, jam jars, bottles and about a gazillion other things to put flowers in, and my favourites are always either my oldest, cheapest charity shop finds or just plain glass jars jazzed up with some twine or ribbon; I also like the idea of customising containers by doing any of the following:
- Spray painting through stencils
- Dip-dying (dip-painting?!) by dipping jars, cups or jugs into paint and then leaving to dry
- Wrapping in twine, lengths of lace or fabric
- Decoupaging with mod-podge and geometric paper
- Sticking lengths of washi tape around the sides
- Paint spattering with pastels or neon paints
- Sticking on beads, shells, buttons or pom poms
If you’ve got any great floral money-saving tips, good resources or whatever, it’d be great to hear them – feel free to leave them in the comments section, so we can all take advantage of your flower-y wisdom!
PS – All those photographs were taken on my iPhone, and edited with the wonderful VSCO – so you don’t need a fancy camera to document your floral goodness either. Boom!