Here’s how flowers can boost your wellbeing
As well as offering sensational fresh flowers delivered and dried flower bouquets to the North East, Appleforth Avenue is also on a mission to use its petals to promote positivity.
‘Let us live like flowers, wild and beautiful and drenched in sun.’ – Ellen Everett.
These are the words that serve as a constant inspiration to North East florist Lauren Rackstraw, owner of Appleforth Avenue. These words, of course, and her flowers.
Because to Lauren, plants are about way more than just decoration. To Lauren, flowers bring with them a world of positivity and purpose into our homes: their fragrances not only pleasant but aromatherapeutic; their blooms not only offering us an ornate burst of colour but also relief, memory and hope. And when the winter months are long and dark and spring seems lightyears away, we could all use something of a lifeline to help us hang on until brighter days come our way.
That’s why we caught up with Lauren to find out more about the practicalities and promises hidden within the petals of some of our nation’s favourite flowers. And while we did, we also discovered how the properties of some lesser-known varieties could have serious benefits on our mental health and wellbeing…
CAN FLOWERS REALLY IMPROVE OUR MENTAL HEALTH?
‘Absolutely!’ says Lauren. ‘For a start, the flowers themselves have so many healing properties. We all know the popular ones – like how lavender can help us have a peaceful sleep – but there are tonnes more.’
Take chrysanthemum, for example, which Lauren told us can actually relieve anxiety.
This super-popular bloom can be found in gardens the North East over. But we bet few of you readers knew that if we crush the leaves of this plant, the smell can help alleviate our anxiety.
‘You can drink it as a tea, too,’ Lauren adds. ‘I often keep the leaves when stripping a chrysanthemum just for the smell alone.’
Then there’s the visual benefit of flowers.
‘We’re drawn to flowers because of how the appeal to our eyes,’ Lauren explains. ‘We all have favourite plants or colours, but flowers on a whole always make us smile. That’s why they make such popular gifts. Whether you’re giving or receiving flowers, the positive impact is gorgeous.
‘Once they’re in our home, the act of caring for the flowers is great for our brains, too. We slow down and adjust our routine a little to trim the stems, change the water and rearrange the bouquet. Flowers need you to support them and help them survive, and that necessity helps to give us that extra purpose and value within ourselves.’
WHAT ARE THE 2022 FLORAL TRENDS AND COLOUR BOOSTS TO HELP US THRIVE AND SURVIVE THE REST OF WINTER?
‘It’s hard during the winter with such an early sunset – most of us go to work in the dark and come home in the dark,’ says Lauren. ‘Medically, the lack of sunlight isn’t great for us. But also, it’s all just a bit doom and gloom! For me, that’s where a gorgeous bunch of flowers can add that colour and positivity to our day.
‘Whether you like your classic whites and greens that are so reminiscent of springtime, or you prefer a big pop of colour like it’s the height of summer, the eye-catching beauty of flowers can instantly improve our mood and help us conjure the positive memories we associate with seasons other than winter. It’s almost like they bring with them a little sneak peek of the sun!’
And when it comes to this year’s hottest floral trends, 2022 is all about oranges and pinks.
‘Last year was a time of gorgeous, soft, neutral tones,’ says Lauren. ‘In 2022, we can be excited for lots of rich, vibrant colours and palettes will include lots of oranges and pinks. How great is that when you think about the wonderful impact bright colours can have on our mental health all year round?!’
Those in the know also look set to conjure up those tropical vibes this year with their floral designs, perhaps in homage to those longed-for holidays we’ve all missed so much these last few years.
‘I’m definitely seeing a nod to more tropical flowers in 2022 as well, and a generally more experimental feel to bunch,’ Lauren continues. ‘Less of your classic hand-tied bouquets and more of a wild, foraged feel.’
WHAT IF WE STRUGGLE TO KEEP FLOWERS ALIVE?!
It’s something we hear a lot and we’re definitely guilty of it ourselves – we love our plants and flowers, but sometimes we have no idea how to keep them alive! So, can Lauren share with us any tips?
‘This is the question I get asked the most by far!’ Lauren laughs. ‘Every single plant requires something different, so I’d absolutely encourage anyone to drop me a message if they have a specific plant or flower they want help with to keep blooming.
‘In general, though, it tends to be over-watering or giving them the wrong amount of light and/or heat that kills our plants and flowers. If you have foliage in your home and you always have your central heating on, then they’re going to struggle. Flowers like the carnation are robust and almost made for longevity in the home; if you’ve accidentally popped a hydrangea near some heat, on the other hand, then they’re going to wilt pretty quickly.
‘A top tip with hydrangeas is that they drink lots of water through their head as well as their stem. Submerge the full flower and stem in water overnight and that can help to revive it.’
LEARN HOW TO BE A FLORIST – AND ENJOY A LITTLE HOLISTIC THERAPY, TOO
For any budding florists out there (sorry, couldn’t resist), then this is where it gets interesting. Because Lauren is set to start a new course of masterclasses which delve into all that she’s spoken about here in greater depth.
From flower-arranging, wreath-making and nailing the newest decorative trends to using plants in holistic therapy and meditation, Appleforth Avenue’s classes are sure to help your confidence grow and your mental health blossom. Plus, your home will be looking pretty rosy, too!
‘These classes are something that I’ve wanted to do for such a long time,’ Lauren explains. ‘For me, caring for my mental health is paramount. There’s been a huge shift over the past couple of years with people beginning to prioritise their wellbeing, so now felt like the perfect time to launch.
‘I’ve partnered with Anna who created Take Care – Holistic Therapy. Anna is so wonderful. Not only does she have an endless amount of qualifications and skills, but she’s also a gorgeous person to be around. We decided we would team up to offer people a chance to take part in the things we both love and know can help with our mental wellbeing.’
The magic dates to remember right now are Sunday 27th February and Sunday 20th March, with each class lasting for around three hours.
‘Each class will be a night of breathwork, flower arranging, meditation, aromatherapy oil making and oracle card readings,’ Lauren continues. ‘The aim is for each individual to walk away with a few skills they can pop in their toolbox for aiding their own wellbeing, but also just to relax and pause for a second in our hectic lives.’
These evenings of calming, floral vibes will include the following:
- Flower arranging, using blooms which help improve all areas of our wellbeing, guided by Lauren
- How to make your own aromatherapy product, guided by Anna
- Guided meditation for relaxation, led by Anna
- Oracle card fun and refreshments, led by Anna
Each three-hour session costs £50.00 per person and you’ll leave with your own hand-tied bouquet, your handmade aromatherapy product and a beautifully relaxed mind.DM on Instagram to book
ABOUT APPLEFORTH AVENUE
Appleforth Avenue is the North East’s local florist, providing fresh and dried flowers and hand-tied bouquets through deliveries and collections.
‘I’ve always been a little flower mad,’ says Lauren. ‘My house has constantly looked like I’m attempting to compete at the Chelsea Flower Show! Five years ago, I did an online floristry course. Once I learnt the basics, I continued to teach myself at every given opportunity.
‘During lockdown, I moved into my great aunt’s house on Appleforth Avenue with my sister and that’s when I began to think I wanted floristry to become more than just a hobby. While my sister and I were sat with a morning cuppa, I was explaining that I was really struggling with a name for the business. She said, as if it was always obvious, why not call it Appleforth Avenue. It flowed beautifully. Once I got the idea in my head, I got far too excited and the rest is history!’
So, as well as the start of their new holistic wellbeing classes, what else is on the horizon for Appleforth Avenue this year?
‘2022 is looking super busy and flower filled,’ Lauren continues. ‘I’m so grateful that my diary is already packed with lots of weddings and events. Alongside these, I’m hoping to do some pop-up shop events and really get into the community more. I love being able to get to know my customers and actually help people. The flowers are just an added bonus!’
To learn more about how flowers can help our wellbeing, to check out Lauren’s flowers for yourself or to book Appleforth for your own wedding or event, follow Appleforth Avenue on Facebook and Instagram.