Spring flowers and Vases

  • by Sue Ure
Spring flowers and Vases

Spring has been my favourite season ever since I discovered gardening at the tender age of 19. Gardens, or the desire to have one larger than a handkerchief, was one of the factors that led me to move from London.

Since I've lived here in south-west France, the bright blue sky and intense sun have influenced the flowers and flowering shrubs I appreciate most, as well as the colours I use in my ceramics. (Incidentally, I often have slightly odd conversations about colour with my partner, who is colour-blind and sees colours differently than I do - a large range of colours seem brown or grey to him).

When I first started my ceramics business in London, I focused solely on vases, which might seem curious for someone who seldom buys cut flowers. But in my opinion a good vase should be a thing of beauty whether it contains flowers or nothing at all! So, although much more of my time now goes into making tableware and tableware design, vases have always been a part of what I do.

The type of vase I find myself using most often is a tiny vase, one that can display a single rose or a couple of flowering quince branches—things that can be taken from the garden without their absence being noticeable, particularly in the spring garden, when every new bloom and bud is eagerly searched for and encouraged.

In the photo here, I've used some zinnias. A summer rather than spring flower, it is now one of my favourite annuals that we grow from seed. Zinnia flowers look a bit like a cross between a giant daisy and a dahlia. They have extraordinarily long vivid yellow stamens at their centre which is itself a deeper colour than the surrounding petals. In my part of the world, Zinnias are extremely resilient and withstand quite blistering sunshine, demanding only modest watering—making them a really useful element in flower gardening for increasingly hot summers.

Cultural Significance

Throughout history, different cultures have attributed symbolic meanings to various flowers. For instance, in Victorian England, the language of flowers, or "floriography," was widely understood, where specific flowers were used to convey particular sentiments. Hawthorn for instance signified hope and periwinkle sincere friendship, narcisus rather predictably represented egotism.This association of meanings to flowers extended into the use of flower motifs in jewellery as well.

In Japanese culture, the art of flower arrangement, known as Ikebana, is deeply ingrained in tradition and philosophy, emphasising simplicity, balance, and harmony. It’s a minimalist approach that appeals to me. Bringing an element of the natural world indoors with its colours and scents can really change one’s mood and the feel of a room.

Flowers and Religion

Flowers hold significant value in Buddhism, with the lotus being a symbol of purity. In Hinduism, flowers are used in prayer rites called puja, where they are offered to gods to grant good health, wealth, and prosperity. Christianity also attributes symbolic meanings to many flowers, widely using them in church decorations. The lily represents purity, innocence, and resurrection, while the rose symbolises love, beauty, and hope.

I enjoyed discovering more detailed information about the significance of flowers in various religions, which I found on this interesting blog post on Bloomthis.

Vase Selection

Once you have your flowers, the next step is obviously choosing a vase! Personal taste should be paramount here. I've found surprisingly bold and colourful ceramic vases work well with many bright flowers and foliage arrangements. Matt surfaces, as opposed to shiny ones, also complement flowers, giving a more natural feel.


Having cut flowers in your home is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways of changing your mood and decor. You don’t have to splash out on expensive bunches of hot- house or imported flowers. Focus instead on using single rose bloom or branch of cherry blossom to liven up a living room or a kitchen table.


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