The Christmas tree in the Putnam's Brooklyn, Fort Greene apartment

Let the Putnams choose your festive florals

Your Christmas can be as colourful as the famous florists and Flower Colour Guide authors’

Though it's generallly agreed that the tradition of decorating our homes with Christmas trees dates from 16th century Germany, the practice of adorning the living space with evergreens this time of year can actually be traced back as far as the ancient Egyptians.

Like all good traditions the practice has evolved somewhat over the years. Hanging an old twig over the front door in the hope of spreading instant festive cheer will only attract opprobrium and unfollows in the instagram age. So when our Flower Colour Guide authors Darroch and Michael Putnam were in the UK earlier this month we asked them a few questions about how to do floral festivities perfectly. 

As usual, they were more than happy to oblige. So, if you're wondering what bloom to buy, here's how to do it courtesy of Michael and Darroch. 


Darroch (left) and Michael (right) Putnam
Darroch (left) and Michael (right) Putnam

If you have minimalist or monochrome home decor bring in a lot of different kinds greenery. Try bay or olive leaves which are easily available this time of year.

But citrus colours are especially fun in an urban environment - bright yellows and oranges or with softer, toned-down browns and golds. 

Use three different elements: some type of greenery, maybe a smaller filler flower and a statement larger bloom. 

Try Amaryllis, which is around this time of year, for your statement flower. The ratio should be one third the vessel two thirds the flower. When buying, hold the flower up and see how well it holds on its own. 

Incorporating fruit is fun. We often go for kumquats or tangerines or lemons on the branch in our arrangements. Use an odd (not even) number of things- three or five. 


Floral festivities Putnam style
Floral festivities Putnam style

In a traditional colour scheme we also love using pomegranates, Ilex Berries, and Ligustrum, a black berry that holds well in arrangements.

Use pitchers to hold your flowers not only vases. With the lip at the top it’s easier for stems to hold their shape. We use white or off white ones.

If you have a round table, stick to a centrepiece or a selection of centrepieces. But for rectangular tables go for a garland. And making a DIY garland for the mantelpiece is a fun project with different greens from the season.

Avoid strong smelling flowers on your dining room table. No lilies!

Before you buy you should feel the flower petal if it’s really soft it means that it’s probably old. It won’t last through Christmas. Look at the stem and the leaves at the bottom of the stem if they’re mushy your flower will die quicker. 


Putnam & Putnam Flowers tree for Martha Stewart
Putnam & Putnam Flowers tree for Martha Stewart

When you get your flowers home take the bottom leaves off the stem to allow the water to go to the flower head. Leave a couple of leaves on the top for beauty.

Some flowers open up better in warm water - roses for instance. Put them in warm water for a little while before transferring them to cold water. But don’t use warm water on anything with a soft stem because it encourages bacteria growth.

When buying don’t be afraid to ask the vendors when the flowers will open. We often get flowers into the studio a few days before an event to give them time to open and be at their best.

Finally, whatever you do, don’t put them near a heater or in a draught!

Bring a riot of colour to 2019 by buying Flower Colour Guide here.


Out Flower Colour GuiPutnam & Putnam's Flower Colour Guide
Out Flower Colour GuiPutnam & Putnam's Flower Colour Guide