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25 February 2013

Hand of the Buddha

This week when I visited a friend she presented me with a present from her garden, unlike anything I have seen before, hard to believe that it comes from the Citrus family. Is is nicknamed The Buddha´s Hand or Fingered Citron (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis).

This buddha’s hand is one of the oldest citrus in the world and oddly enough, has no juice or pulp. The citron family of citrus fruits normally have very little juice and the buddha’s hand is part of this unique category of citrus.  What Citrons lack in juice, their rinds make up in powerful fragrance. They’re superbly aromatic with concentrated lemon citrus smells. I looked up on-line and there are various recipes you can use this in, basically for a recipe that requires lemon zest and then I happened upon a Vodka one, very simple in that you slice the Citron open into strips, remove as much of the pith as possilbe, put in a jar and cover with Vodka and leave for 30 days, after which time you have a wonderful infused Vodka ready for cocktails! Not wanting to venture away from my “floral design” column into Cookery or Garden I then thought what I could do with this interesting spectacle...

So I have cut lots of wild Rosemary which is flowering in abundance at the moment, some flowering lavender, lemons and mandarins.

Find a wooden platter and using some oasis soaked in water will help the arrangment to last longer (rather than simply placing the herbs/foliage on the platter, which you could do if you only wanted it for an evening).

To secure the Buddha´s hand into the centre of the arrangement I have taken a wooden skewer and pushed it up into the middle of the Citron, leaving the end to be placed into the oasis, now it is quite stable

Then place the mandarins and lemons into the platter. I always like to group the flowers or fruit together as it gives a more natural look, as if they were growing.

Add the Rosemary, pushing the stems into the oasis inbetween the fruit and around the back.

Fill the rest of the oasis with Lavender. Here I have deliberately kept it long so that it will flow over the edge of the platter. The Buddha´s hand is reaching over one way and the Lavender spilling over in the other direction.

 If only we had smell-o-vision here – the heady scent of Lavender and Lemon is delicious – a platter good enough to eat!

Having had flower shops in London for many years and hardly ever seeing fruit and flowers growing in my close environment (other than in my garden) it is one of the joys I find of being here in Mallorca. Living in the countryside and daily walks with the dogs have opened my eyes to a wealth and abundance of different flowering shrubs and foliages. Certain days I do miss the freedom that I had with busy shops with discerning clients who were constantly looking for the latest trend or style in flowers and I would, therefore, order from Holland a complete array of exotic blooms to sell. Holland is the largest importer of flowers as well as exporters, so the flowers would have originated from all corners of the world.

Regularly, I would order in a flower called Chocolate Cosmos, (Cosmos astrosanguineus) which is a little dark red/brown coloured flower, that actually smells of Chocolate and I would place them in a little pot by the till and challenge customers to tell me what they smelt of – we rarely sold any as they were rather expensive, but would add to the shoppers experience of coming into our shop!

Of course I still import a lot of my flowers from Holland for our weddings, event, yacht and many clients, but at this time of the year, when all is a little quieter, I do enjoy foraging around to see what I can find and thinking what I can make when presented with a gift as unusual as the Buddha´s Hand!

Enjoy your Fabulous Flowers for this week

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