I have a thing for old bottles. Whenever I see one in a flea market or boot sale, I always pick it up; wonder what it once held and who in its history has owned it; but end up putting it down again because I’ve never had a reason to buy it (aren’t I good?!). However, I’ve finally thought of a reason to buy a whole load of them! And because I was impatient, I bought a job lot of vintage clear glass bottles, but actually it would’ve been fun to build up the collection over time, picking one up here and there. I thought this would be a nice quick and easy blog post just sharing my flower arrangement idea, but I ended up being pulled into the time-draining vortex of the internet discovering all sorts of things about old bottles! Did you know there are collectors’ clubs and events all over the country? If I had time for another hobby, I can see that vintage bottle collecting could become one of them!…..
The neck of the bottles are usually too small to contain any more than one stem, so in the past I’ve dismissed them for a vase replacement, but then I thought a group of them with one or two stems in each bottle would look really lovely.
So if you like a good rummage round dusty charity shops or town-hall vintage markets, and you fancy having a go at a flower arrangement like this one, keep an eye out for some vintage bottles. To keep the display interesting, it’s a good idea to buy bottles of different heights and shapes, and if a seller tells you how they came across the bottle in the first place, then make a note of it as it would make a good topic of conversation at a dinner party! A few of mine have the words ‘table spoons’ pressed into the glass, so probably contained a baking ingredient. One had ‘Scott’s emulsion’ and ‘contains lime and soda’, along with ‘cod liver oil.’ I find this strangely fascinating!
I unpacked my job lot of clear bottles a couple of weeks ago. I bought twenty-two of them for a bargain £6.50 (plus £2.90 for postage) from ebay and I was really pleased with that find. They range from quite large bottles to a handful of tiny ones, and I knew they’d make a perfect display on the front window-sill of our living room. There is nothing out of that window other than a busy road and a garage wall opposite, so it’s nice to have a graceful distraction in front of that! Also, for a brief while in the evening, the sun shines in and hits the bottles, making the surrounding wall extra pretty.
Knowing that my garden hardly contained any flowers in late September, I was a little worried about what I’d find for my display, but this is the advantage of only needing one stem per bottle. And spread out like that really makes foliage look good, so much of my flower arrangement isn’t actually flowers! I found a couple of clover flowers and buttercups in the field next-door, and I had a couple of geranium flowers randomly still in bloom, but the rest is made up of wild rose hips and tamarisk foliage. Oh and the tall tubular red flowers at the back are a variety of fuchsia – we have a massive shrub of it in the garden. They don’t last well as a cut flower though.
I’ll admit, it took quite a long time filling each bottle up with water, carrying them carefully to the windowsill on a tray and then finding enough plants to put in them. I was a little worried I wouldn’t continue the upkeep of the display. However, of course, the flowers don’t all die at once! I only need to rinse and refill the bottles one or two at a time, and that’s no trouble at all. I adore the wild-flower autumnal feel it has at the moment, but at Halloween I think I’ll cheat a bit and buy some orange flowers for a few of the bottles. And at Christmas some white flowers would look lovely with the ivy that’s currently growing over the driveway wall. So I intend to keep the vintage bottle floral display permanently on the window-sill the whole year round and I’ll take photos of it for each season and show you in a blog post this time next year what they’ve all looked like.
Incidentally I think this idea would work really well along the middle of a rectangular table. And it wouldn’t be so tall that you can’t see the person opposite to talk to!
If you are also interested in old bottles, then you might like the Historic Glass Bottle Identification and Information website, particularly if you’re across the pond as it helps identify American and Canadian bottles. In this country, you should probably take a look at the British Antique Bottle Forum Website.
I showed the bottles and some of putting together this floral display during my weekly vlog on my YouTube channel, so if you’d like to watch that, here is is:
If you recreate your own version, please send me your photos – I’d love to see them. 🙂