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So it's kind of Autumn already! And we're all wondering 'how did that happen'. 2018 has been very much lived at breakneck speed. Breakneck and sweaty. But today I feel there's a pause, a momentary rainy afternoon when I have a chance to upload a few photos from the incredible wedding at Dorfold Hall at the weekend.
This was the opportunity for me to use a foam free technique I'd seen on the Instagram page #nofloralfoam. A bucket cut down to size with slits added so the foliage can drape, and filled with chicken wire. Pure genius. I implore all florists to use it for tall designs.
And I've been working on editorial shoots with some fabulous creatives. So more of that soon. In the meantime, enjoy the beauty!
So much going on. I got sidetracked. It was supposed to be a piece about wedding trends. But there's so much going on. And now I'm working myself up because of environmental issues. I'm thinking back to the days when I worried about CFC's, and the amount of packaging in supermarkets, and I'm still worrying about the amount of packaging on everything.
Social media is giving a voice to our concerns, and I'm loving a new Instagram account called @nofloralfoam which is highlighting the use of foam in the floristry industry. Traditional floral foam is a plastic product containing known cancer causing compounds including phenol and formaldehyde. It is not biodegradable. So I'm encouraging other florists to think about how and more importantly why they use floral foam. I also find it strange that colleges continue to teach students to use it. We need to educate the florists of the future that it simply isn't an option. It's not just colleges, it is used extensively at RHS flower shows, and flower arranging clubs the country over and they see no problem with that.
When I had my shop a few years back, I chose to wrap my flowers in paper, cellophane was biodegradable and bags were paper, soy based inks and cotton handles. The packaging looked good, design didn't suffer. This year I'm working on some big weddings, with larger scale installations. Chicken wire is my friend, moss and jars. Containers that hold water. I'm going to take some snaps to show you how I'm achieving the designs.
Don't get me wrong, I'm no saint. I have used foam in the past. Past being the operative word. But from where I stand at this moment in time, with the Chinese ban on UK plastic waste imports posing big challenges for the UK as a whole. I don't want to be part of the problem through lack of thought and education.
On the non-floristry front I'm campaigning like crazy and trying to get people to change the way they operate. Single use plastic water bottles in schools and running events is on the agenda, glass over plastic milk bottles another. I'm talking with the people that supply my everyday living items to see if we can change how we do things. If they don't know customers are concerned how can things move on?
Top tips are you don't need cling film, use a plate over a bowl in the fridge instead, or a damp tea towel if you're baking bread. Even sanitary products come under scrutiny as towels can contain up to 90% plastic. Use these guys Natracare. I bet when you came on here today to read this you were expecting pretty flower pictures. Never one to disappoint (see below) It's a bit of a rant isn't it?! Well if you can't rant on your own journal where can you!
P.S No foam was used in the urn! Image Jo Bradbury.
2017. What can I say? On a personal note it was a pretty incredible year.
So many great events. Weddings, photoshoots, installations...working with some pretty awesome industry pros, growers, creatives and planners. Collaborations are something I am aiming to work on again in 2018, more editorial/art based projects and creative shoots in the pipeline. I like taking risks (not the type that makes you lose your house or anything!), but not playing it safe when it comes to design. It is not in my make up, I'm all up for a challenge.
Growing my first ever chrysanthemums was pretty cool too. This is definitely something I want to grow more of next year. And at the plot the exciting news is that we've been accepted into the National Garden Scheme and will be flinging open our doors to the public in July.
The Greenery trend for 2017 really did take off, and was wholly embraced by many of my clients. I covered everything from arched stairways, chandeliers, ceilings, lychgates...you name it. I will be looking at design trends for 2018 in my next blog.
But for now I'm reflecting on the year, taking stock and appreciating life over the last twelve months. So many high points. Seeing my wife run London, Berlin and New York marathons was incredible (see the world, marry a runner). And the quiet moments of simply hanging with my dog in my PJ's. 2017 was pretty awesome!
When a brunch of creatives come together to just create. Simple as that. Keeping it authentic, showing what we can do. Jenn Brookes, the photographer and I came together a while back when I did a one-to-one with her to show her how to 'do the flowers' in a simple relaxed way. Her love is art photography and film, in a digital age, it's refreshing. I adore these polaroid shots, they have an ethereal feel to them. Shot in the Northern Quarter of Manchester, my home town, it gives them a real edge too. Handcrafted Bridalwear by Wilderness Bride. Shoes by I Am Florence.
The flowers were all grown by me, and offer a true seasonal snapshot. The chrysanthemums and dahlias were on top form, the orache just moved over from shocking pink to setting seed, equally beautiful. And malus in the hair crown. Perfectly modelled by the glamorous granny/small child that is Martha!
I'm not entirely sure which was harder, making this, or trying to photograph it. It was somewhat of a challenge, particularly the mechanics. Getting in the cherry picker to hang the wire cables and wondering if it was strong enough to hold the weight of the design. So my new found skill of wire cables, fixing, mechanics and cherry pickers aside, there were flowers, and around 200+ trips up a ladder. 2017, it's all about ladders.
My feed today is full of 'how can it be September already' posts. This year has flown by, but there's still so much to look forward to. Not least a huge Tipi Wedding, a creative photoshoot and a trip to Berlin. On the growing front, my two new must haves are Begonias (for the unusual leaves, not the blousy flower varieties). I had the pleasure of meeting a grower at RHS Tatton, I'm a huge fan of foliages as you know, so knowing where to source the unusual from is a big bonus for me. And there may be a slight Heuchera fetish developing, to go with the Dahlia fetish obviously!
We're at the half way point of the year. The blogging has been non-existent. The weddings have been plenty. So I thought I'd do a little 'past six months' beauty parade.
At the start of the year there was the announcement of Pantone Colour of the Year, Greenery. Some may scoff at trends, but seriously I've been greening up everything from ceilings, tennis court posts, arches, bannisters, you name it. That trend aside, I'm feeling a real backlash again the rose. I know! But there's lots of bride's out there that just want something a little more textured or less traditional perhaps. That said, peonies are still firmly a massive hit.
It's also the week before Tatton, I'm off to chat about logistics with the RHS. Mechanics and logistics, about 50 per cent of the work. And then it's list writing. Flower lists (the best bit), sundries lists, tools lists. Time to dig out the hi-vis and doc martins. Passes at the ready. It really is quite a daunting prospect, I just hope the judges are kind.
Goodness it's been a whirlwind of a week. Monday saw the prettiest of Spring weddings over at Eaves Hall in Lancashire. One of those trips that sees the landscape changing quite rapidly. One minute it's all pretty villages with crazy road layouts and the next it's middle of nowhere, rural moorland with sheep.
So what went into this heap of pretty? The double Ellen hellebores were rather special, and mixed with the Libretto Parrot and Menton French tulips gave the overall design such a soft romantic spring look. Keeping it seasonal I added a little flowering currant and pussy willow. Jasmine trails, I can see this being a bit of a theme this year, with the soft blush tips. I have invested in a large number of Jasmine plants, with the usual 'no room' where on earth they are going to be placed remains to be seen. I'm thinking pots for the time being.
On the growing front all the spring bulbs I planted, have popped this week because of the warmer weather. And I've just delivered another wedding this morning, the bride squealed with delight. More of that in the next blog. Or follow on Instagram for sneaky peaks.
Shotgun buttonholes to be precise. I have a wedding coming up in a few weeks and the groom really wanted to use shotgun cartridges for the buttoholes. Today has been a 'how the hell am I going to make those' kind of day. The flowers for the wedding itself are all spring pastels, catkins and all things seasonal. Which brings me back to this moment in time.
Hellebores. Never quite sure if our love for them stems from the fact that they are one of the first rays of hope, that sign that spring will be here soon. It's all hellebores and snowdrops at the moment. I don't know about you, but my IG feed is full of them, and there's no complaints.
This variety is Pirouette, it was the one I picked up at RHS Harlow Carr back in October. This time of year it's all about planning, and there's been many site visits, new venues to discover and bookings to July 2018. I've been sowing sweet peas, lots of digging, muck shifting and removing trees at the plot, so I now have an extra two beds. One of which will be dedicated to dahlias. This year I'm planning on growing hesperis, briza, ammi, nicotiana, cerinthe, phacella and gysophila kermesina (which bears no relation to the white fluffy stuff). Obviously all this will be a hit and miss affair. I never claim to be a great grower, I'm just a trier who enjoys it.
In a single word, Greenery is at the forefront for wedding trends in 2017. Pantone has named this the colour for 2017. It's a refreshing and revitalizing shade, symbolic of new beginnings. Is there anything more perfect for a wedding?
Putting this in a floral design context, and looking at the weddings I have in the coming months, I will be looking at top wedding trends, ideas and influences to keep you inspired.
Botanical themes, concepts and bringing the outside in is key. Venue décor, think garden rooms, ceiling and wall installations. Branches hanging from ceilings, trailing foliages, relaxed styling, informal flowing creations, organic and natural.
Trends are moving towards slightly more sophisticated styling too. So less fussy table decorations, over the last few years we have seen lots of overfilled tables filled with props, favours etc. This is clearing way for more elegant tables focussing on the flowers, candlelight and simple runners. Cutlery and crockery with touches of gold add a little sparkle and light, and the naked chair reigns supreme. Word on the street is that the flower crown is dead. I very much doubt it, but it's not for everyone, go with what suits you.
Making sense of the interior space is key, so for example if you're decorating a working barn, it will look fabulous filled with rustic charm. However should you have chosen a contemporary space it simply looks incongruous. Work with the space you have.
Back on the flowery front, scented flowers are top of my bride's list, followed by peonies, garden roses and sweet peas which are generally never out of fashion. Carnations are making an appearance for many top floral designers, this has been a very slow burn trend gathering momentum. Put with other floral elements, textures and pallets they can work. It's all about context, so maybe you shouldn't completely discount them. Have fun, and don't be daunted.
It's that quiet time of year, the bit between Christmas and New Year, when we all reflect on what we've achieved over the last 12 months. And a time to start looking forward to all things new and exciting in the coming months. So I thought I'd kick off this feature with a look back at all the beauty of 2016. Lets call it a 'best bits'.
Highlights, so, so many. The chandelier at Upper House, the mammoth 15 metre green wall plus ceiling at Gary Barlow's old house and making my industrial copper arch, a major feat of engineering that seemed to freak out the neighbour who thought I was installing the world's dodgiest bit of plumbing. One of the best bits of 2016 for me has to be finding the lovely Carol Siddorn. We met via Twitter and mutual friends. I meet lots of floral friends via social media. It's not all trolling and nastiness so, if you're new to the floral world, it's a great way to meet like minded peeps. Don't be shy, the thing with growing and creative jobs is that there's always something new to learn, be curious, ask lots of questions, join in.
Carol's garden has a stunning array of flowers. I'm quite fussy. She would disagree. That's because we're on the same page, I genuinely don't think there's anything she grows that I don't like. Which makes my life so much easier. The dahlias are something else. Icelandic poppies, ranunculus, anemones, so many varieties of narcissi. Peonies that don't arrive bullet hard, and Queen of Sweden roses, writing this I'm transported back to warmer days and the scents of summer. So British flowers are firmly on my agenda this year.
I need balance in this piece, it's all super upbeat! I managed to grow a whole bed of nigella for a wedding, it flowered the week after. Ditto the pale pink cornflowers. The overall winner on the home grown front were the dark claret coloured scabious. Prolific flowerer for months. Definitely on the plan for 2107. And on that note, I need to think about seeds, from here. Busy times ahead.
Today I thought I'd show you how to make a sumptuous festive fireplace design.
Work out what materials you are going to add to your design. I chose a mix of holly, catkins, scenecio, sumac, blackberry, fatsia flowers mixed with persimmon and black grapes. The fruit gives it that really lavish feel, and matching the candles with the persimmon gives the colour pallet warmth.
If you plan on hanging stockings this is the best tip ever. Cut a piece of mdf/board to fit the size of the mantelpiece. Once you have this screw in one hook per person/stocking. Clamp the board to the mantelpiece. I bought this clamp from Class Ohlson, I use them a lot in wedding designs/arches etc. Invaluable.
I used two plastic trays with floral foam. I'm not a fan of the old foam, but for a design that needs to last, and hide the board its imperative. And then start adding the foliage.
It's worth sketching a little design at this point. Do you want yours to simply cover the mantelpiece, or have something symmetrical, or like this trailing to one side. I also use a blob of floral fix (it's like super strong blu tak) to give it a little more adhesion, or you could secure the tray and board together for added security.
Sit back and admire your handy work. Put on a pan of mulled wine and invite some friends round, bask in your glory.
This holiday season...sorry I'll start that again without the American accent! This Christmas, we're doing a limited number of Christmas wreaths. So if you want to be the envy of the street/road/avenue/whatever drop us a line. firstname.lastname@example.org
Two sizes available. 12 inch or 18 inch.
Two prices £25 or £50
Collection or local delivery (Manchester) available for 10 December 2016.
Late October and I kicked off the autumnal wedding of Gillian and Lee, early one morning through the misty lanes of Cheshire. Misty and drizzly, but hey it's Autumn what do you expect? I always seem to go to this castle in the dark. Arriving just before day break. It's the best time of day. You can unload, check out the venue, listen to the birds, leave the hydrangeas in the drizzle for a bit (they like it, I'm not being particularly mean to them) there's a certain calmness, it's still and beautiful.
And when the temperature dips and the light changes that's the time to bring in the twinkly candlelight. Gillian comes from an interiors background and had clear vision on what she wanted, without being overly prescriptive. So giving enough free reign to create something magical. She wanted to bring in the woodland outside, with ferns, pheasant feathers and cones, and liked the unusual markings of the harlequin roses. The challenge for me is to work out how to achieve a couple's vision within the season, so the peonies didn't make it, blueberry roses and blousy hydrangea replaced them.
It's always such an emotional moment when the bouquet is handed over. She fought the tears, but I imagine there would be many more throughout the day. Weddings, they just get to you.
Well hello there, it’s been too long! And it’s all change on the business end of the flowery front, new website, new blog and new logo. I hope you like it.
I’ve spent quite some time working with the wonderful Chloe at Adore Creative Studio. And what I found really interesting, as a creative you think you know exactly what you want from a new website. You don’t.
Going into the project I had envisaged lots of large images and white space. As you can see that’s not what I chose in the end. You can now see behind the scenes images through our Instagram account and the blog is now under the same umbrella as the website, not in a different location, so hopefully easier to navigate.
Colour features heavily in my work, so that had to be brought in, and the editing process was perhaps the hardest part. I love all the weddings I work on, so this process was a little like me at RHS Harlow Carr recently when I had to choose which Hellebores to buy. Kid in a sweet shop. Tough choices. I’d be interested to hear what you think about the new look.