Beautiful Cornwall

woodflowers

This is the season for flower shows, first The Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show and then, closer to home, The Royal Cornwall Flower Show.

I’ve been lucky enough to squeeze attendance at both these two important flower shows into my busy schedule this year. I say important, because as a floral designer, visiting flower shows ticks a few boxes for me: professional profile (I get out and about and plenty of chances for good chats with other professionals, potential clients, and suppliers); industry insider tips (lots of great design/materials ideas to take back to my workshop for upcoming commissions, weddings, and formal displays); personal pleasure (last, but not least, because I just love flowers!).

So how were they? Well, Chelsea was spectacular, always inspiring, amazing, a phenomenon really, but if I am perfectly honest, the stress of getting to the venue, the time it takes to gain entry and the sheer physical slog of going round with the throng has to be set against that. I loved the work on display (what I could see of it) but this year the sheer numbers of people present were off putting. There was an amount of pushing and shoving, straining forward to see the stunners and the winners, and for me, ‘elbows out ladies’ goes against the whole idea of what flowers and gardens should ideally be about – harmony, balance, relaxation. Flowers and floral design  should bring sensory delights – colours, smells, textures – and also elements which are spiritually uplifting. This year, at Chelsea that was not so easy to find.

Royal Cornwall, however, was as ever, a delight. As the website says, Royal Cornwall’s event is:

A flower show that prides itself on a well-earned reputation for being one of the country’s best. It attracts trade exhibitors from far and near and they compete with each other to mount the finest displays.

And once into the whole event, it’s free. I’d recommend going, every time.

I had a great day looking round, and the flowers were excellent, really stunning. For my competition entries, I had two good results overall: a second prize and a ‘Highly Commended’ in the imposed class. For this last challenge, a race against the clock, they say working under pressure can bring out your best qualities… although it never feels like it at the time.

Reading that paragraph above back, I think my perspective on those shows boils down to the fact that Cornwall is such a great place to live, the pace and quality of life here are just hard to beat. I love going on trips ‘up country’, London even, but at the end of the day, I love good old Kernow and all it has to offer, more. I love the lifestyle, the views, the coast, the mild climate (most of the time), the unspoiled areas, the sub-tropical flora, the list goes on. Cornwall is such a fantastic venue for weddings, for anyone out-of-county looking for a truly beautiful and magical location, Cornwall is so unique and memorable, it has some wonderful spots, and if you have the right contacts (like yours truly :), you can find the same tip-top professional services in this  county as anywhere else, the only difference is, you will be happier with what’s left in your pocket.

Case in point, I have just had a booking for a wedding next year at Cornish Tipi in St Kew, “the closest you can get to an outside wedding in the UK”. With such beautiful wild woods, woodland streams, a wood, willow and canvas Pavilion, tented spaces, tree arbours, fire pits, charming outdoor accommodation in Tipis, where else could you find a lovely location like this, except Cornwall?

Further on this local theme, it gave me great pleasure this month to install my first  church flowers – either side of the altar at the chapel of Carclaze Methodist Church. It was the Sunday School Anniversary that day and as it so happened also the Anniversary of the date of the first Chapel ever opening. That morning a special anniversary service was planned and the flowers were there to add an especially colourful celebratory touch.  

Also on a local note, LOCAL FLOWERS ARE NOW AVAILABLE! Sorry about the capitals, not meaning to be shouty and all that, but last week was British Flowers Week, and not only did the event make it to Countryfile, (read all about it here) I just had to announce that this also marks the key week for the plentiful availability of local flowers here in Cornwall. Locally grown flowers are fresh, sustainable (no air miles), great for the local economy, beautiful, traditional, and, more importantly, affordable – so get some while you can.

And finally, if you’re interested in seeing some more pretty pictures of weddings in Beautiful Cornwall, look out for Floral Creations St Austell’s contribution to the photo shoot with Jules Mackintosh in the upcoming July issue of Pure Weddings.

Love birds

valentineroses

First of all, I must just remind all you love birds out there of our special Valentine’s Day offer.

Red Beauty roses are truly gorgeous flowers, with tall, elegant velvet petals in that famous rich red hue beautifully curled around the heart of the bloom.

I’m delighted to be able to offer SIX Red Beauties in a fresh hand-tied Valentine’s Bouquet design for just £20. This includes your own special message (hand- written, of course), in a sealed envelope. But it’s early birds first! When they’re gone, they’re gone, so avoid last minute disappointment – secure your order with payment – until 30th January only.

Now, Happy New Year! 2016 is well underway but recent events at Floral Creations mean I’ve only just now got to my first blog post of the year.

So far, 2016 has got off to a great start for the business. My diary has been filling up fast as a result of contacts from the round of autumn wedding fayres. I’ve been busy already with consultations for a selection of summer weddings this year. Each bride has her own unique ideas and I’m really looking forward to designing the bespoke arrangements for their individual wedding plans.

Even though it’s only the end of January, I’ve been to two wedding events already. One, held at a fabulously romantic venue, Tregenna Castle, St Ives, the Cornish Brides award winning wedding venue of 2015 (take note any Valentine’s Day 2016 proposals out there!). The second, the following day, last Sunday, at Merchant’s Manor, a Queen Anne style country house in Falmouth. This lovely manor house would be perfect for a more intimate wedding.

Between these events, both well attended, I’ve met plenty of new b2b’s across the range of styles and preferences. I’ll be following up those fresh contacts in the coming months.

That’s all for now, but next month I’ll update you on a fascinating three-day wedding work masterclass I attended in Liverpool. Can’t wait to show you the pictures.

Season’s Greetings

Happy Christmas one and all!The run-up to Christmas is a busy time for anyone, but in my line of work, what with the seasonal demand for festive decorations for office parties and private homes, making Christmas wreaths to order, and all the careful preparations for Christmas & New Year weddings, there’s scarcely time to draw breath let alone blog, but it gives me an excuse to sit down for a bit!

First of all, the arrangement featured here is a case in point – I made it back in early November when I started preparing for Christmas by attending a specially  themed workshop with RHS Gold medallist Tracey Griffin. It was a fun day with plenty of inspiration for the festivities to come and some excellent tips for on-trend colours and styles and seasonal materials. Natural and seasonal plant materials have such lovely textures, I like to use them whenever I can.

Next up, an opportunity to get out of my workshop and mingle with some other creatives at a photoshoot for the December issue of ‘Vintage Life Magazine‘. I love these events, they’re hard work, but the end results are worth it. You can’t beat the way the professionals present all the elements of a wedding in the best light, and this shoot was particularly fun, as it was 1940’s vintage-themed with echoes of the age of steam-train travel, on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway. Some of the photographs are over on my Facebook page, but if you want to see the whole shoot, you’ll have to buy the magazine!

Two other very different projects I was involved with this month were with Kernow Dream Photography at The Greenbank Hotel, and Enchanted Brides. Such events draw the best suppliers from all over the county. I was delighted to see a plus-sized model for a change, showcasing the new range from Brides to Be of Falmouth

Mid-month, I squeezed in a bit of ‘me time’ with a lovely (again Christmassy themed) workshop with Jonathan Moseley, the expert floral judge on BBC2’s ‘The Big Allotment Challenge. I love the way Jonathan’s celebrity status has brought floral design into the spotlight in the last few years. He’s living proof of the difference it makes when there is a professional florist involved which helps to improve our industry standards and reputation.

On which note, and not wishing to blow my own trumpet… but lastly, to top the month off, this morning I had a letter enclosing an invitation to exhibit at The Royal Cornwall Show 2016 and setting out the themes and requirements for the different displays. There are some really challenging constraints and inspiring themes. Roll on 2016. Can’t wait!

So, as we say goodbye to 2015, here’s wishing all my customers and suppliers a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

cycle of life

floral tributeAugust started with Friendship Day (August 2nd), an idea originally popularised in the U.S from 1930 onwards, but one which has gained more international appeal over time.

Traditionally, the yellow rose is the symbol of friendship and means in the language of flowers, among other things, ‘joy’, ‘friendship’ and ‘delight’ so cards and gifts to friends often feature this bloom. Whilst I wouldn’t say that gift-giving and card exchanges are particularly common on August 2nd in the U.K, yellow roses are certainly a popular choice to express these sentiments all year round.

Customers often ask me to include yellow roses as part of a casual floral gift for a friend, whether the occasion be popping in on a sister, visiting friends during the holidays, or attending a baby shower for a close colleague. Similarly, at civic ceremonies for the government twinning scheme, set up to encourage good trade relations and international friendships (for example my home town of St Austell is in the borough of Restormel, which is twinned with Dithmarschen, a district in Schleswig-Holstein in Germany) it is customary to see yellow roses among flowers given to a visiting dignitary.

It is said that “True friendship is like fine health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost” which is as apt, of course, for other forms of loss. This idea is not one we would wish to dwell on in happy times, but just as florists and floral designers are on hand to help mark weddings and naming-days with flowers, so we are also called on to create fitting tributes for the more sombre and sad moments at the other end of the cycle of life.

I am always honoured to be part of those ceremonies where loved ones say goodbye to a dear departed relative or friend. Floral Creations St Austell takes particular pride in the challenge of creating a design which reflects the person and celebrates the life lived.

For those of you who may be interested, there is a selection of recent funeral work over on my gallery page.

New arrivals

some of my ordered flowers Rainbow pastel gerberas! I just had to post a picture of these beauties freshly delivered in a crisp white box. They arrived at my studio today in readiness for my latest round of designs.

This March I’ve felt a bit like the Mad March Hare, as my business activities have really taken off and my diary has been filling up at a dizzying speed. I’ve attended two wedding events (see my new Weddings Gallery page), been part of an exciting collaborative wedding photo shoot, prepared flowers for seasonal celebrations, taken on a new hotel contract, and kept up with my networking meetings – I’ve had no time to blog!

But before I get into all that, I wanted to have a quick word about another new arrival that seems to be gaining in popularity in Britain now – the Baby Shower!

Once again we seem to be following our American cousins in the way they celebrate Halloween and Mother’s Day (colourfully, with flowers and cakes!) by adopting the way new mums-to-be in the States have pre-natal parties to celebrate their pregnancies. It’s a great way to gather all the girls (female relatives and friends) together to toast the old life, before baby, and welcome in the new world of motherhood.

If you would like to throw a baby shower, but you’re not sure quite how to go about it, I’m increasingly asked for flowers for these events, so I can help with those, but if you’d like some more general tips, here is a handy guide on some do’s and don’ts when planning your baby party.

Talking of celebration days, March of course has two more traditional (saints) days on the annual calendar: the well-known St Patrick’s Day on March 17th which is a fine excuse to raise a half a pint of Guinness in the name of all things Irish (more appropriate than in my grandmother’s day, when a ‘milk stout’, like Mackeson’s or Guinness, was said to be good for a pregnant or breast-feeding mother!); and St Piran’s Day on March 5th. If you are from out-of-county (or ‘up country’ as we call it), you may be wondering who St Piran was.

He arrived in Cornwall from Ireland via The Saint’s Way, and became the patron saint of tin miners and, as such, is celebrated in Cornwall. St Piran’s flag, a white cross on a black background, has become the emblem of the county.

Every year, I make fresh designs for these days of saints and celebrations, whether to mark a parade, decorate a church, to brighten a family party, or adorn a hotel reception room. You can find some of my latest ones over on my freshly updated Floral Creations gallery page, or more details on my ‘Other Occasions page.

As I said at the start, it has been a busy month. Early in March I had a stand at the Wedding Fayre at fantastic luxury venue, licensed for weddings, The Llawnroc Hotel, Gorran Haven, in south Cornwall, meeting plenty of future brides and grooms and talking floral ideas for their Big Day.  The hospitality manager was so taken with one of my large pieces, set in a giant wine glass, specially designed for the bridal event, that I was offered the contract to create a regular display for the Reception space at the hotel. Good news!

Another new arrival to the business in March resulted from a networking event. As any new business person knows, getting out into the market place is essential, both a challenge and, when it works, a delight. Recently, I met Bella of Designer Flora

an online floral directory of stunning floral designers. Our aim is to link up some of the best independent, designer florists in the UK to provide you with beautiful, fresh, seasonal flowers.  Quite simply, we are your little black book of awesome florists.

and joined the directory as one of just two designer florists in the county of Cornwall.

And as far as networking goes, for a florist enchanted by plant materials and textures, what better networking venue could there be than the Mediterranean Biome at the Eden Project?  I was there yesterday to take part in Cornwall Hour, an opportunity to meet new contacts and suppliers from far and wide – a stimulating way to end the week.

Spring into Spring!

To send to your valentine?

Celebrated since before the time of Chaucer and courtly love, some say loosely connected with the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia, and linked with the first rites of Spring, Valentine’s Day is a busy time in every Florist’s Calendar. Spring seems to start properly with all the preparations for the luxury bespoke arrangements ordered as romantic gifts.

Romance, it seems, is just the lift we need at this time of year, and so it’s often the time when brides turn to wedding planning. One very busy and successful Wedding Fayre over in January, my diary is quickly filling up, not only for this year but next, and even into 2017, as I meet more brides-to-be and bridal flowers become part of their plans. My next attendance at a bridal event will be at one of Cornwall’s biggest wedding fairs at the Hall for Cornwall on February 15th.

Everything for the bride and groom to be will be available, from photographers to videographers, cake makers, flowers, bridal wear and entertainments. Designs from the Bridal House of Cornwall will be modelled on the catwalk and free goody bags will be given to lucky brides to be. It’s only £2 to get in, so if you are planning your wedding, come along and find my stand, and we’ll have a chat about about the flowers for your big day.

With the Wedding planning season underway, I was invited to take part in a glamorous wedding photo-shoot at Tregenna Castle (a fantastic wedding venue) organised by artistic, wedding-inspired, professional photographer Olivia Whitbread-Roberts. Not only was it great fun (I designed the brides’ bouquets and the bumper decoration for the VW wedding car included in the shoot), but fascinating to see what can go into one wedding day, so many creative crafts and services involved, including Makeup by Verity, Freelance Makeup Artist In Cornwall, Locks and Lashes, Claudia Montano, Weddings & Events, Honey Bugs Cornwall, Funky Flags Bunting, Sammy’s Cakes & Serendipity. You’ll be able to see the final photos in the upcoming edition of the magazine – I’ll post a link here when it’s issued.

On a slightly different note, there’s more to floristry than weddings of course, and I’ve already had an inspiring and interesting start to the year in other aspects of my work.

In early February, I helped decorate Exeter Cathedral as part of a team of florists from the Academy of Floral Art. If you’ve been to the Cathedral you’ll know it is a beautiful, large, and awe-inspiring building, and, being a centre of worship, has a solemn and reverent atmosphere; these were elements we had to consider in our final designs. We combined textured plant materials with fresh green and white florals, built around key note structural elements, to create large, tasteful arrangements with high impact, which would echo the colonnades and arches. I think all of us were pleased with the results. You can see some of them here, on my Facebook page and in the Gallery page on this site.

A week or so later, I had another lovely day at British Growers South West, meeting many florists & enjoyed a tip-filled presentation from Rona Wheeldon, of Flowerona – who writes another popular florist’s blog here, at Rona Wheeldon’s Flower Blog.

For Floral Creations St Austell this year so far, February really has meant springing forward into Spring!

Happy New Year!

Here’s wishing you all a Happy New Year. Thank you to my customers, and to my friends and family for all your support through 2014.

Happy 2015!

Last year was an exciting and hair-raising mixture, as I let go of the security of being part of a large organisation as an employee and set off to be my own boss, start my own business, and pursue the dream of working at something I love – floristry.

This time last year, I was studying for the next stage of my professional qualifications and doing some background research to see if there was a gap in the market and an opening locally for a contemporary approach to floristry, with a complete personalised service. I decided there was. So, by February, I’d chosen my company name, worked out my logo and my brand colours, and was ready to launch my new business, Floral Creations St Austell. Business cards, flyers and exhibition banners followed, and in March I commissioned this website so potential customers could see a range of my work and find me.

The next step was… to jump… head first. I started my professional Facebook page, began posting pictures of my work and getting ‘Likes’ and… booked my first Wedding Fayre.

After that it’s all a bit of a blur! Setting up my workshop was [cough] hard work, but it was fantastic when it was all done, tools and equipment sorted, just the way I like it, a place for everything and everything in its place! I was busy networking, and through various meetings and events, established a fantastic relationship with Frocks & Frills Wedding Studio in Falmouth as one of their trusted suppliers, and became part of The Wedding Alliance Cornwall (they put on ‘roving’ Bridal Fayres and events in the county to appeal to every kind of bride). I also attended several specialist workshops to top up my skills – one of my highlights from this year was an amazing two day workshop with Bridal Master Florist Wally Klett as well as learning the hard way fulfilling tricky orders to deadline. So many new skills and knowledge – it’s been a great year.

And now it’s 2015! it’s been a busy start to the month, replying to bride’s email inquiries, buying and conditioning my flowers to order, and just last week it was me this time, up on the podium at the demonstration table, leading a floristry workshop for a group of students at Cornwall College. It was lovely to be able to provide an introduction to aspects of my job and send them each away with a floral creation, as part of their Industry Week at Cornwall College. Who knows? – one of them might become an apprentice with Floral Creations St Austell in years to come.

Meanwhile, any bride-to-be looking to chat over ideas for a 2015/16 wedding, I’d be delighted to meet you at the Bridal Extravaganza at The Atlantic Hotel, Newquay, 11am – 3pm on January 18th. The Atlantic is a great venue, the event is free (courtesy of The Wedding Alliance Cornwall), I will be exhibiting a lovely selection of bridal flowers, and happy to hear all about your Big Day.

Christmas time

Christmas ring

 

 

 

 

 

 

Season’s Greetings to all my friends and followers!

This last fortnight has been frantically busy for Floral Creations St Austell. First of all, I returned from my amazing holiday in New Zealand and barely had time to recover from jetlag when Christmas was nearly upon us! Before I could unpack properly, it was time to start making up seasonal arrangements, everything from foyer displays for local hotels and restaurants, a prayer cross for the local church, to table arrangements and Christmas wreaths and decorations for family celebrations.

The Christmas tradition of bringing evergreens inside to “deck the halls with boughs of holly” goes back to pagan times, and one of my favourite things at this time of year is being creative with seasonal natural materials. I love to find new combinations of colours and textures to include alongside old favourites like holly, ivy, pine cones, and winter flowering plants.

I hope you like the one above and I’ve added a few more recent pieces to the gallery as well.

Meanwhile, 2014 has been a fantastic year for building the business, going from working out of our garage at first to setting up a fully functioning professional workshop with everything a contemporary florist requires.

I’d like to take a moment, raise a glass of seasonal tipple, and thank all my clients, old and new, big or small, for your custom. I look forward to working with you again in 2015, and wish you all a very –

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Karen  x

Welcome home

We all love celebrating special occasions – the planning, the preparation, the nerves before the event, and then the sheer delight and strong emotions which arrive with the guests when the festivities begin.

Flowers can say so much, so simply. Imagine this table arrangement at a large family dinner, a gathering to welcome home a husband, a son, a brother, a friend, a serviceman who is home on leave from a tour of duty overseas.

yellow roses for welcome back

In the language of flowers yellow roses can mean, ‘Joy, Gladness, Friendship, Delight, Promise of a new beginning, Welcome Back, Remember Me,  “I care”. 

They can say something of the feelings of everyone there.