March Events

How quickly March has come around. A busy start to the month with the wedding fayre @HeadlandHotel Newquay with the beautiful views out to sea. Even if it was a little blustery outside; inside was buzzing with brides and grooms planning their weddings. I spoke to many couple about their wedding day flowers and designs. My diary is filling up fast for next year with key dates being taken.

March also saw International Women’s Day, where all different floral designs around the world were given as gifts to women as appreciation.

I was back at @AlvertonHotel Truro for the Regional meeting of the @The_BFA British Florist Association. It was lovely meeting up with regular florist friends and meeting new florists too. So nice to share ideas and talk flowers all evening.

Keeping up with trends and learning tricks of the trade was spent @YarlingtonHouse Somerset as part of @SabineDarrall team decorating the wedding marquee and tipi supplied by @AbbasMarquees1. A sneaky photo of #behindthescenes in the tipi. I will post professional photos as soon as I receive them.

It was a privilege to meet a bride and groom for a private tour of @Polpeir_Penpol Mevagissey, deciding on where floral designs would be positioned. Such a beautiful house with spectacular grounds. I am so lucky to be delivering to two weddings and both so different next month.

On an overcast Sunday I met a lovely bride and groom at Pendennis Castle, Falmouth talking through all their wedding designs. I am looking forward to decorating the keep next year with a floral arch design.

Towards the end of the month is our British Mothering Sunday (- don’t forget to order your flowers) as well as the clocks changing to British summertime.

 

In summer, the song sings itself…

summerwedbouq

In summer, the song sings itself‘ said a *poet, but if you’re marrying in summer, there’s still plenty of wedding planning to be done.

So this is the start of my busy time, with summer being the most popular season for weddings, when I end up driving from one end of the county to the other fulfilling orders for wedding flowers. I get to see the beautiful locations the couples have selected, from moorland to coast, and all hopefully in the sunshine. Already this month, I’ve provided the flowers for one couple in St Austell and another at The Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth. For the wedding table centre, the bride had chosen beautiful two-tone pink roses, the colour and texture of whipped ice-cream – so lovely to work with and so summery – they looked almost good enough to eat.

There are so many beautiful blooms to choose from at this time of year, it really does makes sense to make the most of your wedding budget by selecting flowers which are in season. Flowers in season are fresh, they’re available, they’re grown in Britain, and fewer air miles on the order ends up working wonders for your pocket.

Here are some early summer choices:

Allium Alstromeria Antirrhinum Astilbe Astrantia Brodiea Campanula Cornflower Delphinium Forget me Not Foxglove Freesia Gladioli Gypsophillia Iris Ixia Lavender Lilac Lily Lupin Peony Poppy Ranunculus Rose Scented pinks Statice Stocks Sweet Pea Sweet Williams Tulip

And for high summer:

Alstromeria Ammi Antirrhinum Astrantia Calendula Cornflower Cosmos Dahlia Delphinium Eryngium Fever Few Foxgloves Freesias Geum Gladiolus Godetia Gypsophillia Lavender Larkspur Lily Malope Nigella – ‘Love in the Mist’ Oriental Poppy Phlox Rose Salvia Scabious Statice Stocks Sunflower Sweet Pea Sweet William Verbascum Verbena Veronica Zinnia

What could be more romantic at this time of year, than the fantasy of a vintage Romany wedding? Such was the idea behind the photo shoot I took part in last week with Christine Trewinnard Couture and Julia Macintosh Photography. With all the elements in place, a beautiful model in a bridal gown which struck exactly the right note, perfect make-up, a charming painted wagon, rustic-style floral designs, it all worked wonderfully. You can see some behind-the-scenes shots over on my Facebook page.

With all this floral inspiration around, it is of course also the season (24-28th May) for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show so, on that note, I’m off. (Pictures in my next update!)

[*From ‘The Botticellian Trees’ by American poet, William Carlos Williams]

 

Talking wedding what-ifs

ranunculs2

At the Bridal Show Southwest over Saturday and Sunday (April 16th & 17th), I shared a stall with Kelly’s Sweet Treats and in between talking to brides to be and checking out the other suppliers, we swapped (good and bad) wedding stories and naturally, some cautionary tales cropped up.

As some Hollywood wit once said, ‘Buying insurance is no-one’s idea of fun’ and in the romantic roller-coaster run up to the wedding day, insurance is often the last thing on the list. It’s human nature to think ‘it won’t happen to me’, but judging from our chats, wedding insurance looks like a good idea.

There was the friend of a friend whose cousin was all set to marry, she’d known her intended since they were at school, he’d trained as an accountant, she had her own business, their new home was lined up, their life together all set, then she went on a training course three weeks before the wedding, was swept off her feet by a tall, dark stranger, decided he was ‘the one’, and called it all off. For her family, for their finances, all hell broke loose.

Admittedly, that is a ‘worst case’ scenario, but on a lesser scale, as we discussed, accidents happen, and for those of us who work as suppliers to brides-to-be, we know, if it can happen, it will happen, to someone, somewhere. So whenever I’m asked (and although I’m a florist, as I get to know the couple over the run-up to the ceremony, I get asked for advice on all sorts of things) I tend to say this: it really is wise to take out wedding insurance to protect your special day.

Here are some things to think about. What if:

  • accident, sickness or death means a supplier lets you down and you have to cancel or rearrange?
  • your wedding cake gets damaged?
  • your outfit is damaged?
  • your flowers are damaged?

For any bride, these potential disasters would be top of the list, but there’s also public liability to think about, or perhaps you’re having a marquee, or some unusual transport, or ceremonial swords…

As suppliers, we do our very best to make sure everything runs right, but the unforeseen does sometimes happen and my friend and I concluded, it’s best to insure against it.

(P.s. That lovely picture of the four ranunculus stems was taken by Emma Jane Lee Photography at the Ta Mill wedding open day back in March, lovely colours, just had to post it. Thanks, Emma.)

 

Vintage and modern, sunshine and rain, a proper March mix

CdL71CNWwAAfuSC

Spring is in the air and once again it’s a busy time with floristry workshops, weddings, consultations, and wedding fayres packing out my diary.

The first of these was the Big Wed Meetup for some networking with other professionals in the wedding field, then a trip to Bristol for a special skills workshop with renowned floral designer Sabine Darrall. Sabine’s courses aim to bridge

the gap between a traditional college course and the practical industry knowledge needed to survive in today’s changing floral world… classes are small and friendly with lots of individual attention” 

I find these workshops ideal for extending specialist techniques and the new discoveries always feed back into my work keeping styles current and fresh. The venue was The Forge in Bristol, a new shared workspace for creative professionals and freelancers. The open, light space was perfect for our purposes, and the modern industrial feel of the building provided an interesting backdrop for the colours and softness of the flowers on the day.

On from there, I attended a workshop with Jane Cowling from Eden Florist in Taunton, Somerset, which was another contrast again, with commercial and practical common sense industry tips and the flair of a Level 5 Master Florist with that rural ‘Eden Florist’ house style. The mixture of ideas from both workshops were fantastic top-ups to take home.

Back to earth, I’m planning three weddings, one at the Headland Hotel, one at Alverton Manor, and another at The Knightor at the end of the month. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the weather for each of these three lovely couples, but the good thing about folk who choose spring weddings is, not only do they have a wonderful choice of fresh flowers, but also (my observation) couples who marry at this time of year seem to be well prepared for sunshine or rain!

This Sunday, I have a stand booked at a wedding fete at Ta Mill, in Launceston, so if you’re Westcountry based and shopping for your wedding, come and say hello and browse of some of my designs.

Sunday 20-03-16 at Ta Mill, St Clether,

Launceston, Cornwall, PL15 8PS, (11am to 3pm)

Last up, for heritage venue hunters, this Saturday and Sunday, 19th & 20th March, there’s an open weekend at the newly renovated and restored Trenance Cottages, Newquay. The Grade II listed buildings, including parts dating back to 1800, with themed decor, allow guests to ‘step back in time to experience the way our Cornish ancestors lived‘ for a vivid vintage experience, and if you are looking for vintage themed wedding, this charming new venue also holds a wedding licence.

I will be leaving flowers for the display there – in milk churns provided by Kelly’s Sweet Treats. Pictures to follow….

 

 

 

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!

Flowers across the world

Outside the French Embassy in LondonI wanted to start with this picture – the display is not one of mine, but one of the floral tributes laid outside the French Embassy in London last week.

This beautiful arrangement of white lilies with the red, white and blue tricolor ribbon, simply placed on the stone steps against the backdrop of all the terrible news and commentary, says so much about those recent tragic events. It reminds me that although context and timing are everything, a floral gift is such a strong but gentle way of sending a message.

A good florist is called upon to bring skills and imagination to all occasions, good or bad. Our abilities to create stunning displays for important moments, such as world faith festivals, like Christmas and Hannukah, are another example, and like any professional, we love to gain industry standard recognition for the gentle arts of our trade. So last weekend I was excited to follow the fortunes of some my florist friends competing for the title of Chelsea Florist of the Year 2017. Tina Parkes and Caroline Crabb did especially well with very high scores.

The first heat was in the South West in Bath and there will be further heats with another held in Birmingham next month, and a couple more more in the New Year. Another category of competition that has just taken place was called ‘World Skills’ and this month, the title for the theme was ‘The Festival of Lights’, or Diwali.

November has been a busy month so far, following up on booked consultations from the season’s wedding fayres as next year’s brides start planning their Big Day for 2016. The last fayre this year is on the 29th November at Carnglaze Caverns, Liskeard so if you’re a b2b (bride-to-be) and want some inspiration to keep you going over the winter quarter, do come along, these events have a lovely buzz, free samples, and they’re great for ideas and contacts.

On my own networking front, I attended The Cornwall Wed Meet Up at Alverton Manor in Truro, recently. Not only did this showcase a beautiful wedding venue, two of the key note speeches were just up my street, ‘Becoming Self-Employed & Staying Sane!’ by Kirsten Butler, and ‘Digital trends affecting the wedding industry’ by Tina Reading. Plenty of food for thought, thank you, both.

Upcoming, watch this space. I’ve just heard that some of the photos of my floral work from a wedding shoot earlier in November will be appearing in Vintage Life magazine next week. I can’t wait to see which ones they’ve chosen. Vintage Life has everything for the followers of this fashionable trend, from vintage-style 1950’s themed day trips, to whole weddings decked out in Downton Abbey style  clothes and accessories. The photo shoots are hard work, but they always result in some fantastic marketing materials. The professional photographers I’ve worked with are so talented at showing wedding flowers (and cars and clothes and hair!) to their best advantage, they give new brides a truly glamorous glimpse of what can be done on the day.

Flora & Fauna

 

bouq2April, and May so far, have been a whirl of wedding-related activities.

First of all, there was some essential networking to be done at a recent Designer Flora Meetup in Gloucester. Most florists work as part of, or run, small businesses, and many of us work alone, so it becomes even more important to make the effort to catch up with other professionals, swap stories, good and bad, exchange tips and share some of the ‘tricks’ of the trade.

Photography isn’t a ‘trick’ as such, but often we floral designers are so used to seeing our flowers centre stage, when it comes to taking photographs, it’s easy to forget that the composition and the background around the flowers can detract from the star of the show if you don’t consider them – and ruin the effect of the work. The photography workshop at the Meetup was great for encouraging us to practice the art of snapping our work to best effect – essential in these days of instant social media marketing.

Alongside networking, are the all important floristry workshops. I’m a firm believer in keeping my skills up to date, learning new techniques and trying fresh twists on familiar styles. For example, a recent workshop with Laura Leong at Kingston Maurward College was a great introduction on how judges mark floral work in competitions, and provided an insight into key aspects of design we should be attending to whether working on a competition entry or not. Laura is an “award-winning florist, teacher and demonstrator with many years’ experience as a retail florist and teacher. A background in fine art means that interests in contemporary design and crafting techniques are at the forefront of her design work”, so it was fascinating to see her in action. This was followed shortly after by a workshop with Francoise Weeks, skilled in woodland designs and an expert in ‘botancial couture‘ where we learned all about shoes and wedding clutches made from foliage, petals and gilded leaves.

Another part of my regular work is to meet brides, often at their chosen venue, to plan the final details of the floral arrangements for their big day. I get to drive all over Cornwall to visit some beautiful venues, fine hotels, and charming old churches. I love it. I don’t get to go to the wedding, of course, but it’s particularly special for me to imagine my creations in the exact spot where they will be immortalised in the wedding photographs, and usually I do get to see those.

Which brings me to the photo-shoot. As every bride knows, wedding magazines are a rich source of ideas in the planning stage, and as a florist, or floral designer, it is a real coup to get your work showcased in print in this way. I’m lucky enough to have been involved in a few wedding shoots specifically for the wedding magazine market now, and I have to say, it is as glamorous as it looks.

Typically, there is a hair and make-up artist, a lovely young model, maybe bridesmaids, and a florist (in this case, yours truly) on hand, the all team set to transform the bride-to-be into Princess for a Day.

You can see some of the results over on my Weddings Gallery, here, and on the Wed Magazine online edition, here.

You can see, when you have the services of a professional wedding photographer on hand, like Lisa from Kernow Dream Photography, in charge of the shoot that day, the composition, background, and details, are all taken into account. The flowers play a part, but there’s no doubt who is the real star of the show.

Back in Time

backintime2Florists, like gardeners, often take their professional inspiration from the pioneers of the past. We love the colourful personalities from history whose skill, flamboyance and determination popularised the gentile arts, like floristry, for the masses. Nowadays, beautiful flowers are part of all our occasions, from weddings to funerals; they’re not just a luxury for the wealthy.

Constance Spry [1886-1960] was one such pioneer, a successful businesswoman and entrepreneur in the world of floristry who drew inspiration from the Dutch 17th and 18th century flower painters [and used]…. unusual plant materials to offset her flowers”.

Her life and work was the key note for a well-known local Spring Flower Show this month, held each year at the Georgian country estate of Boconnoc, not far from where I live, near Lostwithiel, in Cornwall.

I entered three competition classes titled ‘Fun with Flowers’, ‘Inspired by Candles’, and ‘Back in Time’ and was thrilled to be awarded a Commended for my Fun entry and Very Highly Commended for my tribute to Constance Spry (a woman after my own heart known to raid attics, hedgerows and vegetable gardens for pieces to include in her work) ‘Back in Time’.

After a busy build-up to the Easter weekend with my flower orders (flowers are so much a part of spring), the end of the month was quieter, so I took the chance to get the mop and duster out and give my workroom a good old spring clean in preparation for the summer wedding season.

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!