Plant Materials


Flowers are my first love, but my recent travels (a holiday trip of a lifetime) have given me fresh inspiration for the sheer range and variety of stunning foliage, mosses, ferns, variegated leaves, ornamental grasses, herbs, and evergreens, we can include to give structure and impact to floral design.

Blue skies in Dubai

Perhaps it used to be the case that plant materials were underrated, typically they formed the base of an arrangement, the canvas on which the flowers were the paint, but contemporary floristry has evolved. Nowadays, plant materials are just as likely to be the focus of the piece. There are so many interesting shapefrom nature, from seed pods to plant roots seen in floral work now. They are popular across the board, whether creating a dramatic key note in award-winning floral creations or adding an odd, exotic shape to the window of the high-street flower shop.

The contrast between dark waxy monstera leaves, for example, and the curly fronds of a fiddle-head fern, leave us stunned by nature’s bounty. Certainly, no florist worth their salt today would be without knowledge of or access to an all year-round range of stunning plant materials in the making of stand-out floral designs.


Floral art is full of surprises

Whenever we think of the main rites of passage in life, from weddings to funerals, we take for granted, perhaps, that the services of a florist will be on hand to help us mark the occasion. This month, though, seems to have been as much about that other large area of floristry work, ‘Other Occasions’ – all those diverse other events that make interesting and unusual demands on our creativity and floral art skills.

One key commemoration this summer has of course been the First World War 2014-2018 WW1 Centenary and the marking of the D-Day landings. Community groups and local organisations across the country have been busy planning events to honour previous generations and remind the new ones of the historical impact of the two world wars.

This is my contribution to one event in a picturesque corner of Cornwall, as part of Charlestown Church Flower Festival. The theme for this element of the event was, ‘There’ll Always be an England’, based on Rule Britannia, to commemorate D-Day.









When the event finished, the flowers in my entries were still fresh and vibrant, so I rearranged them and donated the resulting creations to Mount Edgcumbe Hospice to be enjoyed there.

Later in the month, an even more unusual floral challenge awaited me around around the corner, set by the ‘Academy of Floral Art’ in Exeter, where I trained…

This summer, Ambius, the world’s largest interior landscaping company, decided to commission a celebration of Britain’s sporting achievements. Following a poll conducted to find the nation’s favourite sporting heroes and heroines, Ambius came up with the idea of asking floral experts to create works to celebrate these outstanding individuals.

I was one of the group of students and teachers from the Academy of Floral Art chosen to design floral portraits of the trio of winners – Andy Murray, Jessica Ennis-Hill, and Lewis Hamilton – made entirely out of natural plants and flowers. Let me tell you, this was no easy task.

But it gave us an opportunity to plan complex work on a large scale and really show our floristry skills. We were determined to source flower material solely from a local British flower grower and wholesaler, and found plenty of locally grown material to create contrast, colour, and texture to the faces, including Dianthus, Eucalyptus and Beech leaves.

We were quietly chuffed with the results – see what you think – I’ve posted the portraits on over on my Facebook page here.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

Our work is driven by our simple love of plants and the belief that gardeners make the world a better place.” [The Royal Horticultural Society]

It’s a simple statement, but as anyone who has been to Hampton Court, or the Royal Chelsea Flower Show, or taken part in ‘Britain in Bloom’ knows, the RHS encompass a huge and renowned range of initiatives and projects. They’re involved in everything from plant and pest research to international garden design, from providing primary education resources to support for professional courses, from local conservation drives, to world famous competitions showing the finest produce – including the best of the floral arts.

If you’re a gardener or you work in the floral industry, like me, the RHS are the important and prestigious ‘go to’ organisation. They set the standards for our industry, judge our efforts and give our work that all important stamp of approval. And yesterday, I went there – or more precisely I went to the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show to take part in the first year of a new competition, Floristry College of the Year.

I was one of the team who created the competition entry on behalf of The Academy of Floral Arts in Exeter, where I trained. The Academy was among the finalists and we had a nail-biting few hours whilst our piece was judged.

However, there was plenty to see to take our minds off the judging. The arrangements in the floral marquee were stunning, and we were busy networking, taking pictures for inspiration, shaking hands with fellow competitors. It was only really on the way back home, after a long but exciting trip, after the publicity photographs, the congratulations, when our team had time to absorb the results of the day’s efforts.

We won GOLD. As you can imagine, all of us are delighted with having the standard of our floral design and creation work recognised with such a prestigious award.

RHS Floristry College Gold Award


June round-up

lonelybqdayWeddings, proms, celebrations, summer dinner dances, as you might expect, June is a busy month in the world of flowers and floral design. Florists, the floral industry, customers marking events from graduations to anniversaries, all of us like to make the most of everything the British summer has to offer. Floral Creations St Austell is no exception!

Monday June 16th saw the start of ‘British Flowers Week‘ : ‘a week‐long celebration of the wealth and variety of the Best of British cut flowers and foliage, championed by New Covent Garden Flower Market‘.

I love to use locally grown and British flowers in season in my work, there’s a glorious variety to choose from.  Lisianthus, stocks, hydrangeas, calla lilies, and peonies, are all among my favourites, and beautiful scented British ‘garden roses’ of course, perfect for weddings. You might be surprised how many British beauties are on offer – have a look at this fantastic chart (helpfully produced by the New Covent Garden Flower Market – it takes a moment or two to load but worth waiting for) and find the range of seasonal flowers you could choose for your event – all grown on home soil.

Later in the month, came the *’World Flower Show’ at Ballsbridge, in Dublin. Even a hard-working florist sometimes takes a holiday in summer, so I combined work with play this year and took a trip to the *WFS for some wonderful floral inspiration (and relaxation) and a chance to see the House of Waterford Crystal, a scenic train-ride down the coast.

There were some truly astounding floral creations on display at the World Flower Show, a feast for the eyes, everything from a spectacular range of orchids (another favourite!) to even more exotic and outlandish uses of foliage and form. Here’s but a small selection of my snaps from my Facebook page. The Twitter hashtag for the day was #FloralOdyssey and a journey through a sea of flowers it proved to be.

The month ended on a sweet note, too.  Sunday 29th June was ‘International Lonely Bouquet Day‘. This is a lovely idea which really appealed to me (and not just because I’m a florist) – share a little floral happiness by leaving flowers for others to find, ‘spreading smiles one flower at a time‘.

I decided to take part and made some pretty and portable summer posies (including the one at the top of this page) and left them in likely locations in and around town.

I’ll keep you posted on what happened next…



contemporary wedding bouquetAs with all creative professions, there are different styles of working, and floristry is no exception.

Alongside the highly respected international names (Dutch, German, Japanese and American) who put a strong stamp on their work and host demonstrations of their art which influence us all, there are of course talented home-grown designers coming forward contributing to new trends. With each season, inspirational designers find fresh ways to include new floral materials in their designs. Some cutting edge floral creations are like the fashion catwalk, a little difficult for most of us to wear, but the trends trickle down, mellow and mature, and influence the high-street. Before long we all want that new style.

Competitions are where this all comes together. Aiming for prizes challenges our creativity and gives the industry stamp of approval to our professionalism. Entering new work is daunting, but it’s an important way to stretch our talents, develop, showcase our credentials and let our clients know we’re up with all the latest trends. (Brides, in particular, know about up-to-the-minute fashions in bridal flowers and we have to keep one step ahead!)

So this is a roundabout way of telling you what I’ve been up to lately. You guessed. Developing new work for competitions.

Last week I took part in my first Royal Cornwall Show and entered some new work in 4 floral art classes. There were some amazing designs from some very talented people and the ‘Imposed’ class (where you get a bag of materials you open when they say ‘Start!’) was great fun.

I was very pleased with my results. I was awarded a 4th in one class, and two Highly Commendeds, including one in the ‘Imposed’ class.  The constructive feedback from the other two classes was really helpful.

Congratulations to all the winners. See you next year!

A month of inspiration

Whenever I have the chance (and time) I read Floristry Magazine, follow flower growers blogs and Twitter feeds, and keep an eye on styles and competitions with the British Florist Association and their associated magazine, BFA Florist. I look out for award winning designs from well respected national and international floral designers, too. I love to learn from the world of floristry at large and think it’s important to keep up with the latest trends and developments.

A recent visit to B J Richards Nurseries with the Academy of Floral Art was an interesting window on the delicate process of flower-growing, vital to the final quality and freshness of our floral work. Senior Richards gave us so much history on the family business it was fascinating to hear.

BJ Richards Nurseries

Also this month, of course, it was the Chelsea Flower Show.  Every year there’s a competition to find the RHS Florist of the Year which we all watch with interest wondering if we will know the winner. This year, talented South West floral designer Amanda Randall (based in Tavistock) won a Gold for her entry. Congratulations, Amanda!

Last, but not least, back to my own designs. From this Thursday, H. Samuel in St Austell will be running a special wedding promotion. Some of my floral wedding work will be on display alongside the gorgeous bridal jewellery, so brides-to-be, mothers of the brides or grooms, please pop in if you’re passing and pick up a leaflet – and watch this space for a photo of one of my new  wedding designs.

Busy times for the business

It’s been a hectic fortnight, building up to to some key events in the life of my new business enterprise, but it’s all been worth it. 

The Floral Creations St Austell website is launched, I’ve already had some brilliant feedback on my arrangements, and I’ve met some of my first official customers. 


Last weekend was the Cornish Brides show at Kingsley Village, on the outskirts of Fraddon. Brides-to-be from all over the county would be coming to get ideas for their big day, and I’d decided this would coincide with the official launch of my freelance floral business. One of my specialities is, of course, wedding bouquets and bridal flowers. We cater for every stage of the event from bridesmaid’s posies, to large bridal arrangements for the wedding venue and reception, traditional themed events and eco or green weddings.   

There was a lot to organise in advance of the event. The stand was booked, leaflets printed, badges done, but the flowers were the most important part. All week my store-room was full of beautiful fresh blooms, the rafters ringing with the sound of clipping and cutting (and Radio 2) as we prepared and made a variety of arrangements to show-case some of the types of flowers and designs suitable for weddings, as the day approached. I love the challenge of building up to a big event, and I think the looming deadline and working under pressure brings out my creativity (although I admit one evening I nearly forgot to feed the dogs!).

Anyway, it all went  really well. We (my floral assistant and I) took along some additional flowers to create some of the smaller arrangements actually at the event. We drew quite a crowd for the demonstrations, which gave me a good chance to chat with the brides-to-be, talk about flowers, and swap details. It was a great day. 

wedding bouquet

Of course, the floral arrangements on view weren’t for sale, so after the event, I donated several to a corporate event being held at Kingsley Village the next day to decorate the tables, and some to Cloisters Restaurant at St Austell College for the Students Awards evening


Launching the business

launching the business

This picture was taken at The Glove Factory, Wiltshire, at a meeting to put together some ideas for my new website. I took along this new arrangement made from fresh spring blooms, to show some of my favourite colours and textures as ideas for the site.

The sculpture just happened to be in the garden and made a perfect setting for the flowers, granite and iron contrasting with the soft floral forms.

An autumn arrangement

seasonal colour

Designed for the welcome area at a small corporate event held in autumn. The warm colours and the informal arrangement of the flowers were designed to reflect the brief, to help set the tone of the evening, as guests were welcomed with a glass of steaming punch.