Wishing you a very Merry Christmas

christmasring

Pine cones, ponsettia, Christmas roses, Nordic spruce, cinnamon, oranges, stars, and spice, these are a few of my favourite things (and just a small selection of the ingredients which can be added to a Christmas wreath).

After my holiday in November, and a really interesting visit to Flora Holland (the Dutch flower auction house) it’s been a busy month leading up to Christmas, and as you might expect, I’ve been mostly making Christmas rings (or wreaths) for local customers to adorn their front doors for the festive season. Just a short trip wandering around your local town and you’ll see such a huge variety of these traditional ‘welcome’ rings decorating most front doors in the neighbourhood: some shop-bought, of course, some home-made – and there are some excellent home-crafted examples out there – and others with that extra special something, no doubt deftly assembled by a skilful artisan florist…

I’m still taking orders, by the way, until Wednesday 21st December  🙂

I love it when my customers give me free reign to incorporate unusual plant materials and make the most of my creativity. This season, so far, I’ve been able to include many things, from the traditional, like apple rings, limes, acorns, star anise, holly, berries, to the more unusual, like dewy spider-web strands or shiny buttons to add a pop of colour.

The traditional designs have been especially popular this year, so it’s worth pondering what it all means. The word ‘wreath’ stems from the Middle English word “wrethe” meaning a twisted band or a garland of leaves or flowers, so, like most of our modern Christmas traditions, the Christmas ring is a ‘weaving together’ of ideas and traditions from pagan, Roman, and modern Christian times.

In the pagan tradition, these winter decorations brought natural living evergreen materials into the home at a bleak time of year to show the promise of spring to come. Historians report that the Romans gave each other holly wreaths as gifts, and British Romans often displayed them on doors as a sign of status or victory. By Christian times, weaving evergreens together comes to represent eternal growth and the everlasting circle of life brought through the birth of Jesus, and the circular shape signifies God, a being without beginning or end.

Put it all together and you have a tradition which goes back centuries, one which blends past cultures and diverse religious ideas into one symbolic design. How better to sum up the spirit of Christmas than to pin to your front door a decoration which smells lovely, looks pretty, and remains as charming and popular as ever today?

On which note, I must get back to making some more – and sign off until the New Year. Meanwhile, I would like to wish all my customers and friends,

‘Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!’

Cosy October

lilacroses2

Time to shake out the winter wardrobe, stock up on candles, cushions and cinnamon sticks, all in readiness for the cosy season of walks among the autumn leaves, mulled cider and wine, Apple Days, Halloween, and Guy Fawkes Night.

I chose these beautiful lilac roses at a recent Wedding Fayre at The Alverton Hotel (a busy show and a lovely vibe) because their colour seems to capture the very essence of late summer dark pinks and mauves, when purple sunset skies nudge us towards the dark nights drawing in and – dare I say it – hint at the gothic colours of Halloween. Not every bride wants to wear white, and here at Floral Creations St Austell, we love to create floral displays for all tastes. Traditional, Vintage, Eco, Shabby Chic, Bohemian Brides, (follow the link to see some of my flowers featured on this Wed Magazine photo shoot) and even Gothic weddings, all call for a special sort of styling and expertise.

So, October has certainly started on a good note – two lively, well-attended wedding fayres (including ‘A Most Marvellous Wedding Experience’ at Pengenna Manor) and also quite literally – with a note from one of ‘my’ wedding couples. I’m often thanked for my wedding work, of course, verbally on the day, and the occasional post-honeymoon email, but this couple went a little bit further and sent me a lovely handwritten note in the post. This is what it said:

Dear Karen

We wanted to write a little note to say thank you so much for the beautiful flowers you provided and arranged for our wedding!

The flowers were absolutely stunning and so many people commented on this! They made our wedding day even more special so thank you!

Such a warm feeling to receive appreciation for what I love to do!

Meanwhile, coming up, I was recently asked to supply flowers for a major London clothing brand’s advertising campaign for 2017, shot in Cornwall, which was a really interesting commission. The photos will be released next year, so more on that later.

November, often a quiet month for weddings and floral work, is a good time to take a holiday, so that is my plan for the first part of the month. I’ll be posting plenty of  pictures from my trip on my Facebook page, and an update next month of my visit to Flora Holland – so, if you’re interested in all things Floralcreations, watch this space.

 

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]

 

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!

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.

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.

The last rose of summer?

If there is a flower that reminds us of summer more than any other, it surely has to be the rose. Tourists love our heritage English rose gardens, views of rambling roses spilling over country cottage walls, brightening the corners of pub gardens, roses on show at village fetes, the best of Britain in Bloom. And everyone loves to see a summer bride with a beautiful rose bouquet.

summer bridal bouquet

The rose is one of the most versatile flowers to include in bouquets and arrangements. I love to use them in my creations, especially at this time of year. They’re so compact and layered, with such lovely velvety petals and that famous mysterious centre, perfect to convey the mysteries of love!

From a florist’s point of view, firm long stems are a plus point, and they last well, but to me, their truly priceless quality (apart from the scent) is their sheer variety – they come in so many colours, shades, shapes, and sizes. In the language of flowers different colours mean different things, so roses are fun as well, for including messages (secret or otherwise) in arrangements. Roses also suit pretty much any floral style, vintage/shabby chic, or contemporary.

Taking a simple popular flower like the summer rose and seeing what can be achieved when you combine it with new materials, in fresh ways, using up-to-the-minute styles and techniques is one of the challenges and pleasures of my job. Keeping ahead of new trends makes sound business sense, but is also a personal joy.

So business was combined with pleasure earlier this month when I attended [email protected], an event showcasing some of Europe’s most skilled and flamboyant master florists, to take part in demonstrations and workshops by (among others) favourite designers of mine, Per Benjamin and Gregor Lersch.  It was a wonderful weekend, included displays and demonstrations by Stijn Simaeys, Robert Koene, Bruno Durate, and Rob Plattel.  The work shown to us by these talented guys has filled my imagination with plenty of ideas for future designs.

In fact, I was so inspired, I tried out some new pieces (featuring roses) when I got home – perfect to include in the Floral Creations St Austell display stand at a Wedding Fayre held a few days later, on Bank Holiday Monday.  Organised by Partini Balloons, the venue was the charming setting of St Petroc’s in Bodmin, a lovely old Cornish church. I thought the event would provide an ideal opportunity to meet some prospective new brides, grooms, and mothers-in-laws (who often help organise the flowers), and so it proved to be.

We had a great day, made lots of new contacts with plenty of busy and productive networking. I’d say the event promises to become a ‘must add to the calendar’ for wedding services and suppliers across the county and I will be going again.

(See my Facebook page for some pictures of my stand, complete with new exhibition banners, and of course, a variety of freshly [email protected] bridal arrangements!)

So, as Gok Wan might say, August has been ‘all about the roses’. But there is a nip in the air now, September is round the corner, the garden roses are past their best and it feels like summer is nearly over. However, don’t despair, if you want arrangements of roses for your event, the roses don’t run out for us. We have our ways of finding beautiful blooms, whether from local suppliers or further afield, for your floral orders – all year round.

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.

RuleBritannia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Cornish daffodils have arrived!

cornish colour

Finally, after the long wet winter we’ve had, Cornish daffodils are available. There’s good reason they’re so popular. They send a lovely bright message that spring is on its way. I couldn’t resist ordering some and creating this spring ‘frieze’ after the winter thaw.