May

I so love the month of May. Longer days, more sun and two bank holidays. Peonies just starting to appear in bridal designs. Sketches for designs underway for my entries in the Floral Art competition at Royal Cornwall next month.

It was lovely to return to @AcademyofFloral last week to keep up with my CPD and attend a workshop with @gilles.didier a renowned French floral designer and trainer. I picked up many new tips and made two very trendy creations. It was great catching up with my florist friends from Devon. On Sunday I attended my local flower club workshop with Lucy Smith from Branching Out Floral Design and so lovely just to have a “play with flowers” and create a handbag. Again new tips and tricks learnt.

Although only a couple of weeks in to May, it has been busy with finalising wedding details. A final visit to Menheniot Church, Liskeard for fixing and positioning of flower designs for a wedding in June.

Towards the end of the month I will be delivering wedding designs to @thegreencornwall Upton Cross, Liskeard. A small private wedding @BedruthanHotel with a celebratory reception @theScarletHotel and St Johns Church, St Austell with the reception at St Austell Golf Club.

There has been quite a bit of ‘behind the scenes’ work here at Floral Creations. A new logo designed by @MedlinDesign and a new looking website with thanks to talea.co.uk

Although the weather is a little against us at the minute, the gardens needed the rain for our flowers to grow. It will soon blow up country and we’ll be basking in sunshine enjoying our Cornish climate with all our views, sea and sand.

April News

What a lovely month we are in. Spring flowers in full bloom and the gardens are now coming to life

with green shoots appearing in the ground and hedgerows. During the period of Lent no flowers are seen in any church. At Easter when Lent has passed the churches will be filled with yellow and white flowers.

The Spring Garden Show 2017 @BoconnocEstate was full of life. Lots of stalls and so many people visiting. With my love of competition work I entered three classes and I was given two commended awards.

It was a busy start to the month with a wedding @knightorwinery St Austell. The bride having a garden inspired shower bouquet. This I created from when I met her for her wedding consultation finding out her love of white scented roses.

I found myself back to @Polhawnfort Rame, meeting with a lovely bride and groom, planning their wedding for later this year. This wedding has such an exciting theme to it but obviously I can’t say anymore so you’ll have to wait a few months.

In the middle of April I was in Mevagissey on different days; delivering two very different styles of wedding flowers for two lovely couples getting married @Polpeir_Penpol One of the couples had a sea theme and hand made sea shells in the wedding designs (see photo). The other couple’s theme was hot and tropical. The weather was good so they had lovely views over the harbour and it has been whispered that they danced the night away.

Towards the end of this month – 27th April – Holland celebrates the Kings birthday and South Africa celebrates Freedom Day. Both being public holidays and I hope they have a great time in their celebrations. Whilst we in the U.K. enjoy the lighter evenings and look forward to good weather arriving

Springing into 2017

pure bright white bridal bouquet

Here’s a pure, bright white rose bridal display from my fabulous busy day yesterday at The Art of Weddings Bridal Show at Wadebridge Pavilions.

There was such a lively atmosphere with something to suit the full range of budgets and styles and so many lovely couples browsing the show offers. I do enjoy these events, but I have to say, I was pretty much talked out by the time I got home. It was worth it though, and all part of the fun, as I scooped another batch of interesting bridal flower consultations for my 2017/2018 diary.

In fact, I should probably let you know that there are only a few limited dates left for this year and next year is filling up fast, so if you would like Floral Creations to help create bouquets and displays for your dream wedding (2017/2018), do come along and see me at the two events coming up this weekend to ensure you reserve your key dates:

Saturday 25th February: 11am – 3pm: The Knightor Winery Wedding Fayre (with a complimentary glass of Knightor’s own bubbly)

Sunday 26th February: 11am – 3pm: The The Alverton Hotel in Truro

P.S. These will be my last bridal fayres for a while as we’re expecting, after these two shows, to be all booked out. 

On the subject of weddings – which, after all, is the core of my work! – I couldn’t help but be touched by that lovely story of the 150 year old vintage lace wedding dress which went missing from a dry cleaner’s in Scotland.

The dress had belonged to her great-great grandmother, and the bride was so distraught she shared a plea for help in tracking it down on Facebook. Like many, I saw her post and shared it, and before long there were over 20,000 shares across social media. Eventually, a young man (the landlord’s nephew) was spurred into action by the social media buzz. He went in person to the premises of the closed dry cleaning business where the heirloom dress had last been seen and had a thorough search through all the abandoned items. Miraculously, the dress was located, folded away with a pile of old lace in a corner of the work room! Without all that pressure and attention it might never have been found.

Aw. I do love a happy ending!

A new year begins

floral tribute funeral flowers

Happy New Year to my customers, let’s hope 2017 brings health and happiness to all.

In this second week of January, when we get up in the dark and return home from work in the dark, when nature seems asleep, as if nothing will ever grow again, all we need to do is take a closer look to see those first small signs of spring. Already, peeking through the dark blanket of last year’s fallen leaves, are the first green shoots of 2017’s crop of snowdrops and daffodils. As always, the cycle of life begins again.

In the floristry services sector, it is this cycle which sets the rhythm of our year, with each new round of births, baby showers, birthdays, engagements, milestone celebrations, and marriages, with colours and flowers-in-season changing with the weather along the way. Often on these pages, the weddings are the focus, as large events are the mainstay of my business, but funeral services are as much a part of life, and so quietly in the background, throughout the year, come the orders for  floral tributes (like the one at the top of this page), commissioned to mark the passing of loved ones.

Thank you, Karen, for the beautiful design – thoughtful winter whites in the roses and lisianthus, with a splash of yellow through, her favourite colour, to mark her passing and celebrate her life – the sheaf was exactly how I imagined it when we spoke and looks lovely in the memorial garden.”

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My first key business diary date for 2017 is the Art of Weddings Bridal Show at St Austell Conference Centre (11am-3pm) on Sunday January 22nd and so begins again the cycle of wedding plans…

With free admission and free parking, this the perfect friendly venue for engaged couples and brides-and-grooms-to-be to take a stroll past local wedding suppliers, browse their wares, ask some questions, and arrange consultation appointments. I will be there, with a special display, so do come along and see what sorts of effects might be possible for your event.

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!’

Professional development

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The U.S election result has been a stark reminder of how rapidly change can happen, bringing with it knock-on effects for all of us. So, as early winter can be one of my more quiet times, I’ve been thinking this month about my business in the wider context. Whatever line of work you do these days, a rapidly changing and competitive world means it really does pay to try to stay ahead of your game. The best way I’ve found to do that is through continuing professional development. This has been CPD month.

Technically, it all started at the end of October when I went to a workshop which explored ways of working with ribbon, following on with attendance at Fleurex, The Annual Floral Fair for today’s Professional Florist at the Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth. I was particularly interested in watching two outstanding demonstrations, one by Laura Leong (who I have mentioned here before) and the other by Annette von Eimen. Wonderful work. The British Florist Association, who organised the event, has posted one of Annette’s displays on Facebook, so if you would like to see a florist working really fast with flowers, have a look here. 

If someone had told me when I left school how many more qualifications, workshops and CPD events lay ahead of me in my lifetime, I wouldn’t have believed them. But I’ve been lucky enough to have had a varied and interesting career path so I’ve taken part in plenty of fascinating, enriching, challenging, difficult, frustrating, and fabulous professional development events, which have all added up to bring me to the point I’m at today – running my own floral design business and loving it.

When you’re working for yourself the demand to create fresh business and meet orders is always there, on the calendar, right in front of you, and it might seem tempting to put CPD on ‘the back burner’, especially when you are building the business, but I’ve found that CPD activity goes hand in hand with those other vital parts of the business cycle.

Attending courses and professional events away from the hub of your SME cave can feel like a luxury but as much as technology is altering the way we do business (yes, even in floristry) it can also help save on costs by bringing CPD to your desktop. The growth of online forums, social media, webinars and e-newsletters all make it easier to take part in training, even from home.

That said, I do like to get out and about, so my final CPD for 2016 was a trip to a special workshop on floral ‘mechanics’ with Laura Leong. I returned with a box of interesting structural items in autumn and winter colours to inspire a variety of glittery, light-reflecting creations perfect for winter work.

As to be expected in November, there are fewer weddings at this time of year, but I will mention one commission from last month I particularly enjoyed. The bouquet for the couple is featured at the top of the page. As you can see, the bride and I settled on an arrangement suited both to the season and to the couple’s choice of venue, Knightor Winery, with its wild winter garden and Cornish granite outbuildings and barns. That combination allowed me to use those freshly honed CPD skills and draw on recent inspiration for ways of mixing beautiful winter textures and colours.

Lastly, before we start to prepare for Christmas, I’d like to say thank you to all the brides and grooms who voted for me in the Simply Wedding awards. I didn’t win, but I really appreciate all the support that made me a finalist. Thank you!

Cosy October

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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.

 

Key dates are going fast

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Well, it’s finally September and for the first time in months I have had a chance to draw breath and think about what’s coming next. Up until now, this summer, I have been flat out ordering flowers, conditioning flowers, delivering flowers all over Cornwall, every weekend right through. But this coming Saturday, there’s a signal that summer activities are coming to an end. I will be making up bridal flowers for the last wedding to be held at Trenython Manor before the hotel fills up again with its seasonal time-share customers.

With a seasonal business like mine, where there is such a need to plan ahead to get everything in place in good time for the Big Day, the work ebbs and flows with the calendar like this, and all seems part of a cycle. A quick glance at my diary confirms it – already, key weekends and Bank Holiday dates next year are filling up fast. Even for initial consultations, I’m now taking bookings for January 2017. It’s odd to think that the date for that year will take on such a special significance for 2017 brides and grooms. For some of them in my diary, as yet unknown, I will be confirmed to play a small (floral) part in this cycle of life.

Bridal flowers may form a just a part of the whole, it’s true, but I was reminded again recently how important a part that is, when, back in August, one of my 2016 wedding couples took the time and trouble to nominate me for a Simply Weddings award!

Simply Weddings Award 2016 are looking for small to medium-sized enterprises who:

“work so hard to create the most amazing wedding day and…. really will inspire and assist, and also deliver beyond all expectations”

So you can see why I was chuffed to be nominated – and now I’m through to the finals! (Although chances are against me winning are slim, anyone who does want to vote, voting closes on October 16th so just click on this link and submit your details.) [17-10-16 Update: competition now closed, the page has gone]  Thank you!

And on the subject of planning ahead, if you are starting to plan your wedding and would like to see what’s on offer to help create a fabulous event, Floral Creations St Austell will be showcasing bridal flower creations through October at various venues, so do try to catch one for ideas and inspiration.

On Sunday 2nd October the stunning Pengenna Manor will open its doors for the third year running for ‘A Most Marvellous Wedding Experience’ from 11am – 4pm.

A Most Marvellous Wedding Experience is a fantastically fun, wildly engaging interactive wedding showcase packed full of beautiful, quirky and slightly different wedding suppliers.

On the same day, I will be in attendance (along with some beautiful flowers of course!) to answer queries and provide advice here:
Sunday 2nd October
And the following week, I will be available in person to take bookings for initial consultations and chat through the bridal displays here:
Sunday 9 October, 11am – 3pm for a day of wedding inspiration
So, summer may be ending, but I’m going to be busy right up to the end of October, and with a recent reminder in the shape of two orders for Christmas wreaths (!) I’m already starting to look forward to my November holiday.

Honour and remembrance

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Did you know, the Gladiolus is the flower of the month for August?

If you pass cottage gardens on your travels you’ll spot why, as these tall elegant spikes – often known as sword flowers or sword lilies (from the Latin for sword, gladius, like gladiator) – are in full flower at the moment. Gladioli come in a range of lovely colours from acid pinks and yellows to soft pastel shades, often planted at the backs of borders for structure and impact, they make a beautiful display in summer. They are particularly popular as cut flowers, long-lasting, and continue to open down the spike whilst in the vase. I love them.

In the language of flowers, gladioli stand for honour and remembrance (more of which later) and strength of character, faithfulness, sincerity, integrity and determination.  So I’ll start with honour. I’ve been lucky enough this month to have been honoured in a couple of ways. Firstly, I had a glowing testimonial full of kind words for my work as a result of a collaboration at Boconnoc with renowned event planner, Simon Nickell.

Secondly, I’ve also been nominated for a Simply Wedding Award! The nomination came out of the blue, one or more of ‘my’ brides or grooms must have nominated me for their  wedding flowers, so I’d like to say a general thank you to whoever it was. Previous Brides and Grooms from 2015/16 only can vote for a business and voting opens on September 1st, so I’ll be posting this again, no doubt, and keeping my fingers crossed for the result.

Thirdly, another recent honour, my flowers on the front cover of Pure Weddings magazine! My bouquet sits in the centre of a colourful feature on ‘The Gypsy Bride’. The bride is seated on an old folk-art decorated caravan wearing a Romany style wedding dress – really pretty and unusual. This was a team effort*, great fun to be part of, and I’m still excited to see the picture made the front page.

Lastly, though, I must just make a short mention of remembrance – at home we lost two of our dogs this month to heart cough, my dog, Buster, and my son’s dog, Neo, my dog’s father, both at a young age. Pets become like one of the family and because they have such a short life-span compared to humans, they can make us mindful of mortality and the cycle of life. This too, of course, is part of my work. I’m reminded of another honour here, that it is a special role to be asked to create personalised memorial flowers for clients who have lost a loved one and thereby to play a small part in the passing ceremony.

To end on a brighter note, again in honour of the vivid and cheerful gladioli, all in all, August has been a busy month. I’ve been able to add some fresh pictures to my Wedding Gallery include some very positive feedback to my portfolio, and have two weddings coming up this weekend. Every Saturday until the end of September, I will be busy with wedding flowers to finish and deliver, and meanwhile, my workshop is in the process of being transformed, more of which next month…

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*’The Gypsy Bride’ team credits
Photography, Julia Mcintosh, juliamcintoshphotography.com
Dresses, Christine Trewinnard Couture
Make up artist, Sally Orchard
Hair, Claire Pascoe, number8hairdressing.com
Flowers, Floral Creations St Austell
Jewellery, gemheaven jewellery
Location, Outlandish Holidays

What a mixed month

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The EU Referendum, Boris Johnson’s battle bus, the Jeremy Corbyn leadership challenge, the football, our politicians, terrorism abroad, Team GB … meanwhile a person is trying to keep calm and carry on with her flowers!

June running into July this year has been mad, hasn’t it?

Small businesses like mine are little boats afloat on a wide sea and always subject to the tides of fortune, but a small to medium sized enterprise is a bit like a coracle (and versions like it the world over), watertight, lightweight, low running costs, and easy to steer. In other words, in among a sea of change, small can alter course easily and respond quickly to new situations.

Meanwhile life goes on, births, deaths and marriages continue and the people caught up in these eternal journeys are still ordering flowers to mark the occasion, so in many ways, it’s business as usual. In terms of changes, yes, the price of flowers has gone up as the exchange rate has affected the power of the pound against the euro, but there are still so many unknowns, I’m not allowing this to affect the day-to-day. We’re the same as every other industry waiting to see what happens. Transport costs may rise, we just don’t know at this point in time.

So I shall carry on fulfilling orders (referrals by word of mouth are up, which is great news!), continue with my usual promotional activities, learning important lessons from experience as I go along. Advertising is expensive and the results uncertain, so now that my business is moving into the next stage of the cycle, I will probably scale that aspect of my marketing back, good sense tells me it is always the first thing to go. For example, wedding fayres are fun, and help get the business name out there, but it is hard to say how many ‘stop and chats’ turn into commissions. Photo-shoots, likewise, great fun and good for the profile (some beautiful pictures too, as you can see over on my gallery here), but most of my local clients seem to come by word of mouth.

Skills workshops, however, are worth every penny, as keeping one’s skills honed and learning new techniques is really how to win repeat and referral business. This weekend of the 24th & 25th July, I attended one such event with Simon Nickell Designs at Boconnoc Estate. Wonderful. The team of which I was part made the wedding arch for the church entrance.  It’s amazing being part of a large event like this with a top notch wedding planner involved. What an incredible result – have a look, it’s on my weddings page here.

And for out-of-county contacts, I have to say, my website is working well. Cornwall is a great location for celebrations and people only need to do a quick Google and a few clicks from there to find flowers for the occasion courtesy of Floralcreations St Austell.

Anyway, if you are in need of a moment of calm in this stormy summer sea, have a look at some of the latest styles and colours in floral design (always works wonders for me!) from the RHS Flower Show Tatton Park, during which was hosted ‘Florist of the Year’.  The results of the awards are already up on the RHS website here, and they are full of colourful and innovative surprises.