Saturday, 24 August 2019

Harvesting and creating

This is a haul of flowers cut from our garden a couple of weeks ago. I tried to select a good range of flowers in terms of colour and shape....but some of the flowers (sweet peas especially) are cut and come again and you just have to get on and cut them nearly every day. On this summer morning I cut phlox, hydrangea, cosmos, crocosmia, hebe, alliums, sweet peas, sea holly, mallow, lavender, scabious and dahlias. This blog is about what I did with the flowers. First of all, I used fluffy pink phlox and hydrangea off-set with white phlox, white dahlia, white hebe and blue sea -holly. There was so much pink, I used a contrasting white enamel jug.
Then I tackled the sweet peas. I started off by selecting the purples and whites with good, long stems and I placed them in a vase and a sweet moroccan glass.
Next I took the old-fashioned sweet peas (lovely scent, but shorter stems) which are a mix of purple and lavender and I hand-tied them into a jam jar.
The thing about sweet peas is that you get some with recalcitrant, curved stems - I put these into a pretty bottle (nice for the dinner table).
Then I used up the short-stemmed bits and pieces. I hand-tied them into small round containers and lined them up on a window sill. I love the splash of red here, and the flowers looked stunning in the morning light.
I had quite a few airy, floaty flowers to use (like mallow, scabious and cosmos) and I decided to use these together in glass vases. I added a hydrangea near to the rim of the vase just to give a bit of weight/stability. It works well when you can see the stems in this kind of arrangement.
It can be a it of a challenge when you have flowers with really strong colours. These can be mixed in with other contrasting colours, but I decided to use them together - I mixed orange dahlias with dark pink cosmos and red sweet peas.
Then I was left with one gorgeous dahlia. I used this on its own in a brown jam jar. It is such a dramatic bloom that works on its own.
Finally, what to do with the crocosmia? I love crocosmia - such elegant and intriguing flowers. I placed them in this simple white jug. I stripped off some of the spiky foliage and added that to the jug. Perfect.
It is wonderful to have flowers to cut in your own garden....but it is important to allow enough time to harvest them - this is best done in the evening after the heat of the day. Then you need to allow plenty of time to really enjoy creating something lovely with them. This may demand a bit of imagination. It helps to have a good range of vases, jars and bottles. What I love about the end result is the way cut flowers bring the garden into the house.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Mothers, daughters and flowers

This is my daughter, Jessie, and me a long time ago......We both love flowers and Jessie has played a big part in Meadowsweet right from the beginning. We`ve been to flower classes together, shopped in flower markets and she helped me with my workshops, especially in the early days. Now we are moving on to a new project together. We are swapping ideas about how we use flowers in an everyday way in our homes. We both think that flowers make life better - whether it is sharing a cup of tea or planning a party:
So...we`ve set up a new instagram account called just.add.flowers  Our aim is to show lovely pictures of easily available flowers (bought from the supermarket or grown at home) in our own home environments. We are trying to show how everybody can do something really satisfying with flowers with a small budget and a little thought. Before we started we decided to improve the way we take pictures of flowers and we had some brilliant help from Rachel Sinclair  She showed us how to set things up inside our homes with different backgrounds. For example:
And she showed us how to shoot into the light and blur the background:
Jessie lives in a flat in Walthamstow with a balcony where she grows flowers, tomatoes and herbs. Her flat is filled with attractive books and she uses quite small, beautiful vases to display her flowers. She's a graphic designer so she looks at flowers through the eye of an artist. Here is a sample of Jessie's recent posts on just.add.flowers:
As readers of my blog know, I have a house in Sheffield with a medium-sized garden. I look at flowers through the lens of a gardener/florist and I tend to use bigger vases than Jessie just because I have more space (the jaunty little goat is an exception!). Here is a sample of my recent posts:
We really like the way our use of flowers and our pictures inter-weave and contrast. As we develop just.add.flowers, we plan to build on this to find other ways of sharing our ideas about getting the most out of flowers every day. If you don't have an instagram account you can just click below to get to our pictures:
just.add.flowers
I will finish with another picture of Jessie and me from long ago, and a picture taken just last month. Still laughing and smiling.


Monday, 29 April 2019

Putting on a show

The tulips have been marvellous this year. Here they are placed in a simple vase - they make their own show with their constant growth and movement. Spring is a great time for workshops. As you all know I don`t use floral foam (otherwise known as oasis) which doesn`t work well with spring flowers because they have delicate stems and they need lots of water. It can be a bit of a challenge thinking up ways of making arrangements in water that don`t just look like vases, jugs or jars. A few weeks ago I ran a workshop to create a rectangular design in a pretty crate:
The spring flowers we used were ranunculus (red and white), tulips, several kinds of narcissi, bluebells and yellow iris.
The results were splendid - the crates were robust, beautiful and perfectly rectangular! Here are a few of them.
Perhaps the best kind of flower show is at a wedding. I ran a really enjoyable and productive DIY wedding workshop in March. The participants were two mother and daughter teams - both daughters getting married on the same day in August. They had already planned their colour schemes, so I was able to source flowers in their chosen colours to really give them a sense of what their wedding flowers would look like. The first colour scheme was a vibrant mix of bright colours:
The other was very different - just classy white and greens:
We made posies, bouquets and buttonholes and experimented with flowers in bottles, teapots and jam jars. I was so busy working with individuals on their designs, I had no time to take any photos. But Shirley, one of the participants took a few - so a big thank you to her for sending me these pictures of everyone hard at work.
All the participants produced gorgeous results and went away feeling confident that they could do their own wedding flowers. Hurrah! Here is a little taste of what they made:
Finally, a couple of pretty jugs that I put together for my home. First just narcissi and bluebells. Then a jug filled with abundant, glorious spring flowers.
I can`t sign off before giving you a sense of the brilliant show that our garden has produced this spring - you can see tulips, hellebore, narcissi and blubells. It has been simply wonderful.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Vintage Flowers

 
Of course flowers themselves are not vintage. They are fresh as a daisy and here today and gone tomorrow (or at least next week). It is the containers that are vintage and I love using them to display flowers. I especially like old jugs, pretty cups and saucers and heavy glass vases. Digging around in antique shops and junk shops can yield all sorts of great (and inexpensive) finds. Here are a few of my favourite jugs filled with spring flowers:
And with late summer flowers:
Cups and saucers and sundae dishes look pretty:
This heavy glass vase works well with old-fashioned flowers (in this case dahlias):
I run two different vintage flower workshops.  One makes use of a trio (cup, saucer and small plate), jam jar and sundae dish to make three arrangements using three different construction techniques.
The other uses a foliage base to hold the flowers in place. We start by making a small arrangement using an eclectic range of pretty jugs.
Here are a couple made up:
Then for the main show we use all sorts of large vintage jugs to make lovely, individual arrangements. Here are a few:
If you can`t get the kind of vintage containers you want, why not fake it! Sometimes I make 'vintage' containers by covering juice cartons with vintage-looking paper.
For my next workshop in April we are going to fill a fake vintage crate with spring flowers - it looks gorgeous. Why not come along and make something stunning - we will be using lots of spring flowers, not just tulips.