Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Autumn Flower Workshop

Here are Helen, Annie, Jessie and Ann at the end of the flower workshop with their wonderful bouquets presented in Meadowsweet gift boxes. This blog tells the story of what they made and how they did it. The story is told mainly in pictures. Jessie (second from the right) took the photos so you won`t see her again! Here is how it all started – the calm before the storm on a lovely sunny day in Sheffield in late October. The flowers and foliage in the buckets are the ingredients we used – gorgeous, seasonal English flowers.
Here I am showing everyone how to get to grips with foliage, and here they are preparing their pittosporum and eucalyptus (what a lovely smell).
Our task was to make a magnificent bouquet using groups of flowers. This is quite a difficult challenge, especially as most of the group had never done any flower arranging before. The first stage was to make six individual posies made of grouped flowers and foliage. The first posy was made with these fantastic delphiniums standing tall in their pomp! Here is everyone sorting out their flowers and a close up of Annie deep in concentration.
Next we made posies of chrysanthemums and of red dahlias. The red dahlias were especially striking. Again, you can see everyone working on their dahlias and then Annie doing a great job.
The next posies were made of alstroemeria – first pink and then white. Here is Ann calmly considering her developing posy, followed by a close up of the lovely white alstroemeria with a piece of cinerea eucalyptus.
The final posy was made with vibrant pink roses. Here is Helen putting hers together, followed by a close-up of the roses (everything and everyone was so obligingly photogenic – flowers and participants!).
The next stage was to get ready for constructing the bouquet. First you can see all six posies completed and resting in the bucket; and then all the posies set up on the table ready for action.
Then the last ingredients – string for tying the bouquet, parvifolia eucalyptus to add a soft edge to the bouquet and the final icing on the cake – these exquisite kaffir lilies to add as a final touch.
OK – hold the delphiniums firmly in your left hand.
And now start to add posies in a spiral…easy!
Have you ever seen such attentive workshop participants before?
Anne’s got it….beautiful.
And so have Annie and Helen.
Perhaps a bit of a tweak needed here….
And finally, all the bouquets are complete. Just look at what everyone has achieved.
The next step was to wrap the bouquets in cellophane and add water so that the flowers stay fresh while they are moved about or presented as a gift. First take some cellophane.
Place your bouquet in the middle.
And wrap it up.
Then pour in the water and place the bouquet in the gift box. Just gorgeous!
Jessie left her bouquet with me and here it is in my sitting room today - 10 days after the end of the workshop. It still looks fresh and vibrant. What a triumph for seasonal English flowers and for the skills of the workshop participants!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Eleanor's Wedding

Here are Eleanor and Aurelien looking really happy just after they were married. It was a sunny summer’s day in Wales on the last Sunday in August. The wedding took place at St Maelog’s Church, Llandefaelog. The church is just a few miles along the road from Cilhowey, the farmhouse where Eleanor was brought up. Aurelien is French – so the wedding had a wonderful trilingual atmosphere – French, English and Welsh were all spoken and sung throughout the day. This was a joyous country wedding and the flowers were designed to reflect this – I wanted them to look natural, informal and fresh as a daisy. Eleanor chose a colour scheme of white and pink. To start with the men - I made striking, uninhibited buttonholes. These featured a white rose set off with a little piece of vibrant pink statice and white gypsophila, and backed up with small pieces of box and eucalyptus (parvifolia). I finished them off with lace and string. I hot footed it down to the church to pin the button holes on to Aurelien and the accompanying French men. Here he is, and here are two of the ushers outside the church. Dishy or what!
St Maelog’s is a pretty little church nestling in the countryside and it was full to bursting with happy and excited people. Eleanor wore a beautiful classic white dress and her five grown-up bridesmaids wore pretty pink full-length dresses. There were also two young flower girls in white dresses. I made Eleanor’s bouquet with lots of white flowers – phlox, roses, alstroemeria, spiky veronica and gypsophila – contrasted with pink sweet william (particularly delicate and easy on the eye), pink carnations and pink dahlias. Because the bouquet was predominantly white I added in a bit of green eucalyptus to add some contrast with Eleanor’s dress. I put more of the pink flowers into the bridesmaids’ posies so that they would stand out from their dresses and look different to Eleanor’s bouquet. I also added some stronger coloured asters, statice and pink alstroemeria. Most of the flowers were supplied by my English flower wholesaler. Here are some pictures of Eleanor and her bridesmaids looking absolutely lovely:
And here they are setting off from the church after the ceremony:
They were all heading for the hay wain which would take them to the reception. A hay wain is a kind of cart for conveying hay from one place to another and usually it is drawn by a horse. But in this case it was conveying people and it was drawn by a tractor! The hay wain was made comfortable with bales of hay to sit on and it had been decorated with bunting and flowers. Here are the bridal party getting onto the hay wain and then enjoying a glass of champagne as Trevor gets ready to drive the tractor up the road to Cilhowey:
The wedding guests arrived at Cilhowey first of all for a reception of bubbly and wedding cake. Cilhowey sits under rolling hills, and two marquees had been erected on the lawns – a gorgeous green setting. Guests were entertained first with welsh singing (Eleanor’s father, Michael, is the singer in the first picture with the buttonhole), then with French singing:
I was pleased to capture these lovely pictures of Emily (one of the flower girls) who is Eleanor’s niece, her mother Clare (Eleanor’s sister)with her brother Daniel and her father Dave. Daniel and Dave are both sporting their very handsome buttonholes. Clare seems to have picked up Emily’s posy at some stage!
Then here are a few pictures picking out the bridesmaids’ posies and Eleanor’s bouquet:
Later in the evening the guests moved along to the second marquee where the dinner was served. Tables were set up in long lines and Eleanor asked me to decorate them with jam jars filled with flowers. I painted the jam jars with a pretty pattern and tied them with string. Readers of my blog may remember that I developed this design in France last year – it seemed just right for the country wedding style and very fitting that the painted jam jar idea was born in France! I filled the jars with a mix of the same flowers that I used in the bouquet and the posies but added lots of flowers and foliage from our garden – mainly scabious, snapdragons, astrantia, box and rosemary. Here is a sample of the jam jars:
Then here is how they looked set up on one table:
The tables had all been given the names of French and Welsh cheeses (so guests could find their seats), for example Caerphilly and Roquefort:
It was a really big marquee and I made 26 flower filled jam jars! This picture tries to give a sense of how the whole marquee looked:
Finally, the main point of a wedding is to celebrate the glorious union of one woman with one man, and in the process they are surrounded by other attractive (and maybe marriageable!) young men and women. So, boys will be boys:
And girls will be beautiful!