Monday, 5 December 2016

Hot Orange

As November slides into December, we lose light and colour fades from our gardens. Bright, autumnal orange can take a stand against this! A few days ago I ran my first workshop on high impact flowers – flowers that really stand out and make you take notice of them. I chose contrasting colours – they sit opposite each other on the colour wheel – orange and blue-violet. We made a front-facing arrangement and helped it to stay upright using natural river stones. Here is one of the arrangements packed up and ready to go. As you can see we tied it with natural string
Here is my arrangement standing by a light. The orange came from the roses and the (single) leucospermum. The blue-violet came from lisyanthus and veronica. There is contrasting green with Anastasia chrysanthemum and foliage (ruscus, eucalyptus and aspidistra) and also foliage with an orange tint (leucadendron safari sunset – wonderful name!). This arrangement certainly had impact and and the workshop participants enjoyed learning a new method of hand-tying.
I have also recently run a woodland log workshop. This workshop offers a real chance for participants to get creative! I offered all sorts of materials to use – including plant material in different colours and white, interesting foliage, succulents, dried seedheads, cones and bark. Here is a taste of it:
In the event, everyone chose to use only white and green. Very classy.  Here are some examples – can you guess how we made fresh flowers appear to ‘grow’ out of the logs? This first one is a long, meandering log. It excites your eye as it travels along the log to meet a little robin sitting on a branch:
This is a fatter log with great texture and lovely use of succulents.
This one is beautifully proportioned with gorgeous green and white contrasts.
I bucked the trend and added orange to my log – I`m on an orange roll at the moment!
This weekend I put together some simple table centres for Sickleholme Golf Club. Just a rose, some lisyanthus, a stem of ruscus sprayed gold, a wired pine cone, a stem of hypericum berries, a sprig of holly and a couple of green chrysanthemum heads. Simple, quick and effective. This is the start of the Christmas flower season….on from orange…. and into red, gold, green and white!

Saturday, 1 October 2016


Just look at this thing of beauty. It is exquisite. This is the first year Mike and I have had success with dahlias. We bought them from Sarah Raven and they have thrived in our Sheffield garden. Here is a selection of orange ones:
Then these purple ones:
Red ones:
But this shaggy, huge, extraordinary one is my absolute favorite.
Last weekend I arranged wedding flowers in Fulwood Church including a large urn for the alter. The bride had chosen a colour scheme of whites and pinks, including some gorgeous hydrangeas, but I thought the arrangement needed something more...something dramatic to stand out in such a large space. Adding this extravagant beauty and a couple of the red dahlias really did the trick:
These dahlias have transformed our autumn garden.......I can hardly drag my eyes away from them. Sarah Raven raves about dahlias and I used to wonder what so captivated her. Now I know!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Winter Weddings

As the nights start to draw in, my thoughts are already moving to winter weddings. What a romantic time to get married. Instead of light, airy summer flowers, this is the time to use darker tones, perhaps contrasted with white. This blog tells the story of Fiona and Jonathan’s wedding which took place at the end of November last year – on the first day of winter snow! They chose a colour scheme of white and deep reds for their flowers. To stop them looking too Christmassy we also added some blue as a striking contrast. It all starts with me making the arrangements in my workshop. Here is Fiona’s bouquet ready to go. Fiona would be wearing an ivory dress and I made a large bouquet for her with lots of snowy white flowers – gorgeous avalanche roses, alstroemeria, gypsophila and veronica. Then the blue sea holly and blue anemones (just lovely at this time of year), together with the red hypericum berries provided the contrast.
Her four bridesmaids would be wearing long navy dresses and I made their posies with a more restricted colour palette. The predominant colour was dusky pink created with some of my favourite flowers – astrantia, sweet william and wax flower (and some pink alstroemeria). I also added in small pops of blue and white to harmonise with Fiona’s flowers and their navy dresses.
Jonathon was brave with his choice of buttonholes for the men – he wanted them to be like mini posies to match Fiona and her bridesmaids. I made these with a rose, sea holly, wax flower, gypsophila, sweet william and a little foliage. Everything – bouquet, posies and buttonholes were tied with lace and string.
All the decorations for the venue were made in different sized kilner jars. The flowers I used were similar to those used for the wedding party – but I also added in some kaffir lilies and snapdragons (the very last from the English growing season) as well as some pink veronica. Here are just a few ready to go.
Once I had delivered the flowers for Fiona and her bridesmaids to her house (where they were all very relaxed drinking buck’s fizz and getting their hair done) I drove on to their wedding venue – Halifax Hall in Sheffield. This is a splendid boutique hotel (run by the University of Sheffield) which was originally a Victorian steel baron’s mansion.
I set up the flowers on the registrar's table:
In the entrance hall:
On the drinks table:
In the dining room:
I also met up with Jonathan and his best man and pinned on their buttonholes – don`t they look wonderful! 
This is often the end of the story for me as I exit before the guests start to arrive. It is as though I have set the stage and placed the props, but I never get to see the show! Luckily I was given lots of pictures taken by the official photographer Mark Tierney. He took some really good photographs of the flowers (please see his website to see more of his work - ) as you will now see. First of all, here is Fiona with her bouquet (with a snowy backdrop!):
And the bridesmaids, followed by a great close up of the flowers in their posies.
Then here is the registrar’s table with Fiona and Jonathan, followed with a picture of them in the grounds of Halifax Hall.
Finally I will finish with a couple of pictures of people in the dining room surrounded by flowers.
What a great time of year for an atmospheric wedding!