Wednesday, 30 November 2011

I won't make a list and send it to the North Pole for Saint Nick

We had our college Christmas party a bit early, due to assessments and Ofsted inspections. I managed to get my Secret Santa name a massively reduced Paula Pryke book – which seemed to go down well. I almost squealed when I opened my present. A girl at college works at Vive La Rose, a beautiful florist that I’ve mentioned before, and had got the mini milk bottles that I’m so keen on, filled them with different sweets, and put silver foil milk bottle ‘tops’ on them. These are so colourful and cheerful; I almost don’t want to eat the sweets! Except I do, because I’d like to have eight milk bottles in time for the eighth day of Christmas!

I did another candle table centre today. I got lots of coloured or scented candles and bought some eucalyptus and red carnations from the local florist (I would have preferred to use roses, but they won’t last as well in foam). I’m pleased with this one. I hope it brings a smile to my friends’ mother, whose birthday is next week.

Flowers; putting Prozac in the shade!

I had a birthday recently and got some lovely presents. This two-tier cake stand was a surprise from my friend in Jersey, who I’ve been out with for afternoon tea a few times. I love it! It didn’t take me long to test it out – cucumber sandwiches, mini scones, Welsh cakes, and birthday cake on the stand, and Ceylon tea in my Alice in Wonderland cup and saucer. I can’t wait to do a vintage wedding with flowers on cake stands and teapots – I know it’s a popular theme right now, but it’s so pretty and charming, who cares how many other people are doing the same theme?

Speaking of vintage weddings, here are a couple of table arrangements I did during my work experience. The background isn’t all that attractive (the floor of the warehouse), but I’m pretty pleased with the flowers.

I also got some lovely flower books and rose and ‘gardener’ hand cream for my birthday! Flower Shop Messages has some beautiful photos, and is full of messages which people have enclosed with the flowers they’ve sent. Some are touching, some are funny, and some are just curious. I particularly like this one: ‘Dear Granny, we’re glad to hear you are feeling better. Please don’t go up any more ladders.’ The friend who gave me the book is a dancer, and as we looked through it together while we waited in the queue for the Degas dancers exhibition, we were both amused by this message: ‘When we said ‘break a leg’, we didn’t really mean it!’ The title of this post is also a message from the book – I do agree that flowers are a wonderful mood-lifter.

And Mandy Kirkby's The Language of Flowers is a gorgeous book – I love the design of it as well as the fascinating text. It has entries on fifty flowers, from cherry blossom to wallflower. The entry for daisy starts off with this quote by John Clare: ‘Daisies, ye flowers of lowly birth/ Embroiderers of the carpet earth.’
Before I hid the books away on my shelf, I wanted to sit them next to flowers...seeing as they're all about flowers and they have such pretty covers. This is a little posy I made from worse-for-wear waxflowers and germini while I was clearing out my flower bucket at college.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

I used to steadfastly stick to a 'no Christmas talk before December' rule – I wanted the Christmas season to feel short and special, and that wasn’t going to happen if there were mince pies and carols two months before. Now that I’ve entered the world of floristry, the goal posts have shifted a bit. I made my first Christmas arrangement yesterday. And on Wednesday, when a friend from my floristry course and I hopefully manage to get a pitch at a market, I will have made several more.

For this little table centre, I used fake snow-covered thistles, bright red hypericum berries, beautifully glossy ilex leaves, a little gypsophila, and a few spray carnations that have the marvellous name ‘Mr Rooney’. I had a candle disaster, and ended up using a scented candle that is a little too small for this arrangement. But hopefully my friends, who this is for, will forgive me!

I used a few broken stems of hypericum, a thistle, and some ilex leaves to make myself a buttonhole. I know corsages are meant to be for women and buttonholes for men, but just as I sometimes prefer to wear men’s trainers (they are better for playing football, albeit badly), I also prefer to wear buttonholes. I felt suitably Christmassy wearing this one as I caught up with friends at the beautiful William Morris exhibition at 2 Temple Place today.
And in other news, I got a lovely surprise when I walked around the garden last week. Firstly, there were a couple of very late roses that had blossomed. And secondly, my snowdrops have started shooting. I’ve heard that they rarely flower in their first year, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Let it snowdrop!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Jane Packer 1959-2011

I have just heard the news that Jane Packer has died. I had heard that she was very ill this year, but I really hoped she would pull through.
I know other students who, like me, were so enthused by Jane’s style and approach that they took up a floristry course or career. I’m sure she did the same for thousands before us, and I hope that her work continues to motivate people to join the world of floristry. The heart-shaped box I did last week was inspired by her famous hat-box design.
She popped in during the hand-tied course I did in the spring and spoke to all of us. She was smiley and bright and told us we were doing a good job. It was the only time I met her, and she seemed as sunny as she does in her books (I truly love her writing style and the design of her books).
I hope she knew just how much her work and her approach to floristry affected people, as well as the joy she provided to the recipients of her flowers.
My thoughts are with her husband and family and friends.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Heart-shaped box

Two friends of mine from university got married soon after they graduated, a whopping ten years ago. I was a bridesmaid for the first and only time, and I have fond memories of getting ready with the other bridesmaids and the bride in her parents’ house on the morning of the wedding. She was another anti-Bridezilla – we were allowed to choose how we did our hair, and she chose beautiful lilac corset tops and matching long skirts for us, and gave us pretty jewellery. I still have my tiara and necklace from the day.
As this year was a special anniversary, I thought I would make something floral to send in the post. I hoped that a lined heart-shaped box filled with roses arranged in floral foam would survive the journey.
Rather like Kurt Cobain in the song (which the recipients and I listened to many times in our first year at university), these roses were locked inside a heart-shaped box for almost a week, thanks to a very inconvenient loophole in the postal system. I’m not sure what state they were in by the time the time my friends received them! Oh well. Here is a photo of them on the day the arrangement was made and posted – so my friends can see what they were supposed to look like!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

London calling

I entered the London heat of the Chelsea Florist of the Year competition. I didn’t qualify, but I had lots of fun sketching and creating my design (the theme was a table centre for the British Olympic team), and got some useful feedback from the judges – technically, I did well, but I used too many ideas.

It was the college day at New Covent Garden Flower Market as well, so it was a good excuse to take some photos of the market. Can you see why I feel so chirpy every time I walk in? It’s such an incredible place. As you can see, people are getting ready for Christmas already!