Thursday, 31 May 2012

Black Narcissus

Hmm, this didn’t quite work out. Last summer, when I was in the heady first flush of floristry-love, I sketched lots of ideas of flower arrangements. Some were inspired solely by the flowers and others by a connection to a film or book or something. Once I’d decided to grow Black Parrot tulips and various scented narcissi, I sketched a bouquet which I called Black Narcissus. I remember the first time I saw a Powell and Pressburger film: it was The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, which I saw at the Barbican about five years ago. It was such a beautiful and heartfelt film; I don’t think I’d seen anything like it before. I sought out their other films and watched A Matter of Life and Death and The Red Shoes at the BFI and Black Narcissus on DVD.

So this May, when the black tulips flowered, I thought: I can finally make my bouquet. Whoops. I hadn’t thought ahead enough to realise that the narcissi season would be over by the time these very late tulips were in flower. There were a few pink daffodils remaining in the garden, so I made a bouquet with them, the Black Parrot tulips, and the stunning Cummins and Swan Wings fringed tulips. I’ll call this Black Narcissus in the Making. And next April, I’ll buy black tulips from the wholesaler and mix them with my white narcissi to make Black Narcissus: the Florist’s Cut. I'm certainly learning the value of patience!

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May

It’s the end of May, everything’s coming up roses, and I haven’t even posted photos of my spring flowers! So here’s a quick tour of the garden flowers from the last two months, both in the garden and after cutting.

April brought my one, solitary ranunculus (of the ten plants I’d tried to grow). It also brought tulips galore – golden Freeman tulips and red, scented Abba tulips, sweetly-scented and pretty pink Angelique peony tulips which open up the minute you put them in water, and sexy, red Rococo parrot tulips. There were delicate, scented narcissi and muscari and fairy-like snakeshead fritillary – I love the little arrangement I did with these (it was a present for my partner).

May brought more tulips – black parrot and blue parrot tulips, white Swan Wings fringed tulips and lilac Cummins fringed tulips. And, seemingly from out of nowhere, came the rose buds and the first roses.

The temperature might be going down, but summer is here.

Spring greens

Over the Easter holidays, I did deliveries for some contract work for my college. The tutors and technician needed a proper break, and I was happy to get some different work experience. It was a little bit scary having so much responsibility (the client is a chef with a number of restaurants all over London), but once the first day was over, I felt fine. The driver was brilliant, as was the supply tutor at college (who made most of the designs during the Easter break). The work involved packing and carrying flower arrangements (some were huge) to and from the restaurants, doing maintenance work at some restaurants (i.e. removing wilting flowers and topping up arrangements and outside plants with water), and making lots of small table arrangements on site for three of the restaurants. One day, I got to college at 7am, only to find my poor tutor madly trying to make arrangements that were supposed to have been made in his absence, so I helped out – and wow, I have never worked so fast or so instinctively! Doing this work has certainly tempered my tendency to over-think arrangements.

Here are some of the arrangements that I’ve made.

And here are some others in situ.

One restaurant had new arrangements three times a week. The old flowers would be thrown away, and it seemed like a waste, so one day I asked if I could take them back with me. My tutor gave me a new stem of cymbidium orchids that hadn’t been used, and I made a table centre for my friend and three little arrangements for me. I think this shows how effective simple arrangements and grouping the same flower and/or colour can be. These parrot tulips and orchids were used in different arrangements for the contract work, and they are two flowers that I wouldn't have thought of putting together, but I loved how the lime green colour and curvy shapes linked them so well.

Otherwise engaged

I haven’t updated my blog for ages as I’ve been busy with floristry work and studies. Ok, there’s another reason too – I got engaged on Easter Sunday, which was the day after I wrote my last post! It’s been a wonderful whirlwind the last couple of months. So far, we’ve booked the ceremony and afternoon reception, the photographer, and have meetings booked with the dress designer and the cake maker. I love the planning process and researching for ideas for decorations, music, readings. I don’t need to tell you that I’d decided on the flowers before the dress – the scents and flower meanings are just as important to us as the colours and types of flowers. And I also probably don’t need to tell you that David Austin roses are going to feature heavily.

Expect a lot of wedding-related posts over the next year!

Here is a photo of one of the giant eggs that featured in the Faberge Big Egg Hunt in London over Easter – I found this at Canary Wharf just moments after my boyfriend phoned me to say he had been offered a job in London (we’ve been doing the long distance thing ever since we met). It was the week before we got engaged. The egg is called ‘Love’ by Louise Dear…it felt like a pretty cool coincidence.