Tuesday, 31 July 2012

My Summer of Love

This summer is flying by. I’ve been busy with floristry stuff and looking for work. Oh, and I’m moving today. But here are some photos from the last few months.

This is a hand-tied with lilac, phlox, Queen Anne’s Lace and asparagus fern.

The next few arrangements are all made of garden flowers. This one has William Shakespeare 2000 roses, Jude the Obscure roses and chocolate cosmos.

Roses, a Cariad rose, hydrangea and chocolate cosmos.

This one has roses, jasmine and sweet peas.

Here is a small jug of chocolate cosmos and roses. I cut them a few days ago, and the roses have opened up beautifully now.

A small jug of sweet peas, which are such great cutting flowers – they just grow and grow!

And finally, here they are with Peter Parker's Peonies!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Hats off

I made a hatbox arrangement for a friend’s birthday recently. I decided to use colours I wouldn’t normally use together – deep reds and purples – but I think they worked well. I used seasonal Sweet Williams and beautiful clematis, with jasmine and William Shakespeare 2000 roses from the garden.

I made a little posy with the leftover Sweet Williams and clematis. I could imagine this being used as a little bridesmaid’s posy alongside the vibrant low tablecentres, with a bridal bouquet of huge garden roses and jasmine, and buttonholes of jasmine, clematis and Sweet Williams.

Peter Parker’s Peonies

Another bouquet that I’ve longed to do since I started sketching ideas last summer is a peony bouquet, in honour of Mary Jane’s favourite flowers. I think watching Spider-Man III at the cinema was the first time I had seen or heard of peonies, but I remembered the scene well – poor Peter Parker goes to meet Mary Jane, with a bunch of her favourite flowers, planning to propose to her, but the date doesn’t go too well.

The first time I went to Columbia Road Flower Market last June, I got a bit carried away, buying as many different flowers as I could carry on the bus and train (I managed to carry seven or eight bunches, but goodness, did I have a back ache when I got home!), including peonies which I’d seen in the flesh for the first time. They are huge when they open up, and many of them smell incredible. I understand why they’re such a popular wedding flower, although they are only in season for a few months.

As you can tell, I didn’t buy these flowers at the same time – the pale Sarah Bernhardt peonies are fully opened, and the darker pink peonies were bought a few days later, and were not so willing to open. I reckon Spider-Man could have used his superpowers to speed up the process. But you get the idea.

Just look at how large and fluffy the flowers are. They are unashamedly girlie.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Aurora, Colorado

I was going to write a review of The Dark Knight Rises, which I saw this morning, but I will hold off for a while. After I got home, I heard the shocking news about the shooting at a screening of the film in Aurora, Colorado. My thoughts are with the people who were there and their loved ones.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

The sweet smell of summer

The garden is gorgeous at the moment. Everything is blooming and there are so many scents as soon as you step outside – sweet peas, jasmine, roses, and chocolate cosmos. We did have one solitary peony last month, which didn’t smell of much when outside, but was very scented after I cut it for a little vase arrangement, along with a few pink garden roses. I don’t know what any of the varieties are, but they lasted well in a vase.

Here are the sweet peas two weeks ago.

And here they are today. I’ve cut some for a vase and they smell amazing. 

Sarah Raven includes a sweet pea  'wigwam' in her plans for summer flowers in The Cutting Garden, and also recommends particular varieties. As it's my first attempt, I bought a multi-pack from Suttons Seeds. I'm growing Noel Sutton and Mrs R Bolton, which are purple and pink respectively. Next year I'm going to grow the remaining colours in the pack: red Air Warden, burgundy Beaujolais, and White Ensign.

Here are the first jasmine flowers which emerged this week; the foliage has been gracing the garden for a month.

Some scented peach and cerise roses:

There are three pink hydrangeas dotted around.

I didn’t have much luck growing dahlias, but this one has flowered.

And last of all, my new David Austin rose plant – Cariad, which means ‘love’ in Welsh. It’s stunning and very sweetly scented. The perfect symbol of the many happy years I spent in Swansea and the Welsh friends who I‘ve kept in touch with!

Wedding dress by Tobi Hannah

I have picked my wedding dress, and although I am going to keep the actual design a secret (or at least, I’ll try to), I do want to share the name of the wonderful designer who will be making it.

My wedding scrapbook includes pictures of Kirsten Dunst’s outfits in Marie Antoinette, Ali MacGraw’s wedding dress in Love Story, and Audrey Hepburn’s black and white Givenchy gown in Sabrina – I am definitely not someone who could always picture the exact dress they wanted! After a lot of searching, I came across Tobi Hannah’s website. Her dresses are amazing – short or tea length, modern but vintage-style, and inspired by everything from Degas’ ballet dancers to Haruki Murakami book covers.

I must have tried on nine or ten dresses during my first appointment. I wanted pretty much all of them, but Tobi and my friend Grace helped me to narrow my choice down (and the first dress I tried on was called Grace, which was a nice start to the appointment). I’ve made my final decision now, and it felt a bit sad to have to say ‘no’ to so many of her gorgeous dresses. There wasn’t a ‘the one’ in my case, but hopefully I’ll feel like my dress is the right one on the day.

In the meantime, here are some of Tobi’s stunning dresses. I’ve even had trouble narrowing the number of photos down to ten! These dresses are (in order): Tutu Ballerine, Dahlia, Grace, Nataliya, Amaze, Goddess, Running, Bratt, Julianna, and Lin. Running reminds me of Stephanie Seymour’s wedding dress in the music video for November Rain (one of my guilty pleasures) and Goddess, as well as looking beautiful, has an incredible softness – it felt like the Chantilly cream in a LadurĂ©e dessert. Texture is a key element in Tobi’s designs.

But if you don’t want to bare your legs on your wedding day, Tobi’s sister company, Lara Hannah, does ethereal-looking long dresses, many inspired by Waterhouse paintings. As Waterhouse did one of my favourite paintings in what I call ‘The Miserable Women in Literature’ trilogy (along with Millais' Ophelia and Mariana) at Tate Britain, Waterhouse wedding dresses were bound to be a hit with me! It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I think the Alberta dress is particularly gorgeous.

If you are looking for something modern but vintage-inspired for your wedding, I highly recommend a visit to Tobi’s studio. As well as being super talented, she is very friendly and honest – I’ve enjoyed my meetings with her and, as the designer, she can see which of her dresses will suit you best.

Her company turned four years old last month…but the designer at the helm is still in her twenties! I’m kind of in awe.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Chelsea Flower Show 2012

Now that the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show is upon us this week, I realise I never posted about the Chelsea Flower Show at the end of May. It was my first visit to the show and I absolutely loved it. I spent half of the day there, but I wish I’d had longer – there was so much to see and so many growers to speak to.

Apart from the usual suspects (roses, courtesy of David Austin and Harkness), I was especially bowled over by some of the other displays. One was a wall of about 70 different cultivars of daffodils by Walkers Bulbs. Another was an innovative display featuring the Bullring, the Jewellery Quarter, canalside, and a Mini (which was originally manufactured in Longbridge, Birmingham) by Birmingham City Council, who were incredibly friendly and informative.  I have a soft spot for Birmingham, since I’ve been spending a lot of my free time there over the last nine months. I’m only too familiar with the distinctive Selfridges building and I recently made my first trip to the Jewellery Quarter.

But my favourite exhibit, which I kept going back to, was a stunning display of cottage garden flowers by Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants. A trip up to their nursery in Hampshire is on my ‘to do’ list! Just look at their flowers.

And finally, Leucanthemum 'Freak' could be the winner of best new name!