Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Happy New Year

This Autumn I started Emma Davies' wonderful photography course so that I could improve the pictures I take of flowers. The course is on-line and you can either do it for free, or add in some cost, like the workbook included in the image above. I am trying to be more thoughtful about some of the photos I take. I was trying to capture some of the elements of Christmas wreath-making in this picture. I ran two wreath-making workshops in December this year. Here are some of the participants from the first one:
I caught a few people at work in the second workshop. Notice the glass of wine already at hand!
And here they are with their finished wreaths.
I made two wreaths for myself. I hung one inside and one on an outer door - just look what a difference the light makes.
I didn`t run a table centre workshop this year, so I missed getting a delivery of Christmas flowers. This meant I was driven to buy last-minute flowers from the supermarket. Most of them were very disappointing - nasty bunches full of glitter and dye, and lots of nearly dead flowers. I liked Sainsbury's offering best and I bought a couple of mixed bunches - they were in jewel-like colours and included roses, chrysanthemums, gerberas and the odd bit of foliage. I added foliage from the garden - choisya, ivy, holly, sarcaccoca(with brilliant black berries) and rosemary. I used pewter vases for everything and was pretty pleased with the results:
So...as we approach Twelfth Night and the end of the Christmas festivities I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year and thank you for all your interest and support during 2017. I am looking forward to sharing new ideas with you for things to do with flowers in 2018.
With very best wishes, Liz

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

November

Nearly the end of November already. After quite a mild Autumn, it suddenly turned very cold this week. It was also very beautiful. This is a picture of the gate into our garden in the middle of the afternoon a couple of days ago. There was a low sun and a bright, blue sky. I am surprised by how much life there still is in our garden. The cotoneaster tree is laden with berries and we are waiting for the flock of redwings to appear and devour them.
We still have some climbing roses blooming.
We also have some pretty red rose hips.
And, despite a few frosts, the nasturtiums haven`t yet collapsed.
The flowers from the late clematis have formed lovely, silky seedheads.
Mike and I have both been working hard in the garden this week. Here is Mike, loppers in hand, after pruning the apricot tree. I took this photo from the warmth of the house! You can see our artichoke heads still standing proud and adding a bit of structure to the view out of the window.
I brought some of our succulents in from the wet and I`ve placed them under our veranda. It will be interesting to see how they fare there.
I have also spent days clearing out pots and clearing beds ready for the bulbs. I`ve planted lots of different tulips and narcissi and I'm already looking forward to the first shoots of spring.
Whilst we are waiting for the redwings, I will finish with this pretty picture of pretend birds!


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Yellow

Yellow is the most luminous of all the colours in the spectrum and it really grabs our attention. The Cambridge Dictionary defines yellow as 'a colour like that of a lemon or gold or the sun'. Exactly! It lifts our hearts and makes us happy. What better colour could there be for a summer wedding in Ecclesall Woods. I mixed in some blue for the venue flowers. Sarah's (the bride) Dad made her a cute little crate which I filled with flowers:
The yellow flowers are sunflowers and gerberas. The blue flowers are cornflowers, sea holly, veronica, brodiaea and ageratum. 
I used kilner jars for the registrar's table:
Then I dotted a few jam jars around and about.
The wedding photographer was Ben West and I am delighted that he has given me permission to use some of his photographs to show the flowers with the wedding party. You can find more about him and his work on his website http://www.benwestphotography.co.uk/ Sarah chose to have her bouquet made with sunflowers, gerberas, gypsophila and just a little foliage. Here she is arriving with her proud Dad:
And with her beautiful bouquet:
The bridesmaids' posies were classy and simple, just with gerberas. They contrasted very well with their navy dresses.
The men had buttonholes made with gypsophila. The ladies had buttonholes based around a single gerbera. They looked great and complemented the wearers' smiles magnificently.
Here are Sarah and Chris looking bright, sunny and happy. Everything that yellow symbolises.
I think just a bit of yellow as a pop of colour works really well. Here are the bouquets that Sarah asked me to make as gifts to say thank you to people who made a big contribution to her wedding day. What a lovely idea.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Dutch Masters

Last month I ran a new workshop broadly inspired by the Dutch Masters who painted pictures of flowers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Their art has influenced a lot of great floristry over the last few years and produced some wonderful, abundant arrangements. Here are a couple of examples of Dutch paintings. The first is by Jan van Huysum and the second by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (thanks to the Getty Open Content Programme for use of the digital images):
Real blooms, especially tulips, were so expensive at the time that wealthy people commissioned pictures of their favourite flowers. But the paintings were not of actual arrangements - often the stems were unrealistically long and flowers were painted which were not in season at the same time. There was also a still life feel about the pictures with cut flowers and insects placed around the arrangements, or artefacts like skulls or books. The paintings showed off the skill of the artists, especially their use of colour, light and shade. In fact, it is the use of moody shade that pervades many of the images of floristry influenced by the Dutch Masters. It is so much part of the current trend that I was taught how to take these dark photographs at a course I went to last year (at the Green and Gorgeous Flower Farm) to improve my skills of photographing flowers.
Whist I really admire some of this dark, romantic work, I prefer a light-filled environment. Here is the example arrangement I created for my workshop participants.
The shape of this arrangement is based on an asymmetrical lazy-S rather than a pyramid or a dome. The workshop took place in June when there were some vibrant late spring flowers for us to use. Sweet william, brodiaea, cornflowers, pinks and alstroemeria from Clowance in Cornwall.
Gorgeous white avalanche roses and pink and white stocks from the Sheffield flower market.
And lovely pink astrantia from our garden. I love this starry, light flower.
I had sourced these attractive beaten metal bowls for our arrangements which would be made in chickenwire (the gardening gloves are to protect people's hands from the spiky wire).
The arrangements that participants produced were simply wonderful. Gorgeous, sumptuous and exciting to the eye. Here are a few examples.
It was hard to capture the magnificence of the arrangements in our work area as there were just too many flowers to get into our peripheral vision! After the workshop a couple of participants sent me pictures of their arrangements in situ. Just fantastic.
I really enjoyed this workshop and was stunned by the results. I am planning to run it again this Autumn - there should be some great seasonal flowers to use. I am hoping for dahlias.