April 2011

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Kate Middleton and Prince William tied the knot today at West Minster abbey, and the sun shone for them after all.  They will now be known as The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.  Kate’s highly anticipated wedding dress did not disappoint, she looked beautiful in an ivory vintage style gown designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen.  The dress had a very classic Grace Kelly feel to it, and featured a lace appliquéd bodice and skirt.  It was made with English lace, French Chantilly lace, satin gazar and silk tulle.  The design contained lace flowers including the rose, thistle, daffodil and shamrock.  The skirt reflected an opening flower with arches and wide pleats and had a 9ft long train.  Kate wore a veil made from ivory silk tulle, edged with hand-embroidered flowers.  It was held in place by a Cartier ‘halo’ tiara lent from the Queen.

Kate Middleton's Bouquet

The predictions I made few weeks ago for Kate’s flower style were almost spot on, neutral colours and understated flowers.  The flowers at the wedding all had a very natural organic feel.  The couple reportedly spent £50,000 on flowers, plants and four tons of foliage.  Shane Connolly was the lucky florist chosen to create design for the wedding of a lifetime.  He designed all the flowers for the Royal Wedding including Kate’s bouquet, she held a petite shield-shaped bouquet in ivory and white, not quite a teardrop, a little shorter.  It consisted mainly of delicate lily of the valley with some hyacinths, sweet william, ivy and myrtle.  Kate’s bouquet will have had a wonderful fragrance, as lily of the valley and hyacinth are highly scented.   The wired design was very understated and suited her vintage style dress perfectly.  All the flowers in the bouquet were chosen according to their significance for the Royal Family and the Middleton family, as well as their meaning according to the Language of Flowers.

Lily of the valley – return of happiness

Hyacinth (white) – constancy of love

Sweet William – gallantry

Myrtle – emblem of marriage, love

Ivy – fidelity, marriage, wedded love, friendship, affection

Kate’s sister Philippa wore a comb of lily of the valley in her hair.  The younger bridesmaids were cute as a button wearing circlet headdresses made from ivy and lily of the valley.  The bridesmaids carried tied posies of lily of the valley, hyacinths and sweet william.  The youngest bridemaids carried pomanders of the same flowers held on ivory ribbon.  The buttonholes were also made with lily of the valley.


The flowers in Westminster Abbey were all English grown, many from Royal Estates.  The aisle was lined with 20ft high English trees with growing lily of valley around the base.  The flower arrangements throughout the Abbey were made with ivory flowers incorporating lilac, wisteria, blossom and azalea in a very loose and natural style with lots of foliage including euphorbia, viburnum, beech and eucalyptus.

Even though William and Kate’s royal budget is out of the reach of most couples, there are always more economical ways to achieve your dream style..but that’s another blog.  I think today they showed the world a classic English wedding, and provided a lot of inspiration for a romantic vintage look.

Congratulations to William and Kate, I wish them long and happy life of love and laughter.

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London based florist, Shane Connolly has today been confirmed as the floral designer for the royal wedding later this week.  Shane Connolly holds a Royal Warrant, and is a supplier of flowers for royal events.  He has designed flowers for numerous royal events including the Queen’s 60th wedding anniversary dinner and Prince Charles and The Duchess of Cornwall’s wedding in 2005.

Mr Connolly will be heading a team of florists to create the wedding designs, including the florists from West Minster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.  Six members of the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies will also be helping to decorate West Minster Abbey.  Shane Connolly is known for his use of organic and seasonal materials as well sustainable methods in his designs, using plants and trees where possible rather than cut flowers and foliage.

Prince William and Kate Middleton have ordered eight 20ft high trees in planters for West Minster abbey, to create an indoor woodland.  The trees are English Field Maple and Hornbeam and will stand in specially designed planters made by craftsmen at Highgrove, which is the Prince of Wales’s Gloucestershire residence.  The trees will be planted in Highgrove Gardens after the wedding.  Many of the flowers are being sourced from Royal estates including Windsor Great Park and Sandringham Estate.  The flowers and plants selected include azalea, beech, blossom, euphorbia, lilac, rhododendron and wisteria.  The couple have sourced additional flowers from English growers.

The couple have chosen flowers themed around the language of flowers.  All flowers have meanings and in Victorian times they were used to convey secret messages.  Shane Connolly is the perfect choice for their theme as he has wrote a book entitled The Language of Flowers.  The flowers and plants in West Minster Abbey are to be left on display until 6th May for public viewing and then donated to charities or replanted.

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These are lovely gifts for anyone with a sweet tooth like me, or maybe someone who doesn’t have time to faff about baking from scratch.  Nothing beats homemade cakes and cookies.  The original recipe is from Bakerella, but I’ve made a few tweaks, as I found the original recipe a little too sweet. They are delicious chocolaty oaty cookies, I left the pecans out as I’m not a fan of nutty things (I baked a batch of cookies first before making a jar up just to sample a couple or five)

You’ll need:

1 1/3 cup of self-raising flour or 165 grams

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup oats or 95 grams

¾ cup of smarties (which worked out at 4 tubes)

½ cup of brown sugar or 75g

½ cup of golden sugar or 75g

measuring cups

You’ll also need a large glass jar, a small piece of fabric and some ribbon to decorate your jar.  I used a Large Douwe Egberts jar, but you can buy glass jars from TK Max or supermarkets.  I set up a piping bag rolled down to funnel the ingredients through, if you don’t have a piping bag you could make a funnel with some baking parchment.

I played around with the order of the layers and finally decided on flour first, then oats, smarties, brown sugar and caster sugar.  Make sure you pack each layer down really well, or it won’t all fit in the jar.  My ingredients just about fit in a large Douwe Egberts jar, you can buy plain glass jars from supermarkets too.  The ingredients should be flush to the top of the jar.

You’ll need to make labels and instructions for making the cookies.  You can design your own labels or use the ones on Bakerella’s site like I did, they are very cute.  I stuck the Cowboy cookies labels on the front and the instructions on the back of the jar.  Finish off your jars with a square of pretty fabric tied over the top of the jar with co-ordinating ribbon.

If you want to make these cookies yourself it is very easy using the jar mix.  First preheat your oven to 180 degrees or gas mark 4.  Mix the contents of the jar together in a large bowl.  Then add the beaten egg and softened butter and stir to form the cookie dough.  You might need to press the mixture together with your hands to get all the last bits to stick together, your hands will get sticky soon anyway.  Line a baking tray with baking parchment, then roll 1 ½ inch balls of cookie dough and place about 2 inches apart on the baking tray.  As the balls bake they will flatten into lovely cookies.

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The royal wedding is only a few weeks away now and the whole country is eagerly awaiting the big day. We brits don’t need much of an excuse for a party, but a royal wedding is as good a reason as any. Admittedly, for some the excitement is due to an extended break from work, tagging the Easter holidays onto the royal wedding weekend.  But I can’t wait to see what Kate will choose for her flowers and dress.

It has been banded about that Prince William and Kate might decide to go for British flowers, which would highlight the gorgeous cut flowers we can produce in Britain.  It’s a little early in the year for some British grown flowers, so they would be limited to spring pretties if they did choose to stick with just home grown flowers.  I would love to see William and Kate go for British flowers, and a selection of spring flowers would be beautiful.  Tulips, anemones, hyacinths, narcissi and lily of the valley are all available in April.

Lily of the valley wedding bouquet

When Camilla married Charles, Prince of Wales in 2005, she carried a pretty wired posy of lily of the valley and primroses for her bouquet.  The wedding was quite low key and her petite bouquet reflected this.  It included some Myrtle from Queen Victoria’s Garden on the Isle of Wight. Queen Victoria included a sprig of Myrtle in her wedding bouquet and then planted the Myrtle in her garden afterwards.  Since then all royal brides have included Myrtle in their bouquets including Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales.  Myrtle is said to be the herb of love and is thought to bring good luck.  It is expected Kate will include Myrtle in her bouquet too.

Kate’s flower choices will obviously depend a lot of the type of dress she wears.  If she picks a fairy tale style dress with a large full skirt she may choose a trailing shower bouquet to balance the dress.  This type of bouquet is usually thought of as more traditional.  Shower bouquets have seemed to be out of fashion for many years as handtied bouquets were so popular.  But teardrop shape bouquets have been making a comeback recently, either as a smaller more compact version with a lot less fussy foliage or as a very modern waterfall design constructed on a decorative wire base with minimal flowers wired on.

Teardrop wedding bouquet

My bet for Kate’s flower style is understated elegance.  I think she will go for a teardrop shaped bouquet in neutral colours, not a large bouquet with long foliage like Princess Diana had, but a simpler contemporary version.  Most spring flowers are not very well suited to trailing bouquets as they are wired, so I’m not sure Kate will pick British flowers, since she would have to use spring flowers at this time of year.

Whatever flowers Prince William and Kate decide on for their big day, I’m sure they will be fabulous.  Kate always looks very elegant and stylish.  I just hope the sun shines for them on the 29th.

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