August 2012

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The Leprosy Mission’s Festival of Flowers was held at Southwark Cathedral last week.  A team of 85 designers worked tirelessly, to transform tens of thousands of flowers into contemporary works of art.  Hampton Court Gold medal winner Mig Kimpton led the team of florists, the designs were based on the theme ‘transformation’.  He said “My dream and aspiration was to create something totally unique, flowers are an important part of our life – they turn a house into a home and bring a smile to the face.”

The breath-taking designs were inspired by William Shakespeare, the Olympic Stadium and the blossoming of the earth.  The innovative displays were tucked into alcoves, suspended from nave ceilings and woven into pastoral scene to take visitors on a journey of colour, perfume and imagination.

Celebrities including Sir Ian McKellen, Su Pollard and Wendy Craig were among special guests at the preview evening last Thursday.

The Leprosy Mission’s National Director Peter Walker, said he hoped the beauty of the cathedral enhanced by the magnificent floral design, would reflect The Leprosy Mission’s passion for transforming lives around the world.

For more information about the Festival of Flowers or to donate visit The Leprosy Mission website.


The Leprosy Mission

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Olympic fever hits us again this week.  The opening ceremony for the Paralympics takes place this evening and the games start tomorrow. Over the past month I’ve wrote a number of blogs about the flowers and plants, today I’m re-capping the most popular Olympic blog posts.

My article about the Olympic victory bouquet was the most viewed Olympic blog.  Everyone has been talking about the bouquets, debating the size and style.  The flowers were presented to the all the medal winners, nearly 5000 bouquets were made.  Jane Packer designed the bouquets using British roses and herbs. Floristry students helped to make the bouquets with Jane Packer staff.  There is more information on the rose varieties and herbs used in the full article here.

The Olympic organisers wanted the flowers for the games to be as sustainable as possible.  I wrote an article about the almost impossible task of using only British grown flowers, including 20,000 roses for the bouquets.  They had to be grown using no artificial heat, light or chemicals.  The rose bushes used for the flowers now need re-homing, details can be found in my article.

Beautiful flower meadows were sown around the Olympic Stadium.  The ‘Olympic Gold Meadows’ are the largest annual meadows ever to be grown in a public park.  They have been in flower throughout the Olympics and will continue to blooms throughout the Paralympics and into the autumn. There’s more information about the types of flowers useds and the planting process in the article.

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Common name:  Gladioli (plural), sword lily

Botanical Names: Gladiolus

Origin: South Africa

Colours: virtually all colour except blue.  Pale pastels to vibrant reds and purple, some bi-coloured also.


Gladioli get their name from the Latin word Gladius, which means sword, due to their sword shaped leaves.  They are bulb flowers that produce a single flower spike and several narrow leaves.  There are 260 species of gladioli, nearly all of which are native to Sub-Saharan Africa.  In the wild the gladioli vary greatly  in size and the number of flowers.  The gladioli you see in florist shops today has been hybridised to produce giant ornamental varieties.

Smaller varieties like the one pictured above are often referred to as bridal gladi, they are used in wedding flowers as the dainty heads are a perfect size for bridal work.  Gladioli last well as cut flowers, they have become trendy again in recent years after suffering from an image problem.  Dame Edna was famous for having gladioli and may have contributed their old fashioned image.  They come in so many gorgeous colours there is no need for them to look past it.  Some of my favourites include a deep purple variety that looks almost velvety black and a bright acid green shade.

They are mainly a summer flower available from May to October, though sometimes the season is longer.  A few gladioli look good peeking out above other flowers in a mixed bouquet or a full vase of gladioli in a single colour is glorious when open. They are usually bought closed or a few bottom flowers open, they should not be bought fully open.

Gladioli are often available as locally grown British flowers in the summer months.  To encourage the whole stem to open, the very tips of the flowers (two or three buds) can be gently removed.  Gladioli are thirsty flowers; make sure they are placed in deep water.

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Sunshine may have been in short supply last week, but the floral marquee at Southport Flower show had a floral display brighter than the sun.  The impressive display won a gold medal at Southport Flower Show and was very popular with visitors.

Poplar Farm Flowers from Ormskirk, raised hundreds of pounds for charity with their sunflower wall.  Visitors paid 50p each to guess how many flowers were in the display.  The money raised was donated to Queenscourt Hospice in Southport.

Joe Appleton from Poplar Farm said “It was a very successful weekend for us and lots of people had a go at guessing the number of sunflowers. Amazingly someone guessed to within one of the actual total which was 1,074!”

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This amazing flower carpet was on display in Brussels last week.  Grand-Place in Brussels houses a flower carpet every two years, the theme this year was The African Continent.

The carpet is made using over 600,000 begonia flowers.  Begonias are used because they are robust and resistant to bad weather and strong sunshine, which means they stay last well.  They are also available in vast range of colours from pale pastel shades to vibrant colours.

The carpet was an incredible 1800 metres square, 120 volunteers spent 48 hours making the floral tapestry.  The flowers are tightly packed, 300 per square metre, this creates a microclimate that helps keep them fresh.  The carpet was on display for five days.

The carpet was inspired by Africa’s landscapes, cultures and colours.  The flowers were combined with soil, bark, sand and pigments.  Visitors were able to view the carpet up close or enjoy a panoramic view from the Town Hall balcony.  The balcony was dressed with thousands of anthuriums, which grow in Africa.


Flower Carpet

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