autumn wedding flowers

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image: A./B. Larsen

Common name: Boat orchid

Botanical Names: Cymbidium orchid

Origin: Tropical and subtropical Asia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines and Northern Australia

Colours: white, green, yellow, pink, red, brown

Cymbidiums are sometimes known as boat orchids, their name is pronounced ‘SIM-bid-ee-um’.  It comes from the Latin Kumbidion which means little boat, referring to the shape of the flower.  They became popular in Europe during Victorian times, and are now one of the most desired orchids in the world. They are prized for their beauty, bright colours and lasting qualities.  They withstand cooler temperatures than other tropical plants and are ideal houseplants.

Plants can have up to 15 flower heads.  The flowers have a waxy texture and can last up to ten weeks.  They require lots of light and regular watering, to keep the soil moist.  They like humid conditions so regular misting helps them too.  Providing they like the conditions they will continue to flower year after year.


Cymbidiums are also very popular as a cut flower; they add a tropical luxurious feel to any bouquet.  They range in size from 30cm length stems with lots of very small heads, to 90cm with 10 or more large heads. A single stem makes a lovely gift, wrapped simply with a little foliage or grass.  They are mainly available from October to June and last from 2 to 4 weeks as a cut flower.


Large stems make an impressive focal point in bouquets and arrangements, they often out last other flowers in a mixed arrangement.  Large heads are big enough to separate and use individually in small water vials.

They are frequently used in bridal work as they come in many beautiful colours and are very versatile. The individual heads can be wired and used in bridal bouquets , corsages or table arrangements.

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Common name: Sunflower

Botanical Names: Helianthus

Origin: South and West USA

Colours: mainly bright yellow, but some varieties are pale lemon, orange and deep red.

Sunflowers are part of the aster family; they are named for their resemblance to the sun.  The botanical name Helianthus comes from the Greek word for sun ‘helios’ and flower ‘anthos’.  They are most well known as large yellow flowers with a deep brown centre.

Sunflowers have only been grown for decorative purposes fairly recently.  Their seeds have been used as a food crop for many years by North American Indians; they can be eaten raw, ground up for bread or roasted.  Sunflower seeds are also used to produce oil, a mature flower produces up to 40% of it’s weight as oil.  The oil was used to soften leather, cook with and as hair conditioner.  The pith from dried sunflower stems was used as filling in life jackets due to their buoyancy, before modern materials were available.


One sunflower is actually made of a disk of hundreds of tiny flowers arranged in a spiral pattern, and an outer ring of larger ray flowers, the central flowers eventually turn into seeds.  Their thick stems are rough and hairy and have large leaves with jagged edges.  Sunflowers usually grow to between 5ft and 12ft.  The tallest recorded sunflower in The Guinness Book of Records grew to 25 feet.

Growing sunflowers is easy in your garden, they should be planted about 12 inches apart.  They mainly require good fertile soil and lots of sunlight.  When the the plants start to get very tall they can be supported by garden canes.

image: Michael Brooks

image: Michael Brooks

Some varieties are available all year round as a cut flower, although they are traditionally a summer flower.  They are so popular as cut flowers; they are one of the top ten best-selling flowers in the UK.  They are available in many varieties now such as prado red a deep reddish brown shade, teddy bear a fluffy double-petalled variety and Sonja a mini variety.

Sunflowers are such large flowers they make great focal points in bouquets and arrangements.  They suit designs with bright mixed colours and work particularly well in autumnal arrangements.  The mini varieties of sunflowers are lovely in wedding bouquets.


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Common name: Dahlia

Botanical Names: Dahlia

Origin: Mexico, Central America and Columbia

Colours: all except blue

Dahlias were first discovered in Mexico in the 16th century and noted as a medicinal plant.  They were brought to Madrid in 1789 and grown in the botanic garden. They are named after Swedish botanist Anders Dahl, and pronounced DAY-lee-a.  Since 1813 commercial growers have bred dahlias and produced thousands of types, including pompoms, cactus and waterlily varieties.


Dahlias are prized by gardeners for their magnificent flowers and often exhibited in horticultural shows and competitions. As Dahlias come from tropical regions they are not suited to temperatures below freezing.  It is recommended to lift the tubers and store them over winter in a frost free place.  The plants can range in height from 30cm for dwarf varieties up to 6m for the giant Tree dahlia. Some varieties produce flowers as large as a dinner plate.

They are popular as a cut flower and available mainly from June to October. Dahlias come in many colours and lots of them are vibrant or two tone shades.  They should be bought in a mature stage and handled with care as the open flowers are delicate.  They have a vase life of up to a week. They are also available as a British grown flower in late summer.


They are popular for weddings flowers as their peak season is through the summer.  The perfectly uniform flowers look lovely used en masse in compact bridal bouquets or table arrangements.  The British grown dahlias are often sold in bunches of gorgeous mixed jewel colours.

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autumn flowers

Everyone knows pumpkins make fun lanterns for Halloween, but did you know pumpkins also make great containers for autumn flowers.  Pumpkins look gorgeous with rich shades of autumn flowers.  I’ll tell you how to make your own autumnal pumpkin arrangement in a few simple steps. Before you get started you need to gather a few bits and bobs; a few fresh flowers in autumnal tones, some foliage, a block of floral foam and a few pieces of cellophane.  You can get most of your equipment from a florist shop; if you’ve got a garden have a look for any autumnal foliage you can forage to go in your arrangement.

Before you buy your pumpkin think about how big you want your arrangement to be, as your finished arrangement will be three times the height of the pumpkin.  So if you have a tiny space to display your arrangement in don’t buy a monster pumpkin.

To start slice the top off the pumpkin and scoop the flesh out.  Soak your floral foam in a bucket of water.  While your foam is soaking fill the bottom half of your pumpkin with scrunched up cellophane.  Cut a large piece of cellophane and place your oasis on it’s end in the centre of the cellophane.  Place the oasis and cellophane in the pumpkin, cut the oasis off about two inches above the top of the pumpkin and chop the leftover piece into two wedges, these can be pushed either side of the oasis in your pumpkin to make it fit snugly.  Trim off any excess cellophane.

pumpkin arrangement

You can now start putting your foliage and flowers into the oasis.  I used a mixed bunch of autumn flowers and a few berries and twigs from my garden.  Add the foliage first to make the outline for your desire shape and then follow that shape with your flowers.  If you’ve got any lovely autumn coloured leaves in your garden add them to your design.  When you’ve added all your flowers, check for any gaps where you can see the oasis and add some more foliage at those places.

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An Autumn Wedding

autumn wedding flowers

This time last year I had the pleasure of providing wedding flowers for some good friends of mine.  It’s always extra special when you personally know the bride and groom, and they had also asked me to be a bride’s maid.  It was a gorgeous wedding at The Inn at Whitewell, in The Forest of Bowland.  The ceremony was held at St Hubert’s Dunsop Bridge, a few miles from Whitewell.  Before the ceremony guests were treated to a string quartet in the church and then afterwards at the reception.  Rose buttonholes with ivy leaves were worn by the wedding party.  The wedding reception took place in a marquee at the Inn at Whitewell. There are fabulous views from the inn across the river Hodder and parkland beyond.

The bride picked beautiful bottle green dresses for the bridesmaids.  After much deliberation (and several mood boards) an autumnal palette was decided on for the flowers.  The bridal bouquet was a large informal handtied bouquet.  The flowers centred on cherry brandy roses, these stunning roses were featured in all the wedding designs.  They have red outer petals and open into a warm orange.  Other flowers featured were mango calla lilies, burnt orange freesia, pincushion proteas, orange gerberas and hypericum berries.


A smaller version of the bridal bouquet was carried by the bride’s maids, which looked stunning against the deep green dresses.  The flower girl wore an ivory dress with a green sash and carried a gold wand with a single cherry brandy rose.  Marquees are perfect blank canvas for any colour scheme, the rich colours of the reception flowers made it feel warm and inviting.  The table designs were candle arrangements in baskets using roses, gerberas and freesia. I also used larch branches and red oak leaves to emphasis the autumnal feel.

The bride wanted the cake to be simple and elegant so we scattered some cherry brandy petals around it and on the cake table.  It was an elegant three tier design simply iced and decorated with green ribbon and diamante buckles.  In the evening the fairy lights covering the ceiling gave the wedding a warm glow which perfectly complemented the candlelight of the table arrangements.

A fabulous weekend was had by everyone who attended.  The weather stayed fine all day and the sun even made an appearance for the photos.  I wish the bride and groom every happiness in their life together!

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