English flowers

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The Olympics are in full swing now, if you’ve been watching the TV coverage you’ve probably spotted the Victory Bouquets.  They were designed by Susan Lapworth, creative director at Jane Packer.  The design reflects the vibrancy and energy of the Olympic Games.

As Roses are quintessentially British they were chosen for the main flower, all the materials used in the bouquets are British grown.  The design is split into quadrants of roses, separated by a British food ingredient. The bouquet contains Illios roses (yellow), Marie Claire roses (orange), Wimbledon roses (green) and Aqua roses (pink).  The herbs will provide a wonderful fragrance; they include rosemary, apple mint, and English lavender. British grown wheat also features in the design.


Honoured and excited students from several colleges have been helping to make the required 4,800 bouquets for medal winners.  Students from Writtle College, Bexley Adult Education and Kingston Maurward  have participated in creating the designs.

The photo above shows students working with a make-up guide to help them create the bouquets to the exact specifications.  The bouquets were made to a strict brief, they had to be 20 x 25cm, reflect the energy of London 2012, withstand temperature changes and handling by non-experts.



Top image – Jane Packer

Middle image – thisistotalessex.co.uk

Bottom image – Jane Packer

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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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Common name:  Stock, Gillyflowers

Botanical Names: Matthiola

Origin: Mediterranean and Egypt

Colours: white, pink, crimson, cream, purple and lilac

The botanical name for stock is Matthiola, it is named after Dr Matthioli a 16th century physician and botanist who identified it.  It was transported to England where it was later identified as a member of the Brassicaceae (mustard) family. Stocks have been popular in gardens since Elizabethan times, their name symbolises lasting beauty and bonds of affection.

Matthiola Incana is one of the species we commonly see as cut flowers, it can have single or double flowers with long grey green leaves, there are around 54 other species. It is a popular cut flower and is favoured for it’s amazing fragrance.  The flower spikes open from the bottom upwards and usually last 5-8 days as cut flowers.  They will last longer if their leaves are removed below the water line and the water is changed frequently.

pink stocks

As cut flowers stocks are used in many types of floristry from gift bouquets to weddings and funerals.  They look lovely on their own or mixed with other spring or summer flowers.  Just a few stocks in an arrangement will give a pleasing fragrance.  They are used a lot in weddings because of their elegant shape and perfume, and particularly suit the vintage theme popular for weddings at the moment.  You can often get gorgeous British grown stocks in the summer months, they’re lovely in simple mixed designs with summer flowers and herbs.

stocks in a summer bouquet

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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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