hand tied bouquet

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Would you want to receive this bouquet on the morning of your wedding day? Me neither, but sadly this was someone’s bridal bouquet.  It was brought in by the bride’s sister, in the hope that we could fix it, along with a bride’s maid bouquet (shown below).  A friend of the bride who ‘does flowers’ had made them and the bride was understandably very upset.  Luckily we weren’t snowed under with our own wedding orders that day and had some suitable roses in stock to use.  Sorry about the quality of the photos, as it was a rushed job the photos were taken on a mobile phone.

There wasn’t really any good points about either bouquets, the flowers had had been made with little care or skill.  The white roses in the bride’s bouquet are barely visible in the photo as they were so small, which made the calla lilies look huge and out of proportion.  The limp leaves in the bouquet appeared to be cut off a house plant. The tape on the bouquet’s handle was soggy and hanging off and the leaf that should have covered the handle was not attached at all, double sided tape had been used on the leaf but that was wet too.


The bride’s maid bouquet pictured above was much bigger than the bridal bouquet and a very uneven shape.  The roses were covered in bruised petals from poor handling.  The eucalyptus was too big and the loops of steel grass were sticking out about three inches above the bouquet.  The diamantes pins were either carelessly pushed in at a 45 degree angle or just falling out.  The bouquets were in such a bad state that they had to be completely re-made.

It’s shocking that someone with clearly no professional experience thought they could make bouquets suitable for a real wedding.  The bride’s sister was so grateful we were able to help her at short notice.

The photo below is another wedding with another flower disaster.  The arrangement is very sparse with no foliage apart from some huge pieces of trailing ivy. The dark green area you can see in the middle is floral foam, which should never be visible as it is usually covered by flowers and foliage.


As wedding flowers are made so close to the wedding, you can’t afford to take a risk on someone inexperienced.  A friend or aunty may seem like a cheap option if they dabble in flower arranging, but it may end up costing you more in the long run.  Not only the cost of getting a florist to rescue the flowers but the emotional stress too.

I have dealt with several distraught brides who have been let down by amateurs, days before the wedding.  To avoid a wedding flower disaster, trust a professional florist with your wedding flowers.  They will use their expert skill and knowledge to ensure you get your dream flowers.

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Cadbury purple is one of this years most fashionable wedding colour schemes.  Start the look off with bridesmaid dresses in a stunning deep purple shade and dress flower girls in white with a wide purple sash.  Complement the dresses with flowers in shades of purple, lilac and white.  Or if you want to liven things up, pick a bright accent colour such as fuchsia pink, orange or lime, or a mix of all three.

Can you guess what the sphere of flowers above are made from? they are compact balls of carnations.  You might not have thought about carnations when you considered which flowers to choose for your wedding, but there are so many new funky new colours and varieties to choose from.  A new range called moon series features a range of purple colours from pale lilac through to luscious deep purple.  Carnations are very versatile and look great used en masse for pomanders or spheres of flowers.


Purple is one of the rarer colour flowers but there are still plenty to choose from.  These flowers are all available in purple: lisianthus, freesia, sweet pea, trachelium, aconitum, dahlia, hydrangea, gladioli, allium, delphinium, lilac, carnation, tulip, orchid and stock.  Roses aren’t available in purple but double lisianthus is a good substitute, it looks very similar to roses.  There are also lots of lovely lilac roses available.

Lilac and white flowers will help to soften the look of a deep purple colour scheme.  Mix them with herbs like rosemary and sage to provide a lovely aromatic fragrance as well as adding an elegant informal garden look to your flowers.  Flowering mint and fresh lavender also have lilac blooms and smell gorgeous.  A touch of silver will help to lift this colour scheme, try adding silver grasses, and using silver candelabras with mirror on your tables.


If you prefer a brighter colour scheme cerise pink will liven up your flowers.  Or you could mix purple with cerise, orange and a touch of lime green for a really vibrant look.  This colour palette will really stand out against purple dresses.

For a rich and decadent colour scheme mix red with purple.  A touch of black will also add to the glamour.  Black glass candelabras overflowing with luxurious floral canopies would be fabulous, dripping with black beads or pearls.

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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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Giovanna Falcone and McFly guitarist Tom Fletcher recently tied the knot at One Marylebone in London.  The theme was a romantic, woodland glade; the couple wanted the decorations to give the venue a magical feel.  London florist By Appointment Only provided all the flowers for the day, they created designs in a palette of soft pinks, lilac and papery blues with lots of natural looking foliage.

The ceremony took place in the Soane hall, the vast space was dressed with lots of floral displays and fairy lights were hung with ivy wound through them.  The alter was decorated with a long woodland style arrangement using stocks, lilac, viburnum, roses, hydrangea, spray roses and peonies in pinks blues and creams, with green viburnum and moss.  Behind the alter two large pedestal arrangements were placed with summer flowers and delphiniums for added height.

The beautiful bride wore an ivory Phillip Lepley gown with a vintage lace overlay and bead detailing.  She carried an informal teardrop bouquet of garden roses and peonies in shades of pink and cream, with trailing variegated ivy.

Giovanna’s bride’s maids wore full length dusky pink Kelsey Rose dresses.  They carried small hand tied bouquets of white sweet peas and roses in shades of pink and cream.  The men wore grey suits, with green ties and pink rose buttonholes.


blue hydrangea - Grey Wulf Flickr, lilac - Marisa DeMeglio

The room was transformed for dinner with a combination of low centrepieces and tall canopy arrangements.  The low designs featured summer blooms and candles.  The tall arrangements rested on twisted willow bases and featured lots of summer flowers and natural foliage.  The tables were dressed with paisley cloths in moss green and the napkins were tied with ivy.  For favours the guests were given personalised guitar picks that featured the couple’s initials and the date of the wedding.

The couple also had a magnificent floral arch that many of the photos were taken in front of.  It was packed with summer flowers in soft shades of pink, blue, lilac and cream, with lots of foliage including asparagus fern, photina, ivy and French ruscus.

I think the flowers achieved the magical woodland look perfectly, the bouquets and the venue looked truly wonderful.  Full photos are in OK! Magazine issue 829, May 29th 2012.

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Common name:  Hydrangea

Botanical Names: Hydrangea

Origin: Japan

Colours: White, pink, purple, blue

Hydrangeas are thirsty plants and get their name from the Greek word “Hydor” meaning water, they were introduced to the UK in 1788 from Japan.  There are many varieties and colours from pure white through to blush pink, and amethyst, as well as many beautiful two tone varieties.  There are three main types of hydrangea, pronounced hiy-DRANE-gee-a, the Mophead has large round flowers made up of dozens of tiny florets.  This is the most recognizable type and popular as a cut flower.  Panicle is a long cone shaped cluster of florets and Lacecap is a flatter shape with lots of tiny buds surrounded by a circle of normal sized flowers.


Hydrangeas have become very popular cut flowers in recent years; they are often featured in home and lifestyle magazines for modern rooms or country kitchens.  They drink a lot of water, so hydrangeas should always be in deep water.  If the flower head goes soft or starts to wilt the stem should be recut and plunged into boiling water for 30 seconds before replacing into the vase.  For a contemporary look use a vase of hydrangeas in a vivid colour.  The beautiful pastel shades or two tone varieties give a more vintage or rustic appearance.  I would mix hydrangeas with roses or peonies for a vintage look.


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