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Amy-Ford-with-her-Chandelier-Chelsea-2012

Essex based florists Curtis & Ford have been awarded two medals in the RHS Chelsea Florist of the Year competition 2012. An amazing achievement! they are only business to gain two medals in the same year.  The floristry competition attracts hundreds of entrants from around the country and showcases the best in professional floristry.  The double success comes after winning international awards in 2011.

The brief was to design and produce a large Chandelier to be hung at a Jubilee dinner for the Queen.  Amy Ford gained a Silver-Gilt medal for her stunning white and lace chandelier design.  Amy Curtis was awarded a Bronze medal for her beautiful design that had a very natural and organic feel to it.

Amy-Curtis-Chelsea-2012

Amy Curtis
Amy has worked in floristry for 9 years; she has studied business management at A Level and gained a Foundation Degree in professional floristry at Writtle College.  Amy is relatively new to competing and was thrilled to qualify for this years Chelsea Flower Show.  She said “Many florists compete to qualify for the Chelsea final their entire careers without ever qualifying… so the fact that one of us qualified was fantastic but to both qualify and to both achieve a medal is just fantastic, we are very proud of all the hours of work we have put in!”

Amy-Curtis-close-up-Chelsea-2012

Amy’s design featured hundreds of branches bound with paper covered wire holding tiny test tubes.  The tubes contained phalaenopsis orchids, freesia, roses, eryngium, anemones and spray roses.  It was adorned with beads, crystals drops and diamante brooches. The intricate design took over 350 hours to complete.

Amy Ford
Amy has completed A Levels in Art & Design, Photography and English Literature.  She found floristry at 21 after studying Glass design.  Amy has since gone on to complete levels 2, 3 and 4 in floristry.  Amy gained the highest practical grade in the country for her Level 4 exam.

Amy-Ford-side-view-of-chandelier-Chelsea-2012

To prepare for Chelsea piece Amy painstakingly made over 100 panels with fabric, beads and wire.   They were sewed, crocheted and beaded; each panel took 2.5 hours to make.  On the competition day Amy worked from 4am on Wednesday right up until the final whistle at 12.45am Thursday to finish her design.  She used various techniques on her piece, she layered and wove bark and leaves onto the panels and dotted flowers throughout.  Amy made 18 beaded panels for each tier using a total of 20,000 beads!

Amy-Ford-Chandelier-close-up-Chelsea-2012

Many of the flowers were glued onto the design but some of the more fragile flowers were placed in tiny test tubes.  Most of the flowers were arranged in a massed style, Amy used reindeer moss, phalaenopsis orchids, white Lydia spray rose, Romantic Pepita spray rose, tanacetum, triteleia, spray carnations, brunia, cotton bush and hyacinth.

Both designs are now on show at Serenity Bridal, 17 St.Botolphs Street, Colchester.

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Breaking Dawn wedding ceremony

Image source Wedding Inspirasi

In the previous blog we had a quick look at the stunning flowers used for Edward and Bella’s wedding.  The designer Tammy Polatsek went to town with the natural woodland theme .  Thousands of flowers were using to make the wedding set, but don’t despair you can re-create the fabulous look without a big film budget.  To help keep your flower costs sensible try to use ivory flowers that are in season when you get married.  The flowers used in the film included roses, delphiniums, stocks, sweet peas, hyacinths, ranunculus, freesia, cherry blossom, wisteria and viburnum along with umbrella ferns, and lots of moss.

Bella's wedding bouquet

Image source Twitter

Bella carried a simple hand tied bouquet packed with beautiful ivory flowers.  It must have smelt truly scrumptious, it contained hyacinths, freesia, stocks and ranunculus.  Freesia and ranunculus also make beautiful buttonholes with a couple of simple leaves.  Although you can’t currently get married in a forest in the UK, you can get around this by having a legal ceremony in register office, and then having your ‘real’ big day with all your friends and family at a later date in your favourite woodland. Or you can of course bring the great outdoors inside.  Create a woodland feel by lining your aisle with tall branches with mossed arrangements at the base and flowers arranged to look as if they are growing.

Viburnum

The floral arch in Breaking Dawn was breath taking; it was very tall and packed with flowers.  It featured delphiniums, cherry blossom and other white flowers.  The arch in the film was so full with flowers, it would be budget busting for most brides.  A scaled down version could still feature lots of gorgeous flowers but with a bit more foliage and moss.  Many florists will have an arch structure that they decorate and hire out for weddings.

Ranunculus

The reception tables had a very natural organic looking design on them, but they were quite tall and sprawling, so the plates and tableware were very close to the edge of the tables.  Things can get knocked over when the table is that full and if your guests can’t see across the tables they may even move your lovely flowers elsewhere.  I would opt for a design with the candelabra at the centre of the table and have the flowers around the base, arranged in a natural style with lots of moss and foliage.

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We’ve had a few glimpses of the amazing Twilight wedding scene.  The trailers promised a magical woodland setting, but only showed the flowers for a split second. But the time has finally come, Breaking Dawn is released today.  The lady behind the wedding set design and flowers is Tammy Polatsek.  She was responsible for designing and sourcing all the flowers for the wedding and reception.  She also designed a porcelain dinner set for the reception that was used in the film.

Twilight wedding scene

Image source Entertainment Weekly

The wedding had a Mid-summer nights dream feel to it, everything was very natural and earthy in a forest setting surrounded by lots of flowers, foliage and moss.  The colour scheme for the flowers was white and ivory with lots of deep green ferns.

The ceremony featured low woodland style arrangements lining the aisle and a stunning floral canopy.  The canopy was made with thousands of white wisteria flowers made into 40-50 feet lengths. White lavender and cherry blossom also featured in the ceremony flowers. There were tree stumps dotted around the ceremony to complete the woodland theme, these were decorated with flowers so they appeared to be growing from the stumps.

The aisle was strewn with white petals and at the end of the aisle there was a magnificent floral arch where Edward and Bella said their vows.  It was covered in white flowers including delphiniums and cherry blossom.

Breaking Dawn reception table

Image source casasugar

The reception tables were dressed with moss green table cloths with fabric leaves attached to them.  The centrepieces were large natural designs with viburnum opulus, delphiniums, sweet peas, hyacinths, ranunculus, umbrella ferns and moss.  The centrepiece incorporated candelabras shaped like tree branches.  Small candles were also dotted around the arrangement.

Breaking Dawn wedding cake

Image source Summit Entertainment

The wedding cake was a large five tier design, simply iced and decorated with ivory and white flowers.  The floral ring surrounding the cake contained roses, viburnum, and sweet peas.

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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.

Blossom

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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What do you search for when you want to buy flowers on the internet? Do you go to your trusted local florist’s website, or do you just search ‘buy flowers online’ and pick the first the one listed at the top of the page?

The independent product testing company Which? recently rated six online florists on their Mother’s Day flowers, unfortunately their decision to test nationwide companies means when it comes to flowers they missed out on the best of the bunch.  They only ended up with one bouquet from an actual florist shop and that order was passed to the florist from Interflora, a relay company. There are several distinct types of florists online and knowing which is which could greatly affect the flowers that are received.

Firstly the independent florist, they are generally a small company, whose main business is selling and delivering flowers from retail premises. It might seem hard work finding a local florist’s website, as there are so many listings for florists online, it can feel a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack.  Often florist shops won’t have a large budget for online marketing, so they will struggle to appear on the first page of a search engine. To find a local florist all you need to do is search florist and the area you require, you should be able to go directly to a local florist in the vicinity you require.  A real florist shop will always list their address and local contact number.

By ordering directly with a florist shop you are ensuring the people actually making your flowers will receive all of your money and you can see how much you’ve really paid for delivery. Your flowers are guaranteed to be hand delivered on the day of your choice as well.   Don’t kid yourself into thinking that someone bigger offers free delivery. There’s no such thing as a free lunch, plus delivery drivers and petrol are not free.  By picking a local florist you know you are dealing with experts, if you need to ask advice about the best type of design for someone in hospital or if your Mum’s favourite flower is in season, a knowledgeable florist will be at the end of the phone ready to help.

spring flowers

Next we have the relay companies; these companies pass orders between local florist shops.  For example if you wanted to send flowers to your aunt Hetty at the other end of the country, you order them in a florist, the florist sends the order to the relay company and they in turn pass it to a florist near the recipient.  It works the same way online, you place your order and the relay company gives the order to local florist shop.  But don’t forget someone has to pay for this service.  Florist shops pay monthly membership fees to be part of a relay service and they also pay for every order they receive by way of a commission as well, which can be up to 30% of the order value. You can cut out relay companies by searching directly for a florist in the area you require this also enables you to view pictures of the florist’s own work, rather than images from the relay company.

There are also order gathering companies, so called as they simply gather orders, take a commission and pass your order onto a florist.  This percentage varies, but can be as high as 30% and often the florist given the order is not aware money has already been deducted.  These companies often advertise for many delivery areas but when you look at their contact details, they may not list an address and only have a free phone number.  The quality and value from this type of company can be very hit and miss, if you are unsure about a company like this try searching online for reviews about them before purchasing.

Lastly there are the big name online florists.  You might normally buy clothes or food from these brands but they also offer online flowers.  They will have flashy websites offering a wide range of floral products for seemingly great prices.  But the flowers are actually often made in a factory by unskilled workers and delivered in an unattractive cardboard box.  When I say unskilled, I mean someone who is expected to whip flowers together very quickly, production line fashion and hasn’t trained for several years like florists in retail shops do.

Bouquets from this type of company are sometimes not gift wrapped and have very little foliage, so the bouquet will simple fall about in a vase and not sit nicely.  Often these companies do not use best grade flowers.  Roses are often the worst offenders from these types of companies, if a stem length is not stated then assume they will be very short and therefore have very small heads. Beware delivery conditions from this type of company too, as their flowers are often sent by courier which means a delivery date is not always guaranteed.

Every household name has jumped on the flower bandwagon in recent years, but what qualifies your favourite supermarket as an expert in floristry?  To get the best quality and service, search for a local florist.  All good florists will show pictures of their own work, beware of shops that only show standard relay company images.  Florists want to show off their own good work.  Many florists have business listings on Google and Facebook, these are good places to see images of florist’s work as well as customer reviews.

pink bouquet

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