spring flowers

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Black is the elusive colour for flowers, we don’t really have any true black flowers.  There are many varieties of flower called black, like black beauty rose and black forest calla lily, but they are really a very deep purple or red.   Dark colours recede, so when you look at them from a distance they appear to move away and look darker. Care should be taken when using a few dark flowers with lighter colours, as a single purple flower can often look like a hole in a design if used with paler flowers. Dark purple flowers have an intriguing, inky black quality and deep red flowers are luxurious and velvety.

Flowers use their colour to attract insects to pollinate them that is why darker flowers are rarer in nature.  The flowers in my list are all available as cut flowers, but they are not the kind of flowers you will find if you just pop into your florist.  A florist may have the odd black flower in stock but generally they are ordered in.

Counting down from number 10:

black-cornflower10 – cornflower

These pretty summer flowers are traditionally blue, but the black variety is very striking. ‘black ball’ is a very deep red with hints of chocolate.

black-gladioli9 – Gladioli

Most black flowers are either dark red or purple, gladioli come in both colours. They have fabulous long stems up to a metre long, perfect for big vases or pedestal arrangements.

black-sweet-pea8 – Sweet peas

These delicate flowers are available in a very dark red or purple.  They have short stems as cut flowers, but they are perfect for wedding work. Sweet Peas have a fabulous scent and are available from March to November.

moon-vista-carnation7 – Carnation

Carnations are great value for money and available all year round.  They are the cheapest black flower in my top ten list.  They are ideal to fill out arrangements or work well used on their own in compact designs.  Moon vista is a lovely deep purple with a velvety sheen.

black-dahlia6 – Dahlia

Black dahlias are a gorgeous shade of deep red. Their symmetrical petals are exquisite in this velvety shade.  They are available from June to October.

The top five black flowers will follow tomorrow.


Dahlia at top of article – thetreasuredpetal.wordpress.com by Trista Lerit photography

Carnation – florigene.com

Sweet pea – playingwithflowers.co.uk

Gladioli – dutchgardens.com

Cornflower – kerneliv.dk

Dahlia – fightthefondant.blogspot.co.uk

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When you arrange to speak to a florist about your wedding flowers, one of the first questions they will ask is ‘what is your wedding flower budget?’ I always supply brides with a price guide and advise them to think about their budget before a flower consultation.  But often brides still say they don’t know what their budget is.  There is no ulterior motive from florists when they ask how much you are thinking of spending, it’s the easiest way to gauge which types of designs and flowers to show you.

As you’ll find with all your wedding supplies, prices vary greatly from hundreds to thousands of pounds.  Flowers are the same, some cost as little as a pound and some cost over ten pounds a stem.  If I have an idea of budget I can suggest suitable flowers and styles to stay within your figure.  The brides that don’t give any idea for their budget are usually the ones who are disappointed when they receive the quote.  As the lovely items they choose at the consultation, are out of their price range.


Don’t worry if you are on a tight budget, it’s far better for a florist to know that at the start.  There are hundreds of flowers to choose from with varying prices.  If you have your heart set on classy elegant designs but have a modest budget, a florist will be able to suggest ingenious ways to achieve your perfect flowers.  In some designs premium flowers can be substituted for cheaper alternatives to achieve a similar effect.  I am honest with brides and always tell them what their budget will realistically allow for.

To work out your budget ask your florist for their price list, and add up the items you think you’d like.  This will be a good guide for you to see roughly how much wedding flowers cost.  If you want only premium flowers, your flowers will probably cost more than the price list suggests, the opposite applies if you are happy to have more inexpensive flowers.  Wedding flowers do cost more than normal flowers, they take much longer to make, they are made by the most experienced florists and have more premium flowers than usual arrangements contain.


You can also find lots of helpful information about wedding flowers on the Flowers & Plant Association website.  They have a price guide for the average costs of wedding bouquets and arrangements, or look on at the flower price list page, which tells you which flowers are reasonable, expensive and premium.

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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:  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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Lily of the valley Close

Common name:  Lily of the valley, May lily, May bells

Botanical Names: Convallaria Majalis

Origin: Northern Hemisphere, Asia and Europe

Colours: white and more rarely pink

Lily of the valley is also known as May lily which comes from the Latin convallis meaning valley and majalis for May-flowering.  It is said to symbolise purity, humility and the return of happiness.  It has long been associated with May and is said to bring good luck or protect your garden from evil spirits.  Lily of the valley has been the national flower of Finland since 1967.

This pretty plant is a herbaceous perennial that spreads it’s rhizomes (roots) underground to form extensive colonies.  It grows up to 20cm in height and has tiny bell shaped flowers up to 10mm in diameter.  The flowers have a beautiful sweet fragrance.  The plants offer good ground cover and thrive in shady areas.  Although after several years they can take over large areas or other plants if not divided and kept on top of.  All parts of the plant are poisonous including the berries.

The herb is used medicinally for various conditions.  In the First World War it was used to treat victims of mustard gas to lower blood pressure.  It contains cardiac glycosides which are used to treat heart problems.  The roots of the plants are used by herbalists to make an ointment that treats burns.  It should only be used by a qualified medical practitioner as the side effect can be harmful if used incorrectly.

Lily of the valley bouquet

In floristry Lily of the valley is used predominately in wedding work, as it’s petite stems are not long enough for normal bouquets and it is one of the dearer flowers.   It’s main season is March to May as a cut flower.  It is available in some other months, but it is usually more expensive out of season.  It’s delicate flowers look beautiful in hand tied bouquets or shower bouquets, and it’s sweet fragrance has a gorgeous old fashioned quality.   The delicate flowers are so petite a vast number are needed for bridal bouquets of only lily of the valley.  It also works well mixed with roses for an elegant vintage look.

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