Vintage Flowers

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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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roses and peonies

Any good florist will have a vast amount of knowledge about flowers.  They will know all sorts of useful info like which flowers are in season, what flowers look good together and they will be able to give you ideas for designs that keep within your budget.

If you are meeting with a few florists there are a few things you can think about to help you choose the right one for you.  Florists will show you photos of designs to give you an idea of different styles available.  Are their photos current and up to date? Some florists have a very definite style, do you like their style and their ideas? Pre-made design books and magazines are fine for getting ideas, but be sure you see some pictures of the florists own work as well so you can see the standard of their work and style.

When asked about your budget you should be upfront about what you want to spend.  Wedding flowers can go up or down hundreds of pounds dependent on the types of flowers you choose for your designs, some designs don’t contain many flowers but are very labour intensive and therefore cost more.  If you give your florist an idea of your budget they can suggest the best flowers and designs for you and you won’t get a shock when you receive your quote.  If you don’t know what you plan to spend, take a look at the flower and plant association website.  They have a guide to average prices compiled from UK florists, and a list of  flowers that are reasonably priced and flowers that are more expensive.

gloriosa, viburnum, peony and lisianthus

When the florist discusses your colour scheme and ideas, do you feel like they listen to what you want and understand what you are looking for?  A good florist will take in your ideas and translate them into designs that will work with your budget.  If you have orchid ideas but a chrysanth budget they should also be able to offer alternative flowers or designs that will provide a similar effect but be more cost effective.  If your budget won’t cover all the items you originally wanted, the florist should be able to suggest which items to spend the majority of your budget on to get the best impact.

If the florist has decorated your venue before they should be able to suggest designs that will suit your venue and any focal areas to decorate.  Ask them if they can provide a transfer service to move any items from your ceremony to use at your reception venue.  Florists will charge for this but the fee is normally far less than it would be for extra designs.

avalanche, peony and gloriosa bouquet

If you have looked into wedding flower costs, you should have a rough idea what your quote will say when it arrives.  If you have got a few quotes spend a little time to go through them, check all the details and that your total price states all the delivery and set-up costs.  If any quote stands out as drastically cheaper than others, you should consider why.  You don’t want to trust your wedding flowers to an inexperienced florist or someone who will let you down the week of your wedding because they have under-priced your flowers.  This also includes friends of friends or aunties who ‘do flowers’, only a highly skilled and experienced florist should do wedding flowers.  I have had to fix several attempts at wedding bouquets on the day of the wedding, made by people who are not florists with poor quality flowers, just because they were a cheap option.

Ultimately go with your instincts when making the decision on your florist, pick the one that you trust to turn your ideas into beautiful flowers.

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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 Allen

images from marie claire

Singer and fashion designer Lily Allen recently married Sam cooper in a typical village wedding, their ceremony took place at St James the Great , a picturesque church in the Cotswolds.  Lily wore a vintage style dress by French designer Delphine Manivet, it featured a sweetheart neckline with lace sleeves and overlay with a long train.   She also wore a full length 1920s veil adorned with two large flowers.

Lily carried a gorgeous bouquet of country garden flowers in soft pastel shades.  Her bouquet featured garden roses, spray roses, peonies, hydrangea and field pennycress.  Her bridesmaids wore floaty peach dresses and carried small version of Lily’s bouquet.  The flower girls wore ivory lace dresses and wore circlets of flowers in their hair.

Bride's maids

Either side of the entrance to the church there were two large arrangements of garden flowers in blues, purples and whites including delphinium, peony, hydrangea, scabious and viburnum.

Lily Allen church flowers

A palette of pastel colours is perfect for a vintage themed wedding.  If you want to achieve the same classic look, pick flowers such as stocks that are available in lovely pastels shades including pinks, lillacs and creams. Scabious is another pretty garden flower, in either soft blue or white.  Lily Allen had gorgeous garden roses in peachy apricot tones, the David Austin rose Juliet is a lovely peach garden rose.

David Austin Juliet rose

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White Rose

Common name:  Rose

Botanical Names: Rosa

Origin: Asia (small number from Europe, North America and Northwest Africa)

Colours: virtually all except blue and black

Roses have been important throughout history; the ancient Greeks and Romans linked the rose to their Goddess of love. In the Middle Ages Rosaries were made from rose hips, which were considered sacred. Roses have symbolised love and beauty for hundreds of years, they are also famed for their fragrance and healing properties.  Rose hips contain high levels of vitamin C and are used in products to treat a number of ailments.  Rose leaves and petals are used to make tea, which is also said to have healing properties.

Roses are avilable all year roun.  They are second most popular cut flower in the United Kingdom and one of the most loved worldwide.  They are commonly given on St Valentines Day. The rose is the national flower of England and worn as buttonholes on St Georges Day.

Each colour of rose has it’s own meaning, in Victorian times they were often used to convey secret messages between lovers.  Contrary to popular belief blue roses do not exist as a natural colour they are dyed to obtain a blue colour. There is also not a true black rose, ‘black roses’ are actually deep burgundy roses.

Red symbolises love and passion.

Orange and Coral stand for excitement, enthusiasm and desire.

Yellow represents friendship, jealousy or apology.

White means purity and innocence.

Light pink suggest youth and energy.

Dark pink stands for gratitude and grace.

Burgundy signifies unconscious beauty.

Lavender indicates love at first sight.

David Austin Rose

David Austin Rose

Old fashioned English garden roses have become available as a cut flower in recent years.  These roses have large rosette shape heads with many petals, and most have wonderful fragrances.  Spray roses feature several miniature heads on each stems.  They are popular for wedding work such as corsages and headdresses.

Roses are used in all aspects of floristry due to their universal popularity and wide range of colours.  Roses are very popular for wedding bouquets.  With so many colours available you are sure to find a shade to complement any colour scheme.

Every rose variety has it’s own name, a florist often sells them by name as certain varieties are very popular especially at St Valentines Day.

Red roses – Extase is a deep red rose with a fabulous scent. Grand Prix is very large headed red variety.

Pink roses – Heaven is a small but perfect pale pink rose.  If you prefer large roses Sweet avalanche is beautiful large pale pink rose.

White roses – Avalanche is a large headed white rose or Maroussia is a large scented white rose.

Lilac roses – Pacific blue is a lovely pastel shade or Cool Waters has pink outer petals with a lilac centre.

Vintage roses – Amnesia is a lillac/beige rose, Vendella is an ivory rose with an almost peach tone to it. Hypnose is a pretty dusky pink rose.

Sweet Avalanche Rose, Cool Waters Rose

Sweet Avalanche Rose, Cool Waters Rose

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