Pastel Peony Wedding Flowers

It's almost peony season again and as I'm writing a few quotes for pastel weddings I thought I'd blog about another great wedding from last year. 

The lovely Joanne and Ewan tied the knot at Sloans in Glasgow city centre. Joanne's bouquet was a romantic pastel beauty full of soft tones and blousey blooms. I used peonies, scented stocks, white nigella (also known as "love in a mist", white alliums, astilbe and atrantia to create a gorgeous whispy hand tied bouquet.

Another favourite ingredient used was blushing bride protea which had a gorgeous colour and soft curve to it. When I was researching blushing bride proteas I discovered that apparently French Huguenots farmers would approach their girlfriends with this flower in their lapels when about to ask for their hand in marriage. The name "blushing bride" derives from the fact that the suitor's intention was apparent to all who met him, much to the embarrassment of his bride to be. The deeper the pink colour the more serious the intentions of the suitor.

For a luxurious and ethereal twist I used hand died heirloom silk to finish the bouquets which was so light it caught the wind beautifully in her photos. I love using this delicate trailing material to finish bouquets and it's perfect for this style of wedding.

In Joanne's hair I made a pastel comb and her bridesmaids and flower girls had matching posies and flower wands. Ewan is a little allergic to flowers so I made a succulent based buttonhole which toned in really well with their muted colour palette - and of course I had to add some blushing bride too!

Photos by Zoe Alexandra Photography

Mother's Day Flower Workshop

It's March at last, which means it almost spring, and my wedding season starts back up again. I'll try to keep these blog posts going but they may get a little less frequent.

March and daffodils go hand in hand, and the gorgeous yellow flowers always make me think of spring and Mother's Day. When I was little I always used to pick a bunch of daffs for mum on Mother's day and bring her tea and toast in bed and now whenever I see daffodils I remember this.

Being a crafty kind of person I've always loved making things for people, whether it's cards, knitted bits and bobs or baking, and Mother's Day seems like the perfect time to make something for the person who made you.

This year I'll be running a workshop on Mother's Day (March 26th, 10am - 12 noon) at For Fika Sake in Partick. We'll be taking inspiration from one of my all time flower heros Constance Spry, and using Scottish grown blooms to create wild and wonderful arrangements to celebrate the arrival of spring and, more importantly, mums.

No experience is necessary and you can either bring your mum if she'd like to have a go herself or come by yourself and give your mum your finished masterpiece.

I try where possible to be environmentally friendly so this will be an oasis foam free arrangement and will teach you flower care and tips that you can use again whenever you get flowers in the future to make them look great in your home.

Pre-booking is essential as space is limited. For more information or to book get in touch via the contact us form.

Marsala wedding 101 - Rosalind and Charly's chic city centre wedding

In 2015 Pantone's colour of the year was Marsala - a sort of burgundy, wine, oxblood tone - and since then I've had a lot of couples look to incorporate this beautiful rich tone into their wedding day. People often like to team it with blush pinks, rose golds and creams, and it is great colour to use if you are thinking of getting married in late summer or autumn.

Often people think that working in a "wild" or "natural" style of floristry means you can't do chic, contemporary or city weddings but last year I had the pleasure of working on Rosalind and Charly's super stylish Edinburgh wedding at the Balmoral.

Rosalind is a stylist and has a fantastic eye for detail, her dress was simple, elegant and chic with a fabulous scalloped edge neckline. She asked me to work in a burgundy / Marsala colour palette with pops of fresh white and eucalyptus to represent her time in Australia.

I used a mixture of Scottish grown flowers from the lovely Paula at Millpond Flower Farm, and imported dutch flowers. As it was an October wedding burgundy was a brilliant colour choice and we used some gorgeous rich dahlias to get the really dark dark wine colour in her bouquet along with amaranthus (which I always love using for its texture), blackberry scoop scabious, astrantia, garden roses, wax flower, eustoma and grasses. I loved the deep tones and different textures of her bouquet and although it was an all round design I still worked in loose and natural style letting the flowers showcase their beauty.

Charly had a buttonhole of succulents, thistle, wax flower and sedum to match in with Rosalind's Marsala bouquet.

 

We dressed the ceremony and reception rooms at the Balmoral in beautiful garlands of eucalyptus and autumn hydrangea, working with the muted tones of the room furnishings.

Photos by Crofts and Kowalczyk

Fiona and Nial's Crear Wedding

I was lucky enough to work on a really varied set of weddings last year, from bright colour pop warehouse ceremonies, to ethereal woodland weddings, pastel blooms in ancient castles to deep burgundy and marsala in Edinburgh city centre. I love that every couple is unique and while there are trends that run through wedding flower preferences, no two bouquets or arrangements are the same. 

One of my favourite weddings from last year was Fiona and Nial's August nuptials, which took place at the beautiful Crear on the west coast of Scotland. Fiona was initially attracted to my terrariums and dinosaurs with air plants in them, and succulents and tillandsia were soon added to the list of ingredients for her wedding flowers!

The muted tones of the Scottish grown flowers were inspired by the colours of the the Scottish landscape. Fiona wanted her bouquet to mirror the tones and textures of the West coast- the sea, sky and mountains. She loved Scandinavian design, clean lines and plants so I used a beautiful tillandsia air-plant as the focus of her bridal bouquet with the unusual lines and colours reminiscent of the sea shore. She could then keep the plant after her wedding as a memento.

Other ingredients included echinops, lavender, mint, dahlia, nigella (also known as love in a mist) and clematis. Her flower girl carried a giant allium head and I added a small tillandsia plant to Nial's buttonhole to tie in with Fiona's bouquet.

For favours Fiona and her mum wrapped mixed succulents in hessian and attached handwritten name tags. I love how the greenery of the foliage, the pale lavender, blue and white tones of the flowers pick out the tones of the landscape and their photographer Lisa Devine has beautifully captured the light and atmosphere of the setting.

Wedding Timeline

Before Christmas I ran some wreath making workshops and one of the things that came up in discussion was just how much time it takes to make the designs for a wedding. We spent over two hours making a door wreath but when you have multiple designs to make for a wedding you might not be able to take that much time A lot of people might think that wedding flowers are just done on the day or day before but in fact the process takes many months. A lot of this work is not visible and so when people talk about how expensive wedding flowers are they might not realise all the stages that go on before the bride holds onto her bouquet on the day.

 

The consultation
Some brides are super organised and will come to me two years ahead of their date with a pinterest board full of ideas and a list of exactly what they want and others leave it to the week before their wedding date and have never really thought about flowers other than what they see in the supermarket. I like to have a consultation with each couple, whether in person, via email or over the phone, to get a good idea of all the details of the wedding, their general style and themes and their personalities. This helps me design their arrangements and pick out the right blooms that will perfectly fit the wedding and the season.

The design:
Having had a consultation I will go away and spend a long time thinking about the designs, researching what will be in season, what colours will go well together, what elements might suit the couple's personalities and the look of the wedding as a whole. Sometimes this will mean talking to growers or my wholesaler at the market, sometimes I'll visit the venue, sometimes I will put together moodboards and lists of ingredients. Each couple is different in what they need and how much they want to be involved in the process so before you have paid your deposit a lot of creative energy will go into your designs. Throughout the days, weeks, months (and sometimes years) leading up to the wedding date I will continue adding to my mood boards and notes for each wedding when I come across ideas and ingredients that would be perfect for that look.

The countdown:
Coming up to the wedding date itself I will have another consultation with the couple either in person, via phone or email to go over all the details and make sure nothing has changed - often it has! Once these details have been ironed out I'll order the flowers - whether from a local grower or from Holland and start preparing the non perishable parts of the order, the vases, boxes and a beautiful wedding card which explains the ingredients of your wedding flowers and their history and folklore.

Ordering the flowers itself takes a long time (several hours usually!) and involves a lot of "Flower Maths". If I'm buying from Holland flowers and foliage come in bundles or wraps of anything from 10 -50 stems and I need to work out how many stems I need for each design, allowing for breakages etc, and how many wraps that will translate to. All of this is made more complicated by the shifting price of flowers at auction and I need to be careful to buy materials to the budget agreed with the couple.

The flowers arrive:
Different flowers will open at different speeds and need differing amounts of tlc and coaxing to get them ready for your wedding so I will collect the flowers from the grower or market (often these are in different cities altogether) and then condition them, give them a good drink and make them happy so that when it comes to your big day they are all at their most beautiful and full. Sometimes in winter it is hard to coax them out to play, but in summer it can be too hot and they are ready to party far too early! If the flowers are from Holland or further a field they will need a good long drink after their journey across continents and will need to be gentle roused form the suspended animation they have been put in to travel.

Making the designs
Now the flowers are ready to work with I will go ahead and start making up the designs in the order that they will last best. This means that things like wired shower bouquets and flower crowns will be done right at the last moment as close to the wedding as possible so that they will last longer. Once a flower is out of water and has been wired up it is on something of a countdown to wilting so I have to bear this in mind when scheduling what designs to make up first.

The big day
On the morning of the wedding I will get up at a somewhat unholy hour to continue making designs. Sometimes I can hear owls from my studio and once I spent the early morning and dawn in the company of a young sparrow hawk who watched me through the window as I put the finishing touches to the bridal bouquet. I love this time, tired as I am, there is a certain stillness and beauty to the world before everyone else has woken up and the hustle and bustle of the world around me has begun. 

If I'm lucky I will wolf down a breakfast en route and load up the van before delivering flowers. Often this involves multiple drop off points trying to beat rush hour traffic and the Scottish weather to make sure that each party going to the wedding gets their flowers when they need them. At the venue I'll set up the flowers for the ceremony and reception and make sure everything is perfect before I go. If this includes floral arches and pedestals or hanging designs this is more involved and I may spend several hours at the venue before anyone else arrives making the designs that cannot be pre-made in the workshop or easily transported. When everything is in place and I'm happy I will pack up and slip away before the guests arrive and only the flowers remain, waiting to welcome the couple in all their beauty.
 

Gold, Teal and Hot Pink Geometric Wedding

It's been sunny for the past couple of days and I've started to see signs that spring is around the corner with snowdrops and even crocuses peaking through despite the January gloom. It's making me think of some of one of my favourite spring weddings of last year at Sloans in Glasgow city centre.

The bride, Aimee, is an amazingly talented dress designer (she was even making her own dress!) and it was great working with her brief of clean lines, geometric shapes and a punchy combo of colours: hot pink, teal and gold.

To create her look I used sprayed gold craspedia (also known as billy buttons), eucalyptus and succulents for the bluey green shades, and a mixture of pink roses. I liked the way the craspedia and succulents had the clean lines and geometric shapes she was looking for and I teamed them with bouvardia, ranunculas (one of my favourite spring blooms) and hypericum berries to give a great textured look to the bouquet. 

For the buttonholes I used succulents and craspedia died gold which looked great against Michael's teal tweed jacket. In the venue Aimee had dip dyed glass vases in teal and I filled them with hot pink spring flowers. It was a really unusual, fresh look perfect for Spring!

Photography: Lauren McGlynn

Bad Ass Buttonholes - more than just an after thought

For many guys buttonholes are a bit of an after thought, something they are told they should wear by mums and partners, but they don’t have to be boring. I always try to make the groom’s buttonhole reflective of the bridal bouquet but also a little special as this is really the groom’s version of a bouquet.

Stories differ as to how the tradition of pinning flowers to your lapel started, but some say that buttonholes date back to ancient Greece. The male wedding party members would wear a small bunch of flowers, usually mixed with fragrant herbs, pinned close to their heart in order to ward off evil spirits. It was believed that these evil spirits would cause the groom to turn his heart against the bride and refuse to love her.

Whatever you believe the origins to be, buttonholes are still popular today, and it is worth noting the story if only to remind you to pin the buttonhole on the left hand side (the same side as your heart ). Other people have said men should wear buttonholes on the left side because women are always right, but I’ll leave that interpretation up to you!

I often get asked how to put on buttonholes and have found this video on YouTube very useful:

Traditionally men would wear a single, rose, carnation or in Scotland a thistle, but nowadays it is much more popular to have a more natural looking gathered style of buttonhole below. These bunched buttonholes suit a more rustic or naturally styled wedding and have the benefit that you can keep them in water (like a mini bouquet) right up until you pin them on. In contrast traditional wired buttonholes cannot go in water but do provide more support (due to the wiring) throughout the day. 

When choosing your buttonhole ingredients it’s worth remembering that buttonholes have to put up with a lot. They are pinned on a warm body and often knocked and squished in man hugs throughout the day, so I find using hard elements like succulents, lavender or dried elements mean that your buttonhole survives for longer. Pale flowers and roses can bruise easily, and likewise some off the beautiful images of wildflower buttonholes on Pinterest are misleading as they are taken for a photoshoot but would never last the rigours of a full wedding. Another option is to order two buttonholes for the groom so he can have a pristine version for the official photographs!

Perhaps some of my favourite buttonholes have been a little quirky, for example I had a bride whose bouquet was designed to cascade out of a teapot, her bridesmaids’ bouquets were in teacups and so I used dolls house china to add mini teacups and a teapot to the groom and bridal party’s buttonholes.

Earlier this summer a book loving bride wanted me to include a paper rose in her bouquet taken from the pages of her favourite book so I made a matching mini one to go in her groom’s buttonhole. In other examples I’ve included pine cones, feathers and even scrabble tiles. So when it comes to buttonholes, be creative, it doesn’t have to be boring!

 

Thanks to Lauren McGlynn Photography who captured my gold and succulent buttonhole at the start of the blog, and The Gibsons for the image of my popular wheat, lavender and thistle buttonhole.

Peony Problems

When talking to brides at consultations or at recent wedding fairs in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Stirling, the word “peony” has loomed large. Undoubtedly a beautiful flower, and one of the most popular luxury wedding flowers, many brides have their hearts set on this bloom for their wedding bouquet. Unfortunately, as with many beautiful ephemeral things, it has a very short season, making it all the more precious. Its peak season falls between April and June, but this year I have seen beautiful peonies at the flower market from early March, and last year there were peonies well into July. They go hand in hand with blousey full-bloomed roses to give a sense of stately home elegance and they have an amazing heady scent.

This beautiful flower is full of diva-like habits and can strike fear into the heart of many florists as they are notoriously capricious. Often a number of stems per wrap will never open at all, despite the ministrations of panicking florists equipped with warm water and hairdryers. Other times they will unfurl their taffeta skirts all too soon and be ready to dance before the day of the wedding. Because of this your florist might over order the number of peonies needed so they will have enough usable stems.

That said, they are definitely the stars of the show in a bouquet, the prima ballerina of any arrangement, despite their Victorian flower meaning of “bashfulness”. So it is always difficult when a bride full of enthusiasm for peonies then reveals her wedding date is out of peony season. However all is not lost, there are many alternatives to peonies which work well in natural, classic and rustic bouquets at other times of year. Perhaps the first step is to think about what it is about the peony that charms you.

 If it is the big headed round shape consider using Ranunculus or double tulips in spring. You might also like David Austin roses for their ruffles and spirals of petals. Or if you love the scent, try something like Matthiola to capture the perfume of summer. Whatever it is that attracts you, there are plenty of alternatives out there.

 

Lavender Love

Summer (of sorts) has finally arrived and with the warmer weather my annual battle with hordes of clothes moths has resumed. On the whole I don’t like killing bugs and spiders, but when a moth looms near my knitwear collection or wool stash there is no other option. One of the “cures” often touted against moths is lavender, so I’m using this as a good excuse to make a wreath of dried lavender to hang in the house and ward off the evil blighters.

Lavender comes from the Latin ‘lavare’ meaning to wash and its fragrant flowers are used extensively in herbal medicine and beauty products. From Roman times to the current day lavender has been added to baths, burnt for its smell and the Victorians even used to sew small sachets of it into their clothing to act as deodorant.

Sources differ about what its meaning is from mistrust to love or devotion depending on what text you consult. The idea of ‘mistrust’ stems from when the plant original only grew in hot climates and it was thought that the asp used to often be found living under the shrubs.
For me, lavender reminds me of my childhood, of sitting in the little blue and white courtyard garden that was my mother’s haven and smelling the scent of the flowers and the garden roses that climbed the walls.

Hopefully the clothes moths will have none of these positive associations and will flee once I hang up my new wreath. They are easy to make all you need is dried lavender, reel wire and a wreath frame, but if that sounds like hard work you can order one to size from me, and I also offer a wheat version or mixed lavender and wheat wreath (I’m not sure what the effect on the moths is of wheat but it looks nice!)
 

Crown of Weeds

Image by K. K Dundas

Image by K. K Dundas

Before Christmas I was approached by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with a commission to create a floral crown for a photoshoot they were organising to publicise their March performance of King Lear. In the play, Lear is driven mad by the cruelty of his children and wanders the countryside wearing a crown of weeds.

As mad as the vexed sea, singing aloud, Crowned with rank fumiter and furrow-weeds, With burdocks, hemlock, nettles, cuckoo-flowers, Darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow In our sustaining corn
— Coredlia describing her father, King Lear

It was a really interesting piece to create because I wanted to use dried or dying materials to mirror Lear’s mental decline. The idea being that what was on top of his head (wild and decaying materials) would represent what was going on inside his head. I love using foraged items in my work, but it was novel to be using dying materials rather than the lush blousy blooms of retro flower crowns, or pretty blossoms of circlets that I’m used to.

In doing a little research into the symbolism of the crown in Lear, I came across a blog by Jennifer Hamilton where she says: “It is usually considered an indicator of Lear’s madness or the chaos in the kingdom. But I think the weedy crown represents the promise of an alternative political order. Taken out of its dramatic context, I think a weedy crown can be worn by anyone (of the 99%!) to represent an alternative way of imaging and living in the world.” This is particularly interesting given that the RCS production of the play will take the unusual step of featuring an all-female cast.

Thanks to the talented KK Dundas for these photos. King Lear will be performed on Fri 6 & Sat 7 March at 7.30pm and Mon 9 - Wed 11 March 7.30pm. To book tickets visit www.rcs.ac.uk/boxoffice