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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.
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.
Last weekend I did my first Wedding Show, which was fun and exhausting in equal parts! One of the interesting things that came out of speaking to all the lovely brides was a feeling of environmental awareness in relation to flowers. Many people didn’t feel comfortable ordering flowers that would only be used for one day and then thrown away. I am very interested in this side of floristry and want to try to minimise my footprint by using seasonal blooms, environmentally friendly or traditional practices and, where possible, British flowers. However it has also occurred to me that some of the designs I’ve been working on recently such as terrariums and living wreaths might also make great table centres and decorations at weddings, which will then keep on living.
Terrariums originated from a period when plant hunters transported living specimens thousands of miles home from their exotic adventures overseas. The plants were placed in glass containers that provided a self-sustaining mini-environment in which moisture created by the plants collected on the inside surfaces of the glass and dripped down to rehydrate them. Wardian cases became a fashionable way for wealthy Victorians to display indoor plants. This was especially key in Victorian cities where pollution made gardening a no-no.
In recent years they have taken the North American and Australian interiors scene by storm, however in Britain they are still relatively unusual. I loved the idea of making these little self-contained worlds and have been working on a variety of designs in interesting containers to sell at a Vintage market I will be at this weekend.
Other designs I’ve worked on include two series of “living wreaths”. The first is made using the amazing Tillandsia or “air plants” which originate from the jungle and so take all their nutrients from the air. These fascinating plants can live just about anywhere and require very little care from you, just occasional misting with water. I love the lines they create; they look out of this world!
Finally I am also working on some living wreaths and letters using succulents, ivy or seasonal plants such as the pansies I’ve put in these letters. They are a great way of including a quirky monogrammed feature in your home or at a wedding, or could equally be used at a grave to last much longer than a traditional oasis wreath.
Looking after any of these designs is so easy even the least green-fingered person could manage it, I really hope people love these ideas as much as I do, house plants don’t have to be boring!
One of the things that I miss most about living in the country is the green spaces. In Glasgow I am very lucky to be so close to a lot of beautiful parks and countryside but I do miss being able to step out of my door into a wilder space. Recently the trees have been turning glorious colours and on walks I’ve seen the bushes littered with bright berries, conkers and beechnuts.
I couldn’t resist making something with these lovely colours and textures so last weekend I took my scissors for a walk around my parents’ garden and did some foraging. I wanted to make a beautiful boho flower crown in my own style after having done so many for college which had to fit a certain style. These sorts of crowns seem to be everywhere in wedding magazines these days.
I had bought some flowers for the occasion but I hardly touched them having found such a bounty of brilliant material outside my own front door. These pictures show the fruits of my labours. It probably took me around two hours, and I was completely absorbed in the making process. This is one of things I love about floristry; that my mind is entirely in the moment and everything else disappears.
I’ve now developed a number a workshops that I can run for hen dos, birthday parties or any special occasion, and this flower crown is one of the activities on offer. So if you like the look of it and are planning an event or would like someone to lead an activity get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ll soon be announcing some exciting news about Christmas Workshops in Glasgow and Stirling so watch this space! And for anyone who doesn’t already know , Briar Rose Design now has a facebook page so pop over and have a look if you want to take a gander at some of my recent designs.
It’s the first of September and with it comes the scent of autumn in the air. I was out foraging near Haddington at the weekend and although the sun warmed my back I could see the leaves tinged with splashes of autumn colours. Everywhere the warm oranges, reds and golden colours of autumn have begun to appear and with the turn of season I am reminded of how quickly time passes. Two years ago today I fell ill and would never have guessed how profoundly my life would change. In some ways that day seems like a lifetime ago but in other ways I can't believe how quickly time has gone.
A year has gone by since my last blog post, however I have not been entirely idle. I’m not fully better yet but my health is progressing and since I last wrote I have completed a college course in floristry while working in a local flower shop earning my stripes and trained with the lovely Tallulah Rose Flower School. I wrote previously about my dream to run my own floristry business and this month I have made the decision to go for it and become my own boss!
And so Briar Rose Design is born… I will offer bespoke floristry designs tailored to your needs whether it be a wedding, dinner, celebration or commiseration. It’s a scary, exciting, whirlwind adventure I’m starting out on and I’m sure there will be many times I question my sanity but I can’t wait to get started.
It’s still very early days but I’ve set up a Facebook page where I’ll post pictures of some of my designs and let you know all the latest news from Briar Rose Design. Feel free to get in touch on email@example.com and spread the word! My head is buzzing with ideas so watch this space…