Its been such a fantastically crazy week at the Parlour – Christmas is well under way, the dried fruits are out, the pine cones have been gathered (and scattered in various boxes) and we’re busy designing wreaths and table centres to adorn many a Berkshire table over the festive period. I have to say this time of year really catches my attention, the colours are amazing, the excitement as Christmas approaches and I know its not everyone’s favourite, but I love the change in weather (especially when the sky is that amazing crisp blue that you only get in autumn)
Partly why I’m so excited about this Christmas season is I always feel totally inspired – I love the other seasons, but somehow the homemaking vibes of Christmas suddenly jolt into another gear and I want to create, make, grow, bake … anything to make sure our home is the most welcoming place. We work some ridiculously long hours all through December and taking a little time out to recharge not only the physical batteries but also the creatives is a must. Often I don my trainers and run and just that step away from the normal life rut is enough to get me thinking. I’m looking around constantly when I run thinking “how can I use that leaf, WOAH that colour would look awesome, hey we haven’t tried that yet” I can feel all of my senses joining forces and I’m falling back in love with the amazing things nature can do. I literally feel I can do anything right now and that’s all down to taking some inspiration and ME time.
Every year I always have a favourite wreath and I have to admint for the past 3 years our door has been donning a whole adornment of festive foliage on a moss base. We always used to use a floral foam base, but I find the moss just lasts so much longer and carries on looking just that little more fabulous. This year I’m wiring air plants, succulents and birch to create a living wreath feel – I’m so excited to show you, this will be hitting the blog very soon!
There are tons of ways you can add a little festive feel to your home – one of the main things at this time of year is using some gorgeous foliage. More is always more, the more textures, colours, shapes you can cram into your arrangement the better. This week we sent out 4 bouquets of just foliage and a hint of crab apple, its something I’m going to recreate for our festive table this year.
With over 20kg of pine cones to wire, I should really get back to working hard. Hopefully I’ll have time to send through some more pictures of our latest exploits over the coming weeks and perhaps a few DIY tutorials to get your home “Christmas ready”
The past few weeks and months have been a total roller-coaster of emotion. There have been tears of overwhealming joy and moments of self-doubt. Its kind of given that running a business isn’t all sweet smelling roses, there are a few rotten apples you have to deal with along the path. The hardest thing to do as a superwoman business owner to take time and step away from everything to take stock of these extreme emotions. Your in this crazy to do list mode that never gets any smaller and then suddenly a year goes by in the blink of an eye and you haven’t given yourself time to reflect on the great achievements but equally the low ebbs. Over the past few weeks I’ve realised this is so so important. In fact I only took the time to reflect when running 26.2 miles … a clear head with nothing to focus on but putting one foot in front of the other. There was no phones, no emails … just me and a very long road.
So with 5 hours of running ahead of me my business/self evaluation began. When your so bogged down in doing the same thing year after year its so very hard to think about doing things differently. My epiphany moment came when I realised I had to start saying NO!
Its sounds so harsh … especially in business. Are you crazy for turning down that last minute bouquet order which means you have to stay late at work and miss putting your child to bed? Are you crazy for turning down the opportunity to provide florals for a wedding when you’ve alreayd got something else booked in? We kind of got in the habit of saying YES to everything that came in the door – dont get me wrong we managed it all with gusto and enthusiasum, but the price has been overwhealming tiredness, no family time, little time to do some of the things we love doing and an out of control inbox (if you have one of these you’ll know it feels like a huge noose around your neck constantly!)
When you start off thinking about all the stuff, it almost forces you to write a manifesto … what do I want from my business, how do I want it to fit with my life, how do I want my staff to feel. Its like the most gigantic can of worms opens up before you and suddenly you have to think about doing something different.
2016 is already looking like a bumper year for beautiful weddings, we’re already fully booked for June and July – and with what I’m about to type I don’t want any of our existing brides to worry. One of the things we always used to sell ourselves on is not becoming a wedding factory – we really want to get to know our couples, form friendships, we’re in this crazy creative wedding rollercoaster together, but with a whopping 56 weddings undertaken in 2015, I think we’ve reached burnout. We’ve lost sight of our goals. The bits we love most about weddings just haven’t been so enjoyable undertaking so many. Don’t get me wrong I cannot tell you how much I adore weddings but with around 40 – 60 hours worth of work per couple (read about what goes into your wedding flowers post here), taking on 56 has stretched us to our limits both physically and mentally.
So we feel super confident that by limiting ourselves to a smaller number of amazing weddings per year we’re going to be putting all of our love and attention into our couples, which is exactly what they deserve! So it’s with a huge smile on our face that we can shout from the rooftops we are now fully booked for 2016. We cannot wait to floral up our 2016 brides big days, I can tell you now there are some absolute corkers in the pipeline!
The weeks just seem to keep rolling by, each one is filled with some of the most beautiful blooms to date – I’m fickle, each week brings a new favourite bouquet or a new floral crush. With only 2 weddings booked in for this weekend, we’ve also had a moment to catch our breath and write list upon list for the coming weeks floral extravaganzas.
First up were Kelly and Dan, such an amazing chilled out couple. They chose to tie the knot at Herons Barn, which was such a great match to their personalities. Their whole day was about creating a soft romantic vibe with lots of textures, hessian and flowers.
Kelly carried a bouquet of cosmos, dahlias, thistle, nigella, snapdragons, astilbe, sweet peas, lisianthus, scented geranium leaves, lavender, rosemary, purple sage, mint, scabiosa and veronica.
The night before Kelly and Dan’s big day I was busy picking things from my garden to enhance the scent. I’m totally obsessed with scented geranium leaves and I knew when I met Kelly and Dan they just HAD to be included.
Next up Rachel and Gareth tied the know at Ufton Court on Sunday. This couple have been the most fun to work with and there’s such joy walking away from a venue set up thinking “thats so them!” Rachel is a hair dresser and often works on clients wedding hair so she’s seen all sorts of different weddings in her time. Opting for a rose filled affair, Rachel’s bouquet contained some of my favourite rose varieties.
Rachel’s bouquet contained Mentha roses, Safi roses, Old Dutch roses, Amnesia roses, Sweet Avalanche roses and Bombastic roses with the most subtle hints of scented berried eucalyptus. Although the roses are not the heady scented old English varieties, there was still the most amazing soft scent about this bouquet. Almost as if the roses had inhaled a parma violet or two.
We are now busy beavering away preparing list after list ready for 3 wonderful flower filled weddings this weekend. Now we just need a little sun.
This week has been jam packed in the Parlour, with a total of 6 weddings leaving our doors over 3 days. I adored all the bouquets, but I have to say Laura’s vintage rose wedding bouquet totally stole my heart. With the carte blanche brief of something of a grown-up but vintage nature, we blended rose after rose after rose to create her bouquet.
Laura married her boy Phil on Sunday at the Swan in Streatley and thank goodness the sun shone for there ceremony was taking place on the beautiful barge they have registered for weddings.
Every bridal bouquet means the world to us …
We often get asked if we have a minimum order for our wedding flowers, I know this is how some florists operate, but we wholeheartedly do not! Its so amazing to be part of a brides big day, however small. Basically we just totally adore making wedding flowers, from every bridal bouquet right through to church flowers and beyond.
Laura enlisted our help to create her bouquet, a bridesmaids bouquet, something cute for her bridesmaids to hold and the all important men’s boutonnieres.
Laura’s wedding was all about the DIY – she made the table flowers herself, there was a whole bevvy of helpers to decorate her village hall reception venue and there were the most darling cakes made by friends and family.
Create this vintage rose bridal bouquet
To recreate the vintage gown-up vibe of this bouquet, we blended a whole host of roses including Amnesia, Mentha, Safi, Old Dutch and Majolika roses. I love using herbs in wedding work and this bouquet smelt heavenly containing flowering mint, ammi majus, oregano, berried eucalytpus, rosemary and the most amazing sweet peas.
Laura’s bridesmaids bouquet followed the vintage vibe with roses, sweet peas and scented herbs.
Watch this space for some pictures of our other creations
Wow, already I feel better just writing the title of this post. Perhaps saying I dislike the whole of Pinterest is a little steep, there are some really great things about it, but equally there are some things I really hate. I figure the great things plus the hating overall balance out to a dislike.
Been in the wedding business, I should probably be raving about this crazy online pin board system. Its like a whole load of inspiration without having to buy a load of wedding magazines which publish the same stuff month after month. You’ve always got this fresh stream of updates and on demand inspiration at your finger tips. This is the great part about Pinterest – you search for something and sure enough there will be an image capturing what your brain is thinking about. I think its a great starting point tool of wedding planning – but when I say starting point tool that’s exactly what I mean!
Combining Pinterest and floristry has its ups and downs. After a rather negative start in the title, let me redeem myself slightly by sharing some of the ups! The main thing I think Pinterest is great for with floristry is allowing us flowery folk to share a whole load of images of specific flowers we are trying in vain to describe in writing (incidentally have you ever tried to explain in writing the true beauty of a flower and the blend of colours in a bridal bouquet … you do need pictures and a face to face consultation!)
Flowers are so visual, looking at pictures and getting to know our gorgeous couples brief is exactly what I love to do. Looking at loads of images in our consultations, finding out exactly what they want from their wedding and how we can make it different! Pre Pinterest we’d sit down, cut up loads of images, get colour charts, sit down and create a touchy feely mood board. I know your thinking … yeah but we can do this with Pinterest now at the touch of a button. And your right, you can buuuut … and this feels quite scary saying this, and I definitely don’t want to offend any of our Pinterest obsessed brides buuuut … there is a tendency with Pinterest that you get quite similar looking weddings. The “I want that exact bouquet whether its in season or not” approach, rather than the more hands on “what can this florist create for me that’s completely bespoke” approach.
Before Pinterest, I can honestly say we never made a similar looking wedding. Each one was totally unique, from the first consultation it was a creative journey for me and the couple I was working with. Pinterest has taken a part of this process away. There is a very definite Pinterest wedding look, We often see the same pins on multiple boards, and I don’t know, I just feel its making some wedding floristry less exciting both for the florist and the couple.
Everyone says they want something unique, that reflects there big day – we want to create this too! But having an image you’ve fallen in love with (that’s often designed for a 5 minute photo shoot and not always arranged to a high standard) and all a couple want to do is exactly recreate said bouquet takes that uniqueness away.
Some of my favourite bridal bouquets we’ve lovingly made are when we’ve had the creative freedom to combine the flowers that work together. I call it carte blanche arranging – the bride talks to us about all the different decor, we get a feel for the vibe, we talk about flowers and we often look at some images whilst I babble on about particular favourites which I think we should include because they will just look super stunning. The bride trusts us to arrange something gorgeous, and when we go to collect the flowers and see something utterly beautiful at market – we don’t hesitate to buy the latest flower to steal our hearts because it will enhance the bouquet and we think “gosh that’s so Anna … shes going to love that” not “oh gosh that would look stunning, but its not in the image we’ve been asked to recreate”
We live, breathe, eat and sleep flowers – we know what works and what doesn’t, and with a little guidance on colour schemes from our couples we can create the most stunning wedding flowers for you. Having that freedom to create is magical, the most amazing things happen when you let a creative do what they adore and I can whole-heartely say you will love the results. Having your heart set on that bouquet in the image, when no 2 bouquets ever look the same, makes us worry, we’re constantly assessing the bouquet, looking back at the image, back to the bouquet.
“is it like the image? Oh goodness, its not perfectly like the image. Argh! that would look amazing, but I’m not sure because its not in the original picture”
Its hard because all we want to do is make the bride beam the biggest of smiles on her wedding day, but sometimes those added extras when your making the bouquet just lift it, they make you smile, make you think, enhance a tone or texture. Sometimes a touch of the unexpected or unplanned can be marvellous and subtle. They don’t have to smack you round the chops but they should make whatever is there SHINE!
Pinterest is a great guidance tool, but please use it as that. Let us use every inch of our floral obsession creating bespoke wedding flowers – with a touch of Pinterest guidance.
As peony season draws to a swift close and we prepare to wave a sad goodbye to our favourite June flower I thought it was the perfect time to share these images of Emily and Jay’s big day at Cliveden House wedding venue. Emily was the most gorgeous bride and with peonies featuring heavily in her brief, I knew from the start it was going to look pretty wow.
Emily and Jay tied the knot at the end of June in true style at the wonderful Cliveden House wedding venue. Beautiful sweeping grounds greeted their guests with an entrance to die for and the most delightful ceremony and reception room. I’ve visited many times growing up, but providing wedding flowers here was truly magical.
Emily held a bouquet of Sarah Bernhardt peonies complimented with a subtle hint of eucalytpus. Perfectly simple and stunningly elegant.
The tables were to look a little more elaborate. We talked about full floral wreaths with white and pink peonies stealing the show. The French Dining room hosted both the ceremony and wedding breakfast – with guilt detailing throughout we needed some shimmer in the flowers … queue my favourite mercury hurricane lanterns. When lit these beauties give off the most amazing golden glow. Sometimes plain glass just doesn’t cut the mustard … these gave off the most magical glow!
The fireplace was decorated with small posies of white and pink peonies in miniature mercury hurricane lanterns. These perfect posies were then moved to the top table for extra decoration. We added tea light holders for that extra candle sparkle.
So its with a heavy heart we wave goodbye to peonies. So long until next year … you’ve been amazing, we’ve had a blast x
In the height of summer meadow flowers are the order of the day. July to me is all about gorgeous bright summer flowers. When we got Natalie and Guy’s brief I knew immediately which direction we should take their wedding flower. They’d chosen to tie the knot at the beautiful barn at Herons Farm – sometimes you just have to listen to the venue, and this venue cries out for the just picked relaxed vibe.
Natalie’s bouquet contained some of my all time favourite flowers – peony, sweet pea, nigella, astrantia, craspedia, ammi majus … the list goes on! The wildflower wedding look is really achieved with tons of different flowers with loads of texture. Tied with beautiful colourful satin ribbons the bridal bouquet encapsulates all that I adore about July.
Flower crowns for weddings are all the rage … I have to say I’m a complete flower crown addict, but at the same time I’m not sure I have the jaunty walk or total confidence to carry one off. This delicate number adorned Natalie’s head and I have to say this is one floral crown I could happily wear every day. I’m addicted to nigella … its floaty cloud like appearance, and whilst perhaps I shouldn’t admit it, as its the height of fashion in the floral wedding world, I’m not gypsophillias biggest fan but somehow this crown pulls it off.
The maid’s carried a miniature version of Natalie’s bridal bouquet with grasses, sweet peas and peonies in abundance. I loved how the fountain grass just darted out between the flowers … and those colours!
Meadow boxes adorned the long tressle tables at Herons Barn, beautifully creating a country mix with larkspur, peony, alchemilla mollis, snapdragons, astrantia, alliums and nigella taking centre stage.
Now we’re busy looking forward to next weekends weddings – one with peonies the other with wild white flowers. I cannot wait!
March, you are already shaping up to be an absolute stunner! Leslie and Arkadius have been blessed with the most amazing spring sunshine for their big day at Danesfield House. As well as the sun shining down on the lucky couple, Leslie also managed to choose some of my all time favourite flowers and colour combination. Peach is still huge, especially when teamed with dashes of rose gold, metallic and just the slightest sprinkle of copper.
We started planning Leslie’s wedding flowers just a few months ago, with her coming to see us with tons of visual inspiration for the flowers. She was a total joy to work with and she completely trusted our flower choices for the big day. David Austin Juliette roses were combined with Bombastic spray roses, ranunculus, orchids and hints of lilac to create a lush dome of floral gorgeousness to carry down the aisle. How much do you love the ranunculus/rose combination, it totally took my breath away.
The amazing fireplace in the Versailles Suite at Danesfield House needed something huge and natural to balance with the super grand chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Armed with ladders and wielding scissors we got stuck into the mammoth task of this huge creation. From this image you cannot even grasp the amazing scale of this beauty. Filled with hydrangeas, roses, lilac, ranunculus and tones of foliage, this fireplace arrangement created a focus point at Danesfield House. I wish so much I had a fireplace large enough to house one of these beauties on a regular basis. I also wish I could take you all there so you could see it in real time.
Rose gold and peach ran throughout Leslie’s wedding at Danesfield House. With such an ornate room as The Versailles Suite, you need something that’s going to tie in beautifully and these rose gold goblet pots held the key to tying all the elements together. Not only did they look awesome with the peach flowers, but they matched little details within the room …. AND they’re bang on trend with the metallic vibe that’s circling the floral world at the moment.
These arrangements firstly lined the aisle, drawing guests eyes to the amazing fireplace arrangement. They were then moved to the tables and given away as gifts to their guests afterwards. Filled with roses, lilac, ranunculus, spray roses and foliage, these peachy posies would have been the perfect thing to take away after their magical wedding day.
We’re so pleased you dropped by for our bright spring inspired table centre DIY. I don’t know about you, but spring is the time that our house seems to come alive again. We start entertaining, people drop in and there is a whole host of blooming beautiful flowers available.
This easy peasy table centre tutorial is the perfect way to spruce up your home ready for Easter celebrations and lets face it who doesn’t love a bit of flower DIY, especially with us there to hold your hand every step of the way. If you’ve got any questions, just leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you pronto!
First things first you want to choose your container. We opted for this rather vibrant orange number, mainly because I’ve become a little obsessed with everything orange. I also think its perfect for spring. Who doesn’t want a little (or bold and large) injection of colour after those dull winter months. If you wanted something a little more pastel you could recreate this whole tutorial in a teracotta pot or maybe even a soup terrine dish.
The flowers and tools
So we’re firm believers in the less is more approach, our finished table centre will appear filled with flowers, but actually your floral shopping list isn’t that huge. Most of the flowers should be available in any lovely local florist, so give them a tinkle and see what gorgeous fresh flowers they have in stock.
1/2 a bunch of eucalyptus (you could also use garden foliage here)
3 Pearl Avalanche roses
2 Romantic Pepita spray roses
1/3 block oasis
1 pair of sharp scissors
Soak your oasis in a deep sink and let it absorb for around 5-10 minutes. We used 1/3 of a block for this container, use as little or as much as required to fill your chosen vessel. There are a few top oasis tips I’d always try to follow – the main one is, no mater how tempting, don’t run the tap onto the foam or push it into the water. Just fill a deep bucket and place it onto the surface and let it absorb naturally, a little like a sponge. You should also onto try to use your floral foam just once, all flowers give off bacteria, so by reusing it, your placing your lovely fresh flowers into dirty water, a definite no no if you want them to last!
Always start with your foliage, this gives a base for your flowers to sit into. You could use all sorts of things from the garden including herbs for this step but we’re eucalyptus fiends so have opted for this steely green foliage to take centre stage. You want to create a dome, as in the image above and less if definitely more otherwise you won’t have room for all your flowers!
The first flower I use is always a little bit of a filler flower, for this tutorial we’ve gone for alscepia (love this stuff!) and inserted it in 3 places. Working in odd numbers is a great way to encourage your eye to travel around the whole arrangement. Using evens makes everything look a little wonky. You want your filler to be the same kind of height as your foliage.
Start arranging your other flowers, next I put in the 3 Pearl Avalanche roses as they are such a feature to the arrangement you want them to be in prime position. Next I added in the 2 Romantic Pepita spray roses these started to fill in the gaps in the arrangement. The Veronica added a looseness to the arrangement, narcissi followed, adding in the true scent of spring. Place these fellow in delicately as they have a tendancy to snap. The tulips finished the design perfectly, adding in another flash of that stronger orange tone.
Water daily, enjoy with a chocolate easter nest cake.
This is just a taster of what you could learn about in our floristry courses. Log on to www.greenparlour.com to see our latest flower school timetable
Boy oh boy have I got some beautiful shots to show you today. Sometimes you make a bouquet that you just totally fall in love with and it becomes so super hard to give it away even to the most amazing of brides. Alice truly was an amazing bride, our paths have crossed through friends over the last 12 years and it was so lovely to receive her email asking if we’d arrange the flowers for her big day. Danny, her groom, helped us design various elements for the shop when we first opened. He is uber talented as a designer and is one of lifes gentlemen. Can you tell already that I think they are an amazing couple?
When I got Alice’s email with a tentative enquiry, I already knew their wedding day would be a true extension of themselves filled with people they love and some quirky features that would ensure their wedding was remembered forever by all whom attended. When you know all this about a couple I was so intrigued to where they had chosen to make their vows, to celebrate their day. It had to be somewhere breathtaking and The Asylum in London fitted that bill precisely. Creative, vibrant, earthy, industrial and completely beautiful. I can honestly say I have never visited a venue like it before.
Alice’s bouquet was designed with all of this in mind. Succulents were added throughout all the arrangements to give the industrial, London vibe. I love using succulent wedding flowers, theres something about the amazing textures and shapes. Spring garden flowers of hellebores, ranunculus and solomons seal were arranged with loose foliage to create flow to the bouquets. Scent was added with David Austin roses. Foliage was key to all the designs, with ferns (I know I’m obsessed) eucalyptus, grasses and scabiosa balls. Alice’s amazing dress had beautiful embellishments around the neckline and deeper burgundy ranunculus tied this in wonderfully, and actually added depth to the bouquets. I held Alice’s bouquet with complete joy whilst making it, every moment thinking I cannot wait to see her in the morning and show her all the flowers.
5 maids accompanied Alice down the aisle, each in mismatched dresses and metallic shoes. There posies were filled with veronica, astrantia, scented waxflower, hellebores, solomons seal, tulips, ranunculus and beautiful foliage. Adorned with ribbon trails, the maids looked amazing as they walked the aisle.
Assorted pots of succulents were used to line the aisle and later moved to adorn the tables. I’m totally in love with the copper pots combined with zinc and earth terracotta. Alice and Danny both wanted something they could keep and nurture after the big day, succulents were the perfect plant!
I have to say a huge congratulations to Alice and Danny. It was a total joy to be part of your big day, I loved every moment and I know you did too.