0Flower of the Month – The Rose…A guest post by Katie Spicer, in collaboration with Carolyn Dunster of Simply Roses


I’m delighted to feature another Flower of the Month guest post by photographer Katie Spicer today.  For July, Katie takes a look at the beautiful rose, Queen of Flowers and the national emblem of England. Over to you Katie…

Carolyn Dunster of Simply Roses has created the most beautiful arrangement of roses especially for this month’s post.


I wanted to create a large hand-tied posy that looked as if it had just been picked from an English garden or hedgerow at mid-summer, but using roses purchased at the flower market. These were David Austin’s Miranda which has the most amazing scent unlike most roses bred for the cut-flower industry, and sprays of Sweet Avalanche which I combined with tiny clippings of Rosa Ballerina picked judiciously from my own garden. Foraged cow parsley, red campion and Geranium robertianum or Herb Robert were used for an overblown blousy effect and the tight hydrangea heads repeat the form and shape of the roses and make the arrangement a lot more cost-efficient. Finally, the zinc jug which is my all-time favourite and most versatile container gives the arrangement a shabby-chic look that works well in both a traditional or contemporary interior.

The rose most commonly symbolises love and passion. As a result of this. they make up the largest proportion of the £22 million spent on Valentine’s Day. Cleopatra used them in her seduction of Mark Anthony. She knew how to woo a man! The purple sails of her ship were drenched in a rose and neroli perfume so that the fragrant air would signal her arrival, before she had even alighted the ship. She invited him back to her boudoir where the floor was carpeted with knee-deep rose petals and other scented flowers. Crushing them underfoot as he crossed the room to be with her, their love was bound forever, swoon. Her mattress and pillows were said to be stuffed with rose petals. How truly decadent!


Cleopatra was not the only one to use roses on ships. The Romans used to adorn their war vessels with roses. They were also under the belief that wearing rose garlands at a feast would prevent drunkenness. I must try this one out sometime!

Roses are much much more than a pretty face though, as they are used as foods, medicines, cosmetics, in rituals and most well known in perfumery. There are three types of fragrances recognised: cabbage rose (R. centifolia), damask rose (R. damascena) and the tea rose (R. indica), so called not for their fragrance but because they were brought over from China in boxes along with imports of tea.


You can make rose petal jam, vinegar, pot pourri, syrup, rosewater, rose wine, rose drop candies and even crystallize them. If they have a powerful scent, then they are even more delicious to eat. ‘Cecile Brunner’, a buttonhole rose, works well as a crystallized flower.

In the old days, honey of roses was used for sore throats and mouth ulcers. The fresh petals were crushed with a little boiling water and then filtered. The liquid was then boiled with honey.

On the continent, rose vinegar is used for heat stroke. Dried rose petals are steeped in distilled vinegar and a cloth soaked in this concoction is applied to the head.


The essential oils can come from the flowers and leaves depending on the variety. Rose oil can reduce high cholesterol levels.

Rosewater is an antiseptic tonic and can be used to soothe dry, inflamed and sensitive skins and splashed on the eyes to ease conjunctivitis. It can reduce redness caused by enlarged capillaries as they have a tonic and astringent effect on the capillaries just below the skin surface.


The leaf can be infused and used as a tonic and astringent tea. You can also make a tea of rose petals to soothe a sore throat, and rosehip tea is often recommended in pregnancy.

Rose hips have approximately 20 to 60 times as much Vitamin C as oranges. This was discovered during the fruit shortages of WWII and the government highlighted their importance and told people to harvest as many as possible as a substitute source of Vitamin C. They also have antioxidant, astringent, anti-viral and diuretic properties and can be used as a mild sedative and antidepressant.


Carolyn is not only a talented florist and garden designer, but she also produces wonderful cosmetics and creations from her delicious rose recipes. For the most successful preparations in the kitchen, it’s best to grow the sweetly scented varieties such as old fashioned variety ‘Rosa mundi’, moss rose ‘William Lobb’, bourbon rose ‘Louise Odier’. climbing rose ‘Cecile Brunner’ or David Austin’s highly scented Gertrude Jekyll. It’s best to gather them on a dry morning using only the freshest and most scented varieties.


Flowers by Carolyn Dunster at www.simplyroses.com | info@simplyroses.com | 0207 700 5566

(Words & Images : Katie Spicer Photography)

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4Flowerona Links: With floral shoes, roses & a flower farm…


Flowerona Links returns this week with lots of wonderful floral inspiration for you to enjoy…whether you’re sitting in bed with a cuppa, chilling in the sun or relaxing on your sofa!




Flowerona Blog Posts


Such a fabulous video from Floret.  Oh how I’d love to visit Erin’s flower farm…one day!

Floret Flowers from Erin Benzakein on Vimeo.

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s blog post and that you have a lovely Sunday!

(Images : 1. Stephanie Cristalli Photography, 2. Corey Sleap


2Social Media for Florists workshop – London, 1st July 2014 : Part 2 – Styling & Food


Thank you so much everyone for your lovely comments about my blog post earlier this week, where I shared details of the content in our Social Media for Florists workshop. Today, I’m delighted to feature photos of how we styled the venue and also of the wonderful food.


My co-host Fiona Humberstone had created a mood board with styling inspiration, which you can see below. We used this during the planning process and when we were setting everything up at the venue, the day before the workshop.



When we arrived at Brixton east, the upstairs was an empty shell. We set up all the tables and chairs, plus projector screen.


I conditioned the beautiful blooms from Zest Flowers, which were in a colour palette of summery pinks, blues and purples….


…and then put together small posies of fragrant sweet peas for the desks.


Downstairs, we styled the tables for lunch using stunning crockery and glassware, supplied by Anthropologie. Fiona had cut flowers from her lovely garden and we used these in small bottles, down the centre of each table.



Our chef, Maddie Hatton, had brought in her beautiful vintage cutlery…


…which was adorned with sprigs of lavender and herbs on the individual place settings.



Even the fridge received special treatment, with plants from Fiona’s garden!



The food by Maddie surpassed all our expectations! She had completely taken on board our brief and floral touches were in abundance. The elevenses were truly ‘out of this world’! Pistachio & Lemon Loaf with Lemon Verbena Syrup, Moroccan Honey Cake with Orange Blossom and Lemon & Lavender Bar. And they were complemented with tea and coffee in the fabulous Anthropologie Monogrammed mugs.







I loved all the edible petals and blooms styled on top of the cakes! Almost too good to eat…

Lunch was amazing too and soooooo delicious! Delegates were treated to Herb Marinated Fillet of Local Beef, Grilled Organic Chicken with Saffron, Preserved Lemons & Pine Nuts and Sweet Potato & Goats Cheese Frittata with Roasted Red Onions & Basil Oil. Salads included Green Couscous with Herbs, Pistachios, Feta & Radish, plus Roasted Heritage Beetroot with Orange Oil, Hazelnuts & Rocket and Asian Slaw featuring Cabbage, Mango, Chilli, Mint & Coriander. There were Local Artisan Breads too….hungry?!


Here’s the very talented Maddie, setting everything up…






Last, but not least, the amazing puddings! Jars of Eton Mess with Local Strawberries, Home-Made Lemon Curd & Pomegranate and Valrhona Chocolate Brownies with Berries!

When the workshop had come to a close, the delegates had lots of fun making summer cocktails. A lovely way to round off such a special day!






Thank you SO much to our generous sponsors Anthropologie and Zest Flowers. Many thanks too to Katie Spicer, for her breath-taking photographs!

New Workshop Date – Wednesday 1st October – London

Since announcing the date of our next Social Media for Florists workshop earlier this week, nearly 30% of the places have already been booked! It will be taking place at the same venue, Brixton east, and will run from 9.15am-4.30pm, with drinks afterwards. Places will be strictly limited to 22 delegates. So, if you’d like to book your place, simply click on the Buy Now button below.

Buy Now Button

(Images : Katie Spicer Photography)


0Florist Friday: Interview with Derek Isaac of SuperNature Flowers


Back in May, I was wowed by Liz Earle’s Chelsea in Bloom entry! So much so, that I asked one of their staff who had created it…it was Derek Isaac of SuperNature Flowers. I contacted Derek and am delighted to feature him today on Flowerona.

Could you tell us what prompted you to become a florist and how your floristry career has progressed?

There were a number of reasons. My previous career in Human Resources was very unsatisfying and I was looking for a career change. My partner, Mark Siredzuk, is the in-house florist at the One Aldwych hotel and I used to work for him, whenever he needed an extra pair of hands.

When I finally left the HR industry, he put me in touch with Bloomsbury Flowers, where I started a 3 month work experience placement. I absolutely loved working there. It really helped that I have always had a keen interest in plants and flowers and an artistic eye that I never had a chance to utilise. I haven’t had any formal training, but I picked up the basics very quickly and soon after starting, Mark and Stephen (the Bloomsbury Boys) gave me a full-time job.

One of my main responsibilities was managing The Soho Hotel contract, which at the time was the most fashionable hotel in London. This was an invaluable experience, as I was given a lot of creative freedom on a high profile client. I worked at Bloomsbury Flowers for a year after that, before setting up SuperNature Flowers with my first hotel contract. I’m very fortunate that the business has grown organically by word of mouth.






When did you start your business and where are you based?

In 2007. We’re based in Oval, SW8, London. Very handy for the Flower Market!

What kind of floristry services do you offer?

90% of our work is contract floristry. Our main clients are hotels, shops and restaurants. We also provide wedding and event flowers.





Where do you get inspiration for your floral designs?

There are a number of factors that influence our floral designs. Obviously, whatever is in season is very important. For our contracts, I can only use flowers that are guaranteed to last a full week. The flowers have to be in keeping with the client’s brand. Hotels and shops, in particular, have certain styles and types of flowers they prefer. I have my own likes and dislikes too.

I also like to see what other florists are doing…not to copy someone else’s work, but I would take certain elements and mix it with my own ideas to give the design a new twist. Mark is an amazingly talented florist and his work has been very influential. New ideas also evolve accidently out of problem solving. i.e. how to make certain flowers last longer by doing x, y and z. Before you realise it, you’ve created a new look.

The choice of vase or container is also important. Finding unique vases that no one else has is quite a challenge. I love reading fashion, architecture, interior design and gardening magazines. It’s important to know what’s new and current in these areas.

How would you describe your style?

It really depends on the client, so our style is a mixture of traditional and modern. I enjoy being creative, but at the same time, I prefer to keep designs as simple as possible. I’m not keen on fussy or overdesigned flowers.







What are your plans for the remainder of 2014?

Well, the wedding season has started and soon we’ll be planning our Christmas installations! As we’ve taken on a quite a lot of extra work recently, we’ll be expanding and hope to take on more staff. I’m probably one of the few florists that doesn’t tweet. But I’m planning on setting up an account after one of my photos was recently tweeted by a client during British Flowers Week and I got a phone call 10 minutes later from someone who saw it hash-tagged. I was impressed!

What is your favourite flower?

I don’t have one single favourite as it changes with the seasons. I love peonies, eremurus and hydrangeas during the summer months. I also love hellebores. Unfortunately, we don’t get to use them very often, but now and again I treat myself to a bunch and take them home. Roses and orchids are favourites all year round.

Thank you so much to Derek for all his help in compiling today’s blog post. Do pop over to the SuperNature Flowers website to see more of his stunning designs!

Social Media

To keep up-to-date with Derek’s news, here’s where you can find him on social media:

Facebook: SuperNature Flowers
Twitter: SuperNature Flowers
Instagram: SuperNature Flowers

(Images: Derek Isaac / SuperNature Flowers )

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