In this week’s Florist Friday post, I’m delighted to feature a Spring Workshop hosted by The Garden Gate Flower Company. Becca and Maz, the two very talented ladies behind the company, kindly shared with me their day…
“This spring, we were delighted to welcome a group of florists to Duchy Nursery in Lostwithiel, Cornwall. It’s a beautiful spot, looking over the Fowey Valley with views of the medieval Restormel Castle visible above the trees. In March, there are magnificent magnolia trees bordering the woods and the nursery is full of spring promise.
Louise from Taylor and Porter Fine Art Film Photography was on hand to capture the process and to get a professional picture of everyone’s work for their portfolios. We collected branch work and foliage foraged from the farm, and picked lots and lots of our unusual narcissi for our attendees. The first of our new daffodils in shades of peach, primrose and white timed their flowering just right. Beautiful ranunculus from local growers BJ Richards Flowers provided another range of colours and textures.
Our eight guests arrived and over tea and coffee we introduced ourselves to new faces and were so happy to see a few people from previous workshops too. Keeping the numbers small means everyone has enough time and space to relax and spend quality time thinking about what they’re doing and getting input from us too. Not only were there florists, but also growers and photographers. We had people coming from as far as Canada and as near as Devon. But no matter how far people have travelled, seeing how creative they can be is always the best bit.
We started by demonstrating our hand-tied technique before our guests were let loose on the flowers and had a go themselves. We talked about keeping our arranging loose and using a good mix of textures and densities, flowers and foliage. We also focus on careful but adventurous use of colour, and how to make what might seem an awkward combination come together to make a beautifully wild bouquet.
Once everyone had finished we stopped for an early lunch in the café. It’s good to have a change of scenery sometimes and working this way can be quite intense. So after a warming bowl of soup and a potter in the nursery, we returned to talk about Becca’s favourite bit, the ribbons! Sian from Lancaster and Cornish kindly donated lengths of her delicate, plant dyed silk in blush tones for each person to use. Her translucent colours and the delicate movement you get with silk complemented each bouquet so well, in different ways. We demonstrated how using stronger colours which contrast or complement can give a totally different feeling to a bouquet.
So, after having a go at different tying techniques, we moved on to a table arrangement. Again we talked about structure and form and using foliage to define the shape, and flowers to bring colour, texture and complement the flow. It was a chance for people to try out different ideas and really push the boundaries of their comfort zone. We were so proud and impressed by the quality and diversity our attendees produced, and hoped they picked up some good techniques, but most of all learned to be confident about breaking a few rules here and there, and pushing their creative ideas.
As people finished at different times, Louise took each urn arrangement and photographed it in the spring sunshine, using soft fruit for styling. They all looked wonderful with the light picking out frills on the daffodils and ruffles on the ranunculus. We talked about how to work with wedding photographers to get better images of your work and how to style your flowers and get good images for portfolio use too. Plus advice to give to brides to maximise the beauty of flowers in the venue and how to hold her bouquet to best effect.
After what was possibly the best afternoon tea we’ve ever eaten, we ventured into the woods with our attendees to have a group photograph and a portrait taken by the talented Louise who totally knows how to get a good shot. We were so privileged to have her record our day.
Lancaster & Cornish kindly offered a small pop-up shop so guests could take home not only their bouquet and ribbons, urn and flowers, but get to really see her ribbons close-up, where buying on the internet does not always do justice to the tactile liveliness of the ribbons themselves.
We met some lovely people and it’s always of great interest to see how others work creatively, so we had a wonderful day too. Louise took some beautiful images of the students’ work and the feedback was fab!”
P.S. Don’t forget that it’s British Flowers Week next week! There will be special blog posts on Flowerona from Monday to Friday. You may also like to read my article on the Telegraph website about flower trends, which went live yesterday.
(Images : Taylor and Porter Fine Art Film Photography)