Last September, I had the absolute pleasure of attending a two day ‘Wedding Flowers Intensive Course’ with Green and Gorgeous, in collaboration with The Garden Gate Flower Company. And what an incredible time I had…I was still buzzing from it for several days afterwards.
Green and Gorgeous’s six acre flower farm is always such a wonderful place to visit. It’s a little piece of flower heaven in rural Oxfordshire, with fields and poly tunnels brimming full of stunning blooms! And Day 1 started with Rachel giving us a tour.
There is just so much involved in growing high quality cut flowers on a large scale and Rachel talked us through her and Ashley’s set-up including propagators, heat mats, cold frames, greenhouses, Spanish tunnels and cold store. She also discussed how they use crop rotation, feed their plants and have a system for everything.
After the tour, in the classroom Rachel talked us through the flowers and foliage that they grow, month by month. For example, tulips, ranunculus and Icelandic poppies in April and peonies and delphiniums in June. She suggested thinking about the colour and form of the flowers that you grow, having a range of tones and a balance of shapes. She also discussed where she buys her seeds…from suppliers all over the world.
She explained how important it is to know your site, what works for you and what grows well. However, you must always be prepared to cope with the unpredictability of the weather, with some flowers coming on early and some taking their time. That’s why Rachel never promises a particular flower to any of her brides.
Each year, Green and Gorgeous provide the flowers for over seventy weddings. There are various options : DIY, ‘Buckets and Bouquets’ and Full Service. With the DIY option, Rachel picks and conditions the flowers and foliage, then the bride collects them and makes her own wedding flower arrangements. The ‘Buckets and Bouquets’ is the option which brides choose when they would like to arrange some of the flowers, but would prefer for Rachel to make the bouquets. And another option is Full Service, where all the wedding flower designs are created by Rachel in her signature style of wild and romantic.
By the end of Day 1, it had really hit home to me how flower growing is such an intensive process! There is so much involved and so much investment that’s needed including rotavators, tillers, irrigation systems and green manure. It really is just like farming!
Prior to leaving, we were all set loose in the fields to go and cut the flowers and foliage we were going to use to make our arrangements the next day. How lucky were we?!
I chose a colour palette of white, cream, pale pink, purple and burgundy.
And here’s everyone taking their buckets back to the cold store. Then several of us met up in the evening in the local pub, The Perch and Pike, for a bite to eat.
On Day 2, Becca and Maz from The Garden Gate Flower Company started the morning by telling us about their set-up in Cornwall, where they grow flowers and foliage. They also offer different packages for their brides – Full Custom Service and Ready to Wear. With the Full Custom Service, they design and plan all the wedding flowers, from large scale arrangements to delicate buttonholes. The Ready to Wear option is perfect for couples who are having a smaller wedding and starts with simply a bridal bouquet.
Becca talked us through their design process, which includes beautiful inspiration boards.
Then Maz demonstrated how to make an asymmetric bridal bouquet…not using the spiral method, which many of us were familiar with, but a ‘claw method’. She started with a good foliage base and then added flowers. She advised us to think about not making our focal flowers face straight on, but sideways instead.
And then it was our turn…
Lunch and cakes during our tea/coffee breaks, made by Ashley, on both days were absolutely delicious…
…especially the mouth-watering meringues with raspberry coulis! Many of the ingredients were sourced from their kitchen garden.
After lunch, Becca talked us through her favourite silk ribbon suppliers and how to add lengths of ribbon to our bridal bouquets…such an on-trend look at the moment.
Here is Maz’s finished design in The Garden Gate Flower Company’s signature style of loose, wild and seasonal.
And here’s my bouquet. Having learnt how to spiral stems for hand-tieds, it was so interesting to learn this new technique. It really isn’t as easy as it might seem at first glance!
Becca then demonstrated how to make a floral hair comb.
Then it was our turn…
And here’s my design, as worn by Becca.
This Wedding Flowers Intensive Course is absolutely perfect for flower grower/florists who specialise in wedding flower designs with a natural, loose style. Rachel, Becca and Maz are so generous with sharing their knowledge and experience of growing and arranging wedding flowers. They also covered marketing, consultations, pricing and their styling process.
Thank you so much to the ladies for such an inspirational course. It will definitely go down as one of my highlights of 2015. I really can’t recommend it highly enough! I wrote down the names of lots of flowers and foliage, which I’d love to grow in our garden. And a huge thanks too to photographer Clare West for the beautiful photographs.
So, I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s ‘behind the scenes’ look at this wonderful course. The next one is taking place in June:
Course: Wedding Flowers Intensive Course
Date: Tuesday 21st & Wednesday 22nd June
Location: Green and Gorgeous, The Cutting Garden, Little Stoke, Wallingford, OX10 6AX
For full details, simply visit the Green and Gorgeous website. Do book soon though, as last year the course sold out very quickly!
P.S. If you missed it first time round, here’s a link to my YouTube video which features footage of my time at the course.
(Images : Clare West)