This week I am starting a new series called Wedding Wednesday, which will run up to the wedding I am preparing for in mid July. I am planning to practice a selection of the arrangements I am going to make on a weekly basis and share the results with you.
Last weekend I was very lucky to be able to do a dry run of the table decorations. I had been asked by a friend to make some arrangements to decorate the tables at a party she was holding to celebrate her birthday. This provided the perfect opportunity to practice making the flower bowls I am planning for the reception tables at the wedding. Like the wedding, the party was to be held in a marquee in my friends garden.
Flower bowls work particularly well when the weather is hot as you can arrange the flowers into fresh water. Oasis (flower foam) can dry out very quickly when the temperatures are high. For these arrangements I used a selection of serving bowls filled with chicken wire – I will illustrate the mechanics in a future post.
When choosing the contents for the flower bowls I think of 4 elements – strong twiggy branches to provide the framework, a softer leafier foliage to fill in the bowl, a focus flower or two for the wow factor and finally a selection of airy flowers and grasses to dance above the arrangement and create movement. It is also very important to consider texture – the more texture you can add the more the guests will love the flowers.
I chose strong branches of viburnum Mariesii, which was flowering last week, to make the framework for each bowl and then filled in with the fresh foliage of philadelphus ‘Belle Etoile’ which was also flowering and added a lovely scent to the bowls.
I used a selection of grasses to add the airy elements – above you can see a fluffy “Bunny Tail’ grass and seed heads of a variety of Quaking Grass – both grasses were self seeded from last year. I was rather concerned this spring to see just how many grasses had self seeded into my Cutting Garden borders, but they were easily weeded out and the plants that I left are growing strongly.
The focus flowers were Avalanche roses, white peonies, a lime green and a dark pink carnation and these blue Mr Fokker anemones. I purchased the roses, peonies and carnations but the anemones are flowering freely in my garden.
I loved these floral cards which my friend used to name the tables.
I have plenty of sweet peas in the greenhouse, so these were used in each arrangement to add an airy accent. All the arrangements were slightly different and each used a different coloured sweet pea.
These Avalanche roses are readily available from the wholesaler and florists shops – my garden roses are just coming into flower but it would be a challenge to find enough to use on this scale.
This is the flower on the viburnum Mariesii – a lovely shrub with a horizontal tiered growing habit. The pure white flowers have been spectacular this year.
This pale blue sweet pea worked perfectly with the blue anemones.
I have plenty of self seeded nigella coming into flower in the Cutting Garden – I used both the open flowers and the buds in these arrangements. Using a variety of textures makes the arrangements more interesting for the guests to look at and nigella is beautifully fluffy. I find that nigella grows best when sown direct or left to self seed – the plants that I start in plugs are never as strong.
Another flower which I have plenty of at the moment is Orlaya – a delicate umbrel that I started off last September, overwintered in the cold frame and planted out in April. It can be difficult to germinate but worked well from an autumn sowing.
Finally I have included a rare picture of myself with my camera taken by my daughter who was also busy in the marquee with her camera – I am generally very camera shy but she caught me unawares and I thought you might like to see me in action taking my photos!
These flowers were all arranged on Friday afternoon for the party on Saturday evening. I visited the wholesaler on Thursday for the focus flowers and cut the rest on Thursday evening. All the flowers were conditioned (stems cleared of foliage, ends re cut and then left in cool deep water overnight) on Thursday evening ready to be arranged into the bowls on Friday afternoon. My friend and her family made sure the arrangements were regularly sprayed with water as it was quite warm in the marquee. I was relieved to find that they survived perfectly well to be enjoyed on Saturday evening.
Timing wise it took me about half an hour per bowl (slightly longer for the first bowl) plus cutting and conditioning time to make these arrangements. It is very useful to have worked out the timing so that I can make a timing plan for the wedding flowers.
I will be back next Wednesday with more wedding practice to share with you.