Old man’s beard

Foxgloves and Roses

Old Man’s Beard, or Clematis Vitalba, is a wild clematis that scrambles profusely over many of the trees and hedgerows in this area. Apparently its presence indicates chalky soil, which must be why there’s so much of it growing on the Downs.

In the summer Old Man’s Beard produces many small creamy white flowers. At this time of the year the seed heads have become fluffy and white – like an old man’s beard – but earlier in the winter, when they are still green, they have a wonderful starry shape. Both look fabulous in winter flower arrangements. The fluffier and riper the seed heads become the more delicate they are and the more easily the fluff gets blown away. A quick squirt with hair spray keeps them in place and stops your flower arrangements from disappearing on to the floor (try to use one without a smell).

I have used them in several ways: Cut short in bouquets and table centres; long and trailing in large arrangements; and lots of lengths of the woody stems twisted into a circle to make a wintery wreath, with paperwhite narcissus pushed in around the circle (of course other flowers would look pretty too, hellebores for instance, but they wouldn’t last long out of water and you’d need to used orchid vials hidden behind the wreath to keep them fresh).

Old Man’s Beard’s other country name is Traveller’s Joy. In France it is known as ‘Herbe aux Gueux’ which means beggar’s or rascal’s herb as beggars were said to rub its acrid sap onto their skin to irritate it and make it look red and ulcerated. Good for business apparently but I think I’ll stick to using it for less painful purposes.


End of the season

end of season


Well the wedding season for 2015 is officially over – bar any last minute winter weddings that may pop up. Phew! It’s been a hectic seven months with lots of wonderful weddings, wonderful people and wonderful times. It’s hard to pick a favourite as every wedding is a wonderful creative journey, from the first consultation to delivering the bouquets (I never get tired of the smell of hair spray and the excited ooohs as the bride and hens see their flowers for the first time).
This year Foxgloves and Roses also became an recommend supplier to both the amazing Blenheim Palace and gorgeous Ardington House near Wantage. I’m really excited about lots more weddings at both venues next year. But, for now, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas!


Yellow is the colour

I was delighted to be asked by Wedding Flowers magazine to take part in their photo shoot again. I was given the colour yellow to work with and asked to provide a bouquet, buttonhole, table centre and one other piece. Yellow is not a colour that many brides choose so it was a great chance for me to play around a bit with this happy colour – called by Vincent van Gogh, the colour of hope and friendship.
As yellow is a colour intrinsically linked to spring, I decided to use all the beautiful flowers bursting into bloom in the garden at the time of the April shoot as inspiration for my designs, along with one of my favourite novels of all time, ‘An Enchanted April’ by Elizabeth von Armin.
Although yellow had to be the predominant colour, I was able to use others, so I decided to add pink and white to my palette complimented by fresh aquamarine in the form of the ribbon trims and a Ball Mason jar.
It’s always hard to choose flowers for a shoot because it’s the time when I can go wild and choose exactly what I like – I feel like a child in a sweet shop staring wide-eyed at all the brightly coloured jars. In the end, I chose ranunculus, paperwhites, daffodils, spray roses, lisianthus, celosia, marguerites and olive leaf.  I also raided the garden for cherry blossom, apple blossom, forsythia, ribes sanguineum (the flowering currant) and bergenia. Who would’ve thought this was such a star – out of water it lasts for hours. I also cut a few budding hawthorn twigs from a nearby hedgerow too.
In keeping with the abundant feeling of April gardens, I decided to create an over-sized bouquet with tightly packed flowers in the centre and long stems of forsythia, hawthorn, ribes and olive, creating a kind of spindly halo around them. I trimmed it with long, trailing ribbon because it seemed to suit such an extravagant creation.
The images of my designs will be appearing in the July/August edition of Wedding Flowers & Accessories magazine. Hopefully they’ll inspire lots of brides to consider yellow as a colour for their wedding flowers. My snaps of them are on my Portfolio page.