Sunday, 5 August 2012

A Floral Sunday

At work, we get a gorgeous bouquet delivered at the beginning of the week to display in Reception. I tend to get myself in a bit of a flurry when I'm arranging them in a vase and turn in to a slight perfectionist, moving stems just millimeters at a time... but, as the flowers are SO beautiful, they always turn out great.

Our flowers are delivered by Charlotte of Classic Flower Designs from Chew Stoke, near Chew Valley Lake in Somerset. Classic Flower Designs describe themselves as 'the English Cottage Garden in a Bouquet,' working with only seasonal English flowers, and not the common Interflora stems.

When a friend mentioned she was taking part in a floristry course, I was excited to be told it was with Classic Flower Designs. One of my new years resolutions was to learn more about flower care and arrangements and I knew this would be the perfect opportunity. The next time we had our work delivery, Charlotte brought in her Summer School dates and details, and I booked myself on to the Hand Tied Bouquet afternoon.

The course took place from 2pm until 4.30pm on a rainy Sunday in August at Classic Flower Designs' new workshop. Inside the shop was so pretty. It's so kitch; polkadots and stripes and bunting and tea cups everywhere! 

There was myself and three other ladies on the class, and Charlotte and her Mum instructing us.
We started with a bucket of stems, which included roses, stocks, phlox, agapanthus, clematis, flowering mint, larkspur, snapdragons and some eucalyptus for greenery.

How It Began
We stripped the roses of their thorns, and cut away all the leaves which were low on the stems, leaving the length bald for ease later on when we were arranging. Charlotte advised choosing a large head for the focal point of the bouquet - we chose the gorgeous lilac roses, called "Memory Lane." 
Memory Lane
Hand tied bouquets are formed using the 'Spiralling Technique' - no doubt when you've bought (or been given) a bouquet from a florist they are spun circularly, rather than straight like in supermarkets. We held the first flower in our weak hand, and added stems to the bouquet at a 45 degree angle, with our dominant hand. You have to hold the flowers pretty tightly about 4 inches from the heads and make sure you don't loosen your grip too much. After each stem, the arrangement is twisted in your hand ready to place the next one. This is the technique which gives the bouquet shape and order.
Charlotte spiralling her bouquet
We repeated this technique, moving our hands down as we added more and more, until all the stems are used up. It doesn't quite happen first time though - one of the ladies decided to start from scratch again to create her perfect bunch. We then filled in the spaces accordingly by rejigging them (technical term!) and adjusted the height of the stems to create a domed shape. We laid the bouquets down on the table, and quickly tied a length of string quite tightly around the bunch.

The finished arrangement, ready for tidying up
The next step is definitely one of the most important ones... tea and cake. It was a gorgeous apple cake, one of the best slices I've had for ages! And the cuppa was perfect too (and I'm fussy with tea!)

Now our bouquets were ready, we snipped off the ends, between 10cm and 15cm, until all the stems were the same length and the bouquet could stand up unsupported on the table. Charlotte showed us how to wrap them in cellophane ready for aqua packing. We then did some origami-type folding and wrapped them in cute brown paper and burgundy tissue paper.

We poured a few inches of water through the centre of the bouquet into the cellophane to keep them hydrated in transport, and tied a ribbon around the bunch. I can't believe I made such a beautiful bouquet! I learnt so much today that I know I will use throughout my life, and I really hope I can get on one of the Christmas courses with Charlotte.
My hand tied bouquet in it's vase at home

Many thanks to Charlotte for allowing me to take photos during the course!
You can check our Classic Flower Designs at their website -

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