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Sweet Baby’s Breath

When I started my career in floristry many moons ago, I watched my mentors cringe at the mention of many flowers that I had grown up admiring throughout the 80’s and 90’s. I was new to the industry and of course I was wide eyed and so easily impressed by the artistry that seemed so effortless to them. I was also easily influenced and quickly learnt how to turn my nose up too.

They knew what colours worked together, so while I fumbled through the flower stand daily ‘experimenting’ with different combinations, or following the rules I had learnt via TAFE, they were busy creating colour schemes which were far more sophisticated, and upon first looks, appeared to break all the rules I had been adhering to.

There were blooms that were favoured- premium type blooms that need not beg for attention….as soon as they were unpacked there was a fight on to see who could gobble them up the quickest. The divine garden roses, or peonies were among them, along with anything especially seasonal like daphne, lilac, or lily of the valley, or if something was a particularly unique colour, or especially beautiful quality.

Other flowers were unpacked with an air of distaste and dissatisfaction….flowers that were seen as outdated, or daggy, out of fashion and lacking the finesse that was required in the work we were aiming to create. For someone new to the industry I sometimes couldn’t follow why something was snarled at one week, and adored the next. As time went on and I gained experience in the industry I began to understand how rapidly fashions changed and also how if a beautiful version of something came in, the way it was viewed changed too. What do I mean? Run of the mill Baby’s Breath is a prime example. The standard bunches can look rather ratty BUT a premium variety Gyposophila like ‘Million Stars’ has many more tiny flowers closer together then regular babies breath. The result is that with so many more tiny white blooms along the stems, it looks brighter and seems fuller in appearance.

Baby’s breath lost favour for so many years, but has seen a rise in popularity in recent times. These days though, Baby’s Breath is being used as a feature flower rather than a filler flower being mixed with other flowers in arrangements. Now, premium varieties of the flower are used alone.

Baby’s Breath is soft, delicate, feminine, light weight, white….so it is no surprise that it makes an ideal wedding flower. As it is available with long stems which are branched in appearance, you are able to create wide spread arrangements that are light weight to hold. Large centrepiece arrangements can look impressive, yet still delicate and ‘floaty’, almost cloud-like in appearance.

Baby’s Breath has been a popular addition to weddings over the years, usually with other flowers, but check out the way you can use this simple bloom for weddings and event all alone.

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Image via Pinterest
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Image; Flowers by Twisted Willow via Wedding Chicks

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Image; Whimsical Wonderland Weddings
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Tall centrepieces by Maria from Simply Flowers
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Image; Bella Blooms Studio via Etsy
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Image; Elle Pupa via The Wedding Pin
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Image; Boho Weddings via Thinkstock
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Image; Pinterest
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Image; Brooke Courtney via My Wedding

When I began my training, I was told that anyone could make something look beautiful with amazing flowers, but it took someone truly talented to make something beautiful out of ‘ugly’ ingredients. Never underestimate what a good florist can do….

Fwf x

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Random Floral Acts of Kindness

Have you heard of people doing random acts of kindness or paying it forward? For many, a small, random act spurs them on in a way they had never considered before, and I’ve got to say, it certainly seems like a lovely change from the incredibly selfish and self centred lives we live in the world today. Some have been delighted when they go to pay a restaurant bill only to find another patron has already taken care of it. Perhaps the person in front of you in the coffee line has paid for your order before you have made it. You are really only limited by your imagination….and your wallet 😜

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Lonely Bouquet by Fleuropean

In 2015, Petal It Forward began; an initiative started by the Society of American Florists. The idea was to brighten someone’s day with a random act of kindness, receiving a bouquet of flowers. This year, 2 years on, the event took place on Wednesday 11th October, covering 50 states, and over 300 cities according to the website.

During the event, lucky recipients received two bouquets- one for themselves and one to give away or ‘petal forward’. And anyone could be lucky enough- the bouquets are given randomly to people walking along the street, doing their groceries or playing in the park.

“It lets people know how much flowers can make a difference in someone’s day,” Linda Hursa from Angel’s Trumpet Flowers and Gifts said.

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A lonely bouquet

And these guys aren’t alone; there are others creating positive karma all over the world. The Lonely Bouquet allows flower lovers, and do-gooders alike to create a bouquet that they ‘abandon’ somewhere. This lonely bouquet could be left anywhere; a park bench, a library, even at a bus stop…somewhere it will be found with a simple note explaining it’s intent.

The original concept could be lost amidst a treasure hunt of sorts if you openly advertise where you place them, so the best idea (I think) is to simply abandon the bunch somewhere where it will be found and enjoyed. Add a small note to the bunch with whatever sentiment you like- but basically the idea is that your good deed will be enjoyed so much that it will inspire the recipient to go ahead and do the same.

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Lonely Bouquet Note

Florists have been doing a version of this for years- taking the leftover blooms from events and turning them into lovely box arrangements or posies and delivering them to retirement villages and nursing homes to bring a bit of joy.

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Via Upworthy -Repeat Roses was born when owner Grove decided that there had to be a better use for the arrangements that were simply being thrown away after a wedding. Now, they are rearranged into beautiful displays for the elderly to enjoy.

There have been several recent studies by Rutgers and Harvard that show that flowers have a profoundly positive effect on a person’s sense of well being. Flowers have been shown to improve your mood- ask any florist! 76% of people agree that having flowers around you in your home or office positively affects the mood. The SAF also conducted their own study that showed that 88% of people who were given flowers felt happier, and 80% of people receiving flowers felt happier. So based on figures like that, this whole concept really sounds like a recipe for success doesn’t it!!??

Flowers are often given at sad times, in the face of tragedy, and for this reason alone, the concept of being given flowers for no reason at all is beautiful. 92% of women think that getting flowers ‘just because’ is the best reason EVER, and 75% of men agree! We have gorgeous fresh flower arrangements and bouquets for all occasions, including “just because”. Or if you fancy doing your own random act of kindness we have beautiful bunches of market fresh flowers available everyday. Why not spread a little love today…

Fwf x

Feature image: fleuropean

 

 

 

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It’s Never Too Late To CREATE!

“Creativity is intelligence having fun”Albert Einstein

Some people are street smart, others are book smart, and some other people are smart in a way that many are envious of…they are creative. Creative people have a unique way of looking at the world, and at looking at problems….coming up with solutions that others could not contemplate.

A 91 year old Czech woman has spent the last 30 odd years beautifying a small village, turning it into her own art gallery by hand painting flowers over the facade of the houses. It looks like Louka, a small town of only about 70 people in the Czech Republic, is set to become the next village famous simply for being charming and beautiful. Anežka (Agnes) Kašpárková, paints the window and door frames of the houses throughout spring and summer, slowly covering her hometown in her ultramarine designs. After working for years in agriculture, cultivating plants to support her family,  Agnes turned to painting about 30 years ago having being mentored by Manakova, a local women. When she passed away Agnes decided to continue her work. She uses bright blue paints which contrast the white walls of the Moravian homes. Creating intricate designs free hand, without drafting, her inspiration is from the traditional Southern Czech (Moravian) artworks. The chapel enjoys an annual touch up each May, when the artist spends 10 days decorating the freshly whitewashed chapel walls.

Why does she do it? “I am an Artist. I just enjoy it and I want to help.” Agnes says. “I’m just doing what I like,” she adds, humbly. “I try to help decorate the world a bit.”

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Image by Obec Louka via Bored Panda
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Image by Obec Louka via Bored Panda. Agnes seen here painstakingly painting the floral motifs
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Image by Obec Louka via Bored Panda. “I am an Artist. I just enjoy it and I want to help.”

It is not the first time something like this has been done….do you remember the little Polish village that is also adorned with flowers?

Zalipie, in Poland was just an isolated small town; bleak and somewhat forgotten. The smoke blackened huts of the village provided the local housewives with the appropriate inspiration. Initially, the women began painting the houses to disguise the black and sooty scars left by the smoke filtering out from the stoves. The women would hide the spots of soot within the intricate flower designs; a unique floral motif designed for each house, therein transforming the village into a kaleidoscope of colour and creativity. Gradually the designs began to make their way onto the outside of the houses, allowing the world to see the colour and intricacies. The quaint village has now become one of southern Poland’s best kept treasures, bringing visitors to the once quiet town.

As modern cooking methods improved, the need for these designs was lost however the town has kept them and continued to adorn any structure they can with the colourful designs; houses, bridges, chicken coop….there are no limits.

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Zalipie, Poland- a quaint village adorned with unique floral motifs designed and executed by the town’s housewives
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Image; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland
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Intricate designs. Just look at the detail in each of the flowers and leaves. Image ; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland

Beautifying the world around you brings a sense of calm and contentment. But more than that, Agnes reminds us that it is never too late to do something that you love, and be guided by the creativity within.

Not everyone has the option of painting a whole village, but a vaseful of fresh cut flowers or a lush indoor plant can beautify your little world. Check out what we have online via the links, or come in store to say ‘Hi’.

Fwf x

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Threatened, endangered and extinct

For animal lovers, the increasing number of creatures that end up on the threatened, endangered, or extinct list is devastating. Many organisations get behind animal conservation and mainstream entertainment activities such as visiting a zoo, or aquarium bring these issues to the forefront.

But you may be surprised to find that many plants also face extinction. In fact scientists estimated that a huge 20% of the world’s plants face extinction- that’s one in five plants. The World’s Botanic Gardens act as a safe haven for many rare plants. And while Botanic Gardens worldwide are popular tourist attractions, the purpose is also to serve as valuable research centres; for learning and educating and for important conservation work.

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Image via Wiki Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

For the first time, a detailed global study has been conducted of plants grown in botanical gardens, where they recorded more than 100,000 species. The study, conducted by the researchers from Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), has given great insight into what they have (of course), but probably just as importantly, what is lacking in the gardens. The Botanic Gardens is a huge resource of living collections as well as seed banks, and it is thought that perhaps more effort and energy should be focused on growing what they are able to uniquely grow, as there are no other parties able to do so.

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Image via Sydney.com of the beautiful Sydney Botanic Gardens

Dr Samuel Brockington of the University of Cambridge, and co curator of the study believes the global network of botanic gardens is our best hope for saving some of the world’s critically endangered plants.

Whilst the study showed a great cross section of living plants, Tropical plant varieties were under represented as were the Earth’s most ancient living flora, primitive plants such as mosses. Tropical plants only accounted for 25% of the gardens stock, however in reality, the majority of plant species in the world are Tropical. This is something they need to change; “Non-vascular species are the living representations of the first plants to colonise land,” Brockington said. “They are essential for understanding the evolution of plants.”

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Image via wiki Nong Nooch Tropical Botanic Gardens

He goes on to say;

“Currently, an estimated one-fifth of plant diversity is under threat, yet there is no technical reason why any plant species should become extinct. Botanic gardens protect an astonishing amount of plant diversity in cultivation, but we need to respond directly to the extinction crisis.”

“If we do not conserve our plant diversity, humanity will struggle to solve the global challenges of food and fuel security, environmental degradation, and climate change.”

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Image via Singapore Guide- The Singapore Botanic Gardens

The study which was published in the journal Nature’s Plants covered the shortfall in plants across 100 institutions. As the majority of the gardens were situated in the Northern hemisphere, the lack of tropical plants is understandable. To maintain the species would require heating and glass houses. Of course these species are more readily exhibited in their natural environment, however there are less gardens in the Southern hemisphere.

What was most interesting for me was that only 10% of the collections worldwide were dedicated to threatened species. Surely there is more that we can do to preserve some of the world’s most vulnerable plants!?

Fwf

 

 

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Fashionable Flowers

We have all heard the saying “What’s old, is new again” and flower preferences, like fashion change. According to House and Garden, 2017’s most fashionable flowers once again gaining popularity in gardens and as cut blooms are some truly old favourites.

Each of these flower varieties will hold a special place in your nanna’s heart, and for many years were seen as ‘naff’ or unsophisticated. Oh how times have changed.

With time, many of these once drab and boring flower varieties have been reinvented. With many hybridised variations, and available in so many beautiful colours and textures.

So what flowers made House and Garden’s list?

  • Dahlias
  • Gladioli
  • Chrysanthemums
  • Delphinium

Dahlias are a full and fluffy bloom. I have been known to use them in place of peonies at times where a big showy, petal-ly bloom is required.

The dahlia has many forms; some varieties are soft in colour tone, and soft in appearance with rounded petals. Others, like a firecracker of colour, are vibrant, and have pointed petals that appear more sharp and pointy although the texture remains the same.

Dahlias are not a long lasting bloom, they have a vase life of up to about 5 days. BUT for the price tag, Dahlia’s provide real bang for your buck as they have large blooms and easily fill a vase.

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Image; Quotes Gram
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Florist with Flowers Instagram

Gladioli conjure up images of Dame Edna Everage for me; flamboyant and showy. Rarely was the iconic 1980’s star pictured without the stems, often throwing them out to her audience to wave back at her!

The gladioli was named after the Latin word “gladius,” which means sword, due to it’s sword like appearance. While there are over 260 species within the group with varied appearances, the spectacular giant flower spikes we see today are the result of centuries of hybridisation.

The colour range available make gladioli extremely versatile. Flowers are available in pure whites, lemon, apricot, tangerine, lime green, soft mauve, soft pink, pink, purple, hot pink, red, coral, plum, and more.

Nothing is more stunning than a tall vase filled with just gladioli en masse, and simple leaves around the base of the vase.

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Image via Pinterest

Chrysanthemums, or ‘mums’ as they are fondly known are traditionally reserved for Mother’s Day. Over the years they have gained a bit of a reputation for being uninteresting, and ‘common’ and have therefore lacked appeal. Common varieties flooded the market and filled the supermarket and petrol station flower stands but meanwhile, other varieties were unknowingly and unnecessarily being overlooked. Lime green button chrysanthemums, Polaris, Spider and Disbud chrysanthemums, have all started to gain attention for the right reasons. Offering interesting colours and textures, and varying sized blooms has meant that the humble Chrysanthemum has been able to fill a gap in the market at an affordable price. And what’s more, Chrysanthemums are long lasting blooms.

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Image; The Garden Helper

Delphiniums were once reserved for traditional herbaceous borders in the garden, and when this style lost popularity, sadly, so did the pretty delphinium blooms. Delphiniums are available in soft pastel blues, mauves, pinks and white, and have delicate blooms along the length of a long thin stem. They are ideal for adding height to an arrangement yet maintaining a soft cottage garden feel. Delphinium are lovely to use in a bridal bouquet; they are a delicate, feminine bloom that are one of the few natural, true blue tones.

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Image; Swallowtail Garden Seeds

Remember Spring is a wonderful time to enjoy fresh cut flowers as you get a little longer from your blooms with the more moderate temperatures. Check out some of our Season’s Favourites for home or for a gift for someone special.

Fwf x

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Good Enough to Eat

Traditionally wedding flowers were a unique combination of blooms put together to convey the hopes and dreams for the soon to be married couple’s future.  A red chrysanthemum to say ‘I love you’, orange blossom to show purity, innocence and chastity, an arum lily would convey patience.

Then, wedding bouquets favoured classic blooms, such as the rose, lilies, lisanthus or stephanotis in pure and simple whites. They were often elaborate designs, long and trailing, using delicate feminine blooms.

Fast forward to today and just about anything goes. You can create a theme in pretty much anyway you choose.

Beach wedding? Short wedding dress ✔️  Sandals/thongs/barefoot  ✔️ Macrame backdrop ✔️  Gorgeous fresh tropical blooms.

Winter wedding? Fur bolero ✔️ Moody lighting ✔️ Rich colour tones ✔️ Lots of textured fresh flowers and foliage ✔️ Woodland setting ✔️

Vintage theme? Lace wedding gown ✔️ Muted, antique colour palette ✔️  Gathered bouquet of garden fresh flowers ✔️

But what about if you want to have something truly different? Like wedding bouquets that contain NO FRESH FLOWERS at all!!?? Now, I’m not talking about artificial wedding flower bouquets. I’m talking about doughnut bouquets. Yep. You heard right.

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Image;BBC via Paige Burgess

Seriously though, this week 23 year old Bride Paige Burgess from Sydney, surprised her 3 bridesmaids with bouquets of doughnuts created by Sydney-based company, Dessert Boxes.  It was certainly a diversion from tradition, and apparently a real talking point at the wedding, but what I find most amazing about this story after going to such an effort to do something so unique…..THE DONUTS WERE LEFT UNEATEN 😭

After getting through the ceremony and reception, with all the gorgeous treats on offer to eat, Burgess told the BBC: “We had plenty of goodies beforehand so we were too full too eat them.”

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Image; BBC via Paige Burgess
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Image; SBS via Dessert Boxes
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Image; SBS via Dessert Boxes

 

Weddings are entirely individual, and many ‘traditions’ that were once seen as essential to a beautiful wedding, are now quite easily substituted to better suit the pair who are aiming to create a memorable day. “We wanted the wedding to be a bit different and really reflect who we are as a couple,” Paige Burgess said of choosing her doughnut bouquets.  Her groom Steve even wore doughnut cuff-links! Dessert Boxes owner,  Samantha Khater says that it was all started as a social media based competition, where Paige was one of thousands of comments. Khater rang a few of the entrants before speaking with Paige and knowing she was the right girl for them. People’s response to the doughnut bouquets has been HUGE with brides-to-be inquiring about the doughnut bouquets which are currently not part of Dessert Boxes standard range.

It is not the first time that we have seen couples play around with traditional wedding details to suit their personalities and tastes. Over the years, many have shunned the traditional wedding (fruit) cake in favour of other popular cake choices. Or the cake has been omitted altogether in favour of a what has been dubbed a “Cheese- Cake”; not the New York baked variety, but instead a tiered display of delicious gourmet cheeses, adorned with fresh and dried fruits. And for several years now we have been able to send chocolate bouquets as gifts.

As a flower lover, I saw fresh flowers as an essential ingredient in my wedding day, but I know that everyone is different, and details I see as important may be insignificant to you. Would you consider edible bouquets for your wedding day?

Fwf x

 

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For the Love of Flowers

For many years now I have been a florist. And if I am truthful, I have struggled with only being a florist, as if it really isn’t enough, as if I should be giving more to the world. Why? To outsiders florists may appear to have no drive or ambition, no smarts, and perhaps no skill. I am always bewildered by the fact people are surprised florists ‘train’ for at least two years. And even more so, when they think that they could learn to create something as good as a florist with a 5 minute tutorial by someone.  But the reality is far from that.

Florists are creatives who work in a time sensitive environment, taking fresh ingredients, caring for them and displaying them in a way that makes each a piece of art. They listen to your ideas and bring them to life, transforming parties to memorable, spectacular events. They construct pieces from trial and error, and detailed consultation. They are savvy business people, seeing opportunities to create niche businesses where they are absent, or working from home whilst juggling parenting. They are forever adapting to the changing landscape of business- offering the punters what they want whether it be fresh cut market bunches, lavish arrangements, small simple gift bunches with local delivery, house plants or gift ware.

When I think about what attracted me to floristry initially, and what has kept me coming back over the years, the reasons are many.

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Image; Florist With Flowers Instagram. Clusters of Seasonal flowers including divine Cymbidiums

Seasonality– Despite every flower having a ‘season’, with modern day techniques many flowers are available all year round, but for me, when a flower comes into it’s true season, things don’t get much better.

When the Winter Cymbidium season begins, I gobble them up as quickly as they come in, utilising them in everything that I can. Somehow everything just seems to look better….clusters of the blooms in posies, or lovely long stems in arrangements and leggy bouquets. I begin to wonder how on earth I will ever make something beautiful again once their season passes.

Of course, as one season ends another begins and my senses are delighted once again- Spring offerings such as Daphne, Lilly of the Valley, and Heleborus invigorate my creative juices once more. Summers Buddleja  (Buddleia) and Garden rose varieties are some of the most delicious of the season’s offerings. Autumn gifts me with Cattleya orchids and Calla lilies.

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Image; Florist With Flowers Instagram. Where there is little difference in colour tone, the differences in texture can elevate a design.

Texture– Texture is totally under- rated. It has the ability to take a bouquet from drab to fab, to create interest where there was none.  I liken it to the ‘crunch’ in a meal, where you all of a sudden find yourself chewing on something that was almost unexpected, but it is this difference that ties all the other components together.

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Image; Florist with Flower Instagram “When you’re a leaf, but so badly want to be the flower”

Colours– The single thing that keeps it most interesting for me in floristry is the fact that there are so many intricacies in nature. There are the tiniest differences within flowers of the same variety- a blush, a variegation, or a pronounced vein, making each and every flower unique. We sometimes find one part of the bloom is overgrown (mutated) or it has a double head (like twins)- it is a beautiful reminder that there is much variation in the world and that the beauty of the world lies within and because of those differences.

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Image; M J Blythe via Pinterest

For many of our talented peers, they utilise training from a previous life when they begin their career in floristry. I know a handful of Fine Arts graduates, Marketing Execs, and set designers. It’s the kind of industry that requires so much broad knowledge, that we have a a broad cross section of skills within it. And despite trying my hand at many other things over the years, I keep coming back. Why? I have found a career that gives me a level of fulfillment that I know I am blessed to have found and feel. It may not seem serious enough or high pressured  enough to command a mammoth salary, but that’s not really why we do it, is it?! Fundamentally, we all do it for the love of flowers, because that seems to be a love that never dies…

Fwf

 

 

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Wedding Inspirations; Pina Colada

When people think weddings- it is easy to assume that it needs to be white all the way. Tradition says it is so, so it must be, right? But these days really anything goes. A wedding is a celebration that brings together two peoples styles (well, in theory anyway) so essentially no two weddings need be alike.

For those who enjoy, nay love a bit of colour, a wedding can feel quite restrictive if you let your head get filled with other people’s ideas of what your day should look like. So this week, I am sharing with you a colour scheme I refer to as ‘Pina Colada’- a mixture of pink, orange and gold tones. Certainly it is not for everyone, but for those brave enough to saturate their day in vibrant colour, well, this combo may just win you over 😉

I guess something that you may take into consideration when choosing a colour palette that is a bright and vivacious as this one, is that it can dictate the vibe of your soiree also. Indian weddings are notoriously brightly coloured, and they do it so brilliantly. Using brighter colour tones can bring joy and exuberance, and less formality. Give this some consideration when you are in the planning stages.

Get the look;

Colours; I like to think of this colour palette as a gorgeous sunset which means that it can cover just about anything from soft apricots, lemons and powder pinks, to mid pink, burnt orange, coral, salmon, mango, gold and hot pinks- take your pick!

If you choose to go for the more pastel colouring, the result will be far softer and can suit more vintage theming. Brighter exotic flowers will suit a coastal/beach themed celebration.

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Image; Luna and Chloe Weddings via look o on flickr

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bouquet 1Marquee,

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cake, bouquet 2, bouquet 3

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Image; Brides
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Image; Flowers by Anthomanic via Grey Likes Weddings

Flowers; Depending on whether you prefer the bright vibrant hues or the paler tones you will obviously have different options of flowers to use within this theme. Of course seasonality will ultimately dictate what is available at the time of year you get married.

Poppies would be an awesome choice within this colour theme as well as peonies, roses, billy buttons, ranunculus, freesias, David Austin roses, pink or red hypericum,  dahlias, freesias, orchids, jasmine, cumquot branches, calla lilies.

Accessories; This vibrant, vivacious theme lends itself to fun and funky accessories and decorations; thongs, petal confetti, lollies as favours, coloured beverages, windmills etc. Or what about water-coloured invitations, place cards and table numbers, floral table runners and gold plated cutlery? Delicious!

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Image; Knots Villa

 

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Image; 100 Layer Cake
Red, Pink, and Orange #candy #favors
Image; Via Pinterest

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Now if this page has had you dreaming of the coming summer, keen to walk barefoot on the beach, and (gasp!) perhaps even have a dip…. then I have done my job.   Perhaps it has inspired you to get some fresh cut flowers and brighten up your home with winter behind us TOMORROW! Spring flowers are blooming and we have a magical selection available in-store and for local Sydney delivery, so come in and say Hello!

Fwf x

 

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Bring on Spring

After a dreary winter, and one of the worst cold and flu season’s ON RECORD, I know I am not alone in saying ‘Bring on Spring’. Apart from being an awesome time to get in your garden, the moderate Spring temperatures make it more enjoyable to be outside in general, and there are plenty of spring activities throughout Sydney to keep you busy.

In September;

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Image; David Jones

The first Spring activity on most flower lovers calendar is the David Jones Flower Show at their Elizabeth Street Flagship store. The Flower show runs from August 31st until September 10th. It is always beautifully created by a team of approximately 30 florists and takes some 10,000 hours. My tip is to get there sooner than later. Whilst the crowds are bigger in the first few days, the display does start to look tired toward the end of the show.

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A great way to spend the day outdoors is at Bondi’s annual Festival of the Winds. The festival takes place at Bondi Beach, Bondi Park and Bondi Pavillion and has something for everyone. There will be food on offer, kites for sale, kite making workshops, entertainment, jumping castles and puppet shows for the kids, and of course the sky will be full of kites. Kite flyers will WOW with their beautiful handmade creations and there is sure to be a mixture of creations; anything from flowers and animals to popular cartoon characters….the sky is the limit!

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If you are up for the drive, Floriade Canberra is a lovely (and long) day trip. Interestingly, Floriade was originally designed to be a one off flower festival to celebrate Australia’s bicentenary and Canberra’s 75th anniversary back in 1988. It was so well received that the festival has been created year after year since; this year is its 30th year, so I imagine it will be extra special. Floriade is comprised of more than a million bulbs and annuals planted across 8000 square metres.

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For something a bit different, head out to to Western Sydney’s Cabramatta on Sunday September 24th for the Moon Festival, an annual event celebrating the Southeast Asian culture and cuisine. Some 90,000 people from across Sydney join the giant street festival on John Street.  The festival runs all day long from 9am and well into the evening with entertainment, rides, cooking demonstrations, gourmet foods, market stalls and fireworks closing the evening at 8pm.

Spring has many other activities happening over the coming months, and it is also an ideal time to get out into your garden and finish up any work you may have been avoiding. Fairly soon we will start to see the temperatures soar and we all know that makes outdoor manual labour FAR more taxing, so make it your mission to get your pruning, weeding and planting done throughout September.

Florist With Flowers tip; Enjoy fresh cut flowers now while the temperatures are still moderate. Spring is a great time to enjoy the fragrant blooms that are in season whilst still getting great vase life. Flowers deteriorate with excessive draughts, heat and bacteria. Remember to change the water regularly and re-cut the stems when you do so.

Fwf x

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Xanthorrhoea- The Story of the Black Boy Plant

The Xanthorrhoea plant is uniquely Australian. It grows in the South East of Australia thriving in well drained, aerated soils with low nutrient content. It is a plant that can suit most gardens, and being endemic to Australia means it is ideal for our climate and environment.

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Image; Xanthorrhoea_drummondii via Australian Seed

All species of Xanthorrhoea are very slow growing BUT they are also long living; some elderly specimens are among the oldest living plants worldwide. They live for hundreds of years, some have been found to be up to 600 years old. A plant with a metre long trunk for example may already be 100 years old!!!

Xanthorrhoea plants are also known as Balga Grass Plants.  ‘Balga’ is the Aboriginal word for black boy and for many years the plant was fondly known as a “Black Boy”. It is thought that the Aborigines called the plants Balga because after a bush fire had ravaged the land, the blackened trunk of the Xanthorrhoea would be revealed beneath the burned lower leaves, and would resemble a child like black figure. Others believe that the plant, with it’s bush fire blackened trunk and long flower spike resembled an Aboriginal boy wielding a spear. Whatever the case, as the years have passed, it is seen as an extremely racist name, and is thought to be very offensive to the original custodians of the land, so the plants are more commonly known as Grass Tree, because let’s face it Xanthorrhoea is a bit of a mouthful.

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Image; Xanthorrhoea_preissii via Australian Plants

The Xanthorrhoea was invaluable to the Aborigine people. It was a source of food, drink and building material.

Food; Fleshy white parts of leaves and the succulent roots of the plants were frequently eaten. The seeds were collected, ground into a powder and used to make damper. They also collected grubs from the base of the plant.

Drink; The flower of the Xanthorrhoea was soaked in a trough of water extracting a thick sweet nectar which could be enjoyed as is or fermented for  3-5 days in order to produce an alcoholic brew.

Material for tools; The leaves of the Xanthorrhoea produce a hard waterproof resin, which is liquid form when warmed, but sets hard when cooled. The Aboriginals used the resin as a super glue type of material to attach blades to spears and as a waterproofing material for canoes.

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Image; Flower Spike going to seed via Anpsa

There are 28 species of grass trees in Australia. Xanthorrea Johnsonii is just one of these species, but is a popular variety in Australian gardens due to it’s singular trunk which can grow up to 5 metres tall. When you see a grass tree where the trunk changes direction, has major bends or even multiple heads, this is generally caused by new growth after the plant has flowered, or if the tree has been involved in an accident (another tree falling on top, or pushing against the grass tree). So essentially, the survivors turn into architectural masterpieces; each trauma, and struggle spurs them on, making them ever more interesting and beautiful. Each tree is totally unique and proudly displays its history in its shape.

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Image; Xanthorrhoea Australis Flower spike in bloom via Gardens Online

These plants often flower as a direct result of fire, quickly bringing an essential food source to the surrounding birds, insects and other wildlife. It is often the first spurt of colour in an otherwise blackened environment. The flower spike of the Xanthorrhoea is the growth point; after flowering, you will notice that the tree will remain dormant and cease producing new leaves for months or even years. Many people panic, but there is no need. The plant does not require extra water or fertiliser- it just needs your patience. This is the way of nature, and the Xanthorrhoea has survived just like this for hundreds of years; this is a defense mechanism. To encourage continuous growth, you will need to remove the flower spike as soon as it appears.

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