Virtual International Flower Festival - Meet the Designers
We knew there were lots of fabulously talented floral designers out there, but we were still amazed by the response we had to the launch of our first ever virtual International Flower Festival! Flower lovers from Cornwall to Manchester, Ireland to Italy, Australia, Barbados and Canada sent us images of their designs, all them beautiful and with a story to tell. We asked five of them to tell us about their entries.
'Anniversary Bouquet', Jennie Harwood, UK
"I created this design for a very dear friend and her husband who were celebrating their ruby wedding anniversary. It was British Flowers Week and there were so many lovely varieties of flowers to choose from. I used Peonies (one of my favourite flowers), Sweet William, Spray Dianthus, Lisianthus, Stocks and Gypsophila, all of which came from Highcroft Nurseries in Cornwall. They were handpicked one day and delivered to me early the next morning so they were still as fresh as the day they were picked.
From a young age I have always been around flowers - my father used to grow Dahlias and Chrysanthemums and enter them into local flower shows. I enjoy creating designs and seeing the pleasure on my customers' faces when they buy them. I have recently graduated from Writtle University College with a BA (Hons) Degree in Professional Floristry and Floral Design. This was quite a challenge, particularly during the Covid-19 lockdown as everything had to be done online using Zoom. But I am delighted to have achieved it and it will help me further in my floristry work.
I think flowers are particularly good for our well-being, both mentally and physically, and even more so now during Covid-19. Working with flowers has certainly helped me get through the last few months and will continue to do so in the future. I do feel very privileged to have such a lovely profession, and to meet and deal with such lovely people."
'Locked In', Julie Alleyne, Barbados
"During these Covid-19 months when we were all under ‘stay at home’ orders, my flower club, BAFA Inc. (Barbados Association of Floral Artists) were not able to meet in person, so our committee came up with the idea that we should encourage members to do arrangements at home and display them at our first Zoom meeting. The theme was ‘Lockdown’. Because it wasn’t safe to go out, I used items I had stored around the house such as dried seed pods, golden palm spathes and coconut fibre, mixed with the foliage and flowers of crotons, dracena leaves and red (tropical) anthuriums, all picked from my garden. I also used several pieces of driftwood locked into each other to allow them to stand up.
I have been a member of my flower club for over 25 years and always find working with flowers enjoyable and relaxing. Looking after my flower garden during the Covid-19 shutdown has been very enjoyable and it afforded me the extra time to add some new things to the garden."
'Autumn Fire', Shiona Fosh, UK
"Over the summer, I was looking for different sorts of arrangements and came across some interesting collar bouquets on the internet. Their structures fascinated me, so I decided to experiment.
I am always foraging and looking for things to use creatively as I garden. In late August, our oak tree shed a large number of immature acorns onto the lawn. It seemed a waste to throw them away, so I added them as texture to my collar. Then a friend turned up with a bundle of Corylus avellana sticks from her garden. They have such unpredictable twists and turns, I just had to use them too. They gave the bouquet height and interest and looked like smoke rising from the fire. I chose Euphorbia characias which has interesting, fleshy, pointed leaves as a focal point and infilled with red Pyracantha berries and immature Hylotelephium spectabile flowers, which added rough and smooth textures and a splash of colour to give the appearance of a fire. I finished the design by using my mother's lovely green glass vase to give the arrangement light and depth. I inserted the Jasminum fruticans greenery under the collar to extend the foundation of the arrangement.
My husband, Graham, photographed it and then we ran a competition on our family WhatsApp group, asking everyone to suggest a suitable title. The winner was ‘Autumn Fire’. We put the arrangement by our glass front door, but sadly due to lockdown, we may have been the only people who saw it there!"
'A profusion of flowers in a Sad Spring', Anna Barbaglia, Italy
"This arrangement was inspired by two paintings by the Flemish artist Jan Brueghel, ‘The Velours’ (1568-1625) and ‘Velvet’. I used a metal container similar to some he painted too. I made it on March 30th, 2020 for a virtual flower show and, after taking the photograph, I gave it to a dear friend.
All the flowers came from my garden, kitchen garden and orchard. I have used Iris japonica, Iris germanica, several varieties of Camelia japonica, different varieties of rose, including ‘Tequila Sunrise’ and Rosa Banksiae Lutea, bluebells, Honesty, Choisia ternata "Sundance", Tropaeolum (yellow and orange), Arum italicum pictum, Zantedeschia 'Green Goddess', Salvia sclarea, snapdragon, little flowers of Heucheras, leaves of Spiraea ‘Goldflame’, Spiraea canescens, Helleborus orientalis (simple and double forms), Chasmanthe (yellow and orange), Allium neapolitanum, Tulips, Euphorbia characias, Sparaxis, rosemary, cabbage flowers, dandelions, flowering pear and quince branches.
I have always loved gardening and my sister Carla (who won a gold medal at WAFA India), and I have transformed our grandfather's orchard into a garden/orchard full of flowers for flower arranging. We specialise in hellebores - in fact, we have the oldest collection of hellebores in Italy with plants bought in UK, New Zealand and Northern California.
I began arranging flowers in the early 1960s. Today, I am a teacher, demonstrator, international flower arranging judge and secretary of my flower club, IIDFA-EDFA Savona/Pietra Ligure. I haven't arranged flowers much in the past months as all the classes and flower shows have been interrupted so, instead, I have worked a lot in the garden and I must say that weeding, pruning etc was the best way to forget what was happening outside."
'June Bike', Stamford Flower Club, UK
"This bike is a permanent feature at the corner of Station Road and High Street St Martin’s, on a strategic road into the centre of Stamford, Lincolnshire. All the flowers and foliage used came from members’ gardens, except for the Sunflowers, Spray Carnations and Chrysanthemums, which were bought from a supermarket. The garden flowers included roses, Solidago, alliums, artichokes, Verbena.
The flower club, inspired by British Flowers Week, worked with Stamford in Bloom to decorate it as a way 'flower bombing' the area to surprise the locals, visitors and shoppers of Stamford. We did four installations over the summer and hopefully, they will have inspired an appreciation of flowers and flower arranging during this unusual time because flowers and foliage, whether arranging or in the garden, bring the joy of fragrance and colour and a sense of well-being."
You can see all the beautiful displays in the gallery here