Blues – this years’ wedding flower trend?

As our thoughts turn to the spring sowing of flower seeds we have been keeping an eye on the current trends for 2018 weddings.  Certainly the talk on the various bridal forums has indicated that blue, particularly navy and royal blue, is likely to be very popular this year.  This is also borne out by the orders we have received so far.

As there are relatively few true blue flowers this could potentially be challenging if we don’t carefully plan our sowing to ensure we have a good range in flowers throughout the season.  It is, however, not just about the blue as we need to ensure that we have a selection of complementary and contrasting colours available to set off the blues perfectly.

Pew ends in blue and white with a pop of yellow.
Pew ends of blue cornflowers and dutch iris alongside white roses and feverfew providing that tiny pop of yellow. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers. Venue Wethele Manor, Warwickshire

So what are the options available for providing these blue floral arrangements with country garden flowers?

Powder Blue

I feel the lighter powder blues are perhaps easier to achieve than the darker navy and royal blues.  Many of these varieties make lovely garden plants as well as having the advantage of being good cut flowers.  Some of our favourites include:

  • ‘Love-in-a-mist’ (Nigella damascina and Nigella hispanica) – a lovely, delicate true blue flower that also yields interesting seed pods later in the season.
  • Ageratum – we particularly like the F1 strain ‘Blue Horizon’ as it has much longer cutting stems than the typical bedding varieties.  It is a great garden plant and goes on flowering its socks off and looking good until the first frosts of the autumn.
Ageratum 'Blue Horizon'
Ageratum ‘Blue Horizon’
  • Sea lavender (Limonium latifolium) – a light and delicate Limonium that is great for creating the open, wispy effect that sits so well with country garden wedding bouquets.  It also dries well.
  • Scabious – this is such a fantastic meadow style flower and always looks good in country style and wild garden bouquets.
Bouquet of white peonies, blue scabious and nigella
Bouquet of white peonies, blue scabious and nigella backed with asparagus fern and pittosporum. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers
  • Sweet Peas – for fragrance you cannot beat the Sweet Pea and there are some pale blue varieties that fit this blue trend perfectly.
Pale blue sweet peas with lime green Alchemilla
Pale blue sweet peas with lime green Alchemilla
  • Didiscus – a delicate and interesting bloom that holds well and adds a meadow touch to any arrangement.
Didiscus
Didiscus

Mid-blue

  • Cornflowers – probably one of our most used blue flowers ideal for bouquets, arrangements and buttonholes.  They hold extremely well and can cope with being out of water for some time.  Cornflowers are one of a limited number of flowers that work reliably in a flower crown of fresh flowers on a hot summers day.  They are also edible and can be used as cake flowers.
Flower Girl Wand in blue and white bound with white satin.
Flower Girl Wand in blue and white bound with white satin. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers
  • Delphiniums – these are extremely valuable as they come in a range of blues from a light powder blue shade, through mid-blue and also rich deep blues. The blooms are rather more ‘chunky’ than larkspur but that makes them particularly good for large pedestal and church arrangements.
  • Dutch Iris – blue is a receding colour and it often requires a pop of white or yellow to bring it to life.   There are some varieties of Dutch Iris which are almost a deep velvety blue but the typical dutch iris is mid-blue with a flash of yellow or white that sets off the blue nicely.

Deep Blue to Mauve/Purple

  • Anemone – if you are putting together a spring wedding then the Anemone will be one of the stars of the show.  We have found that they are relatively short lived in our garden and each year the flower stems get shorter and shorter.  Although still useful as a garden plant they become less useful as a cut flower as time goes by.  We therefore tend to buy and plant new corms each year to maintain a good crop of usable stems.
Country bouquet
Country bouquet featuring blue anenomes, dutch iris and limonium. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers. Photograph by Michelle Hardy Photography http://www.michellehardyphotography.com/
  • Delphinium ‘Volkerfrieden’ – this Delphinium of the ‘Belladonna Group’ provides a true blue flower that is open and delicate.  It regularly appears in our Honey Pot Flowers designs!
  • Larkspur – although strictly speaking a Delphinium the annual Larkspur species D.consolida and D.ajacis tend to be much more delicate than the perennial border delphiniums.  They therefore lend themselves better to smaller bouquets and table arrangements and can also be dried and used for petal confetti.
Larkspur 'Braveheart'
Larkspur ‘Braveheart’
  • Clary Sage – a well behaved flower stem that provides colour all summer.  A useful filler in both the borders and in bouquets.  It is in fact the colourful bracts rather than the true flowers that provide the shot of blue.
  • Salvia caradona – a very useful addition to any arrangement providing an architectural spike of deep blue/mauve.  In the garden we do find that it is a short lived perennial that needs to be replaced regularly.
Blue and white wedding bouquet of cottage garden flowers
Blue and white wedding bouquet of Delphinium ‘Volkerfrieden’ and Cornflower with the deeper blue/mauve provided by Salvia caradona. Flowers by Honey Pot Flowers

Complementary and contrasting colours

I think it is important to mention that when designing with blue, either in a garden setting or in a floral arrangement, you need other colours to bring the blue to life.  Blue and white sit well together and provide a pleasing and relaxed effect but equally pairing deep blues and mauve with pops of yellow or even orange create a strong vibrant effect that can be truly stunning.

Blues have the ability to offer both soft or vibrant displays.  If the blues become a strong trend in 2018 it could prove to be a very exciting year.

 

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Flowers for a mid-summer wedding at Hidcote

As florists and cut flower growers one of the ultimate aims of the garden at Honey Pot Flowers is to have a wide variety of country garden flowers that we can incorporate in our wedding bouquets and venue arrangements.

A couple of years ago we were asked to provide bouquets and hair flowers for a wedding ceremony in the Orangery at the wonderful National Trust Hidcote Gardens.   Perhaps a slightly daunting prospect sending flowers to Hidcote but an exciting challenge all the same.  We also provided DIY buckets of our cut flowers for the wedding party to decorate their wedding venue at nearby Mickleton Hills Farm.

Hidcote 2
Bridesmaid’s Bouquet. Photograph by Maria Farrelly

The cutting list

The brief was for relaxed bouquets of fresh country flowers in blues, pinks and whites with a pop of yellow.  This style has proved popular with many of our couples over the years.   For this design we used the following flowers:

  • Feverfew
  • Astrantia
  • Astilbe (Pink & White)
  • Larkspur (Pink & Blue)
  • Ageratum (Blue)
  • Limonium (Blue)
  • Gladiolus nanus (White)
  • Solidago (Yellow)
  • Dahlia (Pink)
  • Pinks (Pink)
  • Veronica (Pink & White)
  • Sweet William (White)
  • Cornflower (Blue)
  • Campanula (Pink)
  • Phlox (Purple)
  • Achillea (Pink)
  • Clary Sage (Pink)
  • Asparagus Fern

Also popular are our buckets of flowers for decorating the tables, bar area and entrance at the wedding venue.  These are typically delivered the day before the wedding and allows family and friends to meet (possibly for the first time) and decorate the venue in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

Hidcote 4
Reception flowers in mixed glass jars and bottles.

Mickleton Hills Farm is a lovely barn conversion and the couple decorated the tables with small bottles and jars filled with our cottage garden flowers.  The flowers provided included many of those used in the bouquets with the addition of Ridolfia, blue Clary Sage, drumstick Alliums, Cosmos, Shasta daisies, Antirrhinum, Amaranthus, green teasels and Liatris along with a variety of different Hosta leaves and Lonicera nitida stems for foliage.

Planning and preparation

Typically our weddings will have an agreed colour theme.  However, we grow all of our flowers outdoors and are therefore at the mercy of the British weather.  Seasonal flowers are by their very nature, seasonal, and so the flowers that will look at their best on a particular date will vary.  I think all the Brides we work with appreciate this and it is very much part of providing wedding flowers that are locally grown and ‘of the moment’.  We work closely with other growers and suppliers to ensure everything comes together on the day.

Our planning for each wedding usually starts in earnest two weeks before the event.   A walk around the flower garden identifies what flowers will be available and ideas for the bridal party bouquets begin to form.  Initially we will be looking to identify our feature flowers, the spikes, balls, umbels and discs in appropriate colours and then the fillers and foliage that will complement the design.  Detailed bouquet and buttonhole designs are then developed and a full list of the flowers required is created.  From this schedule we identify what additional flowers and materials we may need to order in.

For a Saturday wedding we will usually cut and condition on the Thursday, carry out all the arranging on the Friday ready for delivery on the Saturday.  Cut flowers for venues are typically delivered in water the day before.

One of the major challenges for a mid-summer wedding is keeping all the flowers (and the florist!) cool.  All our bouquets are kept well hydrated right up to the time of the wedding so that they remain at their very best.

For this wedding the Bride wanted individually wired fresh hair flowers for herself and the Bridesmaids.  These have to be prepared at the very last minute and the blooms selected very carefully.  Fresh flowers out of water on hot heads in the summer heat is definitely not ideal from a florists perspective but it all worked out in the end!

Hidcote 3
Flower Girl Bouquet. Photograph by Maria Farrelly

Further designs by Carol can be found on the Honey Pot Flowers website and on our Pinterest portfolio.

Credits:  Photography by Maria Farrelly (www.mariafarrelly.com)

Tulips – planning and planting for 2018

The clocks may have changed and the nights are drawing in but there is still a great deal of planning and preparing to be done in the flower garden before the winter sets in.  Work done now will reward us in the spring.

There are so many tulip varieties available that you can almost create any colour effect or combination that you want.  What’s more, as a cut flower grower, choosing the right varieties can provide you with blooms from late March through April and into May.

Not only do tulips come in a stunning colour palette but there are a wide range of shapes and sizes including singles, doubles, lily types, fringed and parrots.  Anna Pavord in her book “Bulb” lists 15 divisions of tulips and provides a fascinating background to the history and development of each type.

Spoilt for choice

So where do you start when the choice seems to be endless?  Probably the three key things to think about are colour, height and flowering times.

Do you want muted complementary colours in a range of shades/tints or striking, contrasting colours to give impact on dull spring days?  Do you want to plant in flower borders with tall stemmed varieties at the back and shorter ones to the front or perhaps plant up tubs with some of the more dwarf varieties?  If you will be cutting for flower arranging you will probably want a stem length of upwards of 45cm and ideally 55-60cm.

Ideally you want to create a show that progresses smoothly through the season with one or more varieties flowering in the same period and look good together.  We have listed some of the varieties that we have used in the past in our Flower Library portfolio on Pinterest.  As well as some of the tulip varieties we have grown, the March and April flower libraries also show other flowers that are out at the same time and, when planted together with the tulips, create more interesting flower combinations of texture and form than simply using tulips alone.

If you are interested in cutting for the house or doing your own wedding flowers our selection of spring bouquet examples on Pinterest will also show how these might be put together for great effect.   If you are a grower and event florist and selecting flowers for next years’ weddings then you need to choose colours that are currently popular with brides.  Keep an eye on emerging trends.

Tulips and anemones
These orange tulips with a blush of red create a striking combination when set alongside seasonal anemones

Planting for 2018

One of the difficulties of writing a blog post about planting tulips is that we have no pictures yet of how our vision is going to turn out.  Next year when they flower we will post again on this!!

In anticipation these are some of the combinations that we are planting out at the moment across the garden:

Burgundy “Jan Reus” and orange “Ballerina” tulips together with “Blood Red” and “Fire King” wallflowers.

Orange lily type tulip “Ballerina” with “Princess Irene” and “Jenny

Tulip “Merlot“, with creamy white and strawberry red “Marilyn” and cardinal red  “Pretty Woman

Double apricot tulip “La Belle Epoque” with violet purple “Recreado“, red-purple “Slawa“, “Black Hero“, “Apricot Parrot” and burgundy “Jan Reus

Orange/brown “Cairo” tulips together with dark blue Bellevalia, crocus “Orange Monarch“, Crocus “Spring Beauty” topped with Viola “Honey Bee“.

Fragrant caramel apricot tulip “Brown Sugar” together with Crocus “Orange Monarch“, “Spring Beauty” and “Pickwick” mixed with white narcissus and topped with Viola “Sorbet Morpho“.

Lilac tulips “Aafke“, soft pink “Christmas Pearl“, deep purple “Caravelle” and double pink and white “Finola” together with narcissus “Misty Glen” and topped with Pansy “Matrix Cassis

Tulips in shades of pink
Tulips in shades of pink arranged with deep burgundy hellebores, white narcissus and flowering currant

Further information and tips

Perennial Hardy Bulb:  Planted in November tulips will certainly be hardy enough to come through the winter.  However, we have found that very few of the tulips come back with the same vigour in subsequent years and it is worth digging them up after flowering and planting a new set the next year.  Many small scale British growers of tulips have reported that replanting in the same area over a number of years can lead to catastrophic problems with tulip diseases.

Origin: Central Asia

Family: Liliaceae

Height:  35-60cm.  It has been our observation that in warmer winters our tulips tend to have short stems than if they experience a colder winter.

Flowering period:  March to early May

Planting:  We plant our tulips around November time.  If you plant too early then the bulbs may be more susceptible to disease.  Tulips like to be planted quite deeply (at least 4 inches) and in tubs you can plant in deep lasagna layers to get a success of flowers over a longer period of time if you choose your varieties carefully.  The squirrels also love to dig them up and we have found that spraying or dusting the bulbs with mammal repellent before covering works extremely well.

Cut flowers:  Yes, long lasting.    Something to remember here is that tulips continue to grow once arranged.  Beware that if you create a wedding bouquet the day before with tulips in it you may find that in the morning all the tulips have extended.

Conditioning:  Standard conditioning in cool clear water for at least 2 hours.  Keep the stems straight by wrapping bunches in paper as they can bend very rapidly.

Holding back:  It is possible if cut early to hold back tulips.  After conditioning, wrap in newspaper and place in a refrigerator.  Make sure that they do not freeze.  We have held tulips back like this for at least a couple of weeks when we have needed them for a later wedding.  When you want to revive them (they will look limp and uninviting at this point) place them in fresh water with flower food (in their wrapping) until they are turgid and looking fresh once again.

Early tulipsCF3045
Large orange and white Purissima tulips alongside Blood Red fragrant wallflowers

Further reading: 

“Bulb” by Anna Pavord (ISBN 978-1-84533-415-4)

 

 

Autumn arrangements of British flowers from the cutting garden

DSCF8336

We may be moving swiftly into October but there are still so many beautiful flowers to pick from the cutting garden.  This bouquet was created this morning from freshly picked Cosmos ‘sensation mix’ (Cosmos bipinnatus), lilac and mauve michaelmas daisies (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae – varieties ‘Colwall constellation’ and ‘Colwall galaxy’), chincherinchee (Ornithogalum thyrsoides), zinnia , outdoor grown chrysanthemums (varieties ‘Incurve Purple Royal Mist’ and ‘Incurve Pink Allouise’) and peach, pink and white dahlias backed with eucalyptus and fresh lime-green feathery cosmos foliage.