Sunday, January 30, 2011

Weddings- Happy Anniversary Karen & Will

On this day last year as Karen and Will prepared for their wedding, they also had to prepare for a surprise blanket of snow that covered Raleigh, NC. Needless to say this didn't deter them in the least. And from these wonderful pictures captured by photographer, Ashley Crutchfield, it is evident that all that snow wasn't about to dampen their joy either!
When I met with Karen, she had definite ideas about her wedding flowers. She wanted an informal hand tied sheaf in golden yellows and purples. Her favorite flower was the calla lily, other flowers included button mums, purple lisianthus, white stock and yellow solidago which gave the designs a garden appeal.
Her sweet flower girl carried a hand tied posy of lisianthus and stock.

Karen and her Dad, Steve, preparing for that walk down the aisle.
Will and Karen were married at St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Raleigh, NC. It is such a beautiful setting with its arched beamed ceilings and rich wood paneling.
Here's the happy couple after saying "I do"
Karen's Mom, Lisa, gave me some ribbons from the bouquet that she carried on her wedding day to incorporate into the binding of her daughter's bouquet. It was such a sweet touch!
Karen and Will, I wish you all the best as you celebrate your 1st wedding anniversary!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Spring Wedding Flowers in White

You know it's just around the corner... the days are a little longer, the birds are more vocal, some tips of bulbs are even pushing up through the soil. Spring is coming!!! Here we are at the end of January (the longest month of the year), February, while still cold, seems to fly by, and then comes March. Here in Raleigh, NC, March is a combo month, a little bit of winter and a little bit of spring. And sooooo much starts happening in the garden- I can't wait!!!
And I have some brides who can't wait for March too! So I thought I would put together a white wedding bouquet of some flowers that just shout SPRING. This bouquet holds a dreamy selection of whites and creams- hydrangeas, Majolika roses, tulips, ranunculus and paperwhites (narcissus).The narrow band that wraps the flowers (shown in the top picture), is a type of crochet that was made by my Grandmother, called tatting.
Closeup of paperwhites and ranunculus.
Closeup of Majolika roses and ranunculus.

Closeup of tulips, Majolika roses and paperwhites.
What's not to love?
FYI- when designing with any type of narcissus or daffodil, it is important that they are conditioned separately from other flowers since the sap from these flowers can harm other flowers. They can safely be mixed with other flowers after twelve hours.

Monday, January 24, 2011

DIY Wedding Flowers- Dried Flower Initial

Last week I posted a few pictures of some of the flower designs that I made for Nicole and Rob's wedding, (See Weddings- Rob & Nicole). One of designs was their initial- the letter "S" in dried flowers. Today I am going to show you how to do this yourself. The flower that I used was purple larkspur (consolida). The other supplies that I used were: bark wire, paddle wire #26 or #28, and pliers or clippers to cut the wires. These supplies can be picked up at a craft store. To purchase larkspur you would need to contact a florist or a flower farmer. In Cary, NC larkspur blooms from early May to mid to late June, but is available from florists year round.
The first step is to shape your letter or initial from the bark wire. If you're not sure what shape you want for your initial- check out different fonts on your computer or printer.
After you have shaped your letter from the bark wire, you will want to secure it at the points where it crosses over itself with the green paddle wire. I usually cut a few 3-4" lengths for this.
Next, cut about a 12" length of the green paddle wire. Wrap one end a few times around the bark wire to secure it and pull the rest of it up beside the bark wire. You will use this piece to attach a stem of larkspur to the bark wire. I cut my stems of fresh larkspur about 8-10" long for the long spans of the initial, and a bit shorter for the curves and short spans. The picture above shows the final wrapping of the top of a piece of larkspur. When I get to the top, I cut off the excess green wire and just pushed it tight against the bark wire.
Keep adding pieces of larkspur around your initial working down to the bottom of the initial. Start with new pieces at the top of the other side and work down. Sometimes I just cut segments with a lot of flower heads and wrap them in to fill in skimpy areas of a previous attached stem, wiring them right over the other stem. You can also take the stems of the flowers and wrap them a little bit around the bark wire, securing with the green wire as you work around the initial.
I added a few pieces of green moss with a glue gun for attaching single flowers and buds to later. The above picture shows what it should look like once you're finished. Isn't it beautiful? You may wonder why bother with drying this when it looks so pretty now- Well unless you have a lot of free time on your wedding day- it won't look like this- it will start to look a bit limp after about 24 hours. My goal is to offer projects that can be done a couple of weeks ahead so they won't add to the stress of those last few days before the wedding.
I used a full bunch of larkspur (10 stems), for this project, but I did not add all the flowers and buds at once. After the initial was finished, I bundled the rest of the flowers and bud stems like this to hang inside the house. Each bundle needs to be hung upside down so the flowers will dry out in the right direction.
I also hung the initial upside down. It's pretty lightweight, so I actually hung it on a push pin. After about a week or so the flowers are dry and have shriveled up a bit and left some gaps in the design. This is when I take the rest of the dried flower bundles that I have dried and divide them up and glue them into the design with a hot glue gun.
Above is the finished design. During the winter when the air is super dry, the flowers are also super dry and brittle. To keep the design from shattering and loosing bits of dried flowers each time it is handled, I follow this little procedure: First I take a large white garbage bag, shake it open and mist the inside with just a little water from a mister bottle, (if you don't have a mister just wet your hand and shake the water droplets into the bag), next I gently slide the dried flower initial into the bag, close the end a little, blow some extra air inside, then close it with a twist tie. After an hour, the humidity in the bag softens the flowers enough so they are supple and not brittle. Do not keep it in the bag for more than several hours, long exposure to a lot of moisture could cause it to discolor or mold.
Here is a close up of the finished design. I also added some dried lavender that I had on hand and the dainty heart impressed seeds of Love-In-A-Puff, which I grow in the summer and fall, see other posts about the plant under labels for "Love-In-A-Puff". I would love to hear from anyone who has any questions about this project- just send me an email. And please let me know how it turns out!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wedding Flowers- Majolica Rose

Last night I met with Emma, one of my brides who will be getting married in March. We were discussing different types of flowers that might be appropriate for her flower girls. She settled on this darling little rose. These are Majolica spray roses, and I am just crazy about them!
They are such dreamy roses and look great in corsages, flower halos, and of course in wedding bouquets. Majolika roses are spray roses, which means that each stem produces three to seven petite flowers. These are often labeled as white, but the color is more ivory and sometimes soft blush.
As the flowers mature and open they often show their yellow stamens as in the top picture. These little beauties look just like they were picked from a cottage garden. Majolika roses also come in light and hot pink. It's a perfect flower no matter what your style is!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weddings- Rob & Nicole

Yesterday was the wedding day for Nicole and Rob. Nicole is a dear friend of my daughter, Mary, and Nicole's Mom, Helen, is a dear friend of mine. It was a joy to design her wedding flowers. Nicole loved the antique look of Amnesia roses, so this was the flower she chose for her bridal bouquet.
The look was definitely vintage. Milk glass, white pitchers and dainty white creamers held an assortment of purple and lavender tones, mixed with creams, whites and blues. I must admit there was not a lot to gather from the garden beds. My rosemary and lavender bushes are some of the faithful plants I have in the middle of winter- so I cut some stems from them, as well as some scented geranium, ivy and holly fern. Nicole was responsible for a charming eclectic look for the reception tables as well as whimsical touches that greeted the guest as they entered the hall. I hope to have some of those images soon from talented Robyn and her husband, Jordan, of Robyn Van Dyke Photography. I recommend that you check out her website at:
I designed this letter "S" to hang above the dessert table. It was created with dried larkspur and lavender and tiny black seeds with little white hearts from "Love In A Puff". This is one of my favorite plants to grow in the summer and fall garden. I will be posting a DIY on dried flowers soon that features this design. In the meantime, I want to wish this dear couple great joy as they begin their married life- Rob and Nicole, I am so happy for you!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Summer Wedding Flowers in Warm Corals

Here in Raleigh, NC we are enjoying another little brush with winter today. Everyone is cooped up inside because there is a glazing of ice on the roads. So I thought this would be a great time to write a little something about summer weddings flowers. This bouquet features some beautiful coral shades from my summer flower beds such as zinnias and lantana.
There are also some silvery pink spikes of wheat celosia and green hydrangeas. Pink gerber daisies, white lisianthus, orange roses and spray roses are flowers from my wholesale supplier.

Bright summer colors don't just have to be flowers. Notice the delightful addition of orange coleus leaves edged in chartreuse green.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Wedding Bouquets in Purple, Part I

Purple is such a stunning color for wedding flowers. Saturated shades of rich, dark purple pair well crimsons,burgundies and pinks as in this bouquet that features lisianthus, calla lilies, roses, freesia, and velvet heads of celosia nestled in antique green hydrangeas.
Soft watercolor shades of purple and lavender evoke a romantic feel in this bouquet above of lavender freesia, antique hydrangeas and violet lisianthus.
And purple makes a dramatic contrast when combined with white flowers. This bouquet is designed with purple Florigene carnations nestled among white ranunculus and white hydrangea heads.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Winter Weddings- Embrace the Season

Okay, Okay, I know that last week I was writing about visions of spring running through my head while there was a lot of snow on the ground, but the reality is that this is winter. And if you take the time to look around, you will notice there is a lot of subtle beauty in this season. I encourage my winter brides to consider including branches and foliage material in some of designs for their reception pieces or even in their bouquets. There are many trees and shrubs that offer evergreen material, but today I want to focus on the simple beauty of some of the bare branches that are available from my gardens this time of year.
The branches pictured above from left to right are: Viburnum plicatum (this shrub has flat topped clusters of white flowers in the spring),Pussy Willow (Salix caprea), Curly Willow (Salix matusudana), and Redtwig Dogwood (Cornus sericea).
Viburnum plicatum pictured above.
Curly Willow pictured above.
Close up of Pussy Willow pictured above. The silver gray buds feel like velvet.
Pussy Willow pictured above. These branches of pussy willow are actually dried branches that were cut from my trees last year. They keep beautifully for about a year or so, and look great in winter designs.
Close-up of red twig dogwood pictured above.

Red twig dogwood pictured above. The bark on these trees turns a deep red once the weather turns cold, but is a reddish brown spring through fall. I enjoy using these branches in Christmas designs, but they are also stunning in just about any floral design. My daughters love the simplicity of using just the branches for designs.
All the fresh branches have been anchored in dark river pebbles with water added, (do not add water to the dried pussy willow branches). If the water level is maintained so that it covers the cut tips, these branches should last for weeks. If set in a sunny, south facing window, they may even develop roots. I have been successful in growing some of these cuttings into small trees and shrubs.