Portfolio update Summer 2013 to May 2014

This gallery contains 21 photos.

Well it’s been a while since my last post, but the good news is that’s because I’ve been working pretty much full time; doing a couple of weddings with London based floral designers Bo Boutique and Karen Woolven late last … Continue reading

Wild, eclectic wedding flowers by Jay Archer Floral Design

Inspired by eclectic music, early mornings, late nights, and an incessant need for caffeine, the latest wedding flower Look Book by Jay Archer Floral Design is an ode to wild love affairs and rock ‘n’ roll.

Challenging the neat, pastel prettiness of popular wedding floristry, Jay hopes the Look Book will inspire 2014 couples to ‘think outside the box’ when planning their wedding flowers.

Jay Archer bouquet

Chocolate cosmos, black elderflower, and Himalayan honeysuckle bouquet by Jay Archer

The bouquet is inspired by singer Patti Smith’s ‘Because the night’; a wild, passionate love affair, or the elopement of young lovers; filled with homegrown chocolate cosmos, black elderflower, and Himalayan honeysuckle.

A feverishly layered archway of English flowers, weeping pear, passion flower vines, and clematis, make the perfect backdrop for a bohemian ceremony. The sweetheart table, arranged for an intimate wedding breakfast, is decorated with artichoke, gold leaf figs, astilbe, and astrantia.

For the table plan, Jay has taken inspiration from the Scottish hills; childhood holidays spent playing in the stream and clambering mossy rocks. Bringing a personal story to a wedding staple, the moss covered table plan is rich and earthy.

In comparison, the decadence of the amaranthus, also known as love-lies-bleeding, is wildly romantic. Using popular favorites like ranunculus, English hydrangea and peony, Jay changes the perception of using traditional florals in a truly modern setting.

You can find more photos from the lookbook and read a fantastic interview with Jay over on Love Scarlett, where she talks about the inspiration behind her designs, her passions

About Jay Archer Floral Design

Jay Archer Floral Design is an award-winning wedding and event florist based in north Hampshire and covering London and the South East. Her style is often described as natural, abundant and eclectic, with an emphasis on homegrown, seasonal and locally sourced flowers with quirky textures and old fashioned scents. For more information visit http://www.jayarcherfloraldesign.com.

Hire the Garden Museum in Lambeth for your wedding or event

Back in May I blogged about a wonderful new museum I had discovered in London, The Garden Museum in Lambeth, which is set in the beautiful former church of St. Mary at Lambeth. The only museum in the UK to celebrate the art, design and history of gardens, its unique setting and construction, which blends medieval splendour with contemporary interior design makes it a great venue for weddings and corporate events alike. The pretty knot garden outside also makes an enchanting environment for wedding photography, a relaxed evening reception or a lively summer barbecue.

If you are interested in hiring the Garden Museum for your wedding or event, rates are detailed below.

garden museum interior

The Garden Museum’s unique interior makes a wonderful setting for weddings or corporate events


The Museum is situated in the beautiful former church of St. Mary at Lambeth, which is next to Lambeth Palace and just across the Thames from the Houses of Parliament. St Mary at Lambeth was founded in 1062 and the Museum retains much of its medieval character. The tower was a later addition in 1377. The interior of the church was largely remodeled in the Victorian period.

In 1972 the church was deconsecrated and scheduled for demolition. At that time all the internal furniture, bells and altar were removed. Just before the wreckers arrived the building was saved by John and Rosemary Nicholson who wanted to save not only the building but also the now Grade II* listed tombs of Tradescant, Bligh and Sealy.

In 2008 the venue was transformed by the installation of contemporary gallery spaces. The Garden Museum receives no public funding and is wholly reliant on the generosity of its audience and venue hire for its continuing existence.


The Museum’s garden was created in 1980. At its heart is a knot garden designed by the Museum’s President, The Dowager Marchioness of Salisbury (who was then also re-making the gardens at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire). The reason for the seventeenth-century spirit of the design is that our garden also houses the tomb of the great plant-hunters, gardeners and collectors, John Tradescant the Elder (c.1570-1638) and Younger (1608-1662), the rediscovery of which originally inspired the creation of a museum of garden history.

The Knot Garden provides a pretty backdrop for photographs, afternoon or evening drinks

The Knot Garden provides a pretty backdrop for photographs, afternoon or evening drinks

The knot garden and its surrounds are planted with species introduced by the Tradescants – such as the scarlet runner bean, red maple and tulip tree – and many others grown by them in their Lambeth garden. It is not only historically significant but also a lush and beautiful spot in the centre of London, cared for by a small horticultural team of staff and volunteers.


Private Hire details:
Sunday to Friday (5pm to 11.30pm) £3,200.00
Saturday (4pm to 11.30pm) £3,420.00
Each additional hour up to 1.30am £350.00
Corporate Hire details
Sunday to Friday (5pm to 11.30pm) £3,400.00
Saturday (4pm to 11.30pm) £3,620.00
Each additional hour up to 1.30am £350.00

For more information, please contact:

Benjamin O’Connor
External Relations and Venue Hire Manager
Garden Museum
T: 0207 401 8865 (Extension 821)
E: benjamin@gardenmuseum.org.uk

Five ways with Amaryllis for winter floral designs

I only came across what are commonly know as Amaryllis a few years ago and instantly fell in love them for their striking form. Actually when I first saw them I thought they must be several different flowers cleverly wired together, with their stems wrapped in some kind of leaf, such is their strange design! Their tall height, thick, straight stems and multiple, lily-like flower heads make them eye-catching in their own right, but they also look wonderful in a variety of different floral arrangements too.

A bulbous plant, Amaryllis, or to quote their correct name, Hippeastrum, are winter flowers and very popular for Christmas, often being sold potted as they grow and flower well indoors. Usually first appearing in UK shops and flower markets around September,  they are available in a variety of colours well in to March as a cut flower and if bought in bulb form normally take about six to eight weeks to appear. But if you, like me, love this flower and fancy having a go at creating your own alternative Christmas flower arrangement with them at home, below are a couple of design ideas that I love.

Red and white Amaryllis with holly and pine sprigs in a rustic white jug, sat on a tray withfestive Christmas baubles

Red and white Amaryllis with holly and pine sprigs in a rustic white jug, sat on a tray with festive Christmas baubles, from Better Homes & Gardens http://www.bhg.com

White Amaryllis bulbs planted in large tin buckets topped with moss and pine cones, set on a metal tray filled with cones and wooden stars

White Amaryllis bulbs in large tin buckets topped with moss and pine cones, set on a metal tray filled with cones and wooden stars. From Vibeke Design http://www.vibekedesign.blogspot.com.br

A winter centerpiece with peach Amaryllis, garden roses, and ranunculus, gold and wine-coloured orchids, plus an unruly assortment of foliage, created by Joy Thigpen  and featured on www.oncewed.com/

A winter centerpiece with peach Amaryllis, garden roses, and ranunculus, gold and wine-coloured orchids, plus an unruly assortment of foliage, created by Joy Thigpen and featured on http://www.oncewed.com/

Red and white striped Amaryllis planted in a pretty wicker hamper

Red and white striped Amaryllis planted in a pretty wicker hamper, from http://www.jacksonandperkins.com

Modern white Amaryllis and fern arrangement

Modern white Amaryllis and fern arrangement by Sarah Winward http://www.sarahwinward.com

Hippeastrum originally come from Central and South America, so its no surprise (although it was at the time!) that I saw so many growing wild and in people’s front gardens when I went to Costa Rica a few years back. If you do fancy growing them as opposed to trying your hand at the above designs, you ideally should have planted them by now to have them flowering at Christmas, but the plus is that if you’ve missed this deadline, you can plant them in the New Year to enjoy them well in to Spring.

Here are some great tips from Monty Don on the MailOnline on how to plant Amaryllis bulbs you can enjoy in Spring.

What do you think? Do you love Hippeastrum as much as me, and will you be buying any this year?

Bridal headwear with hints of yesteryear

Ever since I saw a girl at a festival wearing a cool metal forehead band this summer, I have wanted one. Unfortunately, when questioned, it transpired she got it in Barcelona. Oh well, I conceded. As summer was nearing an end anyway, the opportunities for wearing such hippy like accessories outside festival season and at the age of 30+ without looking a bit tragic were probably gone.

However, I did decide that, when someone does finally offer to make an honest woman of me, I would love to wear some kind of vintage bridal headband at my wedding.  So when I read that HT Headwear’s 2014 collection was ‘heavily influenced by the power of nature and hints of glamour from yesterday’, I absolutely had to check it out.


Lilly Diamante Headpiece with Birdcage Veil

HT Headpieces are designed and handmade in England by designer Helena Talbot and feature stunning diamante headbands with her signature detachable birdcage veils and for 2014, new detachable crin veils which offer brides a great alternative to the birdcage or traditional veil. This new collection also sees the addition of complementary pieces to be worn with traditional veils and delicate smaller pieces that are ideal for bridesmaids gifts.

Hawthorn with Crin Veil

Hawthorn with Crin Veil

Helena created HT Headpieces while on maternity leave with her first child in 2010 after having struggled to find something stylish for her own wedding without paying a fortune. Her vintage inspired designs reflect styles from the 20s through to the 50s and are all handmade in London by Helena herself, who has a BA (Hons) degree in Constructive Textiles from The University of Central England and has completed several millinery courses with Janie Lashford.

Arietis Headband

Arietis Headband

For more information visit http://www.htheadwear.com

Best of British Vintage

One of the things I’ve been enjoying most over the last year is discovering and learning about new flowers that I can use to create the wild, naturalistic and vintage style I like. I don’t think I will ever tire of finding new materials and seeing how they can be combined with others to create a variety of different designs, shapes, impact and atmosphere.

I have also been lucky to work with some very talented people who have really helped with my learning and been extremely inspirational in creative terms, particularly Jam Jar Flowers and Bo Boutique, which both specialise in bespoke, natural designs. So here I’d like to share some of my learning so far, including my favourite flowers and designs, which can all be used to bring a bit of vintage to your home, wedding, office or event.

Alongside my various work experience, the 17 to 21 June provided great inspiration too as it was the first ever British Flowers Week, an initiative by New Covent Garden Market to celebrate all things British and floral, which by their nature are extremely pretty and condusive to the vintage look! From tall, wispy delphiniums, to large fluffy peonies and beautiful hydrangeas, florists from across London and further afield tweeted and posted pictures of British blooms galore.

Below is an arrangement by Rebel Rebel created for British Flowers Week, in which the star players are delphiniums, one of my favourite flowers, alongside viburnum, stocks, euphorbia, sweet William an other British grown foliage.

british crate rebel rebel

A crateful of British Flowers by Rebel Rebel, created at New Covent Garden Market for British Flowers Week. Photo credit: newcoventgardenmarket.com

Another favourite of mine and a regular feature in vintage floral arrangements is the hydrangea, which can create a dramatic impact even when simply used alone in an old milk churn, jug or urn, or which can be mixed with a range of other materials to create varying effects. In the picture below, I added a few short stems snuggled around the base of a tall vase, with some long stems of veronica, campanula and steel grass emerging from the middle, all in white. This created a tall display that worked well on my dining table, and that I feel was both fresh and modern, but also had quite a natural ‘English country garden’ edge too.

My all white dining table display with hydrangea, venronica & campanula

My all white dining table display with hydrangea, venronica & campanula

For breathtaking soft, delicate beauty and wonderful scent there is also, of course, the peony, which again can be gorgeous simply used alone, but equally combines well with other English beauties such as roses, anemones, once more the hydrangea, stocks, lisianthas, sweet peas and sweet William, in bouquets or traditional style vases, along with fillers such as green dill, viburnum, bupleurum or alchemilla molis. I also love the addition, not only for aesthetic but also aromatic reasons, of fresh English herbs to arrangements and bouquets. Below is a table arrangement featuring peonies, spray roses, mint and rosemary which I produced for a college assignement in a rustic wooden crate style container.

Rustic table arrangement made for colleage featuring peonies, spray roses & herbs

Rustic table arrangement made for college featuring peonies, spray roses & herbs

And here is a hand tied bouquet I made at Bartleys featuring peonies, sweet William, lisianthas, santini and alchemilla.

Hand tied with peonies made at Bartleys in Dulwich Village

Hand tied with peonies made at Bartleys in Dulwich Village

An oh-so-delicate flower with a not-so-delicate sounding name that has also been added to my favourites list is the pretty little scabious, which seems to come in a variety of cool colours from varying light blues to icey white. Fantastic teamed with other flowers in a range of soft pastel colours, it also works well with a cool monochromatic palette to highlight and make the most of its beautiful blue tones. For an easy, relaxed look, try popping some stems in jam jars with some eryngium, another favourite in vintage designs which are extremely hardy and usually available year round. The below is a design by Nicky Llewellyn Flowers, taken from Pinterest.

Scabious jam jar display by Nicky Llewelyn

Scabious jam jar display by Nicky Llewelyn

Finally, I’d like to go out with a nice bright bang by extolling the virtues of the diminutive yet impactful cornflower, which I have discovered does not just come in a vibrant royal blue, but also in hot pink too (and maybe more colours? but I’ve only seen these two). I loved this hand tied I did at Bartleys featuring blue cornflower, deep purple carnations, eryngium, veronica, brodea, sweet William and alchemilla.

Hand tied with cornflower made at Bartleys

Hand tied with cornflower made at Bartleys

What do you think? What are your favourite British flowers?

Help our bees and make a bee friendly garden

I must admit that the wellbeing of bees (and other creepy crawlies to that matter) has been the last thing on my mind as I’ve gotten to know and love my little garden over the last few years. My main concern has simply been learning the basics of gardening and trying my best to keep it looking good, as it’s the first time I’ve had my ‘own’ little patch of grass.

It was in my garden that I had my ‘epiphany’ about becoming a florist during a particuarly bad spate at work, as I noticed a lily I had planted had come in to bloom and felt a sudden great sense of joy. I realised right at that moment that working with flowers could be the more actively creative line of work I had been dreaming about for a while.

It wasn’t until this spring though that the plight of our bees was brought to my attention by my Mum, who did a speech on it at her local NWR meeting. According to recent reports, British bee numbers have fallen drastically in recent years, affected by disease, chemicals and habitat loss. This is a major concern because bees are vital to so much of our life. As well as pollinating a large proportion of our food supply, they pollinate wildflowers too, so their decline could resort not only in a huge rise in costs of our food, but also a devastating loss of the food chain for many other insects, birds and mammals too.

Now I realise I may be a bit slow on the uptake here, as it’s been ‘news’ for a while, with The Guardian highlighting the ‘Bee Crisis’ in an article at the end of June and Friends of the Earth urging the public to make 2013 the ‘Year of the Bee’ and petition David Cameron for a Bee Action Plan.  But it’s never too late to take action, so here I just wanted to highlight the cause for anyone who may not be aware, and also provide some tips and links to help you create a bee friendly garden year-round.

No matter how small your garden, you can provide lots of bee friendly flowers throughout the year. This means rich in pollen and nectar, and apparently many ornamental plants that are commonly found in British gardens, such as pansies and begonias, are of no value to wildlife as they produce little of this. But there are hundreds of beautiful flowers that do offer these rewards, including foxgloves, lavender, geraniums, herbs and wild roses. I think the people who lived here before me must have been on to this too, as I already have alliums, bluebells, catmint, crocus, daffodils, dahlias, a hebe, irises, a pear tree, sage, verbena and viburnum, which are also on the list. Below you can see a little bee enjoying one of my alliums!

For a quick, useful search tool and A-Z of more bee friendly flowers, click on the Bumblee Conservation Trust’s link here: http://beekind.bumblebeeconservation.org/

June2 pics 001

More useful links:

Bumblebee Factsheet from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust

Make a bee friendly garden, by Saga

The plight of the bumblebee, by Saga


A year on.. my best work so far

This gallery contains 28 photos.

Well, I can hardly believe it’s been (almost!) a year since I took the plunge last September and jacked in my 9-5 job to pursue floristry full time. The course is now over, I have achieved a merit for my … Continue reading

Funeral designs – portfolio at level 2 floristry

This gallery contains 15 photos.

The following is a gallery of traditional funeral designs completed as part of my level 2 City & Guilds floristry diploma. These included based designs with ribbon edging, loose open designs, funeral sprays and lettering. As materials at college are … Continue reading

A gallery of flowers from Hanoi to Saigon

From exotic flowers growing in their wild natural state in the countryside and by the road, to carefully cultivated pagoda gardens and intricate bouquets and displays in florist shops and hotels, Vietnam provides a wondrous, colourful show wherever you look.

Setting out with two good friends from London, our first stop was the capital Hanoi, in the north, from where we gradually made our way down south to what was formerly Saigon, now known officially as Ho Chi Minh City since 1976 after the infamous communist leader Ho Chi Minh. There were lots of florist shops here, and I really enjoyed seeing their different style, which seemed to consist of very neat, symmetrical designs, often using grouping and strong lines. It was also here, in the gardens around the Ho Chi Minh museum, where I first saw a beautiful pot plant with a five-petalled pink flower that I fell in love with, which I have now found out is called Adenium obesum; common name ‘Desert Rose’.

From Hanoi, we caught an overnight train to Hue, the former imperial capital and home to various Emperors right up until as recently as the mid 1900s. The Citadel, which was significantly damaged during the Vietnam (or American, as they call it) War is the main site here and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Currently undergoing restoration, much of it is still in ruins, but it’s worth setting aside a day to wander around. Here you can admire the beautiful architecture of the old buildings, plus giant lily pads in the moat and pretty, manicured shrubs in pots. Whilst wandering (read: getting lost!) around the streets, we also saw many tropical flowers growing in peoples front gardens and lawns.

After Hue, we had our longest stop; five days in the pretty town of Hoi An, once a sleepy riverside village, but now a thriving tourist spot which has very much still retained its authentic charm. Here, I didn’t have to go far for my thirst for flowers to be satisfied, as we slowed down the pace for a while and relaxed in two beautiful bungalow-style hotels surrounded by tropical gardens and pools. In the first I spotted many of the plants on my aforementioned plant I.D. test list, including Anthurium, Aspidistra, Codiaeum, Euphorbia and Philodendron, and at the second place, Orchid Garden Homestay, I saw lots of, well, I think you can guess!

Heading inland from here, we took a flight to Dalat in the South Central Highlands, where the climate changes from hot and humid to temperate thanks to its mountain location. The playground of the French in colonial times, Dalat is a bit like a cross between Vietnam and the French Alps and even has its own ‘Eiffel Tower’! Here we whizzed off with the Easy Riders for a whistle-stop tour by motorbike, taking in pagodas and gardens, a coffee plantation and flower farm, which, although I thought it would be full of exotic plants, was just all one thing – Gerberas! We also saw beautiful Hibiscus and a few other exotic, strange-shaped flowers I’d never seen before, plus some pretty displays in Windmills cafe in central Dalat, which also operates a florists elsewhere in the city!

Finally, after a couple of days rest at the beach at Mui Ne, we almost reluctantly headed further south back to the heady heat, humidity and skyscrapers of cosmopolitan Saigon where we were to spend two more nights before flying home. By this point we had packed in quite a lot of activity, so even though Saigon offers no end of distractions, we mostly just meandered about its streets in the evening, after spending the days lounging around our roof-top pool the Liberty Central Hotel (it’s a hard life!). Saigon still offered plenty of flower-watching too though, with many colourful florists selling large bouquets and arrangements, and the display in the hotel itself showed a good example of Vietnamese floral style too.

What do you think? Do you prefer exotic flowers or more traditional British blooms, and can you help me identify any of those flowers I can’t?