Shop display assessments: sweet & innocent v dark & seductive

I may have somewhat neglected my little blog over the last couple of months, but I’ve been busy busy busy elsewhere! As my level 2 floristry course at Southwark college nears its end (only 8 weeks to go now!), there have been lots of assessments and assignments to hand in, plus I’ve been on a three week trip to Vietnam and started a part-time job in a new cafe, so I’m afraid my blog writing got a bit pushed aside for a while. However, the new season has also put some spring back in to my step so I’m back to report on what I’ve been up to during March and April.

In these last few months we’ve undertaken what I think we would all agree were the most enjoyable and creative assignments so far; designing both an in-store and window display. For these tasks we worked in pairs to come up with the initial idea based around a particular season or theme, then everything from initial sketches, scale drawings and materials requirements, promotional signage and a price list of stock, through to putting together the actual display, which of course was the most fun bit!

Our two displays could not have been more different in terms of concept and feel, but my team-mate Hannah and I were really pleased with both. Of course, as we’re still learning there were areas where both could be improved, and this was indeed part of the task too – a post-evaluation and modification suggestions, but I won’t bore you with those bits here!

For the first of the two, the in-store display, we decided on a seasonal theme of new spring/summer stock, and hit upon the idea of creating a summer-fete style ‘stall’ to showcase all the bright and cheery items that would be coming in. We then thought about what kind of things would be found on a stall, i.e. cakes/cake-stands, lemonade, sweets, a coconut shy, apple bobbing, and researched online to find further inspiration and ideas. Here is the final result below, which included a sweetie jar with coloured floral beads, jug and jars of ‘lemonade’ with straws and freesias, cake stands carrying a table centrepiece design and bulbs, and welly boots filled with delphiniums, gladioli and stock.

Summer fete style stall floral display

The second task, the window display, had a completely different feel from the sweet and pretty design above as we went with a seductive, love potion-inspired Valentines theme! The inspiration for this came from some test-tube style vases available at college, which made us come up with the idea of a display based on the creation of the perfect ‘love potion’, or ‘spell’, for Valentines. This included a central martini glass with ivy acting like potion ‘bubbling’ in to the tubes below, plus ‘knicker’ roses, heart chocolates, flowers suspended from willow in mini pointed glass vases, seductive tall dark callas and a cheeky and rather tongue-in-cheek addition of some handcuffs suspended from the top left!

Valentines 'Love Potion' window display

What do you think of our efforts and which one do you prefer? Sweet and innocent or dark and seductive?!


Love flowers? This Valentine’s visit the ‘Roses’ installation at the Garden Museum

If, like me, you love flowers and are looking for something a bit different to do this Valentine’s Day, head to the Garden Museum in Lambeth which has just kicked off its Floriculture: Flowers, Love & Money exhibition with a spectacular installation called ‘Roses’ by floral artist Rebecca Louise Law.

Roses by Rebecca Louise Law

‘Roses’ by Rebecca Louise Law. Photo by the Garden Museum.

A Fine Art trained floral artist whose love of flowers inspires her installations and commissions, Rebecca has created this latest work from more than 3,000 blooms, hand wired and suspended on copper in the nave of the Garden Museum’s historic building.

I intend to visit the exhibition next week, which explores the history of cut flowers as well as their inspiration to painters and the art of floristry, plus their symbolism in rites of passage such as marriage, funerals and memory. I think it will be a great complement to my studies and provide a fascinating insight in to the industry I hope to soon join. Plus hopefully I’ll get to see lots of pretty flowers too!

For more information on this exhibition, visit

The language of flowers in poetry, music and art

I blogged of few months ago about a beautiful book I had read called The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh and how this language was one that had perhaps been slightly forgotten today. But it has long influenced poetry, music and art, as throughout history flowers have played an integral part in cultures across the world to communicate times and feelings of sadness, love, celebration and joy.

The fictional work by V Diffenbaugh has an accompanying, wonderfully produced flower dictionary by Mandy Kirkby, also called The Language of Flowers, which I luckily stumbled across in a cute shop in Belsize Park. But this vintage, hand-written and hand-illustrated book found for just 20p in a jumble sale by Jem of Beautiful Clutter beats it hands down!

Photo by Beautiful Clutter

Photo by Beautiful Clutter

Jem has some great photos of this over on her blog, and I have to agree with her that I love the foreword, which reads:

‘There is a language, ‘little known’,
Lovers claim it as their own.
It’s symbols smile upon the land,
Wrought by natures wondrous hand;
And in their silent beauty speak,
Of life and joy, to those who seek
For Love Divine and sunny hours
In the language of The Flowers.’

A beautiful bouquet of lilacs, which symbolise first emotions of love

A beautiful bouquet of lilacs, which symbolise first emotions of love

As we look forward to spring, we can look forward to the emergence of perhaps one of the prettiest flowers symbolising love – the lilac – which, in fitting with the season in which it blooms, means ‘first emotions of love’. In the dictionary I have, Mandy Kirky notes in reference to the lilac that there is no better depiction of its meaning than in John Everett Millais’s Spring. “A group of girls sit under apple trees in full bloom. They have come to pick the wild flowers in the orchard and have stopped to take a rest. One stands out from the others, as she is half standing, and it cannot escape anyone’s notice that she has a spray of lilac tucked into her hair. Its presence indicates that they are all awaiting, perhaps have even experienced, their first emotions of love.”

John Everett Millais's 'Spring'

John Everett Millais’s ‘Spring’

The book also calls out a graceful and very popular pianoforte duet produced in 1880 by the composer and conductor Frederic H. Cowen for the lilac in his series of short musical pieces called ‘The Language of the Flowers’. Its short epigraph reads:

“I dreamed that love
should steal upon the heart like summer dawn
on the awakening world, soft, gradual.”

What moving words and imagery, don’t you think? The wonderful thing about lilacs of course is that they also smell sweet too, so they make a fantastic spring bouquet for either the home or to give as a gift.

Do you have any favourite poems or pieces of music or art based on flowers? My favourite floral prints I have at home are two Van Gogh’s, Sunflowers and Irises, bought on a trip to Amsterdam with my Mum! ~ Sarah

Photo credits:

Lilac bouquet photo credit: via Pinterest.

Language of Flowers photo credit: Beautiful Clutter

John Everett Millais’s ‘Spring’:

Carnations don’t have to look cheap

Following my week of work experience at Jam Jar Flowers, the lovely owner Melissa very kindly gave me some leftover stock to play around with, and below is the result of some initial trials with some pretty crystal vases along with clippings of viburnum from my front garden.

I had been wanting to do something with the viburnum for ages, as it’s just sitting out there, getting more unruly by the day, and begging to be used. So when I unpacked my freebie goodies and clapped eyes on these little beauties, I knew the time had come.

Although the local Tesco may not immediately spring to mind as a great spot for flowers, actually they don’t have a bad selection so while doing my weekly shop I scouted for flowers which may go nicely with my cuttings. As my viburnum has delicate pink and white flowers, I settled on some small white roses and pretty pink carnations.

I have discovered nowadays that carnations aren’t generally customers’ or brides’ first choice, due to their prolific supply they’re generally cheap and so are often also seen as such. And the peach carnation perhaps brings notions of overly chintzy and old fashioned designs. However, there are some really sweet varieties available and as I think my pictures show, they can still be very good for achieving a vintage look.

Following my most recent college assignment on colour, I think it would have been great to add some bright green hypericum to these designs too, but alas, dear Tesco could not oblige that, so I had to make do without.

What do you think? Yes / No – would you consider carnations for your home or wedding now too? ~ Sarah

Jan 13 iphone pics

Wedding work, level 2 floristry

The below gallery shows a selection of wired and glued wedding work, including a standard wired corsage and glued corsage, glued badge, Alice band, wrist corsage, basket in oasis, wired accessory and oasis-based handbag novelty, plus a wired loose open bridesmaid’s posy and a loose open posy in oasis.

Festive Fun & Wedding Work with Jam Jar Flowers

This gallery contains 8 photos.

I’m afraid I somewhat neglected my little blog over the Christmas and New Year period, but I have not been idle, oh no! December saw me hand in my second college project on wired and glued wedding flowers (pictures to … Continue reading

The place to be this weekend: Pullens Open Studios


Over the last few weeks I’ve been getting in some great work experience with the talented ladies over at Jam Jar Flowers in Peacock Yark in Southwark, where I’m studying. Jam Jar offer unique, bespoke floral designs with an eclectic, vintage feel in a wonderful array of quirky vases and, you guessed it, jam jars! And Peacock Yark is the perfect setting for their studio, being part of ‘The Pullens Yards‘, a collection of Victorian living and workspaces built by local builders James Pullen and Son of Penton Place between 1870 and 1901. And this weekend is your – and my – chance to explore them more.

Pullens Open Studios takes place this weekend, kicking of tomorrow, Friday 30th November from 6.30 – 9.30pm and running through to Sunday 2nd December at 6pm. Originally comprising 650 flats surrounding four separate cobbled yards of workspaces, today 360 flats and three yards still remain and very much retain an artisan feel. These yards and their businesses still remain a vital part and contributor to the arts within the Borough of Southwark today, and here you will discover a range of businesses and artisans, from potters and furniture designers, to painters and architects. Oh, and of course a very cool florists!

The best thing of all is that this is a free event, oh, and did I mention the ladies at Jam Jar will be serving up hot toddy and selling some seriously gorgeous Christmas wreaths too?! So wrap up warm and join me this weekend to take a wander around over 40 workshops and studios and find distinctive hand-crafted gifts, jewellery, ceramics, paintings, photography, clothing, furniture, books, musical instruments and much more. You may just find that perfect Christmas gift you were looking for.

And do keep an eye out for the shop-window floral displays too – these were my handiwork this afternoon! ~ Sarah