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?