Christmas is a coming…

The shops are now bursting with goodies ready for Christmas, it’s about time to order the turkey and make that all important gift list, which for me seems to grow every year.  Everything is festive, pretty and colourful and we are all on the look out to how we can make it even better than last year.

 

It is an expensive time, I tend to start my shopping in early November because I am a browser and I like to think about the gifts I am buying for people before I make that all important purchase.  It’s a perfect occasion to be creative and save money in the process; I have a wealth of hobby style books at home and this week the collection has grown by one.  My new edition concerns Christmas and contains creative ideas and recipes in order to make your Christmas perfect, I was suitably impressed by the little timetable of events at the front of the book.  The schedule ran throughout the year, with the majority share of the work kicking off in October!  Giving advice to when you should make your Christmas cake and preserves and when to assemble your wreath, in all honesty it was a bit depressing.  I am a natural planner, but I like to have a little flexibility and I don’t really make preserves; I also tend to keep my list in my head and so I avoided that page.  However the book did provide some great inspiration for Christmas decorations and wreaths, which I am hoping to try out for my Festive markets in December.

 

It is however possible to construct a wreath completely out of collected garden material, a florist round metal frame, plus florist wire and bright coloured ribbon.   Foliage such as Holly, Ivy and garden berries and other foliage are great for this and all can be collected usually from a garden or during a Sunday walk.  At the same time collect some pine cones and you then have everything you need for a nice little wreath, table posy and even a matching fireplace garland.  To make the wreath all you need to do is wire the foliage onto the frame of your wreath with your stub wire; attach the foliage around so it is flowing around in a spiral direction and you will then achieve the circular ever flowing wreath.  Be careful with the Holly though, I would suggest wearing garden gloves because of the spikes!  Mix in some berries and pine cones here and there, no real rules to follow, whatever looks natural and nice.  Just be sure to attach using your wire securely.  You can even add roses here and there because they look good even when they have dried out and are no longer fresh.  Finish the wreath with a nice bow at the top and hey presto you have a fantastic display for your door!  Very easy to do!  You can also put together some matching round table posies with the same material if you have some Oasis and a pretty pot.   Finish it off with a candle, but use for decoration only because a lit candle is a fire hazard. If you also want a garland, just wire the foliage and cones etc securely onto some thick garden string instead and turn as you go so the display is evenly spread.  If using garden material I would watch out for snails and other little creatures, it can be somewhat distracting to have a little pair of eyes looking up at you/your guests when eating dinner.

 

At this time of year, squirrels and birds will be collecting up food and nuts for the colder months to come.  Only this Sunday morning after a recent red berry collection with my partners Mum for my wreaths; I was disappointed to find a little squirrel eating all of the red berries off the cut stems directly out of the bucket.  I neglected to notice I had effectively displayed an ‘all you can eat’ buffet for this little squirrel in my garden and I can now say the bucket is now in my garage and I have saved the red berries from destruction.  However it did give me the basis for a new idea!  Why not turn a wreath into a bird feeder and display in your garden, all you need for this is a moss covered constructed wreath (you can buy these from most hobby style shops), some little mini bags of nuts and seeds (preferably in netting style bags), some coloured raffia type ribbon/string and a mini garland of straw or large seeds if you can get one.  The moss wreath is naturally pretty and therefore all you need to do is wire the little bags attractively around the wreath here and there, wire the raffia and arrange the mini garland in swag shapes around the wreath.  I would suggest using extra wire because I have a feeling that little squirrel is going to be extra clever and I am sure he would love to take the whole bag away if he could.  I also now feel less guilty about removing the ‘all you can eat’ buffet and what a fantastic little idea for your garden!

 

Happy arranging!    PS – If you try and of my ideas, please do post pictures etc to my Facebook wall – I would love to see the results of your hard work.

New Ideas – Flower arranging with non traditional methods

I have talked in previous blogs about being thrifty, green and having a ‘Make do and Mend’ Philosophy; I am a ‘Greenie’ at heart I guess you could say how appropriate for a florist.  I am always interested in looking at new ways of working and using unusual containers for my flowers and applying these techniques to an event like a wedding.  Not that there is anything wrong with the traditional instruments like the normal glass vase, or Oasis within a plastic container because I use them on a regular basis and will continue to do so.  Occasionally it is nice to experiment and the results achieved can sometimes be very spectacular and surprising; also at very little cost to the maker.

 

By using recycled containers like tin cans or glass bottles filled with garden flowers and a pretty ribbon, you can create a shabby chic type arrangement for an event.  You can use tins and bottles in different sizes to create dimension, or leave some tins with a tea light inside and light up when the sun goes down.  It is amazing how a display like this can brighten up a table at hardly any cost and you can spend the money instead on fine wine, or little gifts for your guests.

 

To avoid using Oasis, try making a grid for the flowers to sit within instead; this can be done with flower arranging green tape or a mixture of tape and garden/kebab sticks placed at the lip of your container.  Chicken wire placed inside the container can also create a good structure for holding up arrangements.

 

Another good way of avoiding Oasis is to place cut flower heads directly into some water within a shallow bowl with floating candles; add some pebbles or glass nuggets to the water for even further interest.  Gerberas and orchids are the perfect flowers for this, but it is definitely possible to experiment with other flowers.  You can also curve ‘Calla Lilies’ inside a Goldfish style glass bowl with some florist grass.  This makes an amazing contemporary arrangement and can be done with very little water; although I have seen this done without water and you can do this if you are not concerned about the flowers lasting.

 

Contemporary looks are very popular and quite often this style will use non-traditional flower arranging methods and will incorporate wires and more modern looking flowers.  Thick Wires can be shaped into hearts, providing a frame like structure for flowers to be attached onto with wire; it is also possible to weave beads and sisal onto this body. Wire structures can be constructed on a miniature basis and placed on a stick and either inserted into a hand-tie or container type arrangement, these mini structures also fit nicely within a piece of flower Jewellery – a wrist corsage. It is also possible to construct on a larger scale and then use within a non-traditional topiary tree (placed on a piece of industrial pipe) and planted into an industrial type pot and weighted with sand/concrete.

 

For a vintage Victorian look try collecting floral tea cups from car boot sales, or charity shops, items like this look great with miniature flowers placed loosely within for a shabby chic style.  For a wedding it is possible to cheaply collect enough mixed teacups and saucer for all guests as a different style take-home gift, you can then serve after dinner tea/coffees in these cups as well.  If doing this you catering venue will need to rinse the cups and remove the flowers, or you can just float rose petals and water in each cup instead.  Vintage candelabras will complete the look and it is possible to wire trailing ivy and flowers around the structure of the piece, the flowers can even be inspired from bridal bouquet.  You can buy or hire candelabras like this from a florist, but it is also possible to find them cheaply at auctions, car-boot sales or even charity shops if you don’t mind mixing and matching items together.  Very little flowers are needed for this vintage look because the items used provide a key focal point for the display, so you flower bill will be substantially less than a pure floral type arrangement.

 

Happy flower arranging!

Hen Party Idea

The wedding is booked and organised, the chief bridesmaid is nominated and the fun and exciting task of the hen party organisation begins.  With so many options available it is a hen party minefield! What budget do you all have? What will everybody like?  Will they enjoy it?  So many different opinions and the questions go on, decisions, decisions.  The task of keeping everybody happy and within budget is generally no easy task for the chief bridesmaid/organiser or the bride themselves.

 

With the ever increasing squeeze on money and the pressure to do something different, hen groups are increasingly choosing day-time activities like cookery classes, baking lessons, spa days, jewellery making, dancing lessons and even activities like racing days and even rescue survival lessons for the more adventurous hens.  The usual tradition of partying the night away is complimented with activities like these and hen groups generally split the day-time activities in two to cater for all, with some shopping and either creative/high adrenalin/relaxing activities, with long lunch combined. With the growing craze of doing a rather creative activity, why not try your hand at a flower arranging hen party? – Morning or afternoon?

 

Pixi Flowers in Bristol (Can also cover Bath) offer a different type of hen party, in two hours it is possible to learn a bit about flowers and to walk away with some amazing flower jewellery pieces – wrist corsages, a hair pin and even a button corsage time permitting.  Hens can glam up their evening outfit with the new party pieces to launch the night-time festivities.  It is also sometimes possible to compliment your chosen dressing up theme with colour co-ordinated items and even associated matching paraphernalia if requested in advance.  We can also arrange (at a fee) afternoon tea at one of our venues to compliment the jewellery making, making for a very special and pampering experience.

 

These new found skills can also be employed at the up and coming wedding, hens can work together the evening/day before the wedding and make flower corsages for the entire wedding party. From experience this activity alone makes for a very special gift to the bride and groom and very much personalise a wedding party.

The Latest Craze?!?

Cupcake making!  The current craze, everyone seems to be into it, talking about it, making crazy ones in different colours, attending classes to learn how to make super cool ones, eating lots of them and all of sudden they get larger, the giant cupcake pan emerges!  Wow we say; how do we eat that in one go?  All I know I would like a good try!    We saw this back in the 70s with the fondue, re-launched recently with the chocolate fountain, where will we go next I wonder?

 

As a nation of concerned with the economy and going back to our roots by being thrifty, the next big thing is likely to be in line with our current climate.  We are all gradually turning into a ‘Make do and Mend’ nation; producing, mending things that have broken, upholding the re-use and recycle theme?  Maybe the next big thing will focus our time on making our own goods a little more, turning away from buying and consuming? Having a hobby by doing things like knitting/DIY, growing our own vegetables and even arranging our own flowers? The thrift culture is likely to continue into the medium term, we are all likely to consume less and try our hand at making some items to save some pennies.  The rise of the hobbyist!

 

You may have noticed hobby style classes like cooking schools, DIY lessons, bead making and flower arranging classes springing up in response to this growing hobby nation, teaching the basics of a craft and also having some fun in the process.

 

This is where I get a little mention for Pixi Flowers, (how can I not?) so if you would like to learn flower arranging and live in the Bristol or even Bath area.   Then why not join us for one of our flower arranging classes, or even try a different type of hen party; you never know you may become the next ‘Nigella’ or even ‘Jamie’ of the flower world!  Crafters, Brides, grooms will be able to arrange their own flowers and save money whilst learning a new hobby.  Flower arrangers can top up their skills with a few lessons here and there and what makes the best present in the world; something that has been crafted by hand with love and care!   Latest craze?  Hmmm I wonder? It’s just nice to think that maybe in the future we will all try are hand at making something and consuming less in the process.

Ghosts and Ghouls

The nights are drawing in, the clocks have gone back and the colours of the trees and foliage are amazing; I love this time of year!  Burnt oranges, yellows and browns are everywhere; it is a great time of year to collect lots of free goodies from good old mother-nature. Fruits like apples and pears are in abundance and we can all easily enjoy English favourites like Apple Pie and heart warming pumpkin soup and even take part in some apple bobbing.

 

Autumn is a great time for flower arranging, this year our normal Halloween pumpkin has become multi-functional.  It was not only a provider of a meal, but it also was used as a lovely holder for a display of flowers.  Creating a lovely eco container! Try adding miniature Gourds (Tiny Pumpkins in a huge array of colours – yellows, oranges, even spotty ones) next to the larger exhibit to add extra definition to your display. The Gourds also look good piled up (with or without wood bark and pine cones) on a wooden rustic cheese board surrounded by tea-lights in miniature holders, the colours look just amazing.  Miniature pumpkins also look good pinned into a larger flower arrangement with autumnal flowers and leaves, it adds a point of interest and gives a real feel of the seasons; try adding candles (but do not light due to fire hazard) for extra dimension.

 

Many florist shops add Halloween balloons, black and orange ribbons/tassels/wrapping and even plastic ghosts and ghouls on sticks to their arrangements.  All very nice, but for me I prefer natural items rather than the plastic commercial type; it seems more fitting with the season somehow.  If you really must add a little extra, a nice non-plastic idea is to make your own little ghost on a stick.  Crazy but very effective; place a small Satsuma at the top of a wooden kebab stick, (wipe juice away) next add a large white hankie (cotton if possible) and place the hankie on top of the Satsuma and arrange into a traditional ghost shape, then tie thin black ribbon directly below the Satsuma (the waist of the ghost shape) finally draw on two black eyes and you have your home-made ghost ready to pop into your arrangement!

 

Pine cones, chestnuts, leaves and sprigs of holly can all be collected up for the months to come; great for your Christmas decorations.  Autumn is a great time to prepare and it’s a perfect time to have a lovely walk in the country and collect bountiful bags full of natural items that can be re-used.  In the case of pine cones this reuse can happen for many years to come.  Pine cones look great in Christmas wreaths and decorations; you can spray then with glitter or keep them natural and then hang on the tree.  I have even placed pine cones with fairy lights in a tall glass vase for a nature inspired light arrangement; this can be used all year round!

 

Now is also the time to dry out your oranges/orange segments for your Christmas decorations. These can be hung on the tree, used upon wreaths/table decorations or even distributed within winter Potpourri.  The best way to dry out oranges is to cut marks into the flesh, make a pattern and dry them out on a rack for a few days, somewhere warm is best.  Combined with holly, cinnamon sticks, foliage, leaves and pine cones and hey presto you have an amazing natural display.

 

I remember at school I was taught that Autumn was a time of Harvest celebration dating back to the Pagan times; feasting on the crops of the year, with large displays of fruit and vegetables distributed to the needy.  Its seems that once the Halloween and Firework night celebrations are over the end of Autumn draws near and we all certainly start to think about Christmas and the festivities to come.  But for now it’s nice to enjoy it before winter really kicks in and when we start to dream of snowy/icy scenes and warm cosy fires.

 

The basics of Flower Arranging

The Basics – Equipment and items required for flower arranging

 

For my first blog it seemed fitting to cover the basics by looking at the kit required for flower arranging, including some of the sundry items you may want to purchase.

 

The first thing of importance in your kit is a good set of secateurs, but you can also use a knife for softer stems and you can even use a glass/file cutter and even a hammer if you wanted.  To keep organised buy a decent tool box to keep everything together; it is amazing how many little bits and pieces you will somehow collect together once you begin flower arranging!

 

The next task is to look at the mechanics the arrangements you want to produce, leading onto the types of other equipment required.   Starting with the funny green stuff called Oasis, which acts like a sponge and keeps your flowers alive.  Oasis is also the best medium for arranging fresh plant material and it comes in many shapes and sizes (cones, blocks, balls, cylinders, coloured oasis) and most come with matching (in size) plastic containers/dish.   You can also buy dried Oasis (which you do not soak in water before using…) for artificial and dried flowers.

 

Secure you Oasis in place with Oasis tape also referred to as Anchor tape; useful for keep your arrangement together.  Another method for doing this is with Oasis fix, a sticky gummy mouldable material which you place underneath your Oasis to hold it within the container.  It may also be useful to purchase a glue gun if you think you may be performing lots of intricate work requiring extra strength, but florist glue (in a tube) is also effective.

 

Another useful basic item for your tool box is a selection of wires for arranging leaves into unusual shapes, for arranging Roses/Orchids into corsages/flower jewellery and also wires to create strength in softer stemmed flowers.  It is useful to have a stiffer selection of wires for strength for heavier items and also softer more manageable wires for intricate work like flower jewellery or garlands.  Coloured wires can also be used decoratively and formed into spiral shapes and then inserted into arrangements; it is amazing how effective this can actually look.

 

Once you get into flower arranging you will find yourself collecting ribbons from presents and string from packaging, these are all useful for holding your arrangement together and even for creating a pretty bow on a hand-tie bunch of flowers.  Ribbons and string are very useful and can add an extra pizzazz if in a contrasting colour or texture to your flowers/foliage.  I especially like natural raffia for adding a shabby chic look to your arrangements!

 

Next we will look at containers, which are difficult to cover in so little words, the possibilities are endless here.  You can arrange in special shaped Oasis containers, baskets, gift bags filled with an Aqua Pac and water, glass vases, saucers, but even in recycled household items like tin cans, bottles and even fruits like watermelons and even Pumpkins (great for Halloween!)  You can cut your Oasis to fit and just use your imagination for the rest.

 

Other items you buy if you want to build on your kit are mainly decorative items like fake diamonds, flower glitter and flower glue for adding sparkle and also coloured florist spray for adding colour to petals and leaves.  You can even buy special water dye which will colour your flowers after they have fed on the dyed water; great for creating bright blue roses from experience, which look amazing!

 

It will take time to build up your kit therefore we wouldn’t suggest buying it all at once.  Take your time, buy as you need and reuse where possible, it is astonishing what you can gradually gather up over time.  Pixi Flowers can offer mini starter kits or florist equipment, (just email for details) but for now we hope you enjoyed reading our first blog.

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