An array of seasaonal early summer flowers awaits wedding flower workshop participants at St Nicolas Place, Birmingham“Now I’ve seen your flowers, I forgive you for the bits I have to clean up from the floor after your workshops” were the words, that greeted me (but said with a smile!) when I arrived at St Nicolas Place last Friday, armed with buckets full to bursting with roses, sweet williams, cornflowers, lady’s mantle and many other ingredients which had managed to defy the heatwave and still look lush in the June garden.  Much sniffing and swooning over scented sweet peas then ensued, and a commission for my workshoppers: to make some small table posies to decorate another room being used for a funeral tea next door.

The workshop started life intending to showcase bouquets and buttonholes, but after demonstrating a bouquet before lunch, we then quickly set to to replicate the technique in miniature to produce our small unexpected table posies – Millie, a DIY bride this forthcoming November, was really pleased to try her hand at table flowers too!  In British Flowers Week, it was also really lovely to be able to donate our flowers and time to brighten a sad day, and the workshoppers were all rather pleased to suddenly find their newfound skills being commissioned for an actual event and amazed to see how just a few jars of flowers could change the ambience of an entire space.

After a picnic lunch and natter, the serious business of bouquet construction began – along with tips on when and how to start your flower preparations for weddings, and the thorny business of stripping rose stems to avoid brides’ fingers being impaled and their beautiful dresses developing unexpected new patterns.  A few “ouch”s later, the table was covered in an array of foliage and flowers, waiting to be gathered into naturalistic, free-flowing bouquets.

Flowery magic happens at Tuckshop Flowers Wedding Flowers Workshop during British Flowers Week, June 2017One thing that always fascinates me about workshops is how, presented with the same choice of ingredients, everyone manages to make something completely different and personal.  There was also plenty of discussion about tastes in style, colour and flower perfumes – all so unique and subjective, but such strong influences on how we make our flower selections.

I know Emily, who has done workshops with me before, has a real love of foliage and a light ethereal wild style – her final bouquet eliciting an impromptu rendition of

“Heathcliff, it’s me, I’m Cathy, I’ve come home”

on my part.  Kate Bush needn’t feel threatened – I won’t be giving up the day job any time soon.

Bouquets made, silk ribbons selected and discussions on the merits/demerits/complexities of bow tying complete, we wrenched our gaze away from our lovely creations and decided that with the flowers and time that remained, rather than making small buttonholes of flowers, we’d go big and do some experiments with beam dressing to make the most of our gorgeous venue in St Nicolas’s tudor North Hall – especially as Millie had raised the subject of decorating beams for her wedding earlier in the day.

Luckily I’d half anticipated this and packed some floral foam to use if the workshop elected to take this turn, as part of me was hankering to florify the room which just cries out to be dressed with romantic flowers.

Wedding flower workshop - Lizzie concentrates on making up an arrangmement to decorate a beam at my recent wedding flowers workshop at St Nicolas Place, BirminghamA quick demo later (but not as quick as the time lapse video which Emily made, which sees me hurtling around like something demented)  everyone set to on their own creations – Millie going large and reachy, Ruth trying out stylised and compact, Julie opting for something of a size which would look perfect to dress her fireplace at home,  Lizzie staying quietly focussed (right) and Emily having to bolt hers down in situ to stop it making an escape!

The chance to be able to try things out with no pressure and a gorgeous selection of flowers, is, in my book, most of what a workshop is about.  It’s a chance to surprise yourself with the lovely flowers that you can create, to find out basics about the mechanics to support different styles of arrangements, and to learn from experience.  It was great to be able to go with the flow and adapt the workshop to the time, flowers, venue and interests of the people taking part and is what I love most about working with small groups and (as an ex-teacher) about working outside a formal structure.  I used to get so frustrated about lessons being dictated to by the demands of the syllabus rather than the needs and interests of the students – so “ya boo sucks” to that in my new role! And I have to say it feels fantastic to have people back at the heart of things instead.  This first wedding workshop was so much fun, I hope it is the first of many.

(And yes, I did sweep up the bits afterwards….)

Wedding flowers workshop for British Flowers Week 2017. Tuckshop Flowers Birmingham




British Flowers Week Wedding Workshop

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