Tissue paper wrapping tutorial

I’ve been so busy with orders that I have yet again neglected my blog posts!  I realise that I still haven’t posted the photos of the foam-free pair of matching urns and promise I will post those sometime this week.

In the meantime, I had a request on my Instagram account to show how I wrap my bouquet’s in tissue paper.  I often design a ‘flat-backed’, presentation style bouquet and the style suits a wrapping that is lower at the front to show off the blooms but still gives good support and protection to the flowers at the back.

This is where my ‘V-necked’ wrapping comes in! It’s very easy to do and can be replicated with your own bouquet’s.

Here’s what you need –

  • 4 sheets of waxed tissue paper in your choice of colour.  I use 2 sheets each of a nicely coordinated or contrasting colour, but you could use all the same colour if you like.
  • rafia, ribbon or string

If you’re using contrasting/coordinating colours, divide them into 2 piles of 2 sheets – 1 pile with the contrasting colour on top, and one with the contrasting colour underneath.

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Fold your first pile of 2 sheets in half along the diagonal so that you have a long straight edge at the bottom and 2 pointed ‘flags’ heading away from you.  At this point I always slightly offset the 2 sheets.  Just a couple of centimetres shows the layers of colour and I think looks more decorative.  Do the same with your second pile of sheets.

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Take your first pile of sheets and fold one side of the long end so that the point is around the centre of the two pointed ‘flags’ that are still facing away from you.

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Do the same on the other side of the long edge.  Fold it in to meet the other fold almost in the middle.  The tighter the points are together, the narrower your finished bouquet will be – so you might need to play around with how far in you take your folds if you have a very large handtied bouquet.  You get used to looking at the bouquet and gauging how close together your points need to be.

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Now do the same with the other pile of 2 sheets so that you have two sets of shapes like this.

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Sit your shapes one on top of the other with the folds facing upwards and place your handtied bouquet carefully in the centre.  I leave my stem ends uncovered as I keep them in water until I’m ready to deliver them.

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I’m right-handed, so I always fold in the right hand side of the top grouping of tissue paper first, followed by the left hand side.  Give the paper a squeeze to nip it in place.  When I first did this, I obsessed about not creasing the paper too much as I thought it looked messy.  Now, I realise the more careful I am with it, the messier it looks, so I really do just squeeze the paper together in one quick movement!

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Then take the second grouping of tissue paper and fold it in the same way – right hand first followed by left hand second (I guess this would be easier reversed if you’re left handed?).  As you’re folding in, just drop the paper slightly lower than the one you’ve already folded so that it shows through to the first layers in a nice decorative pattern.

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Tie off the bouquet using your choice of tie.  I often just use jute string, but also sometimes use natural undyed rafia or a wired hessian bow depending on the occasion.

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Here’s some photos of the finished wrapped bouquets.  Hope you find the tutorial useful.

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Foam-free tutorial – large scale urn

Hello again and welcome to my series of free floral design tutorials.

Today’s design demonstrates that it is possible to create a large scale design with traditional foam-free techniques.

If you’d like to have a go yourself, this is what you’ll need:

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  • Large urn.  This one is a fibreglass urn with an aged-look, but you could create in anything that is of a similar shape in a decent size.  This urn is 40 cm tall.
  • Waterproof bowl or liner that fits snugly into the urn without dropping down into the depths.  My 24 cm diameter plastic bulb bowl nests in the top like a glove.  Be creative – ice-cream tub, plastic milk bottle with the top cut off, tupperware box – whatever is the best fit.
  • Damp sphagnum moss
  • A biodegradeable compost caddy bag
  • Chicken wire
  • Wire cutters and gloves
  • Floristy tools – a sharp knife and/or scissors, string/wire, pot tape (or florists tack depending on the best method for securing your waterproof liner)
  • A couple of skewers of different diameters
  • A selection of ready conditioned flowers and foliage of your choice.

Another item that is useful but not necessarily essential is a footstool or step (the finished design will be tall!)

Method

Check the fit of the waterproof liner in the urn.  You may need to pack out the very bottom of the urn with some scrunched chicken wire to prevent your bowl dropping too low.  The rim of the bowl should be a little higher than the rim of the urn and the moss should mound up higher still.  This will give you the space to insert stems so that they can arch downwards in the design.  Remove the bowl from the urn and set aside ready for the mossy filling.

Take a very generous quantity of very damp moss (you won’t be able to easily redampen it when the design is made, so cram as much water in from the start as you can) and stuff into the compost caddy bag.  Fill the bag almost to bursting, add a little more water and then twist the bag top very tightly and tie off with string or a paper covered wire.  Turn the bag upside down and push carefully into your waterproof container so that the tying point is hidden underneath.  The bag should fit snuggly into your container and ideally be mounded a fair bit higher than the brim.  If not, keep adding moss filled bags.

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My caddy bag ended up being a little loose – cram it in even more than this!

Cut a square of chicken wire just a little bigger than your liner. and place it over the top of the moss filled bag.  Carefully tuck all the edges down between the bag and the bowl.  Try not to over fill with wire as this just makes it harder to get stems into the moss.  Try not to tear the bag if you can as this not only holds more moisture in, it also helps to hold stems firmly.

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Bag covered with a layer of wire

Insert your liner bowl into your urn and fix securely so there is no ‘wobble’!  Depending on how snug the fit, you might want to use either pot-fix around the edges of the bowl or put a cross of pot tape across the top of the chicken wire and tuck under the rim of the urn where you’ll disguise with foliage.  If the liner is still wobbly – now is the time to faff with it until it is really secure.  The finished design is pretty big and carries some weight – so be absolutely sure it’s fixed well.

Designing 

If you follow ‘the rules’, your finished design height for an upright design should be around 1/3 container to 2/3 flowers. So for my 40 cm urn, the height of the tallest flowers/foliage would be around 80 cm and the overall height of the design would be 120 cm.  Even when working on a traditional style design, I sometimes go with the flow and go a little bigger or smaller depending on the shape and style of the container and the kinds of flower materials I’m working with.  The key is to put in a few of your outline stems and to step back and think about the design and the proportions you want.  For a big design, don’t be afraid to go big!

Flowers and foliage

Most stems I’ve used last well in moss – some have a slightly shorter lifespan in moss than in water or floral foam.  I’ve found gerbera and germini to be a bit fussy about moss, but if you are designing for an event, they’d be fine for a couple of days before going all diva on you.  Make sure all your stems are very well-conditioned, trim off any nodules on the stems as these rip up the bag and make inserting into the moss quite tricky.  I always use a florist knife to trim the stems to a sharp point as this makes them much easier to insert.

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remove any nodules, side branches or thorns before inserting into mossed bag

Begin by greening up the design.  Insert stems firmly and deeply in the mossed bag.  Strong stems pierce the bag really easily and if you’ve very tightly filled the bag, they will feel very secure.  The chicken wire gives even more security with the grid holding stems firm.

I used pittosporum, a few different kinds of eucalyptus, ivy and these gorgeous big fatsia leaves.  Cover any mechanics and the bowl, drape a few stems downwards and remember to keep stepping back to check the shape of your design.  Allow for plenty of greenery for a large design like this and I like to use at least 3 different types to give variety, texture and to give different shades of green.

Once you’re happy with your green framework, begin adding your flowers.  I find it easier to add all of the same type of flower before moving on to the next type.  This helps to stop the urge to put the flowers into ‘lines’.  Begin at the top (this might be where having a footstool comes in handy) and then step the blooms diagonally downwards so that there is a rhythm through the design.  You don’t want the flowers being all on the same level.  You also don’t want them to be perfect mirror images on either side of an imaginary line running up the centre of the urn.  Insert the stems so that they look like they’re radiating from the same point deep within the design.  Continue to add your flowers in the same stepping diagonally downward motion (or upward if you find it easier).  For any delicate stems, I use a skewer to pierce a hole in the bag and moss before inserting the stem.  I always leave the really delicate stems to the end as it’s easy to damage them as you are inserting other stems around them.

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This design is for a pedestal display and is to be viewed mainly from the front (a little from the sides).  Therefore the back of the design doesn’t need to be flowered and can be relatively flat.  The front profile of the design is curved – this gives balance to the design, both physically and visually.  Some stems are placed deeply into the design and some not so deep so that the surface of the design doesn’t feel ‘one-dimensional’.  If you’re struggling with the outline shape or placement of the blooms, I find photographing the design and then looking at the photo rather than the design itself to be really helpful.  Oddly, your eyes can somehow pick up on problem areas easier on a photo – for example, they’ll see a group of stems too bunched together or one that is set too high in the design.  Don’t ask me how, but it works!

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When you’re happy with the design (keep stepping back to check), you can add more water to the top of the compost caddy bag and some should drain down into the moss through the holes pierced by the stems.  You can also spritz the flowers and foliage with a light mist of water to help maintain freshness before the design is needed.   The bowl can be removed to make transporting the design easier if necessary and then re-fixed in place when needed.

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Finished design

Here is the finished design which lasted 3 days in moss (and would have lasted longer except on the 3rd day the gerbera’s had already started to sulk).  For a longer lasting design, you may want to experiment with different blooms).  I re-use my chicken wire, moss and plastic bowls so this design has minimal wastage.

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Nice BIG design with lots of impact for not many stems!

I hope you find the tutorial useful.  If you have a go – please share your design with me, I’d love to see it.

Next up: Designing a matching pair of smaller table centrepieces (when, like me, you find matching pairs hard!)  Again, the next design will be foam-free.

Anne-Marie x

 

 

Foam-free funeral flowers

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A workshop full of flowers

Two weeks ago I had a workshop full of beautiful flowers all prepared and conditioned ready for running two floral design events in my local pub for the Saturday before Mother’s Day.  After months of organising and promoting, my events were almost fully booked and I was looking forward to meeting all my guests and sharing my passion for flowers.

It wasn’t to be.  On Friday 20th March, there was an announcement on the news to say that all pubs and restaurants were to shut from midnight on Friday.  I had a workshop full of fresh flowers and had spent a small fortune on materials and tools.

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A workshop full of flowers with no where to go…

Mother’s Day

Some of my workshop guests kindly ordered Mother’s Day flowers when they heard the event couldn’t go ahead, so I made up some hatboxes and delivered these instead.  Not the same as learning to make one yourself, but I hope the boxes made some lovely mum’s happy.

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Mother’s Day hatboxes

Waste not, want not

Even after delivering the hatboxes I still had a workshop full of flowers.  I decided to make as many designs as I could from my remaining flowers and to share my construction and mechanics through some tutorials.  This is the first of four tutorials made from the same overflowing workshop of flowers.  I hope to make more throughout the spring as my own flowers begin to bloom.

A foam-free design

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Bright foam-free design

I made this bright funeral spray arrangement without floral foam.  I admit (probably controversially!) that I do still use floral foam but I am trying to find ways to reduce the amount I use so that I can confidently offer the option of foam-free to clients.  I have found practicing construction without foam to be really helpful, especially for checking the design will hold well.  I guess every florists worst fear is for a design to wilt before it’s time!  My experience with foam-free has shown that the designs hold very well, though for some flowers they are more short-lived in foam-free so being selective about content is a must.

Ingredients

  • Wet sphagnum moss
  • A suitable tray for designing in
  • Small gauge chicken wire (un-coated if you want to avoid plastic completely)
  • A compostable caddy bag
  • Paper covered wire (or strong garden twine)
  • Your choice of flowers and foliage

Tools

  • Wire cutters (and gloves for handling the chicken wire)
  • Florist knife or scissors
  • A selection of skewers in a variety of widths (for making moss holes for fragile stems)
  • A turntable if you have one – makes designing so much easier

Method

Base

I used a square wooden tray (25 cm x 25 cm x 5 cm) as my base, but you could use compostable bamboo/palm leaf plates.  Cut out a square of chicken wire a few inches bigger all round than your container so that you have spare for adding a little height and for tucking in around the edges.

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Base tray

Add a layer of extra water-retention

Open out the compostable caddy bag and tuck it into your base so that most of it is covered.  If you have a larger container, add more bags and give them a little overlap.  The intention is not to make the container completely water tight, but to just help to retain more of the water in the moss for longer.

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An extra layer of water retention in a caddy bag

Moss it up!

Add a mound of nicely damp sphagnum moss to the tray.  Pack in as much as you can fit.  Don’t be afraid to ‘dome’ up the moss as this bit of height will give you the space to add stems that trail over the edges of the container.  Once you’ve crammed in as much moss as you can manage, lay over the chicken wire and carefully tuck in all the edges.  Make sure not to leave any sharp edges exposed and try not to have too many patches of multiple layers of wire as these will be harder to add stems to.  I’ve found that if I get something wrong at this stage, it’s best to just take it apart and start again than to try to force flowers into over-meshed areas.

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Add your chicken wire

Secure the tray

Your mossed tray should look something like this.  With a bit of height and a neat layer of chicken wire.  For added security, use wire or strong twine to tie around the container and the moss and chicken wire contents.  Top up the moss at this stage with more water.

 

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Secure with wire or twine

Green it up

Begin greening up the design.  I like to use a turntable to design on as it’s easier to spin the design around and check the balance from all sides.  A turntable also allows the stems to drape as you’re designing.  I used a mixture of eucalyptus, pittosporum, ivy, laurel, fatsia and very small leaved hebe.

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Start ‘greening up’

 

It doesn’t really matter what foliage you use, but try to vary the shades of green you use and add interest with different textures and leaf shapes.  Firmer ivy trails make great outline shapes for the pointed ends of a design.  Dark, glossy foliage adds depth.  Here the eucalyptus adds a lovely grey-green.

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Drape foliage across the edges of the container

Build up the design outline

Gradually build up the outline you want.  A single ended spray would have a shorter, more rounded end and a longer, pointed shape at one side.  A double spray would have points at both sides.  You can make your shape as tight and controlled as you like with very precise checks on your stem lengths.  However, I prefer a looser, more natural style.  Don’t forget to leave yourself some room for your flower stems – you may need more space than you would usually leave if working with foam to allow for easing delicate stems into the moss.

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Variety of greenery to add texture and interest

Add flowers – make use of tools to help you with delicate stems

This is where I got carried away and put nearly all my flowers in without remembering to take more photos!  I used a selection of red, yellow, orange and multi orange tulips, some lovely orange-yellow Germini’s and a few sprays of sweetly scented genista.  I added the Germini’s first, followed by the tulips and lastly the genista.  I used skewers to make holes in the moss for both the tulips and the Germini’s as both have very soft stems.

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Have a few spare stems handy in case of breakages

If possible, I’d recommend trying the design with sturdy stems when you have a go for the first time – roses are great, really easy to insert, as are chrysanthemums, stocks, delphiniums, peonies – anything with a strong stem. Then when designing with softer stems, stick to the skewer technique and buy or harvest a few extra stems to allow for those few that will have you cursing under your breath!

You get used to the feel of whether you’ve chosen a good spot for the stem to be inserted.  I snapped a few stems this way until I got used to the level of pressure needed.  Be aware with your tulips that they will continue to grow and move toward the light – so if you’re going to use tulips in a design like this, you wouldn’t want to make it any further ahead than the night before and ideally on the day that it’s needed.

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The finished design

 

 

Finally, top up the design with more water (don’t forget the moss can hold between 10 and 12 times it’s own weight in water so try to use that capacity to benefit your flowers) and store somewhere cool until ready to deliver.

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Side view so you can see the pointed ends of the design

How did the design hold up?

Here is the design a couple of days later.  You can see that the tulips have certainly ‘wandered about’ a bit and they’ve opened up beautifully.  The design is still damp and nothing has wilted too badly – though the Germini’s are just starting to go soft.

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A couple of days old and not in bad condition

After I started making the design, I remembered I’d bought some of these very sturdy seed trays made from bamboo and (oddly!) rice.  The trays are made by Haxnicks and you can expect them to last for around 5 years before they begin disintegrating.  Then they can be crumbled up and composted.  When I completed the design, I nestled the wooden tray into the bamboo tray – You can see it on the photo at the top of the blog and the last photo below.

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Fully compostable seed trays by Haxnicks

When I next do a similar design, I will just use the bamboo seed tray as the base.  It holds water well and is very strong for squishing in chicken wire without any damage.  The trays measure 37 cm x 23 cm x 5.5 cm.  I also think the colour of the tray lends itself really well to designing with flowers, it’s not too strong or obtrusive so even if parts of it are visible under the design, all is not lost.

For a completely compostable design, I would make a similar arrangement on a flat base of twigs held together with twine and use the compost caddy bag stuffed with moss tied on top of the twig base.  I’d leave out the chicken wire and the paper covered wire.  I’ll attempt this in another tutorial – I’m sure it’s not as easy as I’ve tried to make it sound!

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Finished design

Thank you for reading.  Next tutorial will be a large-scale, foam-free urn in gorgeous soft pinks and greens.

Anne-Marie x

 

 

 

Foam-free table centrepieces

UPDATE – photos of both arrangements taken 8 days later now added below blog post – 

Following on from my experimenting with a foam-free cascading bridal bouquet, I thought I would trial two matching centrepiece arrangements – one with foam and one without – to see how they compare.

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Wonderstuff

Florists have used floral foam for arrangements since it was developed in the 1950s by the Smithers Manufacturing Company in Ohio, USA.  Back then, it was hailed as a miracle product.  A time saving, convenient, effective way to design with flowers.  The product retains water well without leaking and the dense material holds stems firm – even when being transported.

Before floral foam

Until the launch of Oasis foam, designers worked with containers filled with moss, made grids of twigs or bamboo, used flexible mesh such as chicken wire or nestled stems amidst submerged stems of willow or twigs.  They also used glass or metal ‘frogs’ or kenzans.  The convenience of floral foam saw the creative ingenuity of floral designers use of clever mechanics gradually fade until the use of the traditional techniques was seen as ‘old-fashioned’.

Back to the good old days?

More recently, the old-fashioned techniques have made a come-back (indeed for some designers, they never went away!).  Why would you go back to something that has been replaced with something more modern?  For me, this is about the impact my business has on the planet.  I want to find a way to provide the same designs, but without single use plastics and without a material that doesn’t biodegrade.

Can you make the same designs without foam?

I’ve heard designers say they can’t make the same design without floral foam – so this is my experiment to see if it is possible….and if the final design lasts as well in moss as it does in foam.

The experiment

I took one floral foam ring (the plastic backed type that doesn’t include a plastic tray) and one empty floral foam ring tray.  I reused an old floral foam design – scooped out all of the old green foam and scrubbed away as much of the plastic residue as I could.  This is tricky as it is glued in within an inch of it’s life!

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Whilst the green oasis ring was soaking up clean fresh water, I filled the empty tray with well soaked sphagnum moss.

I then cut some lengths of chicken wire to around 3 inches wide and tucked them into the tray, bending the sharp edges down and overlapping where needed to cover the whole of the ring.

Then I placed the mossed plastic tray and the oasis foam ring side by side ready to begin designing.  I tried to design them almost exactly the same – to show that the design can be replicated in both moss and foam.

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The mossed tray is not quite as deep as the oasis foam ring – and therefore the finished article is slightly shallower, but overall, looks very much the same as the foam design.

Designing in both mechanics was easy – stems were easy to place and both types held the stems firmly.  The depth of the foam design meant that more flowers were needed at the sides of the design to disguise the foam at the edges.

The overall verdict (so far) is that it was simple and easy to fill the tray with moss and wire.  It took no longer than waiting for the floral foam to soak for the normal time.

Both designs are now being displayed indoors and will be kept topped up with water, out of direct sunlight and in a cool room.  In 3 days time, I will post more photos of the final results of the experiment – the longevity of the design being as important as the ease of the initial construction.  Though for wedding and event designs, 3 days is probably the maximum time needed to squeeze out of a design – mainly to allow time to make items in advance.  As long as the design stays fresh for the full day of the event – that is all that is really needed.

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Both designs were made with British grown flowers and foliage from my cutting garden.

Let’s see how well they last.

Anne-Marie x

UPDATED – 23rd September 2019

Three days later!  Well…I’ve had a busy week and I really didn’t get time to post photos of the arrangements when I planned.  So, here goes.  You won’t often find a florist who is willing to post photos of arrangements that are way past their best!

Both arrangements were kept in the living room, out of direct sunlight and in relatively cool temperatures (we’re from Yorkshire, the central heating doesn’t even get a mention till November).  Both were topped up with water regularly.  The floral foam design needed topping more frequently than the mossed design – daily instead of every other day for the moss.

Here they are 8 days later.

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Both are looking a bit tired but considering they are over a week old, not bad at all.  Calendula really don’t last very long in either moss or foam.  Dahlia’s are usually pretty short lived, but both designs have kept them going quite well.

Moss Design – after 8 days

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Moss design – after 8 days

I think the moss one looks fuller and more vibrant than the foam design – apart from the dark coloured dahlia which has definitely dried out!

Foam Design – after 8 days

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Floral foam design – after 8 days

The foam design does have some grey mould, particularly around the calendulas  as they went over a couple of days ago – but in the moss, the calendula haven’t deteriorated quite so badly.

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Mould in the floral foam design
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Moss design – calendula deteriorated but not mouldy

Overall verdict

The moss design lasted very well – if not better than the foam design with no sign of mould.  The moss, chicken wire and the tray can easily be reclaimed and used again (and again!).  The foam design can only be disposed of in the household waste.  I also found the moss design easier to maintain – quicker with less spillage to top up with water and frequency of watering was easier on my time than the floral foam design.

My only concern is finding a source for a replacement to the plastic trays.  If only a manufacturer would design a set of compostable, sustainably made trays for florists to use in designs like this.  If they were made of sturdy waxed cardboard or perhaps bamboo (or whatever ingenious product can be molded and will hold water and moss) in the shapes and sizes that we use when buying floral foam trays – I know which ones I would buy – every time.

If you’re in the business of ‘making stuff’ – here is your gap in the market!

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Moss design – nearest, floral foam design furthest away

What designs shall I experiment with next?

Anne-Marie x

Foam-free casading bridal bouquet tutorial

Foam-free cascading bridal bouquet tutorial

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Shower bridal bouquet – with no floral foam

We all know the damage caused to the environment by plastics, but did you know that floral foam is made from plastic too?  Most modern shower bouquet’s are made in a ‘bouquet holder’.  This is a plastic handle with a small dome of floral foam in a plastic ‘cage’ – looking almost like a child’s toy microphone.  Floral foam is not biodegradable.

I’ve been trying to reduce my plastic and floral foam use – sometimes difficult when customers ask for a particular item that is easy and convenient to make using foam.  Changing from wrapping my bouquet’s in cellophane to sustainably sourced Kraft paper is easy.  Making a cascading, shower bridal bouquet is not.  Or is it?  I decided to give it a go and here are the results plus my tips for how you can do the same.

You will need:

Some flowers – your choice, but ideally locally grown blooms.  Try http://www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk for a grower near you.  I used white roses, astilbe, pink toadflax, devil’s bit scabious, houttuynia (chameleon plant), small eryngiums, pink and white astrantias, stachys officinalis (betony), flowering marjoram.  Look for flowers with a variety of forms and textures.

small gauge chicken wire

wire cutters, sand paper, small hacksaw (and gloves)

something suitable for a handle – you can either use a rustic, sturdy stick (clean, strong and a comfortable fit for your hand) or I used a broom handle cut to size

damp moss

florist wire – longer length, medium gauge wire

a sturdy holder for your bouquet holder – I use a handmade wooden stand and wire the bouquet holder into place whilst I’m adding flowers

florist scissors/knife

Method:

  • Ensure all your flowers and foliage have been well conditioned and all the tools and equipment you need are within easy reach.
  • Set up your bouquet stand – this might be a bought stand with clamps (they are very expensive!), or you could use a strong vase or bottle to hold the holder secure while you design.  Remember the wet moss will be quite heavy so the holder has to be very secure.  I use a homemade holder made from a wooden log screwed into a base.  The ‘V’ of one of the branches is just right to sit the bouquet holder into – for added security, I wire the bouquet holder in place with bind wire.  I also use some cast iron weights to stop the holder tipping whilst I’m designing.
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Homemade designing stand to hold bouquet holder firmly
  • Cut a square of chicken wire – the size depends on how big you want your bouquet holder to be.  Mine was about 20cm square
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Square of chicken wire – this one about 20cm
  • Select a suitable, strong piece of branch or wood for a handle.  You can cover the handle with jute string, or hessian ribbon if you don’t want a bare wood finish.  I decided on the broom handle as the finish was smoother and cleaner in the hand than the very rustic branch.  The size depends on the size of the bouquet – larger moss ‘heads’ will need longer handle as part of it is embedded in the chicken wire ‘cage’.  My handle was around 20cm long, trimmed with a small hacksaw and then edges smoothed with some fine sandpaper.
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Choose a handle – cut it to length
  • Cut a notch around one end of the handle, about an inch from the end.  The notch needs to be just deep enough for some wire to help secure the handle to the moss ‘head’.
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Notch in handle to secure wire
  • Wrap a couple of lengths of wire around the handle, sitting the wire into the recess you have just cut with the hacksaw.  Twist the wire tightly to secure and leave the prongs sticking out at the end – you will secure these when you have fitted the handle into the moss head.
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Wires added to help secure to the ‘moss head’
  • Take a generous helping of damp moss and place it in a mounded shape in the centre of the square of chicken wire.  Be generous because loose moss won’t hold flower stems securely.
  • Take your handle and carefully push the wire prongs through the moss and through the chicken wire.  Just make sure they’re all the way through – no need to secure them just yet.
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Inserting the handle
  • Carefully fold up the edges of the chicken wire to enclose the moss, adding more if you think you need it to keep the ball full and rounded.  Tuck in all the edges near to the point where the handle pushes through the moss.  Make sure you tuck in any sharp edges.  You can bend some of the edges of the wire around other edges where they touch – adding strength and making the ball very secure.
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Add more moss if you need it – the ball should be very full
  • You should now have a kind of moss ‘lollipop’.  Secure the wire prongs that come out of the top of the handle – twist and then fold them back into the heart of the moss.  You can trim them a little shorter if necessary.
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Wire the handle to the moss head
  • Securely fix your new mossy lollipop bouquet holder to your designing stand.  Now you’re ready to start the design.  Have a clear down and get all your flowers to hand.

 

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Moss lollipop ready to start designing

 

  • You will need to wire the flowers that are hanging downwards in the design (plus any that are particularly heavy).  Here you can see that the single leg mount has been used on the rose stems.  The wire is passed up through the ball and secured on the top of the chicken wire ball.  Make sure the flower stems are embedded in the moss as this is now their water source.
  • Begin with the longest stem of your main flower at the bottom of the design – and then work up through the design so that there is a ‘flow’ to the design.  Cut the stems and wire them as you go.  Think about the profile of the design as well as the outline from the front.
  • Step back and look and don’t be afraid to take out stems and reposition (you can’t do this with floral foam!)
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Wire in heavy blooms and all the blooms hanging downwards
  • Unlike most flower arrangements, where you tend to define the edges of your design with your longest pieces of foliage, I find it easier to place the main flowers in the design first – here the roses – to define the length of the cascade and some rhythm up through the design, and then fill in the gaps with your other flowers and foliage.
  • Leave plenty of room for the bees and the butterflies
  • Try not to have blooms sitting parallel to each other – graduate them and aim for a teardrop shape.
  • Keep looking from the side to make sure you have a nice curved fronted profile.

 

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Build up the design – step back and check as you go

 

  • Continue to build up the design – make good use of the natural curves of stems
  • Make sure you look at the bouquet from where the bride will view it whilst she’s holding it – her view needs to be as nice as from the front.
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Finishing the design – check from all angles
  • Once you’ve finished adding your flowers and foliage – you shouldn’t see any of the mossy base.  You can add foliage at the back to completely cover any remaining visible moss.  Here you can also cover the handle if you would like to.
  • Make sure the moss is damp and you can also lightly spray the flowers with a mister to keep them fresh.  Keep in the shade and somewhere cool.
  • The bouquet will stay fresh overnight (possibly longer depending on choice of blooms and the weather).  Ideally, you would make on the morning of the wedding – but you can get ahead by making the lollipop in advance and keeping it damp.
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Finished shower bouquet
  • Here is the profile of the finished bouquet.  No plastic, no floral foam.
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Finished bouquet profile

How easy? – a bit of a faff wiring some of the flowers in, but you would be wiring them in with a plastic bouquet holder anyway.  Very soft stems needed a small hole making in the moss with a kebab stick.  After a VERY HOT day in my workshop today – the bouquet is still fresh and damp.  My final verdict – worth it, and the faff will get easier the more I practice.

I think my own design could have been improved – stem placement is a little tricky without floral foam (more wire to navigate through) and this can affect the design slightly.  I will keep practicing though – and I think I would much rather spend an extra 20 minutes making the mossy lollipop than buy a pre-made floral foam handle that will still be around in hundreds of years time in landfill somewhere.

Try it…honestly it’s fun 🙂

Anne-Marie x

Spring Wood Flowers