Flowers // A Flower Workshop with Philippa Craddock

July 25, 2018

I'm sure you know by now just how crazy I am about flowers. I love growing them, buying them, and having them in my home. But what I was really lacking were the skills for arranging them or knowing the best vases to display them around the house or having the confidence to create my own arrangements. So imagine my delight when last week I got an email from Philippa Craddock {one of my favourite London florists and of course the florist for this year's wedding of the year, Harry & Meghan! Remember that arch?!} inviting me along to one of her flower workshops taking place this summer in London. I jumped at the chance, a real treat of a day to spend in Shoreditch learning all things flowers. 

Last Friday's workshop was held at The Hoxton hotel in Shoreditch. {side note - hello new leopard skirt, online here}

It was a full day course, from 10 until 4 with an hour's break to go and get lunch. I loved the venue and we could help ourselves to drinks and yummy treats from the apartment space it was located in throughout the day. I can't remember the last time I took a day to just do something by myself, for me, and even took real joy in having lunch on my own {there was a Wahaca next door!}. 

There were four of us in total, with two teachers. A really impressive ratio and the three other women were all really lovely, to have a room full of people who share your love and passion for flowers is such a gorgeous thing. We were greeted with a myriad of colour and foliage for us to use throughout the day, all of this was British grown, sourced from a farm in Sussex! 

The dreamiest roses.

This particular workshop was called 'Flowers in the Home' so it focused on creating displays for around the house, but there are also a bouquet masterclass, a best of British flowers class, an insight into event floristry and a whole week if you're looking for a change in career. You can find them all online here and there are some dates in August with a couple of spaces left.

For me, this was definitely the best workshop. It taught such a wide range of skills including creating a spiral bouquet as well as a vase arrangement and then a table bowl display and then mini milk bottle displays too. 

But it also taught us the basics about floristry including things like where to buy and source your flowers, how to condition them to ensure that they'll last for as long as possible. Keeley, our main teacher, was so gorgeous and had so much time for all of our wide ranging questions. {including mine about the Royal Wedding of course!}.

I'll share some of the tips that I learnt on the day but really if you're into flowers at all, I honestly can't recommend the workshop enough and there's such a limit as to what you can learn through a blog post!

First, for any kind of arrangement, you should condition your flowers which means taking out any parts of decay, stripping off any leaves which would be under the surface of the water and removing rose thorns. You should always cut your flowers at a sharp angle to allow them to soak up as much water as possible. And ensure that you have a scrupulously clean vase or jug {they recommend using the tiniest drop of bleach to stop bacteria from forming}.

First up we created a spiral hand tied bouquet. Something I've always wanted to know how to do! It's easiest if you lay all of our different types of flowers first {and foliage is hugely important too. Especially with Philippa Craddock's wild, natural style of floristry which appeals to me most}. Then you hold your first piece with two fingers before adding another at an angle, you then keep going around adding more, always at the same angle and twisting it slightly, and eventually you have your spiral of stems at the bottom in that classic floristry shape.

It feels unnatural to start with, gripping it all in your hand, especially as it gets bigger and heavier. - also apologies about these blurry photos, I was so keen to scribble down all my notes and also just immerse myself in the day rather than taking too many photos.

You can then tie this and put it straight into a vase for a more formal, neat/tight look.

Or you can create an arrangement by arranging it in the vase rather than as a bouquet in your hand to create a fuller, more impressive display. I loved that we got to learn how to do both, and how different they both looked. Hand tied bouquets are perfect for gifting, but the vase arrangements are more impressive for your home.

Keeley taught us that more is more with Philippa Craddock. Something that I found fascinating as I'm always quite conservative, and tend to fear going too big on displays, wanting it to be all neat and ordered. Yet actually, I saw how our arrangements became transformed by adding more than I usually would under Keeley's guidance. I WISH I had her eye! She was so incredible.

After lunch came bowl arrangements for a table. Including the best trick I've ever learned for floristry and that's using chicken wire to hold everything in place. You get a bowl, stuff the chicken wire into a ball and then start adding foliage and flowers.

A lot of florists used to use oasis, but it's not environmentally friendly so Philippa Craddock has turned to using wire for almost everything now. It can be reused too and allows the flowers to soak up more water naturally.

Whilst I loved learning how to make bouquets, I think the bowl arrangements blew my mind most and gave me so much inspiration for creating my own. It's just so different and effective?

Similar to a wreath, you add different lengths of greenery around the edges and on top.

Before starting to add your flowers, all supported by the wire structure below.

These colours!

Any leftovers, buds, or pieces that are cut too short, aren't thrown away and instead are used for mini arrangements like these milk bottles. Again, perfect for displaying around the home, in a bathroom, by the kitchen sink or by your bed.

As part of the workshop we were allowed to take a big glass vase home each that we'd used that morning, much to my delight as it's such a perfect shape! Along with a mini milk bottle each. I actually ended up buying another one as I love them so much. But if there's a favourite vase you use at home often, you can take that in and ask for help on how best to display flowers. Another really useful tip I learned was that flowers should be the same height again above your vase. It's a really useful rule of thumb that makes so much sense, and something I often used to get wrong. You want it to balance out with the vessel below.

I also ended up buying some japanese floristry scissors that I'd tried during the day and oh my gosh, how have I ever cut flowers before using these?! Best purchase ever. They're also available on Philippa's website here.

It was super inspiring and I really want to carry on practicing now once these arrangements need replacing. I loved the emphasis on using herbs/foliage from your garden to supplement bought flowers/the showstoppers so that you don't have to spend a fortune each time you want an impressive display. I've already asked Ben if we can create a big herb bed at the allotment so I can use more mint and oregano in displays as these looked so pretty, and smelt amazing.

By the end of the day, we were laden down with flowers and arrangements to take home. Luckily I'd driven, but do bear it in mind if you're getting the train home. The ladies have big bags to help you carry them but you don't want to bash them getting home! 

The best part?! A house full of flowers after the workshop, ready for the weekend.

I really can't thank Keeley, and Philippa enough for inviting me along for the day. 

You can find all the workshop details online here. I think it would make a wonderful gift but also just such a treat for yourself to go back to 'school' and learn all about flowers.

R <3 xx

{This is not a sponsored post. I was a guest of Philippa Craddock but all opinions are my own and I was under no obligation to write this post}

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