Festive flower arranging

Every year there’s a meeting devoted to flower arranging, and these are always popular. Despite the vile weather this time (thick, thick fog), many members gathered to hear and learn from our expert tutor, Dorothy. There was a box of interesting foliage – which she had gathered from one of the local gardens – waiting to tantalise us.

foliage

The foliage had been soaking, outdoors in buckets, for three days.

Dorothy covered many basic tips – when using candles, make sure the wicks are always straight to avoid disaster when lit and don’t forget to leave the area immediately around the candle free of anything that might catch; always wrap a mossed wreath ring in plastic to keep it moist – and demonstrated some beautiful arrangements which were raffled at the end of the evening. This, not unnaturally, caused something of a late run on raffle tickets.

It is fascinating watching how a display starts out

display 1

with the sensitive use of props. And then it builds,

display2

using some of that beautiful foliage – eucalyptus is particularly useful here for its grey-green colour (and the undersides are also spectacular, so Dorothy sometimes uses the twigs the other way up). And the display continues to grow and change:

growing

Dorothy then went on to add flowers, and gave us many more useful pieces of advice:

  • Take most of the leaves off roses because they take up too much water and the flowers suffer, and also remove the thorns
  • Always cut stems at an angle; they take up more water and are also easier to insert in oasis that way.
  • Condition the stems of long roses in hot water; for shorter roses, just use tap water and always, always recut them. The water should be deep but not right up to the heads.
  • For demonstations and transport to things like shows, always tape the oasis:

taped oasis

A few more tips:

  • Cut leaves off, don’t pull them
  • When you cut a stem that might show, use a spare leaf and rub it over the cut – the green from the leaf will camouflage the raw white of the cut.
  • If you want to use gold, silver or copper spray – do it outside!

Finally, and on a really seasonal note, baubles are interesting additions to seasonal displays. Dorothy mounts them on wooden skewers which are hidden by the foliage – and are completely invisible:

bauble in use

Thank you, Dorothy!

With apologies for the colour quality of the photographs – something about the green and the lighting in the hall didn’t work brilliantly.

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Summer Show, 2016

It’s been a very strange gardening year, and it’s continuing to be rather odd – so it was somewhat surprising that the show looked every bit as spectacular as usual last week. Or maybe it shouldn’t have been so surprising: we have some very talented gardeners in the area, after all.

This year we had a new layout in the Hall, which was much appreciated. The appreciation started as we were setting up, when we realised just how cramped some things had become. Much more space!

setting up

It also was much better for the flowers, enabling everyone to get up close and personal to some wonderful things – and it was better for the judge and the steward in that section, as they no longer had to reach over plants and vases, or kneel down to get an adequate view. As usual, the hydrangeas were magnificent.

lacecap

The vegetables and fruit were in the middle of the room as usual, and – as usual – there were some stunning exhibits. These gorgeous onions not only won their category, they also won best in show for the fruit and vegetable section.

nionod

Then there’s the flower arranging. We had slightly fewer entries, but the standard was just as high.

elegant

The produce section is always popular, covering as it does everything from marmalade to wine and pickle to (this year) treacle tart. The judge was so blown away by the standard of the jams that he left a special note:

jam appreciation

and let’s not forget the crafts, where some competitors continued the floral theme:

flowers embroidery

A lovely show, and a lovely afternoon – even if we did emerge into rainy conditions worthy of October.

produce and flowers

Huge thanks to everyone who helped, especially to Bryan and Anita who are retiring as show organisers this year, to all the judges and stewards, to everyone who helped set up the night before, to the advertisers whose contributions helped pay for the programme – and, above all, to every single person who entered and visited our 2016 Summer Show.

Here’s a gallery of the day. Just click on an image for the usual slideshow.

The big day!

Wednesday, 12 August (otherwise known as yesterday) saw the annual Summer Show in the village hall, and it was still spectacular in defiance of one of the most peculiar growing seasons in recent years. But it didn’t seem to have bothered the local gardeners overmuch, judging by the display they put on – even in the first section, that devoted to vegetables and fruit, the one where there should have been a distinct lack of entries.

Wrong.
vegetable surprise

We’ve all been complaining about poor potatoes, rotting onions and courgettes, and tomatoes which are failing to ripen, but you would never have guessed that there had been problems. In fact, the judge for this section specifically commented on it – he said how wonderful the selection was, and that other shows had been very poor in comparison!

We had more entries for flower arranging than we usually do, as well – and the arrangements  looked quite spectacular (especially the one with the biggest leaf in the world – no comment).

wow!

And, of course, there’s the bear. He’s not a prop; he was a competition – guess the name of the bear and take him home. We can say ‘he’ now with confidence, because his name was revealed as Sydney, and the person who named him confirmed that he was, indeed, a boy Sydney and not a girl of the same name (just in case anyone wasn’t there for the draw).

But it’s not just about veg, guessing the name of a teddy and transporting unfeasibly huge leaves to the hall without damaging them. It’s also about flowers, produce, cookery and crafts. The flowers were stunning, especially the beautiful fuchsia which won best in that section and which, unfortunately, was impossible to photograph. That’s a shame, because the judge described it as ‘pretty much perfect’ – huge congratulations. And the produce and the rest – aaaaappetizing. And that includes the crafts (lovely sewing, as you’d expect from a village with not just one quilting group but two).

First, since they were particularly impressive given the conditions, here’s a selection of the vegetables. Just click on an image for a slideshow.

Now for the flowers and, something we’ve not concentrated on particularly in the past (apologies), the flower arranging.

What a lovely day, and a huge thank you to everyone who helped – and especially to Bryan and Anita, who are the show organisers and who do such a fantastic job. Thank you to the judges, the stewards, the competition and raffle organisers, the committee, all the exhibitors and all our appreciative visitors. Thank you!

(And if you’re wondering about entering next year – please do. In the next post there’ll be some extremely useful tips and hints, wheedled out of the judges as they enjoyed their lunch. Interestingly there was a common theme… wait and see what it was!)

Fantastic flower arranging

Every year we have one meeting which is devoted to flower arranging, and it’s always very popular – indeed, the flower arranging classes at the shows are some of the most hotly contested ones. (Big summer show coming up, remember…)

We are very lucky in that Dorothy Round is now living in the village, and has indeed joined the club’s committee. She’s a hugely talented, highly experienced flower arranger, having done flowers for members of the the royal family as well as Lichfield Cathedral – and now for us.

DR

This is the start of her seaside-inspired arrangement, using the colours of the coast around here – greys, blues and pinks. She demonstrated several, including hand-tying bouquets, and along the way we gained lots of useful tips, starting right at the beginning:

  • Sink your oasis in a bucket of water, don’t wet it by putting it under a running tap.
  • Think of a shape and do an outline first.
  • Don’t forget the back of your arrangement – it needs to look good too

DR 2

(Some eryngium – sea holly – going in here.)

Before arranging:

  • Always cut stems at an angle; it makes them easier to insert into the oasis, and they take up more water that way.
  • Bash the last inch or so of hard stems and put them straight into deep water.
  • Pop the ends of new growth into boiling water and count to 20.
  • And recut the stems just before you put them into the arrangement.
  • Don’t forget to wash the leaves!

DR almost there

  • Take the thorns off roses – they increase the need for water, as well as being uncomfortable.
  • If your flowers are flagging, wrap the heads in dry newspaper, recut the stems and repeat the boiling water tip above – especially good for roses and tulips.
  • It’s good to have pale colours and blues on the outside; they get lost in the middle.
  • Don’t forget to step back from your arrangement to see how it looks from further off.
  • Is your arrangement done? Go away, talk to someone, have a cup of tea and then go back. Is it still OK?

Dorothy’s most certainly was!

Arranged!