So no foliage, just blooms. Big intensely coloured heavy headed dahlia’s with their wonderful names and old fashioned sensibilities. And for scent, I picked all the sweet pea’s I had. Anniversary, Mrs Collier and Prince Edward of York – bright pinks and creams and whites with a hint of pink – all long stemmed spencers with heavenly scent. A few stems of honeysuckle completed the design in precisely the same colour palette as luck would have it.
It’s tricky sometimes to judge what stage to pick dahlia’s as you want them to have a fabulous flower but not be too close to their peak so they fall apart. My method is to go out every night and to pick what appears to be ready that day. That way, I’m never using a dahlia head that is too old to hold for a while. I’m hoping this method will keep the plant flowering. It is certainly helping me spot the black fly!
I always condition my flowers in deep water in the dark for at least 24 hours. That way, you know whether they are going to be usable rather than risk placing any one of them in your design only to have something very visible droop.
The growers amongst you will know that Dahlia’s have pretty sturdy stems to hold their decorative heads. Good conditioning helps but those beautiful heads are still heavy. I knew that without any foliage I would need something in the way of mechanics to ensure I could wave the bouquet around without a care, as one is minded to do. Unseen beneath those blooms is a ribbon wrapped celtic cross. It’s a great shape for feeding through stems and for providing a lovely open frame for support. I use the design all the time. For me, the shape adds meaning also even if no-one else knows its there.
Bishop of Oxford is my newly found dahlia favourite, quite inauspiciously spotted at B&Q! Obviously, his newly quite favourite status is not for his showy head for he’s just a single. No, I love him as his colour and markings perfectly bridge the more ostentacious orange pink Labyrinth to those deep dark reds of Sam Hopkins and Karma Choc. The delicate pink of Bracken Ballerina, the dusky pink of Jowey Winnie, and the bronze of the aptly named Cornel Bronze add further colour interest. A few heads of dark leaved and white flowered midnight after eight complete the colour palette. This wild garden style dahlia bouquet is all about the sum of the parts rather than individual dahlia diva’s, although there are a few of them in there.
The following describes the design contribution of each element to the this wild garden style dahlia bouquet:
- Decorative dahlias in shades of pink, gold, bronze, burgundy and white – colourful round heads are the dominant focal flowers with further design interest provided by their differing sizes and shapes.
- Sweet peas – Soft scented floral heads that look as gorgeous as they smell but I would include them for their scent alone
- Honeysuckle with its quite lovely floral texture as well as mixing its intoxicating scent with that of the sweet peas.
This year is a notable birthday for me. It is making me reflective. That and other things. On the corner of a road in Cardiff was a patch of land with a thatched cottage. In that field lived a rather eccentric but kind chap who grew a sea of brightly coloured flowers. Every year, year after year, you’d go and see what was growing. Braces holding up muddy trousers greeted you, more often than not with a spade in his hand. Very carefully, he would wrap the flowers in newspaper. His joy for growing those flowers was infectious. As a child I never know what those flowers were. Now I know they were dahlias. Oh how I wish I could stand at that corner now. It is why I love them I think. His cottage and his field were wild and carefree and unkempt but I loved it. Of course, he and they are long gone now but I’d like to think my small patch of dahlias are a homage to him. For me, they will always remind me of home and a wild garden style of flowers that speaks to an old fashioned dignity and love of a simpler life.
I seek to create bouquets from my cutting garden to capture a quite unique moment in time, a gathering of nature’s own clock. It makes me look at everything that is there in a way that I would not normally do so. I have learned to stop fighting with my canalside cutting garden. The soil is clay. I have quite a few trees. I grow what thrives in those conditions rather than forcibly attempting to plant florals and foliage that just sit there and sulk. I have learnt finally to let mother nature guide me on the design for my wild garden style dahlia bouquet.
Each bouquet created from my cutting garden represents a quite unique moment in time, a gathering of nature’s own clock.
Wild garden style design is about designing bouquets with flowers that reflect each moment of the season. They speak to a moment in the season. Their appearance make us reflective of seasons past, so rooted are they in their timeliness.
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