Book Review – Vintage Wedding Flowers by Vic Brotherson

WP_20140412_003I have to say that this book is beautiful, I squealed and cooed over every page when it arrived yesterday. It has stunning photographs by Catherine Gratwicke, of Vic’s highly inspirational designs, along with amazing wording  that really sums up the different types of vintage wedding flowers available. The book covers bouquets, buttonholes, table settings, headdresses and lots more floral creations.


Most of the designs use the traditional English flower varieties that we grow here on the farm. Flowers like sweetpeas, cornflowers, larkspur, ammi majus, dahlias, roses, cosmos, astrantia and herbs are all used throughout the book.

It is divided into six different themed chapters, each showing bouquets, table flowers and other designs that fit with the theme. The last chapter has detailed  step by step instructions to make a number of designs including a hand-tied bouquet, wired buttonhole, pomander and hair garland.


The book explains how important flowers are to a wedding day, and how they can be incredibly personal to the bride and groom and their families. “Everyone has wonderful stories that can woven into the day through the flowers, creating a modern interpretation of a very ancient ritual.”


I would say that this book is an absolute must have for brides looking for vintage inspiration, British flower growers, and wedding florists.




The Meaning of Flowers

Today’s blog takes a look at the traditional meanings and symbolism of certain flower varieties.

Allium                                  Good fortune

Alstromeria                        Devotion and friendship

Amaryllis                             PrideMixed flower buckets

Anthurium                          Attraction

Birds of Paradise              Magnificence

Bouvardia                           Enthusiasm

Chrysanthemum              Hope

Cornflower                         Delicacy and refinement

Daffodil                               Respect / Chivalry

Dahlia                                  Good taste

Eucalyptus                          Protection

Freesia                                 calmnessvase of flowers

Gerbera                               Purity

Gladioli                                               Generosity / Natural grace

Gypsophila                         Everlasting love

Heather                               Passion

Holly                                     Good will

Hyacinth                              Consistency / young love

Hydrangea                          boastful

Iris                                          Wisdom

Ivy                                          Friendship / affection

Jasmine                               Good luck

Lavender                             Devotion

Lilac                                       First love

Lily                                         BeautySweet peas

Lily of the Valley              Sweetness / Humility

Mimosa                               Sensitivity

Orchid                                 Love / Beauty

Peony                                   Bashfulness

Phlox                                    Sweet Dreams

Primrose                             Hope

Rose Red                              Love and Passion

Rosemary                            Remembering

Stephanotis                       Desire

Sunflower                           Loyalty and power

Sweet Pea                          Lasting pleasure

Tulip                                      Hopeless love

Violet                                   Modesty and faithfulness

Zinnia                                   Absence


How to put together a Basic Hand-tied Bouquet

I have decided to add a few practical guides to my blog, for those who fancy arranging their own flowers. I am starting off with the design I get asked most, ‘how do you make it?’ the hand tied bouquet.

How to put together a Basic Hand-tied Bouquet
You can choose any flowers that you like, as long as they have reasonably long stems for this type of bouquet. Ideal flowers include: Lilies, Carnations, Stocks, Dahlias, Roses, Tulips & Larkspur. Ideal foliage’s could be: Eucalyptus, Salal, Euphorbia, Bupleurum etc.

What Materials do I need?
As well as your choice of flowers and foliage, you will also need a pair of scissors, some string, tape, ribbon, tissue paper and cellophane (for packaging if required).

How do I Make it?
Remove all the lower foliage from each of the stems of plant material you are using, you don’t want any foliage from the binding point (where you tie the flowers together) downwards, this is so that when in a vase, the leaves cannot rot and contaminate the water.

Next, lay out all the flowers and foliage on your table, this way you can see what you are using, and easily pick up your stems without them getting tangled together, and cut a piece of string to tie the bouquet (easier to do at this point, then when you have created your bouquet and then realise you have nothing to secure it with!)
Take the largest flower in your hand; ( whichever hand feels most comfortable)  this will form the focal point of your bouquet. Then start adding other materials in a clockwise direction, adding every flower at a slight angle towards your wrist, so as more and more plant material is added, the stems begin to spiral around each other.

Try to hold the bouquet lightly in one hand so that the materials are supported between the thumb and the forefinger, there is no need to squeeze tightly as the flowers will hold each other as the spiral develops, try to relax your hand as much as you can, this avoids cramp, as well as stopping the stems being crushed.
Keep adding flowers and foliage’s in a clockwise direction, making sure that the different types of flowers are evenly spaced throughout the bouquet, you also need to keep looking at your shape does the bouquet look circular? I good tip is to look at your bouquet in a mirror, the reflection will help you get a clearer view of your overall shape.  Plus, don’t forget to keep the stems going in the same direction. This may all sound tricky, but practice does make perfect.
Carefully tie off tightly the bouquet with the pre-cut piece of string, taking care not to lose your bouquets shape or your spiralled stems. Then you need to cut the stems to the required height , as a guide, the length of the stems below the string should be 1/3rd of the overall height of the bouquet and they also need to be all at the same level. You can test this by seeing whether the bouquet will stand up by itself.
Packaging the Bouquet
You can now either place your bouquet straight into a vase, or gift wrap it in an aqua pack (bubble of water). To do this, you need to cut two large squares of cellophane, lay one on the table and arrange a couple of sheets of tissue paper on top of it to cover most of the cellophane, then place the second sheet diagonally over the top of it to make a kind of tissue sandwich, then place the bouquet in the middle of it, led on its side and pull up one side of the cellophane to cover the bouquet and tuck it around the binding point and secure with tape.
Ensure that the top edge of the cellophane comes to the top of the bouquet, secure with extra pieces of tape if needed. To finish off, tie with a ribbon or raffia bow which should complement the colours in your bouquet, and carefully fill your bubble of cellophane with water, either by placing the bouquet under a running tap or by using a watering can without a rose head attached, aim the water into the center of the bouquet and take care that the water level does not come higher than the binding point.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis photograph shows 4 bridesmaids hand tied posies, each bound with a piece of ribbon and a broach supplied by the bride.

A hand tied bouquet wrapped in simple brown paper

A hand tied bouquet wrapped in simple brown paper

Grouped hand tied bouquets of Tulips and Daffodils