Thursday, 24 January 2013

With Friends Like These Who Needs Anemones? - To DIY or Not to DIY?

Hello all

Today's blog post has come out of a couple of things which happened to me over the last few weeks, and set me thinking about the pro's and con's of the huge current interest in DIY and crafting and in a broader sense, how that might affect the way your view your florist!

Now I'm sure you know I'm not adverse to DIY at all.  I love sharing and really enjoy creating tutorials on my blog, or putting up videos on YouTube.  But, what worries me, is with the wave of DIY'ers (and to a certain extent maybe YouTube contributes to this) comes the 'I could do that' attitude.  I've heard people say it about many handmade items and it's not always meant kindly.

A DIY wrist corsage like this is on my YouTube Channel

In fairness, from a flowery perspective, if it's popping a few random stems into a mismatched vases -then maybe you can.  But do you know how to condition the flowers properly?  Or do you know how many you'll need or when's best to buy them?  Do you know how long it will take that tightly packed  (insert relevant flower here) to open to it's full, glorious potential?

I do.  It's taken me over 10 years of really hard graft, a ludicrous amount of time studying, scary tuition fees and countless mistakes to get to where I am.  I know lots.  This is a statement of fact, not a boast.  But I am still learning.


The margins in floristry are small and we work jolly hard, but the passion and enthusiasm for what we do is unmistakable. And we're generous souls, we are happy to help and advise wherever possible. So I completely understand if the DIY motivation is the joy of being involved in making the flowers.  But I find it confusing to meet Brides who have booked just beautiful, grand venues, spent serious pennies on exquisite designer gowns and then try to find ways of cutting the flower budget to the bone. I know everyone has different budgets for their wedding and I totally respect that and feel I'm inventive enough to help Brides find ways of achieving their 'look' as economically as possible. I guess to some, the flowers aren't that important - again, I respect that (although possibly don't understand it!!!).

Pretty mismatched bottles as table decorations

So back to one of the catalysts for this post. Team Campbell's had a big job to do a couple of weeks ago and I decided I wanted the designs to feature Spring scented flowers.  Now, they all open at different times, so I had tulips in the cold passageway in the dark, irises elsewhere, hyacinths in the warm and the anemones, wayward children that they are, did whatever they pleased! It's fair to say that anemones and I have issues.  I love them like an adoring parent and they treat me with what can only be described as disdain.  I bought 50 recently for Hannah and Greg's gorgeous winter wedding and managed to put one fully opened into her bouquet.  They just would not open.  No matter what I did.  Worse than that only around 12-15 were useable - the rest disintegrated and ended up in the bin.  Flowers are unpredictable.  There's a degree of expertise needed in dealing with them.

Which brings me to questioning if our knowledge is undervalued - sometimes the perception can be that floristry is a rather lovely hobby, and not a vocation which requires skill, imagination and creativity. I dislike being called a 'supplier' - I think it makes me sound like I'm an 80's photocopier salesman! I think of myself as a creative person who designs specifically for my lovely clients.  I've never made the same wedding bouquet twice.

Anyway, on with my anecdote.  I worked on a very prestigious event recently where someone had produced a number of floral designs which, quite frankly, made me angry.  Whoever made them categorically wasn't a florist. As a former teacher, I can also tell you without a shadow of a doubt, they have never received any floristry tuition. Ever. And I know it sounds ridiculous, but in some way I felt angry because what was in full view, seemed to somehow devalue what we do.

There's a certain amount of artifice in creating something which looks random

So returning to the question of DIY, I think it has it's place and, if you're a really chilled sort of bunny then by all means organise making your own table flowers for your wedding.  It's a lovely thing to want to do.  Everyone's different and I realise that not everyone's looking for perfection, but I do wonder if the trends for 'homemade homes' and superwomen crafters are selling just another ideal which isn't always easy to live up to?  A couple of years ago, I made my own wedding bouquet, but years ago when I worked in an Advertising Agency I'd have no more made my bouquet than have cut my own hair from a long bob to a pixie crop!

I guess ultimately, when it comes to DIY it should be rewarding and fun.  My advice would be not to overreach yourself, have a practice run and ask lots of questions and value your florist - they're professionals.  Oh, and for goodness sakes, don't buy anemones!!

If you're a DIY bride or you're planning either a full DIY wedding or DIY elements, I'd love to hear your stories and experiences.  We've lots of tutorials, YouTube videos and of course workshops to help you.  And, of course, if you need any help, tips or advice do ask - I am always happy to help.


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