I love the winter! I am a huge fan. The nights draw in, fires get lit, leaves rustle on the ground and our colour palette gets richer and warmer. My wedding was a winter one with a rich, dark green, velvet dress and glowing red flowers. So the poinsettia is a flower I adore.
Liz Anderson, the PR guru, quietly slid the idea of me doing a bouquet for the Stars For Europe poinsettia campaign into a conversation we were having about me assisting Okishima & Simmonds in producing their Living Poinsettia Dress for International Poinsettia Day 2015. Liz is one of life's persuasive people and before I really knew what had happened I found I had said yes!
The venue for this photoshoot was Hills Brothers nursery in Chichester where Greg and Morag Hill made us enormously welcome despite being right in the middle of their busiest season. Thousands of poinsettias were leaving their nursery every day bound of one of the country's largest supermarket chains, but they worked round us and we soon learnt how to jump the conveyor belts moving plants round.
The base of my bouquet was glorious, red flocked mitsumata branches. the texture of these is so warm and soft that it perfectly suits the season. Red waxed rose hips created the structure the rest of the flowers fitted into. I adore ranunculus and so used these papery petalled, rich red and zingy orange flowers to give real vibrancy at the centre of the design. Some elegant red nerines were the final components to create the base for my poinsettias.
Having the most incredible quality poinsettias to cut was such a treat! A quick 20 second dip in really hot water at 60 degrees stopped the sap from running and then moving them to cold water allowed the cut stem to drink. This treatment allows the cut flower to live for up to two weeks provided you protect it from cold draughts, just as you would a poinsettia plant. Out of water the cut flowers last about 4 to 5 hours.
Once all my poinsettias were tucked into the bouquet I wrapped the stems with red organza ribbon and then bound that with a gold aluminium wire to hold everything securely.
The bold lines of this bouquet celebrate the joyous feeling of this time of year and show off the stunning flowers of the poinsettia to perfection. I love to take familiar flowers and give them a twist, sometimes with an unusual combination of flowers and at other times, like here, by drawing on my competition work to use different techniques to create a bold, adventurous look for customers who know their style and want their flowers to stand out from the crowd.
Photoshoot funded by Stars for Europe
Photographs by Julian Winslow