Lavender Green Flowers has an enviable reputation for being one of the very best florists in London. Their depth of knowledge and the range of designs they offer is unsurpassed, and creative director Sue Barnes' ability to visualize new designs and sketch out ideas and concepts offers a unique service to every possible occasion or event.
For the past two decades, Lavender Green Flowers has been building lasting relationships with clients and are responsible for the flowers in the “VVIP” areas at Chelsea Flower Show, at Royal Ascot and the tennis championships at Queens and Wimbledon; not to mention adorning the church for Pippa Middleton's wedding. The latest fashions and trends are studied constantly to ensure informed advice and state of the art design.
With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding less than a month away - and with many society weddings and events under their belt - I was intrigued to know how Lavender Green take their wedding flowers to new and exciting heights, and how heritage and tradition is still a large part of the weddings of today.
Do you still see old-fashioned, wired wedding bouquets, or are natural, hand-tied bouquets still popular?
Wired bouquets are far more difficult to create but they are coming back. They are popular with brides who are looking for a more delicate, precise look and less picked-from-the-garden. Tie-bunches give you a bigger look. They are great for people who want something far more delicate, classic and understated, that might be more in keeping with their dress.
Do today’s bouquets still follow traditional style over more modern flower artistry? And is flower symbolism still important?
Flower symbolism is increasingly important - symbolism in general at weddings is so. Nobody wants a generic look anymore. Gone are the days when a ball of cultivated roses had the ‘wow’ factor. People want something that makes a statement and a signature of their own style. This is often not a ball of generic high street blooms. Modern flower artistry had a short window. Avant-garde displays were seen as being unusual at best, but they would quite often be wrong in the long term. Still, creating bouquets that have timeless beauty is what brides are looking for. They want something that they are proud to see in a photo on the mantle-piece in 20 years time.
Tell us about this year’s flower trends.
Either going back to classic, ivory, small designs that are really fragrant with delicate broken outside edges – i.e. not a tight ball – or really colourful, happy, wild bunches filled with oranges, yellows, reds, purples, like a wildflower meadow.
The first bouquets, in the Elizabethan age, were posies of aromatic herbs – how important is the scent for brides today?
For me, fragrance is absolutely essential. If you have fragrant flowers in your bouquet the scent will always stay with you and take you back to the day for years to come. A purely visual bouquet just can’t create that same sense of nostalgia. It reminds me of when I went house hunting in Spain many years ago. The courtyard of one property was filled with the scent of the flowers that I had at my wedding. Although I had seen 14 other properties that weekend I put the deposit down there and then...! We are often asked to make bouquets with flowers that remind brides of their mother or grandmother’s garden filled with things like sweet peas, lily of the valley and garden roses.
Where does Lavender Green find its inspiration? Do you have a signature bloom?
The inspiration comes from each individual client – no two are the same. We take a creative brief from the bride that incorporates not just a look and a colour palette but the atmosphere and the whole sensory experience she wants to create. We then interpret this with flowers. We always start by looking at the dress, as this says so much about the bride.
How much ribbon and fabric do you like to work with in your bouquets?
Very little. The way we guide brides in terms of how they hold their bouquet means that the ribbon covering is less important, although bouquets should always be exquisitely finished.
What is your most popular bloom to adorn a bouquet? Are roses still popular?
Yes, especially scented garden roses, but for me fragrant flowers such as lily of the valley, stephanotis and jasmine are hard to beat.
What flowers are easy to work with? And subsequently, what flowers prove difficult?!
Cultivated roses are the easiest by far as they have strong stems and they stay where you tell them to go! They don’t move and they stand up to temperature change well. More difficult flowers are jasmine, willowy poppies and fragile sweet peas, although they are increasingly in demand.
Bridal flowers are an extension of the bride’s personality; how do you help the bride choose the best floral combination?
We dress the dress. We sketch every single bride in her dress with a bouquet to ensure we have got the right style and size. We then look at flowers that are in season and we try to extract the right feel for that bride, taking in to consideration any flowers she loves or can’t stand.
What’s your top-tip for a new bride who’s about to embark upon the wonderful world of wedding flowers?
Do your homework. Not every florist will be right for you. Less is always more. Arrangements that are in proportion to each area will create far more impact than lots of smaller ill-thought out arrangements. Choose a person you trust and with who you have a great rapport, as these are the most important flowers you’ll ever receive in your life!
How do you work with seasonal themes and the availability of flowers at the time?
With over 30 years’ experience it is pretty easy to predict seasonal availability of every type of flower. If a bride requests unseasonal flowers we always suggest a seasonal option that we can guarantee will be available.
Daisies were traditionally given to bridesmaids – what’s the most popular posy for bridesmaids today?
Smaller versions of the bride’s bouquet will result in a coordinated look. In photos it looks so much better and as there are often so many other variables, so the flowers become a constant.
What’s the most extravagant bouquet Lavender Green’s ever made? Have you had any wild requests?
We have done wired bouquets where each of the 200 flower-heads were individually wired – they look fantastic but they take about 3 hours to produce therefore they are more costly. Often there are symbolic pieces of jewellery that brides want to have incorporated in. Family heirloom pieces can be tucked very neatly into the handle of the bouquet, as the ‘something borrowed’.
What’s been Lavender Green’s biggest wedding highlight?
Every time a bride sees her flowers and says ‘wow’. We always receive fabulous feedback both on the day and afterwards, and we love receiving letters with photos.
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