Frankfurt Christmas Market 7th December 2013


An outing not centred around flowers was a bit of a departure for us, but our trip to Birmingham Christmas market went very well. Special thanks to Rosemary who rallied her friends’ support to make the trip viable. You know, flower club people are such nice people.

Surprisingly, the market was not easy to find , but I have sent a message to say that as non-locals we would have appreciated more way-finding information.

On the whole the stall holders were friendly and helpful, and I think the market was representative of the flavour of the markets in Germany. It is true that there were several stalls of the same type, but the same often applies to any British market. As a group we enjoyed the delights of German mulled wine (Gluhwein), grilled sausages, pretzels, gingerbread, crepes and chocolate covered marshmallows. There were hand made wooden toys, Christmas decorations and jewellery for sale as well as a number of other different craft stalls. With music to listen to and street entertainers to watch, the time passed very quickly and it was late in the day before we realised our feet were aching.

A good day out.

PS. To make you smile –

Sheila asked one of the stall holders whether they sold a particular type of German rum and was told they only had French wines!!

A few photographs give an indication of the atmosphere  (with thanks to Ikuyo for her contribution)

Christmas Tree Festival December 2013

Thank you and well done to Lyn J and Doreen W  for entering a BFAS tree in the Christmas Tree Festival at St Pauls.

The lights inside the church from the sixty- one trees made it very difficult to take photographs which do justice to our tree but just a couple are included.

Julie Woods December 2013

A Christmas feel welcomed members and friends to our final meeting of 2013. Thank you to everyone who provided and bought items  at  the plant stall (with holly, evergreens, pine and wreaths) and the Christmas parcels stall. Both of these raised additional money for our charity Leukaemia Research Bedford Branch. The sales table again was attractive and well stocked with a wide variety of general and seasonal items

We were pleased to welcome one of our own members, Julie Woods, with her demonstration ‘Let the Festivities Begin’. The six arrangements were very different in colour, shape and design but all were enhanced by the inclusion of a wide variety of foliage and by the use of Christmas glitter, baubles  and  decorations.

The first design included aspidistra leaves, arbutus, variegated hedera and loops of bound steel grass as a background for ornithigolam flowers and lime centred  gerberinas.  A beautiful arrangement on a posy pad.

 Red carnations, merlot spray chrysanthemums and poinsettia  provided the colour for The Santa arrangement which also used birch twigs, elaeagnus, holly and yew, with bergenia leaves providing a quiet area for the eyes to rest. Santa was given a cracker as were several members of the audience who shared the jokes with us. The next design, for a table centre, used virburnum bodnantense, rubus tricolor, bay, holly and fern. The colours of the spray roses, Singapore orchids and lilies complemented the glass container filled with baubles and  beads.       

The next design had us looking forward to planning holidays in warmer climes but also reminded us of the spices we use over the festive season. Julie used a wonderful structure of her own design, which was decorated with apples, oranges, peppers and cinnamon to display pincushion proteas, spray roses  and celosia with palm,  gilded fatsia, choisya and monstera foliage. Carols and Nativity were the inspiration for the fifth arrangement in two baskets linked by woven phormium leaves.  Amongst the foliage of cycas leaves, spindleberry, fatsia and euonymous, the beautifully coloured Gabriel anthuriums, large speciality chrysanthemums and cymbidium provided a  wonderful contrast to the previous design.

The final arrangement used an aluminium trough container decorated with cones, reminding us of winter Christmas scenes. The varied and colourful foliage included rhamnus, curly leaved hedera, variegated viburnum tinus, contorted willow and arum itallcum.  Together with snowy (cotton wool) twigs and silver leaves, it was a lovely display even before Julie added avalanche roses, brassica, longiflorum lilies and gypsophila.

 Julie completed the final touches to her  stunning  stage display as Aled Jones sang Walking in the Air. An inspiring evening  ensured everyone left the meeting feeling  ready for the preparations and the celebrations ahead.

Christmas workshop with Lesley Sturdy November 2013

On Saturday November 14 several members and friends attended a Christmas Workshop led by Lesley Sturdy at Kempston Church Hall.

Lesley  demonstrated three designs of  table decorations and door hangings after  which  members could experiment with their own ideas on one or all of the arrangements. She also  brought a couple of other  completed designs to inspire us using a variety of different materials.

A wide variation  of arrangements were produced from the initial ideas and everyone had a very enjoyable day and were delighted to be able to take home finished designs which can be modified or replicated for Christmas.

With many thanks to Lesley Sturdy for a stimulating , enjoyable and helpful day and to Ann G for organising it.

Gill Shanks November 2013

A Blooming Good Read was the theme of the evening as we welcomed Gill Shanks on November 5th.

The first design was based on My Life with Flowers and was a tribute to Julia Clements who promoted flower arranging worldwide. The focal point was arum itallicum pictum together with privet, pink lilies, roses and gerbera.

A quote from Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews provided a very different type of design; a seed collage.

A NAFAS publication Leaf Techniques Part One was the inspiration for the next green and white arrangement which included knotted iris leaves, curled bergenia leaves and aspidistra leaves. The main flowers were alstromeria, freesia and white ranunculus.

The fourth arrangement was influenced by the TV programme Changing Rooms and Laurence LLewelyn-Bowen’s book Design Rules. Two circles using felt, string and decorative wire in orange and burgundy gave a focus for a design incorporating vertical lines of orange lilies and burgundy roses with fern, viburnum tinus, rubus tricolour and pyracantha. The design was completed using an orchid and  orange peppers.                          .

The design based on the popular novel The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas used viburnum tinus, agapanthus, carnations, roses and gypsophilia depicting the mountains, lakes and sky of India described in the book.  

Back to NAFAS and The Flower Arranger for the next arrangement which included variegated hedera, cotoneaster, choisya and ruscus together with yellow chrysanthemums, gerbera and spray roses.

The final green design was a tribute to Dublin  and Maeve Binchy’s novels particularly Tara Road.  A structure of felt and wool was incorporated in the arrangement which used fatsia, aspidistra, eucalyptus, cabbages, carnations, hydrangea and chrysanthemums.

These very varied arrangments produced a very attractive and much appreciated stage display at the end of the evening.

Gill’s resume of each book gave an interesting and additional dimension to the evening. She also reminded us of several flower arranging techniques and principles including the mnemonic Big Pink Stones Roll Constantly Down Hill for the need to incorporate Balance, Proportion, Scale, Contrast Dominance and Harmony into our designs.

Open meeting with Michael Bowyer October 2013

On October 1st we welcomed Michael Bowyer, national demonstrator, to our well attended Open Meeting.

The atmosphere before the meeting was expectant and sociable with lovely refreshments available and the chance to buy from well stocked produce and plant stalls with the sales tableincluding many new items. Thank you to members who contributed items for the stalls and also  helped to  raise funds for our charity.

Michael’s  ‘Autumn Splendour’ presentation produced a stunning stage display and together with his informative and humorous commentary, which was accompanied by music, ensured everyone had a very enjoyable evening.

His first arrangement in typical autumn colours and surrounded by pumpkins and fir cones used viburnum, Chinese lanterns and spindleberry together with sunflowers and carnations.

Michael’s  ‘Polo’ design was a complete contrast to the first with manipulated aspidistra leaves, dracaena and anthuriums.

A parallel style was used for his third design with sulphur heart,  hedera,  philadelphus and forsythia forming the base for  perennial gentians, nerines, Aqua roses, mini kinzi gerbera and poppy seed heads. As Michael put the finishing touches to his design we listened to Edmund Hockridge singing ‘I Leave My Heart in An English Garden’

 The winner of the next  design needed a large car to transport it home! It included gladioli, Japanese bog plant, miscanthus, pittisporum, sedum, cabbages, gerbera, Avalanche roses, antirrhinums, and cream carnations – to name a few!  A stunning arrangement which provided a magnificent centrepiece for the back of the stage.

The fifth arrangement was more retro in design ( accompanied by music from The Artist) and a contrast in colour (pinks and  mauves) and included artemisia, hydrangea, abelia grandiflora, statice, carnations, veronica and roses (Cool Waters and Memory Lane). The effect of the arrangement was further enhanced by the props included in the display.

Twisted dried argava  leaves formed the basic shape of the next design with fatsia leaves and Pistache anthuriums.

Back to autumn tints for the final design with copper beech, rose hips, red oak ,pink euonymus berries and Chinese lanterns forming the basis to display orange gladioli, orange lilies, chrysanthemums and carnations.

The inclusion of so many different types of  foliage and flowers was a real feature of the arrangements which were so varied in colour, texture and shape.  The standing ovation for Michael at the end of the evening signified the audience’s appreciation for his  skill, vision and presentation.

A few photographs below give a flavour of the evening but do not always do justice to the intricacies of the arrangements.

Rekha Naidoo September 2013

This month we welcomed Rekha Naidoo who presented  ‘A Taste of India’

Her designs all, in some way, represented the culture, flora, landscape or foliage of India together with the sparkle and embellishment we associate with Indian dress. Her commentary also gave us an interesting insight into Indian culture especially Indian weddings.

The first arrangement was a spice design. This incorporated cinnamon sticks, cardamom, bay leaves, clove balls, mintola and tamarind pods which provided a wonderful background for ginger flowers, heliconia and gloriosa lilies.

Red anthuriums and prada carnations for contrast were the main flowers in  a beautiful Paisley design container  made from gold wire with colourful Indian buttons.

The third arrangement represented the Indian sunshine which included yellow and orange roses embellished with gold twigs.

The bead design in a hot pink vase included Banyan foliage (the national tree of India)  with lisianthus, gerbera, veronica, zinnias, antirhinums and dahlias.

The monochromatic white design representing the Taj Mahal incorporated salal leaves, eucalyptus, hydrangea, white roses, stocks and gerbera embellished with white shiny beads,

The final large arrangement was The Bird design  where palm leaves, hebe, hosta and dracaena formed a background for strelitzia (which grow wild in India) and shamrock chrysanthemums. This time the arrangement was embellished with peacock feathers.

A really different,  interesting and enjoyable evening which resulted in a stunning display of arrangements.


Terry Babbage August 2013

On August 6 we welcomed Terry Babbage, a trainee demonstrator  to present Odd Pots. His pots/containers were varied in design, size and material (including crushed paper,  metal – the duck and tap ,drift wood  and glass)

Terry’s retirement from the clothing industry, where colour had been a major focus of his work, gave him an opportunity to develop his interest in flower arranging.

The demonstration was different and interesting in that he produced five monochromatic designs (green, white, red, orange and pink) using a variety of flowers including roses, gerberas, carnations, chrysanthemums, anthuriums and eustoma.

Terry’s final arrangement  used a mixture of all the flowers he had used in his other designs: a real contrast to the previous five.

Everyone enjoyed his commentary – humorous, anecdotal, and informative. We wish him well in his demonstrator exams.

Jane Ellis July 2013

It was good to welcome Jane back to BFAS to present Summer Serenade. Music accompanied the presentation but the DVD player had a mind of its own and decided which track and when to play! Thank you, Jane, for unintentionally including more humour  into the evening  as well as producing your wonderful designs.

Jane’s first design was a basket arrangement representing ‘ An English  Country Garden’ involving many cottage garden flowers including delphiniums, stocks, alchemilla mollis and paeonies. We went to a tropical island for the second design using a wonderful structure ( a snake, or a sailing ship?). Cordylines, aspidistra, palms and mahonia gave a wonderful background for strlitizia, anthuriums and curcuma.

The ‘Sun has got his hat on’ accompanied the next arrangement which was a lovely foliage design even before the sunflowers and centaurea  were added. The knickerbocker glory design was accompanied by Katherine Jenkins singing ‘O sole mio’. Groups of colour, texture and variation in height represented ice creams and sorbets using carnations, eryngium and pink ice protea created rhythm of movement  with viburnum, pittisporum and  rhododendron leaves before being topped with liatris for the spoons or wafers.

The fifth design was accompanied by ‘The Banks of Green Willow’ with roses and pinhead protea alongside euonymus, bergenia leaves and kangaroo paws. A beautiful sunset was the final arrangement using a variety of foliage and flowers including weeping cotoneaster, escallonia, mahonia berries, amaranthus, roses, callas and dendrobium orchids.

The final stage display was  stunning and colourful  and sent us all home hoping for the beautiful summer weather that we were being promised for the following week.

A few photographs are below.