Gill McGregor December 2014

A  very festive sales table, a plant stall with seasonal foliage and refreshments of mince pies and stollen put us in a Christmas mood even before Gill presented her ‘Christmas Sparkle’ demonstration.

Gill’s love of foliage (often enhanced with a little glitter) was evident in all her arrangements. We started with one to put on the front step  to encourage Santa to visit. Blue pine, fatsia, laurel, red and silver birch , berried ivy, skimmia and dried bulrushes were all included before  artificial poinsettia and baubles were added.

We moved into the hall for the setting  for the second design. The container was a cocoa husk on a plinth and included a welcome wreath. Dracaena leaves formed the outline shape and were also used as tubes holding baubles. Kermit chrysanthemums, skimmia and yew were added before beautiful lime green orchids were used as the focal flower. The third arrangement was stunning with wonderful use of foliage and autumnal bronze flowers.  A more traditional design for a table arrangement was next.

We certainly had sparkle in the final two designs. The fifth one  used stars, black glittered birch  together with sprayed fatsia and strelitzia  leaves.   Strelitzia and  roses were just two of the flowers which provided  the wonderful contrasting orange  colour. The final design had even more glitz including  beaded coathangers, baubles, an orange bath puff  and a soft toy reindeer. No flowers but a fitting arrangement to put us all in the festive mood.

Thank you Gill for an entertaining evening, full of useful tips and ideas that we can  use at home and   inspiring designs with beautiful flowers and foliage – we all left feeling more ready for the preparations and the celebrations ahead.


Area AGM and Lunch November 5th 2014

A few members went to Broxbourne on November 5th. After the AGM and  an appetising  lunch we were entertained by ‘Take Three’ – Ian Buxton, Lee Berrill and Alan Smith. In addition to their wonderful floral art, there was humour and a real theatrical presentation – they started the demonstration as The Three Wise Men and finished as The Three Degrees!

The arrangements were based on Christmas  including  We Three Kings, Advent, Deck the Halls , I Saw Three Ships, Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland and  Star of Bethlehem.

Each individual arrangement  was beautiful but the variety of  shape, foliage, flowers, containers, Christmas sparkle  and accessories  produced  an absolutely stunning stage display. (I’m afraid we were too engrossed in the demonstration and performance to take detailed notes about each arrangement!)

The audience gave them a well deserved standing ovation at the end of the demonstration.

Just a couple of photographs below give a flavour of the afternoon.


Lisa Howarth November 2014

Times of Mellow Fruitfulness

Between the vibrant colours of summer and the rich colours of autumn leaves there is a time when the more subtle and calm colours of blackberry, burgundy, deep red and hints of peach and pink can be enjoyed and it was those colours which Lisa used to very good effect in this demonstration.

Her containers had a rustic theme and the arrangements in them were full of different textures and contrasts.  Red Fountain grass gave soft movement through the first design inside a basket woven from stems of pussy willow. The second arrangement in a beautiful piece of wood had a country look with tricoloured carnations and Avalanche cabbage roses.The third container linked Summer to Autumn with,a split basket filled with layered sun flowers, solidago (golden rod) and hypericum.

An interesting technique was used in the fourth arrangement when Lisa used a wedding bouquet holder covered in hessian in the centre of a wicker sphere. The foliage was off set on top of the sphere and then   burgundy lilies ‘Mambo ,white roses and purple dedrobium orchids were added. The fifth design was an Autumn basket with  the appearance of flowers laid across it.The final arrangement was in a foam sphere with the bottom sliced off it, placed in a large baluster shaped vase. Hydrangeas, roses, calla lilies and dendrobium orchids combined to make this a  beautiful  design.

The evening was educational and informative  and  throughout the demonstration we were given lots of valuable advice and “hints”  which included tips for conditioning and wiring flowers, how to “curve” calla-lilies, and the best way to make leaves shiny.

Thank you Lisa for a very enjoyable evening which  finished with happy raffle winners going home with beautiful arrangements of a manageable size.



Workshop with Ann Swain October 18th 2014

On Saturday October 18th several members and friends attended a workshop run by Ann Swain. The emphasis of the day was on stems – we only used 1-3 flowers all day! This was a challenge for some of us who feel we are less creative and artistic than others.

During the morning we concentrated on decorating a flower stem suitable for a modern bride to carry or to place in a narrow vase.  For the afternoon we decorated stems we had collected from our gardens – the results, as Ann had predicted were experimental and very individual.

We had all arrived ‘with the kitchen sink’ of accessories including wires, sisal ,wire mesh,  ribbons, wool, buttons, preserved plant materials  and lots of glue and all thought we hadn’t the right materials but it was amazing what was produced.

Thank you Ann for a very enjoyable and ‘different’ workshop , for your encouragement , ideas and positive,  constructive criticism. Thanks also to Ann G for organising it.

A few photos  below but they do not  do justice to the skill of the participants and the individuality of the designs.


Barry Grey October 2014 – Open Evening

Delicious  refreshments, the chance to buy tickets to win an arrangement, a stunning sales table, and  the opportunity  to support our charity (both by purchasing from the  well stocked  plant stall and the charity raffle) all added to the expectant and sociable atmosphere prior to the demonstration.

It was delightful to see so many visitors in the packed hall including area officers, members of local flower clubs and friends from as far away as Hereford.  Barry was given a very warm welcome. He is an international demonstrator and one of Britain’s most celebrated floral designers. He began  the evening by reading his own poem ‘ To tread a quiet pathway’.

Each of his arrangements represented a line or phrase from his reading:

  • Garden pathway-flowers within its borders
  • New hopes can be found
  • Snow shall fall and frost shall freeze
  • Blistered heat does scorch the air
  • Journey on a quest
  • For labours past
  • Stretch a dream to its limits far

Many varieties of garden and florist foliage were used ( the licuala palm was amazing) and flowers included his trademark orchids, nerines, carnations, Ecuadorean roses, strelitzia, lilies, proteas, and anthuriums  (to name a few!) to produce stunning arrangements ……….. but let the pictures below speak for themselves!

The demonstration was drawing to a close  and music resounded around the hall. The  audience sat spellbound as  Barry arranged a cascade of flowers in the centre of the stage – keeping his promise  at last year’s area meeting to  give us a stage full of stunning  flowers.

The standing ovation at the end of the evening signified the audience’s appreciation for his skill, vision and presentation.

Thank you Barry for a wonderful evening and to everyone else who contributed to make the evening such a success.

Jackie O’Hare September 2014

Did you know

  • alstromeria, the Peruvian Lily really came from Chile?
  • carnations are also known as gillyflowers and scaffold flowers (worn to prevent death at the scaffold)?
  • chrysanthemums are known as the Emperor’s Flower in Japan?
  • conkers keep spiders away?

These were just a few of the many interesting ‘facts’ that Jackie included in her ‘Flowers and Fables’ presentation.

The six arrangements were varied in shape and design. The first one included palms, rosemary, and viburnum tinus together with ‘Heaven’ roses and pink carnations.  Orchids and red twigs were eye-catching in the second arrangement in an ’egg timer’ container.  Further single orchid flowers in tubes covered in red wool extended the design and were a very memorable feature (and idea!)

An attractive design using a ‘tapestry of foliage’ as the background for another pink arrangement of roses, carnations and alstromeria was totally transformed when it was enclosed in a cage of snake grass. The fourth arrangement included eunomynus, ferns, bergenia leaves, willow twigs and grasses together with cabbages and chrysanthemums.

I was the lucky winner of the next design using liatris, alliums, carnations and cabbages with ivy as its prominent foliage together with  conifer and viburnum tinus. Holly, ivy and bergenia formed the background in the final arrangement  for  beautifully  coloured chrysanthemums and alstromeria together with alliums and liatris.

A very enjoyable and entertaining evening Jackie with lovely designs and ideas that we can take home and try- thank you.


Lyn Jones August 2014

Many flower clubs don’t have a demonstration in August, but at BFAS we have decided that as part of our commitment to education we will offer NAFAS trainee demonstrators and club members an opportunity for additional practise in front of an audience and this year we were especially pleased to welcome one of our own members, Lyn Jones.

Before the demonstration we were wondering about the title -”Memories from the Box” Was it a post box, a jewellry box or maybe a hat box? In fact, it was none of these, Lyn’s arrangements depicted some of the old favourites from the era before flat screen televisions when most homes had a tv set in the corner of the living room that was often referred to as ‘The Box’.

Lyn asked the audience to guess the names of the programmes she had chosen so we can’t spoil the fun for future audiences by giving the answers, but her background in craft and tv makeovers resulted in some original and creatively designed containers and props as you can see in the photos.

As a contrast for her flowers, Lyn used a variety of garden foliage from her own garden as well as some from friends, neighbours and other local sources (those who were there will know where we mean!) Three beautiful large headed white hydrangeas were added to the first design and the second used small tangerine gerberas and scarlet anthuriums. The third arrangement definitely had the ‘bling’ factor and included white carnations, pink roses and a mauve orchid.

For a change, we had refreshments midway through the presentation and it worked very well.

The fourth arrangement was a basket of garden flowers:- pink anenomes, pink larkspur, verbena, white agapanthus, michaelmas daisies and pink roses. For the next design, fatsias and ferns suggested a lush tropical feel and orange lilies completed the effect. The final arrangement reflected romance and centred around a large silver candelabra with foliage that complemented the beautiful red roses.

Well done Lyn and thank you for a lovely evening.


Moira Neville July 2014

We were delighted Moira managed to escape the chaos of the A14 and A421 to arrive in time to present  ‘The Gift’.  She described her demonstration as ‘traditional with a twist’. Each design represented a special Gift.

The first design, The Gift of Creation, used fatsia, phormium ( both leaves and flowers) aspidistra, artichokes, palms, purple liatris and shamrock chrysanthemums to represent the lush, vibrant and exotic Garden of Eden. Moira created some tension in the audience as she balanced the arrangement on one side of an attractive metal structure.

Adam the Gardener (with blue as the dominant colour ) and Eve using pink were the focus for the next two designs. In the first of these arrangements foliage included spotted laurel, helibore, aspidistra, euphorbia,  steel grass and hosta – several large leaves giving ‘a place of visual calm’ amongst veronica,  lime green spray chrysanths and very large alliums.  Midilino cane work was a feature of the Eve design. Moira used the canes to provide physical and visual movement, link colours and mechanics and to give an enclosed space. Phormium, verbascum, ivy, heuchera, sedum, cupressus, pink variegated photina and baby pink roses were all included, with  blocking used  to give visual impact.

The fourth design was The Gift of Choice . This arrangement had a European influence (‘using everything!’)  – based on a wreath ring covered in ivy,  phormium and aspidistra. Two phalaenopis orchid plants were the main feature with  the root system also used as part of the arrangement. It was finished off by including  apples: the ‘forbidden fruit’.

Next came The Gift of Love a red offset design  using bergenia, phormium, liatris, euonymus, aspidistra and  hypericum as a background for shamrock chrysanths and beautiful red roses

Amazing Grace was the final white and green design. This included leek heads, cupressus, fatsias, Paddy’s pride ivy, sarcossus, aspidistra and hostas with the white  being provided by beautiful lilies, delphiniums and Anastasia chrysanthemums.

A very enjoyable evening which encouraged us to consider giving our own designs a contemporary ‘twist’. The raffle winners went home very happy!


Alan Smith June 2014

Summer Symphony

The consensus at the end of the evening was that we hope it’s not another seven years before you come to BFAS again Alan!  A most entertaining, interesting and instructive meeting.

The dictionary definition of ‘symphony’ is  – ‘anything characterised by a harmonious combination of elements especially an effective combination of colour’  and that sums up Alan’s demonstration perfectly.  

This month we have listed separately the flowers and foliage for each design just to emphasise that it is the addition of the designer’s talent, flair and experience in putting them together that makes all the difference.

Design 1

Foliage- hosta, fatsia and bergenia leaves, small leafed laurel, variegated pittosporum.

 Flowers -pink clematis,  lilac  lisianthus, purple stocks, pink gerbera.

Design 2  based on a Dutch parallel design using vertical and horizontal lines of colour

 Foliage -beech, variegated hosta and bergenia leaves, acuba,  cupressus

 Flowers- blue delphiniums, mauve  alliums, mini yellow gerberas

Design 3

Foliage -phormium, hellebore and bergenia,leaves, skimmia, euronymous, acuba,  choisya sundance,

Flowers-red gerberas,

Design 4 A Study in Orange 

Foliage-privet, ferns, hosta leaves, box,

Flowers -orange carnations, mini orange gerberas, salmon coloured lilies

Design 5 Butterfly Tree

Foliage–periwinkle, variegated jasmine, hosta leaves, ferns,

Flowers-white roses, white lilies.

Silver butterflies

Design 6 

Foliage-beech, hosta, crocosmia and bergenia leaves, ferns, fatsias

Flowers-fuchsias, cerise carnations, Solomon’s seal, cardoons, red peonies, green Anastasia chrysanthemums, cerise pink stocks, lilac hydrangeas, pink phalaenopsis orchid

If you were inspired by Alan’s demonstration why not try to join our next workshop in October -they say practice makes perfect!