My Favourite Flower - Bea Andrews
Before I start, a little apology for being away so long. No excuse, other than I have been incredibly busy, the school summer holidays left me with some very tight deadlines at the beginning of this month, and a shocking amount of unanswered emails. Things are slowly returning to normal, but it is taking longer than I had hoped. Saying that, I am not complaining one iota, a few weeks in the sun with the girls is worth the payoff. But back to today's post. Before the heady days of summer really began, I paid a visit to a very lovely local florist, Bea Andrews, founder of Botanika, to talk about her favourite flower.
I actually discovered Bea's work through her husband, who happens to be my osteopath (if you are ever looking for one in Brighton, I can highly recommend him, so do let me know). We were chatting during my treatment and he very proudly mentioned Bea. When I got home, I hopped on to Instagram, and instantly fell in love with her style. I decided to get in touch with Bea and she kindly invited me along to their home for a cuppa, and a chance to look at her beautiful garden, where she grows some of the flowers she uses for her brides.
Bea has chosen something slightly different as her favourite flower, but I will let her tell you more ...
“Instead of choosing a flower that would be the star of the show such as a garden rose, or a beautiful dahlia both of which I adore, I thought I would mention some of the unsung heroes of my bouquets and arrangements. Small and more delicate additions that make such a big difference, I couldn’t work without them. These stems, foliages, berries and flowers were all picked from my garden, just a small selection really as there are so many other wonderful things I could have gathered from the surrounding countryside. As my garden is so small, all of the plants there I have chosen very carefully - they have to be useful for me as a florist and work hard over a long season while being also a bit special when it comes to shape, colour or texture. I love my garden as it is very beautiful and when I look at it reminds me of a ready made meadow flower arrangement.”
Silver Weeping Pear - Pyrus salicifolia pendula is a willow leaved ornamental pear with a soft silver colour reminding me of olive trees. Branches of these look fabulous in large arrangements but also a few small twigs here and there can add a lovely texture and movement to small vases.
Flowering oregano - I love using herbs for their scent but also delicate flowers. These oregano stems are great and long lasting in buttonholes and bridal hair flowers.
Crabapples - from the early spring flowers to their fruits turning colour in summer and then ripening in autumn, these trees are invaluable and I am planning to plant more on my allotment. They lift tablescapes and tablecentre flowers to another level and give a painterly botanical look to each setting.
Honeysuckle trailing stems and jasmine flowering stems - these are ingredients in many of my bouquets. But also often make an instant flower crown just using these single stems to make a simple flower girl hair garland. They were so wonderful at the school’s summer fete this year where we had a long queue of little girls waiting and had to be quick with our wiring!
Sweet pea “Henry Cecil” - my favourite sweet pea this year. It has a wonderful, and has an unusual old fashioned look about it with the soft blue veins through the petals. It blends with the classic pastel roses so well and has a strong scent and long stems.
Chocolate Cosmos - I will be planting up all of my terracotta pots around the garden with this next year. Grown from tuber like dahlias, it is a very strong and hard working plant, giving little delicate chocolate flowers to add to arrangements all summer long. I find the homegrown ones last and stand up best. As with all summer flowers, this also has a shelf life on the plant just like dahlias. Cut them as the flower just opens and they will have a long vase and bouquet life.
Alpine strawberries - flowering stems with berries, when I use these in buttonholes or small posies, they make everyone smile. They last well as cut flowers in little bud vases too.
Purple hazel - I like any foliage that gives a different texture or colour, but these blend particularly well with the blush and pastel colour palette. I use ordinary hazel a lot but like to add a few stems of these from my garden too. The younger shoots have a deeper plum colour while the older branches bear more rusty, lighter hues.
Maidenhair fern - very delicate and I haven’t quite mastered growing them in their right environment! But the few little plants I have, give me small stems of delicate foliage with their light green botanical shaped leaves.
Clematis - flowering and trailing stems of these make very good cut flowers and one of my favourite trailing bouquet ingredient. In the autumn I pick the fluffy seedpods of old man’s beard for more autumnal, wintery arrangements.
Ammi majus - or Bishop’s Flower, I love this plant at every stage of its flowering. The smaller young flower heads are fantastic for little posies and buttonhole flowers, the larger open white heads are so versatile in summer meadow style arrangements. Then when it finishes flowering the seedheads also keep well and the whole plant makes an excellent foliage and structural ingredient.
Climbing rose “Awakening” - I added lots of new roses to my garden this year, particularly climbers to utilise the fences and vertical structures as my garden is so small. This one has smaller perfectly shaped multi-head flower stems with a wonderful scent, with its versatile pale pink palette and old fashioned shape I thoroughly recommend it to use in more relaxed, vintage style settings.
Heuchera - I started to use these plants for the first time this year and found their flowers are great to add to bouquets with a meadow feel, they are long stemmed and long lasting. I also love the foliage. There are so many varieties around and some of their leaves are on very long stalks so easy to add to bouquets and I also use them a lot in buttonholes and more delicate hair flowers. They have a bit of a leathery feel to them and come in many shades of plums, chocolates, marmalade colours that I love.
All of these special little flowers and foliages are great mixed with other more substantial flowers but equally pretty displayed in small single stem vases or a group of little bud vases in the bathroom, side tables and bedrooms."
You can find Bea here: