An inspirational escape to Northern England

 
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In July I flew to Manchester for a few days to meet floral designer Fiona who runs Firenza Floral Designer (she was listed by the Telegraph as one of the 20 top florist in the country). I’ve been following her work  and I like very much her style, so I decided to have a one to one workshop.

It was a beautiful sunny day  when I  met Fiona surrounded by  her dogs in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside. We chatted in her romantic, peaceful garden and it was hugely inspirational to compare our styles. We both discovered that our main source of inspiration came from nature.

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Als she showed me how to create one of her unique bouquets, I felt elated at designing something so different to my usual style.

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and beau

Ph @Belle and beau

With the same flowers we both made completely different creations.

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

Over lunch in the sunny garden I got to know Holly an incredible photographer who took some beautiful photos of the day.

What do you do to find inspiration?

Ph @Belle and Beau

Ph @Belle and Beau

 
 

the magical world of pictures meets the magical world of flowers

 
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I’ve been always attracted to stationary, paper and drawings and that’s the reason why I want to introduce you to a group of talented young girls who goes by the name of  “This is Fairground”. They saw the light 6 months ago when Rebecca, Jesna and Petra decided to turn their love for illustrations into an adventure.

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They deal with every aspect of wedding stationery,  birthday invitations and every type of special occasion, from the inspirational moodboards right down to thank you cards. All their graphic work is inspired by their passions: music, art, video, cinema and travel.

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When I first read their “about page”  I was very intrigued with how they described their work:” We adore every kind of paper. We mostly love creating wonderful tales tailor made for you, so that you can keep them as a reminder of your happiest moment… We create magic. We take you back to the fairground”.

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In their work nature, flowers and colours are essential and are perfectly matched with the way I create with flowers.

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In December we started with a Christmas card. They immediately understood what I wanted to transmit: joy, light heartedness and magic.

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In January I finally found a way to mix photos and illustrations. I talked about  this project with them and so the drawings on my wedding page became reality.

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And what about you?  Do you prefer images or illustrations? Let me know!

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A peak behind the scenes of a country chic picnic

 
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A country chic picnic is  an unusual way  to celebrate  your wedding reception, a birthday or a bridal shower. I’d been thinking about this ideas for quite a long time. Then when I met Orietta at Relais Corte Guastalla I knew that I’d found the perfect  location. So a couple of days later  I decided to organize an inspirational picnic shoot with: Orietta, Cristiana, Manuela an Marco.

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

Let me introduce you to this wonderful team:

Orietta and her husband who welcomed us in their fabulous park and villa.

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

Manuela Piccoli a romantic interior designer who’s passionate about shabby chic! She spends most of her time at antique markets in France searching for unique pieces. She turned the park into a magical setting with wrought iron lanterns, floral patterned armchairs and soft mauve velvet cushions. She laid out a white linen tablecloth on the grass with floral bone china dishes, French silver cutlery and crystal glasses.

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

Marco Bravi and his son always manage to capture incredible emotional moments.

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

Cristiana, a very capable wedding planner coordinated the whole day magnificently.

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

My job was to organize the flowers. In keeping with the country theme I chose delicate wild flowers paired with luxurious peonies, elegant roses together with olive, rosemary and seasonal greenery.

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

The mood was: fresh and sparkling, romantic and elegant with a retro feel about it.

These were some of the behind the scenes moments.

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

Check my blog tomorrow for the picnic package details.

@ Marco Bravi

@ Marco Bravi

Thanks to Gaiadi for the stationary!

 
 

An autumn wedding with an essential flower

 
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Hi again, hope you had a good summer I’d a splendid one. As the leaves are starting to fall I thought I’d tell you about a wonderful autumn wedding I did last year.

Paula and Adam are a lovely couple who live in London and wanted to celebrate their union in Northern Italy. They chose the romantic location of Valpolicella amidst the vineyards.

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Paula had a very clear idea of the style, the hues and the atmosphere that she wanted for their wedding. Being passionate about flowers herself it was important that they played an important role on their special day.

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Constance Spry the English floral designer was a source of inspiration for Paula. This innovative floral designer was behind the creation for Elizabeth II’s coronation and many other royal events. She was a very strong, independent woman, passionate about flowers who brought flowers to the masses. Nowadays her elegant and natural style is very much in vogue and she wrote many books about floral design.

Going back to Paula’s wedding she chose a palette made up of different shades of bordeaux, burgundy, green and cream. A touch of light peach was added to give light and to create and edgy contrast. The chocolate hue of her moodboard conveyed elegance, smoothness and consistency.

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For the flowers we chose:

  • Dahlia "dark chocolate", a flower with a dramatic red-chocolate colour;
  • Dahlia “cafè au Lait” which I love deeply and its sole presence brightens up every floral arrangement;
  • Cosmos an ethereal flower with a bold almost black hue and velvet petals (check out my link);
  • Stonecrop and Amnivisnaga, the first is fleshy and the second has a vintage lace look;
  • Berries of black and red Viburnun, pink Symphoricarpos, peach St. John’s Wort and branches of small green rosehips;
  • Foliage of different shades together with the unique burgundy violet Cotinus.

And last but not least black grapes and pomegranates were placed on each table for good luck.

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Paula’s gown  was simple in style and light golding colour, a perfect background for her beautiful, big bridal bouquet. The curvaceous branches of green rosehip and cosmos gave a lightness and flow to it.

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As you can see from the photos the final result was stunning"!

Take a look for yourself and let me know what you think.

PH: Dave Watts

Some photos are from Pinterest and some are mine.

 

A JOURNAL OF THE INTENSIVE TWO-DAY WORKSHOP

 
 
 
 

It’s been a few months since  Marco Bravi gave me the photos of the last intensive floral workshop which I held in February. In the meantime I’ve restyled my website, a hard but rewarding task and I’ve launched a new series of floral workshop focused on wedding and event design.

When I saw the images for the first time I was left speechless. It was incredible what Marco managed to capture through his lens. Small details about the location were brought to light, the concentration, attention and joy on the faces of the participants. It was wonderful to see each participant opening up to this new world and growing in knowledge.

Being spring, I was spoiled for choice by the variety of species and colours of the flowers. From tulips to ranunculus, hyacinths, anemones right down to the intense blue iris.

If you would like to know more about my intensive workshop click on the link for more information.

Before leaving to enjoy the images I would like to thank  all the attendees, Chiara, Federica, Bianca, Martina, Samantha, Sara, Caterina, Arianna e Cinzia, Marco for the amazing  photos, and Giulia the owner of Villa La Valverde for her wonderful hospitality.

 

discovering hellebore

 
 

Today I’m going to tell you all about my morning with Laura the owner of “The Unsual Garden” where I had the pleasure of discovering new varieties of hellebore. I met Laura in September in Mantua where she was showing off her recent crop of tulip, daffodil and iris bulbs. I immediately bought some colorful tulips and daffodil and so now I can’t wait to see them bloom. In the last few months I’ve been keeping in touch with her in order to know when the hellebore was ready to blossom. Usually they start blossoming in December but this year it was delayed due to lack of rain and the intense cold. Finally the message arrived and so I jumped into the car and went to see her.

Twenty years ago Laura and two families bought a piece of land where they built their homes. They left the garden unfenced so as to enjoy the countryside at its best. On clear days they have an amazing view over lake Garda and the nearby mountains and it’s a haven of peace and tranquility.

In spite of the greyish day, the garden had a magical atmosphere. I was immediately attracted to an impressive tree boasting tiny red apples and to delicate bunches of Viburnum dawn foresi. Laura was the perfect host accompanying me to explore her garden, pointing out the different varieties of hellebore scattered all over the garden. I even discovered some uncommon ones such as: hellebore picotee with delicate burgundy veining, a polka dot variety, a doubled petal one and even a blue one (I couldn’t resist buying one of the blue ones and I can’t wait to see it bloom).

Having spend a wonderful morning with Laura I’m anxious to return in April when the garden will be in full bloom.

Just a word about caring for your hellebore. It’s a hardy perennial, rustic plant and starts blooming at the beginning of winter until April. This plant likes half shade, and in April when it finishes blossoming it’s essential to keep it in the shade until autumn. In the Uk and northern America it‘s also known as the Christmas rose as it was traditionally used as a Christmas decoration. The most common variety is the Helleborus niger with its pure white flowers.

Hope you’re keeping busy in the garden as spring is on its way!

See you next time!

 
 

a December wedding

 
 

The photos speak for themselves, it was the wonderful winter wedding of Chiara and Alessio. As you can see the bride was radiant, sweet and romantic.

Chiara and I met for the first time in spring. During our meeting she expressed the desire to use red as the main colour for their day. So the floral moodboard I proposed was: white and red anemones, double red tulips, white and red ranunculus, berries, small apples, dried oranges, rosehips, silver pine, Norway pine, silver and green cypress.

Chiara chose the beautiful church of St. Zeno in Verona for her special day. It boasts many beautiful and opulent frescos, in particular the magnificent Mantegna altarpiece by one of the most famous Italian Renaissance painters. I suggested a neutral palette for the floral decorations white, different shades of green and silvery-grey. These colours enhanced both the beauty of the church and flowers.

With a snow white bridal gown it was essential a touch of red. Red rosehips were added to pure white anemones, ranunculus and small white rose buds. With a touch of red lipstick the bride was ready.

Bright red took center stage throughout the decorations: from the place setting to the centerpiece, right down to the wedding cake decoration. For each table I created colorful floral compositions wrapped in soft white linen and for the bride&groom’s table there were some small “floral cakes”. For each guest there was a small pine branch with a little red apple, and a cascade of red flowers for the wedding cake.

I would like to thank Chiara, Alessio and Paolo (the photographer) once again for letting me share their unique day.

 
 

anemones

 
 

In the winter flower gallery let us spare some time to better get acquainted with anemones. You’ll learn to love this graceful flower little by little. Anemones are so unpretentious and shy, always huddled together with their blossoms tightly closed as though they’re hiding a secret.

Once you buy them you need to arm yourself with plenty of patience. They will slowly reveal themselves like dancers doing pirouettes in light voile skirts. As the blossoms open up, they finally show off their dramatic black centre surrounded by bright coloured petals. We are spoilt for choice with all the variety of colours. From pure white, ideal for a winter bouquet to vivid red, perfect for Christmas and St. Valentine’s, right down to timeless elegant burgundy.

Here are some practical tips for caring for your anemones:

  • the hollow stems are very delicate so handle them carefully
  • they don’t need a lot of water (maximum 5 cm)
  • they’ll grow so keep this in mind when creating your floral arrangement
  • buy them at least 3 days before making your floral arrangement

I came across these photos of anemones and I was fascinated by them. This shots were taken by Jessica a Californian floral designer, who revealed that anemones are her favourite flowers. I think she managed to capture all their beauty, what do you think?

Which are your favourite winter flower? Let me know!

 
 

festive flowers for your Christmas table

 
 

To create an elegant Christmas table I was inspired by this blue tableware from the designer store Froh & Sinn in Zurich. I suggest a welcome floral arrangement in a light blue vase if possible, 3 bouquets of white roses for your centrepiece and a small bouquet for each guest placed on a blue napkin. Add a cozy atmosphere lots of snow and candlelight for some true festive spirit.

For the welcome floral arrangement, you will need:

  • 1 medium branch of Norway pine
  • 1 medium branch of silver pine
  • 2 small branches of cypress with pine cones
  • 2 berries of silver brunia
  • 2 berries of white St. John’s Wort
  • 1 stem of blue Sea Holly

    Start with 2 slightly overlapping big branches, add some silver cypress at different heights and finish with a bunch of berries on the front. To add some sparkle thread a string of led lights among the branches.

For the rose bouquets, you will need:

  • 6 stems of fully blossomed white roses
  • spruce (as much as you may need)

First remove all the leaves from each stem and create your bouquet using the criss-cross technique (have a look at the video in the link). Finally cover all the stems with small branches of spruce that you prepared earlier and tie with a ribbon.

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If you need some more tips for decorating your Christmas table please send me an e-mail, I’ll be happy to answer you. I look forward to seeing your creations!

If you want to brush up on your flower arranging skills or even give a workshop as a gift, don’t hesitate to contact me. Remember my workshops are open to everyone no matter what your level, just the only essential ingredient is passion!

Don’t forget my next workshop will be just before St. Valentine to help you create a special bouquet (see link for details).

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and see you in January 2017!

 
 

4 essential floral design rules to create yours decorations

 
 

As Christmas time is approaching, I would like to share with you 4 essential floral design rules which can be very useful for decorating the Christmas dinner table or even for a birthday party or a wedding.

To show you what I mean let’s take an example of a creation I made in February. The task was to create a complete inspirational scenery for a wedding setting.

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1. COLOUR

The first rule is to choose a colour or a palette of colours (my advice maximum 3). It will be then easier to make all the other choices. Possible colour combinations can be based on tones, contrasting colours or even neighbouring colours on the colour wheel.

For this particular work I chose a delicate pink and white palette with neutral green as a base. Be careful not to gather too many colours as there is no place for the eye to rest.

2. MOODBOARD

It’s essential to create a moodboard in order to find out your tastes, ideas and style. Different types of magazines are great for providing inspiration. Pinterest is fantastic for helping you wrap up your ideas. The important thing is to go with the flow and not have too many preconceptions. Have a look at my Christmas board on Pinterest.

3. LESS IS MORE

It’s important to keep in mind the location and what is at your disposal. Remember to keep it well balanced and don’t go overboard: less is more. Try to focus your attention on one element which could be either the flowers, the tablecloth colour or the place setting, the others elements will be the backdrop.

4. CONTEXTUALIZE

Always keep in mind where you are going to do your creation, the colours that are already there, the interior design, the style and what you have. For example, for your wedding if you’ve already chosen the location, the style of all the floral decorations has to be in harmony with the setting.

Just going back to the scene I created in February my starting point for every single choice was a big glass wall. I imagined it to be a corner of a country winter garden, so the style was romantic with a vintage accent.

In a nutshell, always follow these rules whether it to be a dinner with friends, a photo shoot or any special event.

In the next post I’ll be giving you some ideas on how to decorate your home for Christmas.

Let me know what you think!

The location and all materials are from Ambroso.
Marco Bravi was the photographer.

 
 

a journal on our two-day workshop

 
 

During the first week-end in July I organized a floral intensive workshop. Two days fully immersed in the floral world. The main objective was to give the theoretical and practical know how to get started in the art of floral design.

The course was held in the amazing Villa La Valverde a country house set in the nearby Verona countryside.

While I was preparing the course and deciding which flowers to use I realized that the essential element was colour. On Saturday the floral arrangements were: a classical, white bouquet of roses and a floral garden composition. While doing the classical one the group learned the basic criss-cross technique useful for the creation of all kinds of bouquets. For the floral arrangement in sponge I focused on different shades of pink.

On Sunday we started with the creation of a natural, yet romantic bouquet and a floral arrangement with flowers, fruit and vegetables. For the natural bouquet I chose flowers which aren’t often used together with contrasting colours to give it an edge. The floral arrangement in sponge was made using different shapes and materials styled together with the flowers.

It always amazes me how each of us expresses ourselves through flowers. There can be flowers that we love more, colours which don’t resonate with us, materials and shapes with which we are more comfortable. The whole journey is a continuous discovery and also a chance to get out of our comfort zone.

Over the two days while chatting over a coffee we got to know each other better and shared our ideas.

At the end of the course, everyone proudly took home not only their beautiful arrangements but a wealth of information. Throughout this intensive experience, I also learned a lot. It was a pleasure and a privilege to accompany these passionate and motivated people trough this magical and marvelous world.

 
 

flowers for an intimate wedding

 
 

An intimate wedding on a bright May day. Matanja and Anton, a young German couple decided to get married here in Verona and, asked me to do all the floral arrangements. A blissful carefree wedding in the company of a few close friends and relatives.

Beforehand Matanja and I had a nice chat about style, flowers and colours. The couple wanted a very small and romantic wedding. They also wanted it to be informal but with a special attention to detail. Matanja adored all shades of punk from the most dramtic tone to the most delicate one. A dash of mauve and a touch of light green completed here moodboard. May with its huge variety of flowers was the perfect month to fulfil her wish. Peonies in two shades of pink took pride of place in the arrangement. These were complemented by syringa lills with its elegant hint of mauve, lavender, ligh green viburnum, depp pink alstilbe, light pink eustoma and an outstanding purple scabiosa. It was a striking but well balanced combination.

The flowers had to make every place special and unforgettable:from the romatic villa, Juliet’s tomb whre the ceremony was taking place and the Piazza for the aperitifs.

In keeping with the wedding I created all the arrangements in a natural yet elegant style. The pale pink of Matanja’s short lace dress was the perfect contrast to deep purple of her head wreath and bouquet.

The flowers had to make every place special and unforgettable:from the romatic villa, Juliet’s tomb whre the ceremony was taking place and the Piazza for the aperitifs.

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The wedding day.

Upon my arrival at the villa I was immediately immerses in a relaxed and happy atmosphere. Everybody was getting ready maidt laughter and music.

At 10 o’colock the couple and their guests strolled down the road to Juliet’s tomb. After a short moving ceremony the couple walked through to the intimate courtyard where tey were greeted with bubbles and joy.

Verona is the perfect backdrop for a dream wedding.
Its locations include stunning Ponte Pietra, lively Piazza delle Erbe and the elegant Giusti’s garden to name but a few.

A special thenks to Sergio Sarnicola for his wonderful pictures.

 

 
 

3 tips for a centre-piece with flowers from your gardens

 
 

Looking at the gardens so full of blooming flowers I thought about making a simple centre-piece with what nature offers us. I decided to create the arrangement working with just one colour and its different shades and consistencies.

The hue that I chose was the glorious red of my geraniums. You’re probably asking why I started with the colour and not the flowers. The reason being it narrows down the variety available. It’s essential to stick to one shade or a colour scheme when choosing the flowers you’re going to use. Keeping in mind this rule allows us the freedom to select the flowers and focus on the variety of shades, shapes and texture. I finally decided to match the geraniums with some oleander flowers and roses all with different hues of red.

Yesterday while I was on my way home, a blooming blackberry bush caught my eye. The graceful and tiny flowers seemed to have being drawn by children and are a pleasant reminder that summer is nearly here. I decided to use these to add lightness and frivolity to the centre-piece.

Fruit is also very useful when decorating a table. Shiny red cherries were the perfect choice that echoed the essence of summer. For movement and texture I added a sprig of rosemary, vine with tiny green grapes and some airy fennel bloom.

I use 3 small vases for this floral arrangement. Why 3? As the Latin saying goes “everything that comes in 3 is perfect”; a floral arrangement composed with 3 looks more natural and less forced than an even-numbered collection. Don’t be afraid to play around with the symmetry and asymmetry. Remember to use a simple vase if your composition is of a bold colour. For this centre-piece I used simple glass vases.

In a nutshell

  1. Decide on one colour

  2. Create a floral arrangement with 3 vases (glass or white ceramic or terracotta for a more rustic setting)

  3. Add fruit to give an extra special touch

  4. Enjoy and let yourself be transported by the colours

 
 

peonies

 
 

I’m always seduced in May by the majestic peonies. Being deeply in love with this flower I decided to give it my full attention with a shoot. First of all I started to look around my studio to find some objects to go with the peonies. I found some romantic little glass vases, some hand-made paper bags by Dutch stylist Ilvy Jacobs, an antique cake dish ... While I was deciding the best place for the shoot I came across the bright emerald lettuces growing in my vegetable patch. I thought it would be an unusual backdrop for some photos.

I selected one of my favourite variety of peony, the Sarah Bernhardt; with its delicate pink hue with some splashes of intense red near the stem. The metamorphosis of this flower always fascinates me. The peony bud starts out like a tightly closed fist, and then slowly becomes a flower rich in petals, a little bit ruffled and with that kind of crumpled look which I love so much. Plunging my face into the petals I feel their softness and freshness brush me. I don’t think you can find anything softer or more delicate. While I was buying them I just happened to find the peony Eventide which I saw for the first time. This peony is a single flowered one with its coral pink colour which fades until it becomes nearly translucent white. Only the single flowered variety opens in the day light and close at night.

The Sarah Bernhardt peony belongs to the herbaceous perennial plant, and was known in ancient Greece for its medicinal properties. It originally came from China where it was called the Queen of flowers. During the past centuries became more and more important and was an iconic flower. In 1903 The Qing dynasty declared it the national flower.

Enough small chat take a look for yourself!

If by any chance you are near Turin at the moment, go and visit the Commande nursery. This place was born out of passion for the peony. They have many different varieties of this magnificent flower.

 
 

May blossoming in my garden and terrace

 
 

May is an awesome month for my garden and terrace, every day there is surprise awaiting. I’ve been watching the peony bush for some days and just yesterday the first white flower blossomed. There is such a lot of life within it, ants are running up and down its branches and insect are nestling among the petals.

A poppy with its delicate red petal has just blossomed and I really don’t know where the seed came from.

The plants that we chose for the terrace are growing very well.

The green wall that we created is fully blossomed: in April the Osmanthus plants were a perfumed white cloud and now all the roses are opening up. There are different rose plants and each one has its own distinctive colour and perfume. The huses range from pale white to deep purple. The perfume from the white roses is very delicate whereas that of the deep purple ones is so rich and timeless. These roses remind me of the English garden ones which I really love.

The seeds that we planted in early March are growing beautifully. We planted some sweet peas, nigella and cornockles, but we have to wait patiently to see them bloom.

The herbs are coming on splendidly and the first strawberries were delicious.

Yellow, pink and red roses run along the garden fence. Like paint from an artist’s palette splashes of colour brighten every corner of the garden.

On Sunday afternoon I was sitting on the terrace in the shade reading an article about the use of the rose in the cosmetic industry. I discovered that the rose it the most studied flower by biologists and botanists. The only two roses that are used in this sector are the antique cabbage rose and the damask rose. The cabbage rose is cultivated in the South of France and Morocco in the valley of roses and I strongly recommend that you go there! The damask rose comes from Turkey and Bulgaria. Elisabeth de Feydau, professor of the Ecole of Perfumiers of Versailles, describes the scent of the cabbage rose : as herbaceous, poudrè and gourmand. The damask rose however has a fruitier scent with notes of litchi, raspberry, geranium and verbena.

Still on the same topic have a look at the video about the “Rose of Grainville” which was coultivated for the first time in Grainville in Normandy by the Dior. The villa and garden became a museum in 1997.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back next month to tell you how white lavender and seeds are coming along.

 
 

Flowers and Fuorisalone in Milan #2

 
 

I spent the evening in the iconic district of the Fuorisalone: Tortona. Everybody, youngs and old alike were enjoying the spring air strolling between the Mudec (Modern art museum) and the nearby area with galleries, showrooms and open spaces.

My last day was spent wandering around the area of Brera where all the most famous design showrooms are situated. As well as my planned itinerary I also enjoyed exploring . Suddenly I across a deconsecrated church which hosted Bulthaup's amazing work. The furniture was in perfect unison with the simplicity of the church. Vases full of white ranunculus stood out on a dramatic wooden table.

My next stop was the Botanical garden at the University of Milan. A small restful oasis in the middle of the city. The Botanical garden was created in 1774 by the Austrian Empresses Maria Teresa. Outdoor furniture was scattered around the garden. Fully blossomed white peonies, light blue orchids and a opulent old wisteria caught my eye. On the first floor of the University there were 50 reproductions of iconic design objects. A perfect match between modern and antique.

And then off to visit designers like Hay and Marimekko in via Palermo. Marimekko had decorated and furnished an entire apartment. Each room had a feminine, seventies feel about it with a splash of colour. In Via Palermo n. 1 a kinetic vegetable garden had been created on a rooftop. A colourful and earthy corner mixing flowers and vegetables.

And I must tell you about the Day-time Hotel, a magical place which had been opened especially for the Fuorisalone, beautifully restored by FAI. This place which was designed by architect Piero Portaluppi between 1923 and 1925, can be found at the Porta Venezia stop of underground. As you enter, you step back in time and see where there used to be public bathrooms, barbershop and hairdresser.

A particularly fascinating apartment is that of Piero Portaluppi whose nephew currently lives there. Just next to it lies the Museum of the Attenali, home of Leonardo’s vineyard.

On the whole a very enjoyable experience and I would strongly recommend it to everyone.

 
 

Flowers and Fuorisalone in Milan #1

 
 

Each year in Milan in April there is Design week wich includes the international fair of furniture design “Salone Internazionale del Mobile” and the events of the “Fuorisalone”. The international furniture fair started in 1961 to improve the export of Italian furniture. Nowadays is a very important appointment for Italian and European design. This year there are 1258 spread all over the city. During this week Milan opens up its doors and treasures to everybody. The most important areas are: Triennale, 5 Vie, Brera, the citycentre, Tortona and Lambrate.

This year I decided to dedicate two days for the events at the Fuorisalone. Thinking about the itinerary I focused my attention on the interaction between design and historical spaces. It was a hard task to choose between all the events since they were all very interesting.

My first stop was at the space of Rossanda Orlandi, must for the design. A fascinating space with a courtyard surrounded by lush plants. A long white wooden table with a line of glass vases and colourful flowers stood in the middle. The nearby restaurant Marta boasted its eclectic and flamboyant floral decorations.

Moving on I visited two historical palaces. Palazzo Litta hosted an African village 2.0 created by Francis Kerè in the courtyard. On the first floor a project to furnish little flats in Singapore captured my attention. All the ceiling was covered whith colourful ballons… 125 Dutch designers set up home at Palazzo Turing for the week. Walking through the courtyard each visitor was welcomed by 15.000 tulip bulbs given by the Dutch consulate.

Then I explored the area of 5 Vie just behind Piazza Affari. A maze of small streets and allies where every corner held small craft workshops, unusual little shops and design or artistic installations.

A very peculiar installation was in the Sarnremo carpark, half carpark and half art gallery. I found the mixture between unconventional spaces and design very interesting and stimulating. Following this mood many installations were created in old and unkempt apartments but each of them had its own distinctive soul. One example was the “Ladies&Gentlemen” open apartment with its long and dark hallway covered with black wood panels, the doors with coloured glass and a dramatic terrace overlooking a closed courtyard.

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The last stop was at the Sardinian fashion stylist Marras with the “Accumuli” installation. Walking through the lobby and opening the front gate I was embraced by the inebriating fragrance of the wisteria and then overwhelmed by its flowers. A flower corner inside a palace. A space where the inside and the outside were speaking to each other. Floral bouquets outside, dresses with floral patterns inside, floral wallpaper, vintage pieces of furniture. Everything to create a dreamlike atmosphere. Going down the “Accumuli” installation was very minimalist with ropes, terracotta and water. Finally a glimpse at a magical room filled with photos of old people and tables decorated with fine bone-china and flowers.

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The fil rouge of this day: flowers and design

End of the first part!

 
 

DECORATE A TERRACE ON THE LAKE #1

 
 

We are off to the garden market with Giovanni, a botanist and a garden designer. We are choosing the most suitable plants for the terrace on the lake.

This terrace will become a relax corner, a heaven of peace and tranquility.

Giovanni and I decided to create two green areas. On the terrace there were already some plants: hellebourus, nadina, skimmia , roses, tulips bulbs, muscari and hyacinth. We chose some perennials, herbs, shrubs, grass family and some flower seeds.
Our aim was to have flowers all year round. All these plants like sun and half shade, need general topsoil and are very easy to take care of.
We selected some herbs with different foliage: variegated thyme with small green/gold leaves, red mint whose leaves are nearly marsala red, lemon balm, basil and oregano.

Not forgetting a small presents for elves: wild strawberries...

Lavender was a must so we picked two varieties: the wild pink lavender which is already in bloom and the white edelweiss. I’m very curious about the white one as it’s the first time that I’ve seen it.

It was love at first sight with the wild Stipa bush with its flowing dancing mane (I noticed that Hermes used it in a recent advert).

In the last few decades the grass family has become more and more and popular. Many international garden designers love these shrubs as they need little care and water. They are exuberant all year around and breathtaking in winter when covered in frost.

If you happen to go to Lake Iseo this summer, the village of Paratico has a beautiful area of dancing grasses near the lake front. Don’t miss the “The Floating Piers” created by the Bulgarian artist Christo From the 18th June to the 3rd July.

We thought of integrating some Osmanthus shrubs with the roses to create a green wall. The Osmanthus is a frost resistant, perennial plant, with a white spring blossom.

We added a touch of China with the Rosalita Moscata which has 5 petals and an amazing light perfume.
With our treasure of plants and seeds we headed for the lake to plant them.

We put the Bacsac pots near some old ones of different sizes. A few red pots were added to give it a splash of colour.

See you next month!

 
 

first floral design workshop of this season

 
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In the last few months I’ve been concentrating more on my floral workshops and so I decided to introduce some new ideas. I wanted it to be a relaxing carefree afternoon, away from duties and meetings. A slow afternoon amidst nature, colours and flowers.

I was so excited about my workshop of the season which was being held at Villa La Valverde.

Maria Giulia, the owner, took us on a stroll to discover the surroundings.In the small wood there was an awesome blossoming Pruns with a cloud of little white flowers, that took our breath away. Then a bright yellow bush of forsythia appeared. Hidden behind old stone walls lies a magical secret garden where a beautiful climbing clematis with white flowers now reigns. The lawn was scattered with wild spring flowers form fresh daisies to pretty little violets.

After our refreshing walk and full of enthusiasm we got stuck in to the course.

For the table decorations we created an elegant floral garden arrangement and a more rustic one with bulbs, moss, foliage and flowers.

I decided to have a palette with white, different hues of pink, fuchsia, violet and coral red. The foliage was olive branches, rosemary and eucalyptus. We only used spring flowers: fuchsia and pink ranunculus, double tulips “Adore”, white, violet and fuchsia anemones, coral red sweet William and bulbs of white hyacints and yellow narcissus.

Mid-course we relaxed with a cup of tea and homemade biscuits.

I love sharing ideas and tips about decorating the table with what we’ve got in our homes.

A few possibilities could be: a small bunch of herbs, a napkin ring made with an olive branch or a small cone made with a green leaf.

Remember that you can decorate a table very nicely and colourfully using seasonal fruit, or a floating blossom in a glass or even using a coke bottle with flowers in it.

For Easter what about having some hyacinth bulbs wrapped in rustic paper tied with cord, or a small olive branch with a chocolate egg for each guest or a tulip on every napkin.

When I saw all the creations lined up I thought that each one was the mirror of the person who created it. 

I’m always very surprised to see how each person expresses themselves with flowers.
 

Don’t forget our next workshop will be on the 16th April where you can create a natural boho bouquet and an unusual wreath.

 
 

tulips

 
 

Everything about these flowers fascinates me: their origin, history, legends, meaning and the many varieties and colours.

The tulip comes from the East, from Turkey to be precise, where it’s the national flower. It’s first appearance, in Europe was in Wien in the 16th century imported by the ambassador of the Roman empire. Then popularity spread throughout Europe.

From 1644 till 1647 the Dutch people became obsessed with tulips. During this period the price of the bulbs increased so much that people made a lot of money and others lost their entire fortune. Finally in the 19th century the government decided to regulate the prices making them accessible to everybody.

Nowadays the 16h of January in Holland is the national tulip day. In the biggest square in Amsterdam, Dam Square, an awesome temporary garden is created with more than 200.000 tulips. Ten thousand people visit Dam Square every year and receive a tulip.

A few of my favorites are:

French tulips: the stems are long and very willowy. It’s fascinating to see how these tulips move around and bend while time is passing.

Double tulips: the head has at least 15 petals and when it opens up it reminds me of a peony. A variety which is ideal for brides-to-be in late winter and early spring is the “Fox- trot”. The hues vary from white to pale pink.

Parrots tulips: their petals remind me of colourful feathers of a parrot

I’m always bewitched to see how tulips change during their lifetime. They grow, bend, open up and change the hues of their blossom. They’re a true gift from nature.

Tip: don’t put more than 5 fingers of water in the vase. It’s incredible how much they grow, so keep this in mind when creating your floral arrangement.