{waiting for a delivery...}

A very belated blog post... I can't believe how long it's been since my last post - please accept my apologies for the lack of love on my blog. The last few months have been a mix of busy with work then nothing but bed rest after a little scare with my body deciding it wanted to take out the bun baking away in my belly much too early for anybody's liking. Since 26 weeks is much too early for a healthy baby to enter the world it's been feet up for me until I hit the milestone of 32 weeks (last week!!). I've had a multitude of carers taking care of me (aka cracking the whip on me to stay in bed) so have been a bit distracted from thinking about work let alone writing blog posts... but I'm feeling pretty good right now, lots of Braxton Hicks but otherwise feeling like I could take on the world - albeit maybe a small garden bed or flower arrangements for a wedding!!

Now we're just counting down the last weeks until the junior arrives. I definitely have the nesting thing going on - washing all those adorably tiny clothes, wanting to paint and decorate the nursery ('cause I can now!) and thinking about what needs to go in my hospital bag. 

Until then, I promise I won't leave it so long between posts - I have lots to catch up! x

PS. Whilst bed ridden I did succumb to the world of Pinterest - if you would like to see what inspires me/I think is beautiful follow me here

Image: sorry blame it on baby brain, I can't for the life of me remember or find again where I found it.... I'll keep tyring so I can properly cite it...sorry!

{I've fallen in love again!}


How could I ever think I didn't want to do this (floristry)? 4:30am wake up call and all - these beautiful babies are more than worth it!

Being the anal perfectionist (& stress head) that I am I wanted to do a trial run of a wedding I've been asked to do. This is what I'm thinking - Flushed pink and antique pink roses, David Austen roses (aptly named 'Honeymoon'!), Bouvardia and Pieris. Simple, feminine, pretty, austere and gracious. Their fragrance is so divine the bride won't need to wear perfume!

Have I mentioned 'I LOVE FLOWERS!!'? Yay!

{sending a message with flowers}

Duchess of Cambridge's (Kate Middleton)  wedding boquet conveyed special meaning
(c) Guardian.com.uk

Too ashamed to say the words, "I'm sorry", too shy and bashful to utter those three little words, "I love you" or just let a friend know how dear and special their friendship is to you. When words aren't enough or your lips simply can't speak the words flowers can convey the special message for you.

A close friend recently lent me a book she had finished reading, telling me that all the time thinking of me whilst reading it. This I had to question as the lead character was a bit of a nut case and I feared there was something she was trying to subtly tell me... as it turns out I had nothing to fear, it was simply the case that the character was a florist and was visiting the flower markets at the wee hours of the morning... The book was titled, 'The language of flowers', by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (more here) and whilst it wasn't one of those amazing reads that you simply cannot put down for love nor money or turn the light off to sleep, it did come into my life at a very poignant moment and left me with a clear message. It's funny how things find you when you need them, just as Sarah Wilson puts it in her post today, "what's for you won't pass you by".

With a few changes happening around here of late I was assessing my desire and ability to re-enrol for my second semester of my floristry course. Already feeling fatigued with morning sickness and all that comes with being pregnant, the idea of having to get up again at with the sparrows to get to the flower markets was not appealing to me. Also, to be completely honest I didn't 100% love my first semester of class - this is just me being me and wanting to run before I walk, or even crawl! I found a lot of the theory information to be common sense, yet we had mountains of homework and assisgnments to complete, and the arrangements we covered in our practical classes were just simply not 'me'! When I've mentioned to family and friends my hesitation in going back they're very to the point! "NO - you're going back, you just have to get over the boring bits and the good stuff will come", or something to that effect most of the time... They're right too, I need to buck up and get over myself.
So this is where reading 'The language of flowers' comes in. Amidst the storyline the lead character arranges flowers not according to how they go together harmoniously colourwise or how the client stipulates, she creates arrangements of flowers according to the very old Victorian language of flowers which was used mianly to convey romantic expressions, for example honeysuckle means devotion; aster implies patience and the most famous of all red roses for love - of course! Through these special flower arrangements messages can be conveyed in a way which words could not.
It was as if an arrow was shot through my heart when I realised this is what flowers mean to me. I've always said my plants and flowers 'speak to me' - people just think I'm crazy (and maybe there is a bit of truth in that too) but I feel they have a greater purpose and power than just their beauty alone. I've written an earlier post on a sweet little book I found on a second-hand book table that a dear husband had written for his wife many many moons ago.

So as I take on another six months of class, endeavouring to get my skills up to the mark where my aspriations lie I bring with me a new found sense of meaning to my arrangements. 

PS. The Duchess of Cambridge's wedding bouquet was a selection of flowers chosen for their special meanings:
Lily of the Valley -- Return of happiness
White Hyacinth -- Constancy of love
Ivy -- Fidelity, marriage, wedded love, affection
Myrtle -- Emblem of marriage, fidelity and everlasting love
Sweet William -- gallantry

{a little project of my own...}

I feel very guilty for abandoning my blog and not keeping up with my 'Alphabet of favourite flowers' but I have a good excuse - promise! (or at least I think it is...)

I wish I could say I've been super busy outdoors creating and tending to beautiful gardens, sadly though this couldn't be further from the truth... I've been making very good acquaintance with the couch, cooking DVDs, re-reading old magazines from front to back and back to front again and speed reading books like never before.

I have been busy working on another project though, a little something called a baby!... All very exciting apart from the morning sickness which kicked in much much much too early for my liking. So whilst this little garden guru to be has been busy growing away I've been doing very little in the way of tending to my garden over summer - something I'm a little ashamed of as the front garden is quite on show. When I first started working on it, especially when the vegie patches went in, we would get a number of passers-by stopping to chat and comment on how it was coming along - and it was looking really good... Sadly, even the thought of getting outside and working in it made me feel ill. As the weeks progress though I'm able to do a little more, instead of it being all-day sickness it is now confining itself to the afternoons so I can do a little in the morning before turning in for the afternoon nanna nap I've become so accustomed to.

So a new era in the {hort couture} story is about to begin. What exactly it will entail is still a little uncertain at this stage, whatever it is though there will still be gardens and definitely flowers!

{'D' is for...}

 D is for the deliciously fragrant Daphne odora.

This darling does tend to break my heart though. One minute she is looking gorgeous the next she has dropped dead for reasons otherwise unknown.Her heavenly fragrance more than makes up for what can be a short-lived love affair though.

Again my fascination with Daphne probably has much to do with the fact my Mother had it as her wedding bouquet. A sweetly simple posy of the softly pink and white flower heads. With these as your wedding flowers there is no need to wear perfume.

You can enjoy these beautiful flowers from mid-winter to late spring.

One of the biggest issues which may lead to problems is over-watering. Daphne plants detest wet feet and will turn their noses up toot-sweet to let you know - their leaves will droop, appear limp, and feel dry and leathery. It is best to water then allow to dry out - the ol' finger test is perfect: stick your finger in the soil if it comes out dirty = don't water, if it comes out clean = give a little water! Ensure the planting position is well drained, build the site up if necessary and add plenty of organic matter to clay soils to help break up the clods of soil which can lead to water-logging. They like an easterly position where they will receive morning sun but are protected from the hot afternoon sun. Apply mulch to keep the roots cool.

Water stress can also lead to pest infestation such as scale. These little critters seem to have a radar that senses whenever a plant is under stress. Squash them with your fingers or suffocate with an environmentally friendly white/pest oil solution such as Eco Oil.

A very exciting newish release on the market is the Daphne Eternal Fragrance. This variety is said to be bred to be a much more hardy plant which is frost and heat tolerant. It will grow in full-sun to semi-shade and will become drought tolerant once established. It blooms from spring to autumn, spot flowering throughout the year. I'm definitely going to give this a shot in my garden as a low-growing hedge in place of buxus. Hopefully it won't go breaking my heart!

The Daphne genus is said to be named after a nymph in Greek mythology. The story goes that Daphne was very beautiful and was often pursued by many suitors who would fall in love with her because of her beauty. However, Daphne was uninterested in love and would choose instead to hunt in the woods. One such suitor was Apollo, the sun god. Upon being chased she prayed to her father - Peneus, a river God, to save her. Apparently his tactic was to change her into a Bay Tree! - Daphne being Greek for Laurel.

{'C' is for...}


C is for the charming  ‘Cécile Brünner’ Rose. From its most perfect form as a shell-pink tight bud, through to its full frilly-fancy party dress form I absolutely adore this rose. I think a lot has to do with childhood memories for me as my Mum had the most amazing plant that flowered prolifically despite drought and being pruned extensively by cows hanging their heads over the back fence!

The fragrance from this tiny little bud is exquisite - soft, dainty and delicate, it is by far my most treasured of roses in the garden.

Unfortunately it does tend to suffer from aphids when its soft new young growth flushes in the spring, and black spot can be a problem - despite this it is still a strong and vigorous rose. It can either be grown as a bush or a climbing rose. The climbing variety is a perfect choice over an arbour, along a fence or around cottage windows. It is a perfect picking rose making sweet posies.

Its namesake is a lady called Cécile who first introduced the rose in France in 1881.

This is certainly a must have in any garden, especially English inspired or cottage gardens. I have a spot earmarked for one (or two) in my garden!

{'B' is for...}

B is for brilliantly blue Bluebell. 

Hyacinthoides non-scripta, otherwise known by its common name of English Bluebell, and Hyacinthoides hispanica - Spanish Bluebell, are spring flowering perennial bulbs. To gain the full beauty of these plants they are best planted en mass where their bell shaped flowers carpet the ground in shades of jacaranda-lavender blue.

They are both hardy, can tolerate root competition (perfect under trees!) and cope with summer dryness when they are dormant. The Spanish Bluebell is somewhat more hardy with more robust flowers but lack fragrance. 

Plant bulbs 6cm deep, 5-10cm apart, in Autumn in shady to semi-shaded areas. They grow perfectly under deciduous/semi-deciduous trees where they can brighten up the darker areas of the garden. Start watering when growth appears and keep soil slightly moist until foliage dies off after flowering. It is ideal to keep bulbs relatively dry whilst dormant.

In Europe, fields of bluebells can be admired amongst woodland settings. I loved watching the movie "Bright Star" (said to be about the love story between the romantic poet Keats and Fanny Brawne) just for the seen where Fanny (played by Australian actress, Abbie Cornish) sits surrounded by bluebells.

According to the language of flowers, the meaning of Bluebell is 'Constancy'. I guess when everything else in your garden is changing you can always rely on the Bluebells to show their pretty faces each spring without fail. Bless!

{'A' is for...}

A is for the very adorable Anemone - in any shape and form they come in! Delicate and elegant, serene and oh so pretty!

Anemones are members of the buttercup family. In spring the cute as a button Poppy Anemone (A. coronaria) bloom their pretty little faces off and make the sweetest cut flower used in pretty posy arrangements. While the autumn garden can be brought to life with massed plantings of Anemone x hybrida (Japanese Windflower). 

The name ‘Anemone’ comes from the Greek word for wind. It is said that the goddess Flora was jealous of her husband's attentions towards the nymph Anemone and so transformed her into the wind flower and left her at the mercy of the North Wind. Kind of a sad story for such a pretty flower...

{the alphabet in flowers}

I often get asked what my favourite flowers or plants are. For me this is like asking a Mother if she has a favourite child! I don't do favourites as such, I love all plants and flowers (with or without their roots!), and believe even the 'ugly' ones are 'interesting' and just misunderstood.

But the question has got me thinking if I had to offer a name for each letter of the alphabet what would I choose? I came up with the following list:

A = Anemone
B = Bluebells
C = Cecile Brunner Rose
D = Daphne
E = Early Cheers
F = Forget-me-nots
G = Gardenia
H = Hellebores
I = Iris
J = Jonquils
K = Kangaroo Paw
L = Lavender
M = Magnolia
N = Nepeta (Catnip/Catmint)
O = Orchids
P = Peony Roses
Q = Queen Anne's Lace
R = Ranunculus
S = Snowdrops or Sweet Peas - can't decide ???
T = Tulips
U = Ulmus parvifolia (Chinese Elm)
V = Violets
W = Wisteria
X = Xanthorrhoea (Grass Tree)
Y = Yellow - anything yellow!!
Z = Zephranthes candida (Storm Crocus)

So, over the next few posts (yes I will commit to this) I will share tid-bits about each and why I love them so!

{vertical flowers}

What better way to spend a Saturday than to play with flowers (free flowers at that!)? It was the annual Flower Grower's Ball on the weekend and as such the Sydney Town Hall was decked out from top to toe in flowers, of course!

We were fortunate enough to be working under the guidance of the very talented Head Florist for the Merivale Group, Genevieve. She creates amazing displays for the Merivale group of establishments including the likes of Hemmesphere, Ivy and The Beresford. I've admired her from afar as she collects all her goodies at the markets, and was thrilled to see her in action putting it all together.
The 'Before' shot
Jen being cheeky! The 'In progress' shot
Each individual flower stem was wired, tied to a 3m length of fishing line and then attached the netting, with the end effect of them to hang from the ceiling in a very 'wonderland' kind of way.
All strewn out: a carpet of flowers!
Up she goes!

Sadly I couldn't stay right to the end to see it all come together, but we (I went with a good friend from College) were determined to see the netting display be lifted up in all its glory!With dramatic lighting it would have looked amazing and of course with a better photographer the photos may just do it justice!

So then it was onto the table decorations, which were to be "punchy" as Genevieve described them! Apparently colour blocking is in this season - even with flowers!!

I loved watching Genevieve in motion, especially when she put these amazing table centerpieces together using only the flower stems themselves as support structure - no oasis! Which I love as this stuff is completely toxic and I swear against it (but it does make a florists job much easier...). She kept telling us the importance of "building trust with your flowers", I love this!

It was a long day, tiring but hey there were flowers galore to play with so it was a bit of a dream playground for me! I hope everyone at the ball had as much fun admiring them as we did putting them together!

Photos: {hort couture}