As somebody who suffers from hayfever and loves to complain about the misery pollen creates, I’m an unlikely candidate for a flower arranging workshop. Gemma however, loves flowers. Flat surfaces are for flowers, this is what I’ve come to learn. Every table, desk or window will usually have something on display, it’s like living in a flower shop.
I’m not complaining, flowers do brighten up our home, but if I had to decide between a bunch of flowers and a couple of beers I think I know what I’d choose.
When Narcissus Flower School asked if we’d like to come along to one of their classes I knew Gemma would be positively giddy. I was right, I’ve not seen her this excited since we bagged tickets to the Strictly final – something I thought I’d hate but turned out to be FAB-U-LOUS.
I asked if I could come along to take some photos of the day, little did I know that I’d have a handful of hydrangeas and be carefully crafting my own arrangements.
Narcissus can be found on Broughton Street, one of Edinburgh’s most bohemian and cosmopolitan streets – indie shop heaven!
Established in 1997 and seen as one of Edinburgh’s top florists, the shop hosts an unrivalled display of fresh flowers, perfect for an array of bouquets as well as many unusual plants, unique vases and one-off designs.
“The Narcissus Flower School workshops are presented to students wishing to learn the traditional craft of floristry in a modern school. These practical, hands-on classes are suitable for the complete beginner through to those who are planning a career in floristry. As experienced leaders in our field, we offer this unique opportunity to gain first-hand experience of our natural style. You will learn directly the basic skills and develop the creative eye required to produce a floral design that is not only beautiful but is of a professional standard.”
Narcissus run a number of events, including day classes (like the one we attended), evening classes and professional career changing courses, for more information please visit Narcissus’ Calendar of events. Bespoke events can also be put together for hen dos and corporate team building, to suit any budget.
Emilia, our tutor for the day, was relaxed and encouraging throughout the workshop. Helpfully guiding us through our arrangements whilst still allowing our creativity to flourish.
We started our workshop watching Emilia create an impactful arrangement with only a few flowers and some all important foliage. We paid close attention to Emilia’s advice about how to cut the flowers and how to create a sense of movement with the design – it wasn’t long before we’d be putting our new knowledge into practice.
For flower arranging at home, we’ll usually buy a bunch or two from our local supermarket, discard the cellophane, give the ends a quick snip and plonk in any empty vase we can find. At Narcissus Flower School we were so focussed, carefully considering the natural movement of each flower or piece of foliage, then taking a step back to get a feel for the composition as a whole.
We worked in pairs for this exercise, which gave us a great opportunity to discuss what we’d learned from Emilia’s arrangement and decide what we’d like to achieve with our own. There’s something quite therapeutic about laying flowers out on a table and placing them one at a time to gradually create something beautiful.
After a couple of pointers and plenty of encouragement, we were finished:
If only we had a big enough home to create simple, yet striking, arrangements like this. The great thing is that you don’t even need many flowers, the key takeaway from the day was how important foliage is to create a sense of movement and also allow the flowers to really pop.
Next up, a pretty little posy. This small handheld bunch of flowers looks quite simple, but it actually takes a bit of planning and a little coordination. The bony bouquet is created by adding one element at a time, carefully crossing each stem at a 45° angle to create a spiral effect. Having one hand out of action was a challenge, but something we both got to grips with fairly quickly – especially after a little more encouragement that we were on the right track.
The posies were great fun to create, we woudl happily have taken them apart just to make another one.
We got a chance to create a posy each and it turns out flower arranging can be a good personality test. We both had such different approaches, I favoured compact and structured arrangements, whilst Gemma had a more relaxed approach resulting in wilder compositions.
Before lunch, we took a little time to learn about the role a vase plays when displaying flowers, something we’ve never really considered at home. The vase should complement the flowers, for example, tall vases work well with long stem flowers – this stunning design was created in seconds.
Emilia is so talented, effortlessly creating arrangements with a wow factor.
The structure of the day was well planned out, Emilia was such an engaging tutor, she really knew how to get the best out of each student.
Lunch was provided by The Manna House, served on one of the prettiest dining tables. For the first time in quite a while, I didn’t take a photo of our food. Our focus had been on flowers and getting to know our classmates – it’s worth noting that the food was delicious, we’ll be popping along to The Manna House for more of the same soon.
After lunch, we dove back into our next arrangement. A larger bouquet with more freedom in terms of the types of flowers and what kind of foliage to use.
Again, two fairly different approaches, opposites clearly do attract!
Our final exercise was to create a simple garland, this got us both excited for Christmas. I think in all the excitement we got a little carried away – ours ended up being a little more extravagant than Emilia’s.
I think in all the excitement we got a little carried away – ours ended up being a little more extravagant than Emilia’s.
As our day drew to a close we admired our huge collection of flowers to take home, thankful that we decided to bring the car at the last minute.
I knew Gemma was going to enjoy the workshop but didn’t expect it to capture my imagination as much as it did. I’m so glad to have been involved and will happily join Gemma in the future when she inevitably signs up for a second class.
The all day class runs from 11am to 5pm and is priced at £175 – this includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day and all of your wonderful creations (posy, bouquet in a vase and garland).
This class would make a perfect gift for a loved one who has an interest in flower arranging, or for somebody who has no interest but is open-minded.
We both had such a great time and can’t think of a better way to spend the day.
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