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‘Pick and Mix’ by Marion Stokes, 27.02.2018


Snow was all around us outside but inside the Methodist Hall in Breaston, we were warm and cosy as we watched a highly amusing and entertaining demonstration by one of our own members, Marion Stokes. Seen more often in her usual place stocking and running the sales table, Marion was in the front of house, letting her imagination fly with her demonstration ‘Pick and Mix.’
As the title suggests, her arrangements depicted much loved childhood sweets and were just as delightful.

Firstly, asymmetrical designs on a simple yet effective mesh structure showcased deep red Roses and Gerberas. Midelino sticks shaped into hearts set the scene for a packet of ‘Love Hearts.’

And then onto something different. A three tiered ‘cake’ was made from ribboned tin cans which were used to house delicate pinks, whites and creams of Lisianthus, Spray Carnations and Roses. What other title could this arrangement have other than ‘Dolly Mixtures!’

A more modern arrangement followed in a tall glass container with soft tones of cream, lemon and the deeper yellow colour of citrus fruit. Alstroemeria were grouped together with Spray Chrysanthemeum and pale green Anthurium to create that mouth watering, tangy sensation of the fizz of Sherbert Lemons. Steel Grass curled and shaped through the design providing a different look by introducing movement and enclosed space.

Marion’s mantra of ‘Never throwing anything away’ was displayed in an ingenious use of fir cones set amongst the mesh of an old hanging basket to create her next container. It was the base for a variety of orange Roses, Tulips and Carnations to create a delicious almost too good to eat orange and cream chocolate.

And the novelty of Marion’s imagination continued to the last-white painted boxes of twigs and leaves sprayed in black were randomly set amongst a variety of white Anastasia, Star of Bethlehem and Stocks, many carefully chosen because of their black centres to evoke the taste of licorice.

Marion’s sunny disposition and sense of humour shone throughout the evening. There was much laughter at her hilarious tales particularly in the use of her microwave! Which is not to be tried at home!
We thoroughly enjoyed the banter as much as watching the skilful flower arranging. The round of warm applause at the end was heartfelt and appreciative of the amount of preparation for the evening’s demonstration.

Marion certainly made the evening special.

Well done her!

Annual Dinner February 2018

We held our Annual Dinner at Cleve Lodge on 20th February when Catherine Hampson showed her flower arranging skills to us after the meal.

‘Kaleidoscope’ by Gill Mills

Although Gill began ‘Kaleidoscope’ with her description of how her day had not gone according to plan, the same could not be said of the way she demonstrated her flower arrangements on our club night.

She brought with her the colours from the rainbow to bring a ray of sunshine into a dreary, damp evening in January.

Most of her designs had a predominant colour with red linked dramatically with black to begin the evening.

Garden foliage with clusters of red carnations, gerberas and deep red roses were bunched together and shaped and twisted into a traditionally triangular arrangement.

Gill’s subsequent design of orange and yellow was supported by a tall container made from twisted ivy twigs-a magnificent base for any arrangement but one which was perfect to enable the variegated shapes of periwinkle, ivy and strands of conifer to cascade and flow downwards creating a gentle rhythm and a lovely sense of informality.

Changes of textures and contrasting shapes were evident in all of her arrangements. This setting in particular, was exactly right for embedding the bright, bendy yellow and orange gerberas. Add to this, vivid, nestling sunflower heads and the effect was quite startling and enough to brighten anyone’s day.

Next a top hat design of greens contrasted with the ensuing arrangement of a seascape of cool blues and lilacs. What could have been better than to set the seascape atop a spectacular piece of driftwood!

The final design was a juxtaposition of the paler tones of the colour spectrum. Delicate peachy gerberas, pink roses, carnations, chrysanthemums and stocks were surrounded by feathery fronds of garden plants with spots of yellow tulips to add vibrancy and to lift out the overall colours.

Gill’s ‘funny ole day’ turned out to be a triumph after all!

Christmas Practice night, 12th December 2017

Mince pies, good humour and two Christmas demonstrations from members. A traditional arrangement by Pat Baker was followed by a modern twist demonstrated by Linda Smith.

A nice way to start the festive season.

News and Views

The article submitted for inclusion in the next News and Views is  attached  for anyone who may be interested in reading it.  News and views 2017

‘Merry Christmas’ by Tony Brown

Dark and cold it may have been outside but inside the Duchess Theatre in Long Eaton, it was bright and colourful and full of Christmas spirit.

Floral demonstrator, Tony Brown, certainly brought the ‘glitz’ to his presentation of ‘Merry Christmas.’

He reminisced about family, friends and things loved and some lost as he arranged his flowers and foliage into spectacular designs. His containers ranged from the top of a wooden arch from a garden trellis ( to denote a sledging hill which he used as a child) to wooden baskets and troughs, painted urns and a monumental metal Christmas tree for the finale. His enthusiasm for flowers was a joy to witness. He wove and placed brilliantly coloured gerberas and carnations, with deeply coloured roses and lilies and chrysanthemums which were set amongst  a variety of foliage- solid forms contrasting with trailing fronds and delicate leaves for maximum effect.

To add bling and the spirit of Christmas, Tony dotted a variety of accessories nestling and recessing into leaves which were shaped and sometimes gilded to catch the light. Sparkly pink butterflies flitted across a  framework of metal and gilded leaves and twigs.

Tony surely surpassed himself to create masterpiece after masterpiece.

What a pleasure it was to sit and enjoy the evening!

Car Boot Collection by Lynn Sharpe

Lynn Sharpe, our demonstrator for October brought it all.

She had scoured car boot sales to purchase anything that she could turn into a container for her floral arrangement.

She first presented us with a large bowl made from dried Water Hyacinth. Amidst tales of how she became interested in flower arranging as a child, she worked to match the tactile quality of the dish with variegated Holly, Solidago stems and Fatsias which she had enhanced with gold spray, also bought at a car boot sale. She finished it all off with burnt orange Roses, Mini Gerbera and orange Asiatic Lilies.

A suitcase appeared and was used as the base for her next design. It was filled with a mixture of Red Robin and Phoenix Palms with red Carnations and Gerbera which she  mingled with yellow Roses. What else to accompany the demonstration but tales of cruising and visits to faraway places.

A  love of gardening was the inspiration for her next design for which she used a wicker basket. She filled this with different forms and textures by using Phormium, Euonymous, and the more robust Rhododendron leaves. Nestled amongst  ornamental Brassica were pink Gladioli, Gerbera, Roses and Chrysanthemum. Delicate fronds of the purple Pirouette Clematis added flow and movement.

Wicker urns and a child’s brick trolley took Lynn down memory lane and lead us last but not least to the use of a stack of wooden boxes to create the pomp and circumstance of a wedding cake. She added a touch of silver bling to Carnations, Roses and Lilies all in white to evoke a family celebration.

Lynn kept us amused and entertained us for two hours.

‘These are a few of My Favourite Things’ by Eileen Barraclough

Yorkshire’s Eileen Barraclough’s dry sense of humour brought our September demonstration to life.

‘These are a few of My favourite Things’ was based on Eileen’s favourite, unbreakable containers, structures, flowers and plant material. The wood which takes up a large part of her garden restricts what she can produce so she focusses on growing evergreen plants which ensures that she has an all year round supply of foliage to use in her work…….although this seemingly did not prevent her from once obtaining Bergenia leaves from a  neighbourhood garden which she mistook for public ground!

Her first design took shape accompanied by hilarious tales of various remedies against the invasion of slugs (some exploding) and snails (some garlic filled).

This initial arrangement set the scene for what followed. It incorporated textured foliage with lilac Gladioli which were then complimented by the vibrant green of the Anastasia and finally topped by a deep purple Orchid which was used as the focal point.

After this, arrangements ranged from the simple to the elaborate using metal and wooden accessories.

Grasses were teamed with foliage, spray roses, black eyed Susie, Carnations, berries, various Avalanche roses and Hydrangea heads to name but a few.

Eileen’s favourite pastime is entering flower arranging competitions so it was not surprising that her most used stand appeared on stage. The metallic structure leant itself to a dramatic design which was framed by shaped fronds of the palm leaf. Add to this, tales of her life size blow up dummy dressed in her husband’s clothes which she used as a travel companion when driving to her demonstrations and Eileen ended the evening with much laughter and provided a real tonic to all who came to watch.


‘Titanic, Ship of Dreams’ by Nigel Whyles

July Open Demonstration at the Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.

Plant material and flowers were carefully selected by Nigel in order to create historical meaning and to set the scene of the maiden voyage of the Titanic.

He cleverly used an elongated design to represent the length and proportion of this massive vessel. Blue Delphiniums were ingeniously used for the water line of the hull, and white Oriental Lilies represented the White Star Line, whilst tied bundles of Bear Grass gave height for the funnels.

Nigel created the experience of sailing on this special ship in each of the ensuing designs which set sail at the height of this gilded age of style.

He evoked the sophistication of fine dining in table centres of predominantly white Avalanche Roses. In the next design, came the yellows of mini Gerberas blended with the radiating and uplifting colour of the majestic Sunflower. These were fixed to grids to represent the hopes and dreams of the different classes of people who set sail on the maiden voyage of the Titanic.

Nigel even ventured into the realms of the film entitled ‘Titanic’, using the glossy texture of the Swiss Cheese plant and the leaves of that iconic plant of the era, the Aspidistra to form the structure. The petals of the purple Veronica and the delicate lilac of the Ocean Song Rose unfurled to create lovely shapes amongst the foliage .

The wild jagged leaf shapes topped with white Mop Head Hydrangeas next took us into the path of the icebergs before Nigel completed his journey with a celebration of the scale and glory of this opulent accommodation on the sea. Leather Leaf and Mottled Fatsias gave form to the outer shape of the arrangement whilst the lovely Gladioli rose above a bed of crisp green Anastasia Chrysanthemum and deep red Carnations, the latter depicting the rich luxurious, velvet décor of the vessel.

No other passenger ship has ever captured the public imagination like the Titanic. Throughout his demonstration, Nigel cleverly used his own imagination intertwining grandeur, luxury and romance with tragic historical facts to give us a night to reflect and remember.


‘This is Me’ By Vanessa Wellock

Vanessa Wellock travelled from Yorkshire to combine floral creativity with an outgoing sense of fun. And what a success she made of it!

Her demonstration was entitled ‘This is Me’, I can do what I like, when and how I like!

Her first arrangement was a combination of Clematis and Lisianthus in purple and white with Global Campanula to create transition in a setting of lime green foliage. Finishing off with Earl Grey Roses, it was stunning.

Vanessa’s lively and down to earth manner continued with arrangements combining different textures of flowers and foliage which even included a dock leaf to create in her words, ‘designs with a punch’.

Traditional gave way to modern structured designs weaving Calla Lilies and the deep rich colour of Ascot Roses to contrast with green Anthuriums, purple Stocks and hot pink Gerberas which were all set in enclosed spaces shaped by Flexi Grass.

Her hand tied bouquet in a spiders web of wire and wool provided variety, whilst she finished off the evening with a dramatic and monumental wire structure filled with Hypericum, Red Robin, and Golden Roses topped with the wonderful green Orchid.

It was a pleasure to listen to her stories and her tips whilst she created her spectacular designs.