By Julie Banham
We love sitting down with a hot cup of tea and a beautiful book - especially when it's about wedding flowers. As Lincolnshire wedding florists we often use these books to refer to in our consultations as they really help to guide ideas and provide inspiration. Here are our top 10 wedding floristry books and flower arranging books.
At Violet & Vine, we grow some of our flowers and this book has been brilliant as is full of tips and advice on creating a cut flower patch. It also has suggestions on what to grow at different times of the year. Louise looks at what makes a great cut flower, ideal conditions and soil and the tools you’ll need. There is advice on what to grow – from favourite hardy annuals, half hardies and biennials to spring and summer bulbs to adding foliage and fillers to balance arrangements.
Sarah is the queen of cutting gardens so this is a must-have book if you want to grow your own. The book is so easy to follow with absolutely gorgeous photography. Filled with expert insights into seed sowing, flower conditioning, and the art of crafting elegant displays suitable for various events, the book presents clear, sequential guidelines accompanied by flower catalogues and more than 250 exclusively captured images.
This book came from the brilliant Rock My Wedding website which is a bible for all things wedding. The book is beautiful and covers everything from decor to floristry. Although this isn't a dedicated flower arranging book, it's been so useful for us to have in our wedding consultations and it has a fantastic section on wedding flowers. This would make the perfect gift for a newly engaged friend.
Vic Brotherson believes that wedding flowers should express the character and individuality of a couple, exactly as we do at Violet & Vine. In Vintage Wedding Flowers she provides ideas and inspiration for everything from bouquets to buttonholes, to table dressings, corsages and larger arrangements such as garlands and archways - and to suit all possible budgets. This is such a helpful book whether you're doing your wedding flowers yourselves, or are using a wedding florist.
Another book from Vic, and whilst this isn't wedding-focused, it's still filled with lots of beautiful photos and we find it so useful for inspiration. Vic's flower arrangements focus on traditional, seasonal blooms and foliage, such as alchemilla, lavender, hellebore, peonies and hydrangeas - and we are always keen to keep our arrangements as seasonal as possible.
Julie's husband bought her this book for her birthday and it has turned out to be one of our most useful and most beautiful books. It has over 400 pages of beautiful cut flower photos organised by colour and it is amazing just how many different shades and hues of each colour there are, even whites. The photography in this book is so good you are able to really see the shape of the flowers and foliage, every architectural detail in fact and this helps us as florists to decide which flowers we would like to use in our designs.
It is helpful during consultations too for making sure we are on the same page when discussing a colour as a reference point. When couples ask for blue flowers we have to get them to show us which blue they like as many ‘blue’ flowers have shades of purple or lilac in them and true blue is one of the most difficult colours to find in the flower world and then of course it has to be available. ‘Blush’ is another colour that we get asked for a lot and this book helps us to clarify what couples mean when they are asking for ‘blush’ flowers.
My very green-fingered friend Sarah recommended this book to me and it too has proved to be a favourite. Arthur Parkinson is a friend of another gardener, writer Sarah Raven and they present a wonderfully informative podcast together called Grow, Cook, Eat, Arrange.
Like Sarah Raven, Arthur loves dahlias and vibrant colours and here he shows us how to garden in a small space ‘for a flamboyant and defiant show in pots’. I like it for the knowledge and inspiration it has given me for growing, arranging and containers. This book is the reason why I have scoured antiques fairs and boot sales for dustbins, old bathtubs and chicken feeders of which you now will find many around my back door. He cuts up plant catalogues to make his mood board when planning for the season - so creative and so practical. Again, the photography is brilliant and the photos in this book have been taken by Arthur himself. Besides flowers, he has a passion for chickens and this book made me want a flower yard full of colourful flowers and chickens!
Another beautiful book (how can they not be beautiful given they are about flowers?) by Sarah Raven. This book is her latest one and as the title suggests it goes through the year month by month and focuses on some of the seasonal flowers that she loves to grow and gives the reader practical advice too. Again, the photos are so inspiring (the photographs in Sarah’s books are by Jonathan Buckley), and it’s hard to believe that the flowers are real - they’re so perfect. I love reading this book and noting down the varieties in the photos and then looking on her website or at her plant catalogues and buying a few of her plants or seeds for myself. It is a shame that I haven’t enough room in my garden to buy many colourful flowers (I mostly grow foliage, grasses and white flowers as they are the most useful in wedding floristry) but I tend to plant up a colourful container here and there for a splash of colour for myself. And Sarah Raven’s collections and colour combinations are absolutely stunning.
Georgie Newbery runs Common Farm Flowers and is one of the UK’s leading independent cut-flower farmers. Her book is the go-to for flower farmers everywhere; all my flower farmer friends started on their cut flower journey with her book and I have learnt so much from it as well as her videos and posts. When we moved here there wasn’t much in the garden and decided to only buy plants and shrubs that I could use in floristry. I read the chapter on Shrubs and I used it as the basis for what I planted in my garden. You need to plant the shrubs first to give the garden a framework and to give them time to get going before cutting from them. My Pittosporum, a shrub that cost less than ten pounds, is now over 8 foot tall and 5 foot wide and I cut masses from it every year.
This book is full of fresh, foraged, festive and dried floral arrangements, mostly wreaths but also wall hangings. There are instructions for making beautiful wreaths throughout the year and the authors’ ethos is one we share here at Violet and Vine. ‘Making something with meaning has always been really important to us. This is why we love the language of flowers and are always trying to convey a subtle message through everything we create.’ If you want to learn more about wreath making this is definitely the book to get.
Milli's book is a modern and practical guide to growing and styling floral arrangements. We have found it so useful! Each chapter spotlights the growing highlights of the season with top tips on how to sow, grow and harvest. Milli also shares her own stories from the field to help inspire and encourage you to grow your own, with advice on soil health, composting, sustainable growing and how to plan your planting.
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