Make your next special occasion bloom with originality and flair

This week we have a treat, as our newest contributor Terry Milk shares a very special experience. Terry currently resides in Brazil, where she took a workshop in flower arranging from two top-tier European experts.

Terry is an experienced and elegant hostess – and a wonderful artist in her own right. I have treasured one of her floral water-colours ever since she gave it to me years ago.  
She pointed out that bouquet techniques are easily adapted to stunning table decorations with a few simple adjustments. I cannot wait to try one of these fabulous arrangements for my next special dinner party. Here’s Terry’s report:
European trends in bridal bouquets                                                                                               Terry Milk
While nothing can detract from the beauty of fresh flowers, the right accoutrements can turn them into a unique artistic expression, which will add the perfect note of elegance and sophistication.
Two top Belgian floral designers were in Brazil this month to share their vision of contemporary bridal bouquet design with a group of 20 South American designers, anxious to pick up the latest wedding trends from EuropeMildred Goelen and Krista Verwimp, whose work is often featured in British mag, Flower Inspirations, and Antwerp-based Bloemschikken magazine held a three-day workshop in Holambra, Brazil. They demonstrated more than 20 dramatic styles, ranging from a sleek minimalist look to a jeweled royal scepter. Some were possibly even a little shocking, but they were distinctive, which was rather the point of the workshop.
Overall, there is a movement toward using materials that are not considered “bridal”. A classic spiral bouquet of deep red roses and carnations took on a very urban look when surrounded in halo of twisted shiny steel wire in two different gauges. The stems were then completely wrapped in the same wire for a high-impact polished look.
Rather than just wrapping the stems with a satin ribbon, the meticulous craftsmanship of the bouquet support set their bouquets apart from other traditional arrangements. Individual leaves were carefully pinned in an overlapping pattern to completely cover the bouquet holder for several of their arrangements. Chocolate sisal wrapped around the base of the handle and bound with a copper-colored wire really set off the tight cluster of deep red roses and coral hypericum. The small head of the arrangement and the extra-long base gave the appearance of a scepter, complete with chocolate-colored pearls for a very regal effect. Another hollow spherical form painstakingly covered in pinned eucalyptus leaves, had pink gerberas and roses bursting out of the top. A handle of long strap-like formium leaves completed this arrangement, so it could be carried down the aisle like the Louis Vuitton Ellipse purse.  
The two instructors draw inspiration from the immediate surroundings, incorporating what is available, but in a completely unexpected way. Several of the bouquet supports were forms that had been covered with nori (Yes! As in the roasted seaweed used to roll sushi). It gives a beautiful marble-like effect. The white lisianthus and unopened lily buds contrasted strongly with this dark background. A very traditional white rose and lisianthus classic spiral bouquet was wreathed in ivy stems interwoven with pearl-like strings of palm blossoms, which are available in every garden here in Brazil. The point is to use what you find locally.
The most unusual group of bouquets that they introduced were not bouquets at all, but rather, interesting shapes that were worn not carried. One was a crocheted steel wire wrist-cuff interwoven with mini-chocolate orchids and secured with a pearl ring. Another was carried as a clutch-purse. Delicate phaeleonopsis blooms contrasted nicely with a long cascading cuff that was created by wiring together sections of snake grass with the same silver wire. There was a very chic open sphere made of airy materials, bleached leaf skeletons, wool batting, and white sisal. Looking into the opening, you could see white dendrobium orchid blooms and pearls fixed in the interior. This one was carried in the brides open palm, much like a sorceress carrying a crystal ball.
Whatever style they created, and whatever the materials used, the common thread in all of their designs was the careful preparation, attention to detail, and excellent craftsmanship. A bouquet is raised to the level of artistic expression, rather than accessory.
Mme’s Verwimp and Goelen are able to transform arrangements of already beautiful flowers into true showpieces.