1970s inspired Wedding Flowers

1970s Wired Posy Small-8

Wired Posy Bouquet 

Inspired by researching the floral designs used for my mum’s early 70s wedding I decided to create my own versions. The original flowers were orange in colour.  I wanted to create my designs in a different colour scheme, but with authentic techniques.

1970s Wedding Group

Christine, the adult bridesmaid is carrying a Wired Posy Bouquet. This is a design which, although wired, was meant to look like a loose, mixed posy. The design was also known as an Edwardian or Colonial Posy and was a development from the tightly packed Victorian Posy to a more natural, informal style. Having said that the style is not quite the country garden just gathered look of the current trend.

Choice of flowers and foliage

A mixture of flowers and foliage is usually used for a Posy Bouquet. There were no rules as to the mix of materials. However exotic flowers such as orchids were not used and large flowers were avoided.



Spray roses

Spray carnations


Small narcissi



Hyacinth pips

Lily of the valley



Sweet peas


Ivy leaves, trails and berries


Pittosporum tenuifolium


Ferns such as asparagus and nephrolepis


Small Eucalyptus gunnii sprays

I selected lilac Ocean Mikado and white Snowflake spray roses, purple, lilac and white freesias and white carnations as these seemed to me to be typical 70s flowers. Rather than going all out bright and bold like my mum’ s orange flowers I wanted to use a softer analogous colour scheme. For my foliage I used ivy and asparagus setaceus fern.


The Loose Posy is constructed using floristry wire. I must admit before I had embarked on learning about the techniques used to make Vintage bouquets I was sceptical about `mucking about with flowers’ with wire. I believe flowers are beautiful enough without having to manipulate or change them. However the process of learning about and making vintage styles has won me over to the appropriate use of floristry wire!  Wires are used in floral design for control, support, anchorage, to lengthen stems and to bind materials together,

All the flowers and foliage were mount wired using suitable wire gauge. The aim was to use a wire which would support the material, but still allow for a certain amount of natural movement. In Mount Wiring the natural stem of the flower or foliage is replaced and the flower is  mounted with a wire `stem’ to manipulate the material in a design and to create light, delicate work. There is no single correct way of wiring.The lightest gauge or thickness of wire for the purpose should always be used and wired material should not make the finished design stiff and heavy. I am by no means an expert. However I am amazed at how many techniques I have learnt over the last few months and how many different ways of mount and support wiring I employed in my 1970’s posy.


1970s Wired Posy Small-13


If I had been using larger roses for a buttonhole I would have pinned the sepals using small wire hairpins. However I felt it wasn’t necessary with small spray roses for a posy. The rose stem was cut at a steep angle to give a smooth finish. I pushed a 0.91 mm wire up through the base of the stem. (Internal Support Mount). The mount wire needs to be strong enough to support, but not overly heavy. The gauge of the wire will vary depending on how thick the stem is. The wire is pushed up about half way through the head of the rose.   I then cross wired the rose. A thin rose-wire is used to pierce the side of the calyx. Traditionally rose cross wire is 0.46 mm, however this is very fine and can bend easily. I found that it helped if I kept my fingers close to the stem to push the wire through.  It is best to use the thinnest wire you can manage without bending excessively. I also find it makes life easier if you cut the wire to a nice sharp angle before inserting. Once the wire is through pull the wire from the other side, don’t push. You then repeat with another rose-wire to form a cross through the calyx. Rose cross-wire Each side of the rose-wire is then bent through 90 degrees so the four lengths are parallel to the stem. One of the wires is then twisted round the rose stem, the support wire and the remaining length of rose-wire in a double leg mount. 


rose double leg mount

1970s Wired Posy Small-12The rose was then taped with gutta tape making sure the holes where the rose-wire was inserted were covered. Stem tape is used to seal in moisture and cover any rough ends. I found that my wires were too short for the posy So I just lengthened them by adding in another wire with more gutta tape.


I got my trusty Constance Spry Handbook of Floristry out and lost the will to live with the instructions to wire freesia flowers! `Freesia flowers need to be supported as well as the stems. This is done by taking a piece of 0.20 mm silver reel wire and attaching it by twisting with the main stem at the base of the bottom flower, twisting the wire up the flower to where it begins to bulge and then taking it down to the main stem. Twist the wire up the stem to the next flower and wire as for the first flower. Do this to all the open flowers.Twist the wire up the main stem at the base of the buds until the top bud, then twist the wire around the base of it and cut the wire away. Take 0.32 mm silver wire and push it into the stem where the binding wire began and twist down the base of the stem’.  Trussed up like a turkey comes to mind! Support wiring freesiaThe purpose of wiring in this posy was to support the flowers and to be able to manipulate the stems into the desired shape in the finished bouquet. I have wired lily of the valley according to this method and didn’t like the result as I could see the wire and the flowers easily snapped off in the process anyway.  I decided that as long as the freesia stems were mounted on suitable wire the flowers could be supported by the other flowers and foliage in my bouquet. I opted for a Branch Hook with a Double Leg Mount which seemed to do the job and no flowers fell off or got damaged in the process.

Double leg mount -1


Hooking can be used to support and mount any flower where you can hide the hook amongst the petals. I pushed a 0.71 mm support wire up through the calyx and out the top of the flower. I then made a hook at the top and pulled the wire down until the hook reached the base of the calyx, The stem and wire were then taped.

Hooking Carnation

For the  Asparagus foliage I used a  Single Leg Mount.

Single Leg Mount-1

Ivy Leaves

The ivy leaves were individually wired and then taped together to form a wired unit. The size should be graded from small at the top to larger at the bottom to give the impression that the unit is natural and is growing.

Individual ivy leaves were support wired by a method called stitching. A length of fine wire is stitched through the front of the leaf about two thirds of the way up then brought down to form a loop. The ends are then twisted together around the stem of the leaf to create a false stem. The process of stitching ivy leaves showed me how useful and versatile wiring techniques are. This method of support wiring really does what it says. The wire support allows you to manipulate the leaf aesthetically.

1970s Wired Posy Small-15

Once stitched and mounted the leaves were brought together to form a natural looking Branching Unit.

Branching Unit

As soon as I had experienced using a wired unit made in this manner and compared with using unwired natural foliage I was hooked on the technique. Wiring individual flowers and foliage involves skill, time and patience. However the usefulness becomes apparent when you put the design together. It is so easy with a completely natural design to try to manipulate a flower or leaf into a more aesthetically pleasing position and snap it off. This can leave a gap in a finished design and look worse than if you’d left alone. Branching units are great as you can move the stem, leaves and flowers exactly where you want them.

Finally the preparation was done and I could construct the posy!

I laid out all my wired flowers and foliage in groups – 5 white freesia, 5 lilac freesia, 3 purple freesia, 13 lilac Ocean Mikado Spray Blooms, 7 white Snowflake spray roses, 7 white carnations, 8 branched units of ivy (about 24 leaves) and 8 asparagus fern.

The posy is put together with silver binding wire.Silver Rose Wire Reel I attached the binding wire to one of the Ocean Mikado spray roses. This flower was chosen to form the centre of the design. For an average size posy this is attached approximately 6-8 cm below the flower head. I then added five pieces of ivy leaf units and bound tightly into the same length as the first flower.

Ocean Mikado Spray Roses

Wiring Techniques-6

The ivy was bent down so the false stems formed a rough circle round the central lilac rose. This had established the overall dimensions of the posy. If you want a larger posy then the binding point can be a bit lower. You would then use more stems to start the posy.

1970s Wired Posy

I  added a further five pieces of asparagus fern and bound in slightly shorter than the ivy. I wanted the ivy to trail a bit to create the impression of a loose posy. The fern was also bent down to strengthen the circular outline.

1970s Wired Posy Small-4

Then came the fun bit of adding the flowers. I used a wonderfully useful book `Professional Floristry techniques‘ by Malcolm Ashwell & Sally Pearson for my method. I also referred to   the Constance Spry Handbook of Floristry by Harold Piercy. Both were useful resource material and achieve the same result. However Constance’s method is much more prescriptive and also over-complicated. I did learn the importance of the centre flower. `It should be fairly small, but an `important ‘ flower such as a small spray rose. It is placed in the centre and leans towards the top flower. It is the longest flower to build upto; nothing must be higher than the centre and nothing must be longer than the outline of flowers. It is easier to work  with the outline shape first. The heaviest flowers should be near the centre. The leaves are placed attractively through the bouquet with larger leaves near the middle.’

The wire false legs form the handle of the bouquet. It is important not to cross the false legs and you always bind neatly in the same place. The wires are cut to the length of a clenched fist allowing an extra 2.5 cm. It looks neater to cut at an angle to form a tapered handle. The wire stems are then covered with white stem tape. The handle is finished with ivory ribbon with two bows tied neatly at the top.

Malcolm Ashwell says  that `the finished posy should be circular in outline and slightly domed in profile. It should also be light and feel secure to handle.’

I enjoyed making my 70s inspired Loose Posy. It did feel very light to hold and I think the finished result is both pretty and dainty. I found all the wiring very time consuming, but rewarding. After it was made I was able to tweak the angle of the flowers and foliage for best effect.

1970s Wired Posy Small-3

Traditional 70’s Ladies Corsage 

1970s Wired Posy Small-18

The mothers of the bride and groom traditionally wore a ladies corsage spray and my grandparents both wore corsages with a selection of different flowers. My Gran wore a vibrant corsage including orange spray roses, yellow freesia and asparagus fern which stood out against her navy suit. Nana’s corsage was daintier incorporating hyacinth pips.

1970s Corsage

1970s Corsage

As I had made a 70s inspired bridal posy I felt it only right to make a corsage too. These days it is popular for ladies to wear a loose natural tied posy button-hole. These look very pretty and are not as bulky as a traditional corsage. However they don’t always have the longevity of the traditional.

I wired all the materials in the same manner as I did for the bouquet.  I made a few branching units of ivy leaves and asparagus fern. This reduces the number of individual stems to be bound into the binding point and also gives the corsage strength.

1970s Wired Posy Small-13

I first formed the outline of the top 2/3 of the corsage by taping foliage to form an outline as far as the binding point would be.

1970s Wired Posy Small-16

I then attached silver binding wire to the stem of the corsage.This determines the binding area and centre of the design.

1970s Wired Posy Small-17

It is from this point that all materials appear to radiate and is the point where the central focal flower sits. I chose the same Ocean Mikado spray rose as my focal flower to match the bouquet.  Materials placed behind the focal flower are bent backwards to cover the stem of the corsage. This is known as the return end. The focal rose was bound in at a 90 degree angle low down directly over the return end. The finished corsage should be a kite shape. The flower material should be graduated in size towards the focal flower and then receding down in size into the return end.

The stem wires are trimmed just shorter than the return end flowers.  I thinned the stem by cutting off some of the wires and cut at an angle to achieve a tapered end. The stem and binding point was then taped.

1970s Wired Posy Small-9

Making a formal 70s style corsage was an interesting exercise. I can see the benefits. With a bit of thought and imagination they are a beautiful accessory and are quite versatile as they can be attached to hats or handbags, coat lapels, wrists or shoulders.  As all the elements are wired  and taped to seal in moisture a corsage will be longer lasting than a natural unwired Boutonniere. However mine took ages to make. It was also heavy in comparison and quite bulky. I can’t imagine pinning it to a flimsy wedding frock as I think it might ruin the dress. Looking back over the 70s photos the corsages are worn on jackets which would accomodate the weight. I also think that my corsage would have benefited from a few small hyacinth pips or berries to balance the proportions. My flowers are all very similar in size.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how much skill went into making 70s wired wedding designs. I definately now appreciate the amount of time and skill that went into creating them.

1970s Wired Posy Small-8

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Vintage Weddings -1970s

1970 Bible Posy Watercolour - Patsy Smiles

Dilys Katherine Hills and David Millard Jennings – 30 March 1970

I’m fascinated by my mum’s choice of wedding flowers and wedding dress in the 1970s. The Era brings to mind barefooted bohemian brides wearing floaty maxi dresses with loose long hair decorated with a floral crown or daisy chain. The Hippy Culture that began in the previous decade continued to be popular at the beginning of the 70s, but began to wane as rock `n’ roll and disco became influential. My mum was a rebel. She had left home at a young age and had lived an `alternative lifestyle’ which wasn’t approved of by her mother. The years before the wedding mum had been sleeping rough, mixing with drug addicts and alcoholics whilst having a lot of fun. (I was born the year before the wedding!). Why then did mum choose a very traditional white church wedding and opt for a bible corsage as a wedding bouquet?!

1970s Wedding

The Marriage Act of 1836 allowed for non-religious civil marriages to be held in register offices. It puzzles me that mum chose a church wedding instead of a registry office or even eloping to Gretna Green. I will never know for sure. There may have been pressure from parents to `conform’, but I don’t think that was the reason. My adoption records show that mum was working hard at maintaining a job to look after me and turning her life around. I think the church wedding was symbolic. Mum needed to prove to the authorities that she was fit and able to look after me and a proper church wedding was a good start. My foster father was best man at the wedding. They were married in St George’s Church, West Harnham which was the local church to where mum grew up.

St George's Church, West Harnham

1970s Wedding Flowers 

My mum chose pretty traditional flowers for her bridesmaids.  Christine, the elder bridesmaid, had a neat round Spring Posy Bouquet including peach coloured hyacinth pips and coral spray roses with a small amount of asparagus fern. The individual flowers were wired and mounted. The finished handle would have been ribboned and completed with a small bow.

1970s Wedding

The children are carrying Bridesmaid’s Baskets of flowers typical of the 1970s. The flowers in the baskets are quite minimal – a sprig of freesia, two carnations and a piece of asparagus fern,. The flowers were pushed into floral foam as in some pictures I can see the oasis. In the Constance Spry Handbook of Floristry the advice is that `the flowers should be placed in very firmly so that there is no likelihood of their falling out, even with rough handling by the bridesmaid!’ I can’t decide if flowers have fallen out with rough treatment or mum made the baskets herself with just a few token flowers. Constance Spry advised that the basket should be filled with flowers to about 1/2 inch from the top in a pleasing shape. There is a dainty bow placed on the handle.

Bible or Prayerbook Spray

Mum opted for an unusual Bible Spray instead of a bouquet or posy. This consisted of a small spray of flowers and leaves stitched onto a ribbon, which in turn acted as a bookmark in the Bible or prayerbook for either the marriage ceremony or the Lord’s Prayer. Mum chose to use flowers in a an orange, coral and yellow colour palette. She included coral spray roses, hyacinth pips and yellow freesia. Foliage was made up of asparagus fern and ivy leaves. The ribbon was a bright turquoise blue and co-ordinated with the bridesmaids dresses. I had fun making my own interpretation of the Bible Spray and then painting my version in watercolour. It was out of season for hyacinth pips so I went for the overall look rather than an exact replica.


Buttonholes and Corsages

Carnation Buttonhole

The men in the bridal party are all wearing traditional wired white carnation button-holes. Carnations were chosen because they were widely available and had good lasting qualities. In this case there was no foliage. Whenever possible a buttonhole flower was worn through the buttonhole and not pinned onto the front of the lapel. For this reason the flower stem needed to be very fine so the flower heads were mounted on taped wire to provide a thinner stem.  Sometimes Asparagus plumosus fern was used or three leaves made into a spray. Nowadays the groom’s button-hole often includes a flower from the bride’s bouquet to distinguish the groom from the rest of the bridal party. In the 1970s there was less individuality – all the men had the same white carnation buttonholes including the groom.

1970s Wedding Group

1970s Carnation Button Hole


1970s Carnation Button-hole

The mothers of the bride and groom traditionally wore a ladies corsage spray and my grandparents are both wearing corsages with a selection of different flowers. The bride’s mother’s vibrant corsage includes orange spray roses, yellow freesia and asparagus fern and stood out against her navy suit. The mother of the groom’s corsage is daintier incorporating hyacinth pips. Both ladies are wearing flowers on their left shoulder, although traditionally Ladies were always right!

1970s Corsage
1970s Corsage

1970s Wedding Fashion

The 70s was a time when no particular bridal fashion dominated the era. You can see an eclectic mix of bridal fashion in 70s photos. Mum made her own full length wedding dress and Christine’s bridesmaids dress. Although a traditional white wedding dress it does have billowed `leg o’ mutton’ sleeves which were a key bridal look of the period. The look is actually quite demure and covered up, particularly as mum had been fond of the 60s mini skirt. So different to fashion today where it is hard to find a wedding dress with sleeves.

1970s Wedding

Mum chose to wear an elbow length veil with artificial white flowers in her hair. The veil length is shorter than my Gran’s 1930s veil which was full length. Some brides preferred to wear floppy hats or bohemian style floral crowns or circlets.

The overall colour scheme was quite a bold 70s colour scheme using the complementary colours of coral orange and turquoise blue. Mum wore quite bright blue eyeshadow.

1970s Colour Scheme

1970 Wedding

1970 Bible Posy

I find it fascinating that I also chose peach and aqua as my wedding colour scheme. Mum’s half sister who never met mum also chose to wear turquoise on her wedding day! Kathryn’s turquoise 70s wedding dress is much more prairie style with ruffles and she’s opted for a hat instead of a veil.

1970S WeddingPrairie Style gowns were popular as evidenced by sewing patterns of the 70s.

1970s Wedding Styles

Vogue Bridal Design Pattern 1970s

Bohemian styles with longer cascading sleeves were in vogue. Necklines tended to be square in shape or higher as worn by my mum and Princess Anne during her wedding to Captain Mark Phillips in 1972. Princess Anne’s gown was based on a medieval design with trumpet sleeves edged in pearls and a train.

Princess Anne 1972

The 70s bride was not afraid of colour or pattern. I’ve found many an example where bridesmaids seem to be decked out in bold, highly patterned material reminiscent of vintage curtains!

1970s Wedding Hats

1970s Bold Colour Scheme

Big floppy hats were all the range. I really can’t image why mum chose to put her bridesmaids in those bright turquoise bonnets covered in artificial flowers! However bonnets in the style of Little Bo-Peep and Holly Hobbie were in vogue. I guess they completed the milkmaid/peasant look nicely!

1970s Colour Scheme

1970s Bonnet

1970s bonnet pattern

Not everybody opted for a long flowing wedding dress in the 70s. When Bianca married Mick Jagger in 1971 she opted for  an Yves Saint Laurent tailored blazer, midi skirt and floppy hat.  Nothing was worn underneath the jacket!

Bianca Jagger 1971

The 60s had inspired the mini-skirt so some brides chose to stick with the mini and a simpler more tailored look as worn to this registry office wedding.

1970s Registry Wedding

Wedding Transport

The bride travelled to the church in her brother’s dark green Mark II Jaguar. My Uncle remembered touching up the paintwork the day before and his housemates said he was `guilding the lily’. It felt quite symbolic when my Uncle gave me away as he had my mum and we also travelled to the ceremony in a Mark II Jaguar.

Jaguar Mark II

Jaguar Mark II

1970 Wedding

Patsy Smiles

Wedding Breakfast

From the wedding group photograph it looks like mum had a similar number of guests as both myself and my Gran which was about forty.

1970 Wedding Group Shot

The reception was held in the church hall which looks like a rather ugly prefabricated building. It was a simple affair. There were no formal laid out tables with a seating plan. It was a case of standing around and circling, helping yourself to the `cold buffet’. The buffet consisted largely of sandwiches, sausage rolls and the 70s favourite of cheese and pineapple on sticks. There was a traditional two tier iced fruit wedding cake which was topped with a small spray of freesias in a pretty silver bud vase. I remember the bud vase.

1970s Wedding Cake

Wedding Present List 1970

I still have mum’s wedding present list tucked amongst the photos. I love this kind of social history. There are quite a few similarities with my Gran’s 1930s wedding presents and the ones we had in 2011. We all were given casseroles, bath towels and cutlery.

1970 Wedding Presents

1970s Wedding List

They were eight casseroles! We were given a wonderful cast iron Le Creuset casserole by Margaret and David which has proved invaluable. Margaret went to school with mum and had given one of those eight casseroles in 1970 so I wonder if it was used as much with so many to chose from! It’s quite interesting that the pyrosil casseroles are listed separately. The Pyrosil Corning Ware Blue Cornflower oven to table dish with it’s detachable handle was used for over twenty years! It was used both on the top of the stove and in the oven. My guess is that was the only casserole that was used out of the eight!

Pyrosil Corningware Cornflower

These days I don’t think you’d give an ash tray as a wedding gift. However my Gran was given a Turkish cigarette holder.

The wedding breakfast finished mid afternoon when the Happy Couple drove away on honeymoon to the West Country. Although mum wore traditional white for the ceremony she was quite happy to wear a fashionable mini skirt and boots as her Going Away Outfit. The honeymoon was a weekend in the West Country where it was perishing cold with March winds and snow.

1970 Going Away Outfit

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The person behind Patsy Smiles Flowers


My love of flowers and seasonal beauty has been nurtured by my family.  My great grandad worked as a market gardener and florist and always wore a flower in his button hole where ever he went.  My passion for flowers feels part of my genetic make-up.

George Spice

My family taught me to see the natural beauty of each season. As a child we made special trips to see the first snowdrops and then Spring primroses.

Spring Mosaic

I remember a deserted cottage surrounded by primroses in the woods. I dreamed of living there when I grew up, being self-sufficient and having a wonderful English cottage garden full of flowers including delphiniums, hollyhocks and roses round the door.  There would be freshly picked flowers on the table every day. My Uncle picked primroses as a gift for my mum from Clarendon Woods when she was born.  In my mind the primrose was my mum’s flower and my mum handed down her knowledge of wildflowers to me. Whenever we went out for a country walk she would get me to learn the names of the flowers we saw.

Strawberry Hill Rose

Flowers to me evoke wonderful memories. The beautiful fragrance of my garden roses takes me back to days spent at Mottisfont gardens. Big, blowsy hydrangeas and vivid blue agapanthus remind me of Summer holidays in Devon and Cornwall. Autumn saw blackberry picking and country walks searching for chestnuts. I picked crab apples with my Uncle to make crab apple jelly bridal favours for my Agapanthus Blueswedding. We always ended the year with a trip to the New Forest to hunt down holly with red berries for the Christmas pud.

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Unspoilt beaches and tasty treats….

Rigsby Wold Holiday Cottages


Owl Cottage

Last month Mr Smiles and I had a very enjoyable relaxing break in Lincolnshire staying at Owl Cottage part of Rigsby Wold Holiday Cottages. I’ve never visited Lincolnshire before and it made a nice change to the South Coast. In fact Lincolnshire has now become one of my favourite holiday destinations. I thought I’d share a few of  the highlights.

Rural  Retreat

Rigsby Wold Holiday Cottages

 Room with a view

Room with a View

Country walks

Lincolnshire Walks

Sense of community

A place of community

Time standing still

Historical churches

Place to rest

A sense of History

Simple pleasures

Lincolnshire Snowdrops

Cosy fires and tasty roast dinners

White Hart Inn Roast Dinner

Morning coffee

Coffee Time

Stunning sea views

Sea View

Vast open spaces

Vast Sandy Beaches

Wide sandy beaches

Vast sandy beaches

Searching for treasure

Searching for Treasure

Colourful beach huts

Sunny Beach huts

Ice cream delights

Ice Creams

Sea side towns

Bright Light of Skegness

Fairground attractions

Fairground Attraction

Peaceful creeks

Peaceful Creek

Nature’s best

Gibraltar Point

Glorious sunsets

Lincolnshire sunset

Fresh local produce

Local Produce

Chocolate lover’s heaven

Chocolate Heaven!

Lincolnshire tea

Lincolnshire Treats

I hope you enjoyed our Lincolnshire highlights as much as we did. I must admit the Lincolnshire Plum bread and Poacher cheese supplied by Barbara, the cottage owner, was delicious! I bought the jug locally in Alford as we just had to enjoy the Lincolnshire daffodils whilst we were there!


12 Months of Freshly Picked Posies


January brings the snow, that makes our feet and fingers glow.


January Mosaic

January's Posy




January's Posy












Cinnamon SnowJanuary Hues


February brings the rain that, thaws the frozen lake again.

February Posy

Penny's Pink






February Hues


February Mosaic

Penny's Pink

Colourful Crocus FlowersA host of Daffodils

March brings breezes sharp and shrill that, shake the dancing daffodil.

March Posy

March Mosaic


Pretty Primroses




Anemone Blanda





Spring Heralds






Anemone Blanda Hues




April brings the primrose sweet and, scatters daisies at our feet.

Cuddled up!

Orange Flame







April Posy


April's Mosaic




April Hues


May brings flocks of pretty lambs, skipping by their fleecy dams.

May Mosaic

Purple Frills

Phlox amoena VariegataMay Colours

June brings tulips, lilies, roses that, fill the children’s hands with posies.

June Posy

Strawberry HillJune Mosaic





June Hues

Hot July brings cooling showers, Apricots and Gillyflowers.

Oh I do like to be beside the Seaside!

Simply BlueSimply Sweetpeas




Echinops Blues



July HuesJuly MosaicAugust brings the sheaves of corn and, then the harvest home is borne.

Purple Magic

Osirium Dahlia

August HuesGerrie Hoek meets Peaches `n' Cream

August Mosaic

Warm September brings the fruit, sportsmen then begin to shoot.

Autumn Posy

Helenium - The Bishop

Autumn Colours

September Mosaic

Helenium - Moorheim Beauty





Brown October brings the pheasant, then to gather nuts is pleasant.

October's Posy

Pink Chrysanthemum


October Mosaic
October Hues











Dull November brings the blast, then the leaves go whirling past.

November Posy

November PickingsNovember Hues




RHS Wisley Seedpod












November Mosaic



RHS Wisley Japanese Anemone


Chill December brings the sleet, blazing fire and Christmas treat.December Posy

Nature's Baubles

December Hues

December Mosaic

Cinnamon Snow

Happy New Year Berries

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January Posy

January's Posy

Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring! 

Back In February last year I set myself the challenge of photographing a `Posy of the Month’ with flowers picked from our garden. I have now finally completed my challenge and this month’s Posy is a celebration of the dainty Snowdrop.

`LONE Flower, hemmed in with snows and white as they
But hardier far, once more I see thee bend
Thy forehead, as if fearful to offend,
Like an unbidden guest. Though day by day,
Storms, sallying from the mountain-tops, waylay
The rising sun, and on the plains descend;
Yet art thou welcome, welcome as a friend
Whose zeal outruns his promise! Blue-eyed May
Shall soon behold this border thickly set
With bright jonquils, their odours lavishing
On the soft west-wind and his frolic peers;

Nor will I then thy modest grace forget,
Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring,
And pensive monitor of fleeting years! ‘

William Wordsworth 1819

The humble dainty white snowdrop is a very different flower to the brash, bold dahlias I  photographed last year. I haven’t got many snowdrops in the garden as the squirrels seem to think the bulbs are nuts and dig them up! However the few I have mark the beginning of a new gardening year. I love the phrase in Wordsworth’s poem `Chaste Snowdrop, venturous harbinger of Spring, and pensive monitor of fleeting years.’ The dainty white snowdrop foreshadows Spring and the heralding daffodils and marks the end of one gardening year and the start of another.

For my Posy I wanted to capture the purity of the white snowdrop. I bought a vintage perfume bottle, a trinket box together with a few glass bottles. My aim was to capture an image that looked like a vintage dressing table with the perfume bottle and vintage jewellery.  I decided that silver and clear glass would work well with the white of the snowdrops. I chose a Wintery blue background to create an image reminiscent of a cold January day.

January's PosyJanuary's PosyJanuary's Posy

The `Flower Book for the Pocket’ belonged to my Gran. It seemed to belong in my image. I hope it conveys the atmosphere of a 1930s ladies dressing table.


Snowdrop TwinsSnowdropDouble SnowdropSnowdropSnowdrop


Apart from the snowdrops my Hellebores are coming into their own and I have added to my collection in the last month.

Helleborus × ericsmithii Ice Breaker Max

Large outfacing single creamy-white flowers, with a slight greenish tinge, appear in early spring.

Ice Breaker Max

Ice Breaker Max

Helleborus  x  hybridus ‘Molly’s White’

Attractive marbled foliage all year round and in Late Winter and Spring stems hold the pure white flowers above the foliage.

Molly's White


Helleborus niger Mini Blanc

This one is an early bloomer and can often be seen in flower at Christmas time.

Mini Blanc

Helleborus x ballardiae Gold Collection Cinnamon Snow

Pink buds open to creamy white flowers suffused with warm rose and cinnamon. Dark cinnamon rose petal  on the reverse side. The large blooms face outward.

Cinnamon SnowCinnamon Snow

There is an unknown variety in bloom in our front garden.


We also have a few pink cyclamen  flowers in bloom and a white primula called Spring Charm.  CyclamenCyclamenCyclamenHedera White VariegatedSpring Charm White

The colours of January seem to have been muted whites, blues, pinks and greys. The snowdrop being the harbinger of Spring rather than the bold, brash daffodils which herald the arrival of Spring shortly.

January HuesJanuary Mosaic

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Vintage Weddings – 1930s


Marriage of George Mason Hills and Betty Berry 1937

George Mason Hills and Betty Edna Berry – 26 June 1937

My Grandma, Betty Edna Berry, was born in Clapton in 1914 and lived with her parents Henry and Ethel Berry at 28 Elmcroft Street, Clapton, London.

Elmcroft Street

My Grandfather George Mason Hills was born in Sheffield, son of George and Mary and brother to William and Ina.  The Hills family were adventurous hill walkers and loved mountaineering.

Derbyshire - 1930s

So how did a London lass meet a lad from `up North’ in the 1930s? At that time Betty’s Aunt Kate was seriously ill, suffering from renal tuberculosis. At the beginning of the 20th century, tuberculosis was one of the UK’s most urgent health problems.  Betty’s mother Ethel was looking after her sister in 1934 and Betty was shipped off out of the way. Kate died of `consumption’ in June 1936.

Kate Spice


As it was Christmas Betty went to stay with her Aunt Nell, Uncle Stuart and cousin Tom Turner in Sheffield. The Turners were friends of the Hills family and so they came to visit a lot that Christmas. Betty was introduced to George when Tom invited some of his former school friends to meet his cousin from London. George Hills was working for the Medical Research Council in London, but was visiting his parents in Sheffield for Christmas.

As George was also living in London, Betty and George travelled back together on the train from Sheffield. George lived in digs fairly nearby in Lordship Road, Stoke Newington, lodging with Miss Prickett. He made it clear he would like to see Betty again and the rest is history…

Engagement – Summer 1935 

1930s -4

George asked Betty if she would consider marriage in the coastal village of Beer in Devon as the Berry family were on holiday there. This was a favourite family holiday destination where they stayed in a Boarding house in the village. On a previous occasion Ralph, a local fisherman, had asked my Gran to go for a moonlight fishing trip after the village dance. The family felt he had other things on his mind other than fishing and the outing was declined!

Beer Beach, Devon with Betty wearing a very fashionable swimming costume

George come down on the train from London to see Betty for the day. I have the love letter George wrote to my Gran the morning he got back:-

`49 Lordship Road, London, N16. 15:vii:35

Most darling Precious, I want to tell you all about the most marvellous journey back which I had; I never felt as happy in my life before. I not only felt as happy, as when on a country bicycle ride on a frosty, but bright sunny morning or as when seeing the sunrise during an Alpine climb, but I also felt as if I should like every-one else to feel equally happy. I felt genuinely sorry for every-one less well of than myself, who can’t even afford a cheap excursion to Beer.

Very early in the journey I got the idea that there would only have to be a suspicion of an answer `Yes’ from you and I would come over to Beer and marry you by special licence to-morrow if it could be done that quick. When I got back, after first kissing your photo-graph and then lighting the gas, I found my diary and looked up the cost of the licence and was gratified to find it was only £5.  Through out the journey I continued to develop the idea. As there would be no engagement, there would be no engagement ring. Perhaps you wouldn’t like that, but with the money saved you could have a radio-gramophone. An engagement ring may make you want to dance, but you can’t get any dance-music out of it. We should have to give up the idea of a honeymoon in the Italian Alps and perhaps `our bungalow’. We shouldn’t be able to live on a fabulously lavish scale on my £250 a year. After deciding all this I suddenly realised that as you are not yet a lady your dad should have to say `Yes’ too, do you think he would? One thing is certain that if you really do want a bungalow, I don’t think I will have saved enough pennies for us to get engaged in September; because Toots, once I am engaged to you, I shall feel it impossible for us to remain unmarried for more than six months. After so much good-will I am sure it goes without saying that I hope your party at Beer have a marvellous time with marvellous weather. How can you be so good to me, Tootsy?

Yours, darling, for ever and ever, Georgie’  


1930s -6

In the 1930s the Legal Age of Consent was 21 and 16 with parental permission. Betty was still 20 in June 1935 so they either needed to gain parental consent or wait till Betty’s birthday in the September. They were officially engaged on 1st August so permission must have been given! I am unaware as to whether my Gran did have an official engagement ring in the end. I did find these opal rings among her possessions and she was always fond of opals.

18 ct Opal ringOpal Ring


Shared Interests

George was a country boy who loved the outdoors, hiking and alpine mountaineering. Betty was a London lass who enjoyed parties and dancing. They took up each others hobbies! As George got to know Betty he shared his love of walking with her and they even went to the Lake District for a holiday before they got married. My Gran assured me that it was all above board and they shared hostel accomodation with another couple in single sex dorms!

1930s -51930's Hiking Outfits

1930s -7

Soon after they married they got a dog called Chum. George and Betty did a lot of walking from their home in Chelsfield, Kent. They also bought a tandem and travelled all over the place including an adventure to the Italian Lakes by train as a belated honeymoon.

1938 Walking with Chum


When George met Betty he hadn’t been into ballroom dancing. However, as Betty loved dancing so much, George took up dancing lessons near his digs in Lordship Road so they could go dancing together. They obviously got quite good as they won the Slow Foxtrot at a competition when they were living in Chelsfield, Kent after they were married.

I can see I have inherited a love of the outdoors and a love of dancing!


Marriage of George Mason Hills and Betty Edna Berry – 26 June 1937

1930's Wedding

1930s Wedding-7George and Betty married at Clapton Park Congregational Chapel on Lower Clapton Road. The Round Chapel was built in 1869-71 as a non-conformist, congregational church. It is now an arts centre and is considered to be one of the finest non-conformist buildings in London.

1930s Wedding-34img180

After the ceremony catering was provided for 33 guests at a local Hired Hall.

1930s Wedding-2

Catering Bill 1937


We invited 38 guests for our Wedding breakfast so the numbers were similar with close friends and family invited.

Wedding of George Mason Hills and Betty Berry 26 June 1937


My Gran chose George’s sister Ina and her best friend Christine Hyde as bridesmaids. The Hydes were friends of the Berry family. The best man was George’s brother William.

1930s  Fashion 

History of Fashion

The 1920s had seen shorter dresses with brides showing an ankle. The wedding dress became increasingly shorter as the decade went on. In the 1930s the wedding dress became more slender and elegant. The fabric was cut on the cross so that the material fell into graceful folds and could be rather figure hugging. Silk elbow-length evening gloves were worn with a bracelet or watch on top of the gloves.  Betty was a bridesmaid for her cousin Kath Spice in 1933 where the outfits were typical of the early 1930s. Kath opted to wear a hat rather than a veil. Cloche hats were typical of the late twenties/early thirties. The Cloche was a fitted, bell-shaped hat for women that was invented in 1908 by milliner Caroline Reboux and was especially popular from about 1922 to 1933. Its name is derived from cloche, the French word for “bell”. My Gran is wearing gauntlet style gloves with decorative flowing cuffs and seems to be holding a clutch bag rather than a bouquet.

Kath Spice's Wedding 1933

1930's FashionSpringtime Brides 1933 - Weldon's Ladies JournalWedding fabrics were chiffon, silk, crepe-de-chine and satin cut on the bias. The formal 1930s bridal gown was floor length, and had an elaborate, long train. Chantilly lace trimmed the edges of the floor length veils that were anchored to the head with a juliet cap. Long opera length gloves completed the look of a sleeveless or butterfly sleeved bodice.

1930s Holleywood Glamour

Marriage of George Mason Hills and Betty Berry 1937

Betty chose a white wedding dress which which was more classic than the contemporary style she wore as a bridesmaid.  Wedding gowns often reflect the latest fashions of an era and can be time-dated by their silhouettes, sleeve styles etc. However some brides of the 19th and 20th centuries chose to wear their mother’s or grandmother’s wedding dress or veil. This can be misleading when dating photographs. Maybe my Gran decided the figure-hugging styles of the 1930s were a bit tarty for a bride! I can’t decide if my Gran is wearing a new dress and veil or decided to wear her mum’s. I do know my mum’s wedding dress, which she made herself, was saved for my wedding day. However I couldn’t get into it as the dress was 2 sizes too small for me!  The bridesmaids have fuller skirts than the latest fashion, but they are sporting cap sleeves. Betty is wearing a fashionable short finger waved hairstyle.

Early 30's Hair StylesHelen D'Algy

1930s Wedding

In my Grandparents wedding photos the guests are wearing typical 1930s Day Dresses.The most dramatic difference between the fashion of the thirties and the previous decade was the emphasis on a slim waist. The 1920s had seen a flat `boyish’ loose shape with a dropped waist. 1930s fashion saw a slender fitted style with a high natural waist accented with a belt. The belt often matched the dress using the same floral or patterned fabric. Fashion was to create interest at the top of the garment and accentuate the waist. This included caplet sleeves, puffed sleeves, and angular shoulders which, in turn, would give the illusion of a smaller waist. Femininity and pretty details were a key feature of 1930s fashion. I think I was born in the wrong era! Necklines and collars were always high with no cleavage on show. Hemlines went back down after the almost knee baring 1920s to mid calf for Day Dresses.

1937 Day Dresses1937 Fashion


1930s Wedding Flowers

Money was scarce during the Great depression of the 1930s. Unless a bride came from wealth, flowers tended to be locally grown and readily available. Several styles of bouquet were popular in the 1930s and were designed to complement the dress.

Arm Bouquet This style was designed to be held in the bride’s arms and looked sleek and elegant against the slim line dress styles of the 1930s. Long stemmed flowers were used which included calla lilies, gladiolus, delphiniums and long stemmed roses. Ribbons were sometimes woven into the design.

Vintage Sewing Pattern - 1934 Vobach 71306


The Nosegay or Tussie-Mussie. This style of bouquet has been around since Elizabethan times and was still popular in the 1930s. The nosegay was a small round shaped bouquet of closely filled flowers. Generally two or three flowers were the central feature surrounded by fragrant herbs and greenery. The flowers were usually roses, tulips or carnations. The Nosegay was originally intended to be put to the nose to mask unpleasant odours when bathing was not so frequent. Sage, mint, thyme and rosemary were often included as fragrant herbs.The posy was styled within a cone-shaped vessel of metal or glass known as a tussie-mussie. Ribbons were used to accent the flowers and the bouquet was often wrapped in a lace doiley. The Victorians turned the tussie-mussie into an art form giving each flower and herb a symbolic meaning.

1930s Nosegay Bouquet


The Cascade or Shower Bouquet. This was the style Betty chose for her wedding flowers. The bouquet is round at the top near the bride’s hands and spills over in a cascade of foliage ribbons and flowers. Choice of flowers was limited in the 1930s – carnations, roses, lilies and plenty of Maiden-hair and Asparagus fern. I am fascinated by the bouquets in my Gran’s wedding photos. The two bridesmaids have huge bouquets packed full of garden roses and trailing fern. They are also carrying Dorothy bags which are likely to contain confetti. My Gran on the other hand has a smaller, more sparse bouquet of carnations. I really can’t understand why! I prefer the abundant rose bouquets. Perhaps carnations were more highly prized and my Gran was fond of the fragrance?! There were also carnation button holes for the men in the bridal party.

1930's Wedding


Wedding Present List 1937  

1930s Wedding Present List (1)1930s Wedding Present List (2)

I was delighted to find my Gran’s Wedding Present List tucked amongst her wedding photos. What a wonderful piece of social history! There are so many similarities between my Gran’s Wedding Gifts, my mum’s and mine. We all had a dinner service, casseroles, flower vases and bath towels.   I either still have many of the items on the list or remember them. The list shows that amongst the wedding party guests were family, work colleagues and friends. Uncle George gave his niece towels as he worked as a Sales Rep for Christie’s towels. There are many more ornate items of cutlery and serving dishes than we received or would dream of using.

Aunt Nell and Uncle Stew gave giant fish servers made in Sheffield, which was appropriate as they lived in Sheffield. Uncle Stew had been an assistant steel overseer for the admirality.

1930s Walker & Hall Fish Servers1930s Fish Knives and Forks

Other cutlery items included egg spoons and pastry knives and forks. Apparently an egg spoon is a specialised spoon for use in eating boiled eggs. In comparison to a teaspoon it typically has a shorter handle and bowl, a more pointed tip and often a more rounded bowl. The pastry knives and forks given by Horace Laithwaite, a colleague of George, came in wonderful crocodile or snake skin presentation cases.

1930s Pastry knives and forks1930s Reliance Plate Pastry Knives

There was a lot of cut glass amongst the wedding presents. I remember having biscuits out of the Cut Glass Biscuit Barrel when I came home from school. The Cut Glass Cruet, a gift from Aunt Blanche and Uncle Arthur Mason, was always brought out for Christmas and Birthdays. Unfortunately the vinegar bottle was broken so I decided not to keep it. However it looked very like this set:-

Cut glass cruet

Glassware also included grapefruit dishes, vases and a cake stand.  Christmas cakes, Easter cakes and birthday cakes were always presented on the Cut Glass Cake Stand.

Cut Glass Cake Stand


Betty’s Grafton China tea-set was a present from her bridesmaid Christine and her mother.  All we have left now is a bread and butter plate and this bowl. The Grafton China marking is from the period 1935-1949.

1930s Grafton China Tea-setGrafton China

Whilst I was clearing my Uncle’s house I found this lovely Amber Cloud Glass Flower Bowl Set which was given by Ethel Marsh. Unfortunately I threw the plinth out as I didn’t realise it belonged to the flower bowl! Cloud glass is a form of pressed art glass, created by applying streaks of dark coloured glass to paler glass, which creates a random swirled, “clouded” pattern. The cloud glass technique was invented by George Davidson & Co in 1923.  The Pattern number is 1910SD, 6.75 inches diameter.

George Davidson Amber Cloud Glass (1910SD)George Davidson Amber Cloud GlassGeorge Davidson CatalogueGeorge Davidson Glass Catalogue1931

Ethel Marsh was a colleague of Betty at the Liverpool Victoria Insurance offices. The stories my Gran recounted about the Liverpool Vic are more to do with the social side than actual work! Betty made many good friends whilst working there, many of whom came to her wedding. In the 1930s a married woman was not expected to work. When Betty got married she was expected to give up her job. During the Second World War women were needed to work whilst the men were away at war. After the war it was more socially acceptable for married women to go out to work. My Gran recounted going on trips away with the Liverpool Vic to Brighton. The offices would be closed and they would all go off to the seaside in a charrabanc. I have pictures of the girls on the beach. Winnie Holland seemed to be a bit of a goer and is showing her knickers whilst paddling!

Liverpool Victoria Office Outing1930s -3Liverpool Victoria Office Outing

Winnie came to the wedding along with Mary Gallimore, Ethel Marsh and Gladys Kingdon.  The Womens Record Department gave a dinner service, electric clock and meat carvers.

Meat Carver


Other intriguing gifts were a Turkish Cigarette Box and Ashtray from Fred Dainton.  I couldn’t think of anything I’d want less for a wedding present. However my Gran was partial to smoking a Turkish cigarette! Although not on the list my Gran was very fond of her Honeybee which seems to date from a similar period.

1930s Wedding-20Betty’s Aunt Jennie and Lou gave her a LLoyd Loom Linen Basket, which was passed on to my mum in later years.  LLoyd Loom is the name given to a woven fabric and furniture that was invented by Marshall Burns Lloyd nearly 100 years ago. Lloyd Loom weave is made from twisted paper and wire and the frames are traditionally made from steam-bent beech wood. The furniture is renowned for its longevity and durability.  It inspired a generation of furniture designers in the 1920’s and 30’s, associated with the art-deco period and the classic ocean-going liners of the time. It became immensely popular in the UK before the London factory was destroyed in the war, spelling an end to large scale production.

LLoyd Loom 1930's Furniture

LLoyd Loom Quadrant Linen Basket

Aunt Lou and Jennie were unable to come up from Brixham in Devon for the wedding, but were very fond of their youngest niece.

Aunt Jennie and Lou Berry

The two maiden Aunts sent a Wedding  Congratulation Postcard.  


Wedding Postcard - Aunt JennieWedding Postcard - Aunt Jennie


Wedding Cards, Telegrams and Postcards 

1930s Wedding Telegram

1930s Wedding Telegram1930s Wedding Postcard1930s Wedding Card


After the wedding celebrations Betty and George spent a wet, rainy week in the Lake District on Honeymoon. A year later they finally made it to the Italian Lakes on their tandem for a belated honeymoon. Another Epic Blog Post in the making…!

1930s Honeymoon
1930s Honeymoon

1930s HoneymoonLake District Honeymoon1930s Honeymoon



I hope you have enjoyed my Grandparents’ 1930s wedding. I certainly cherish these wonderful photos and keepsakes!


Wedding of George Mason Hills and Betty Berry 26 June 1937


December Posy

December Posy

My December Posy was my biggest challenge yet! There was virtually nothing in the garden to pick to make any sort of posy let alone produce something beautiful to photograph creatively. Due to family commitments and the start of a new job our garden has been left to it’s own devices. It was covered in a carpet of leaves and the seed heads, which had looked pretty in November, now looked tired, worn out and dead! I appreciated the symbolism. As my Uncle was approaching death I could see a beauty in the textures and muted colours of my seed heads. Now he has passed away that beauty has gone…Time for a tidy up and making way for new growth. I had a wonderful day after Christmas raking up leaves outside in the fresh air. Normally these would have been raked up into ship-shape order long ago in true Patsy Smiles organised fashion. I enjoyed getting outside after the excesses of Christmas. I saw the tiny heads of bulbs emerging and felt that everything was beginning to start a new. Lovely!

To get some much needed inspiration for my December Posy I visited my favourite local florist Fabulous Flowers and I also visited a garden centre which is new to me. Charlton Park Garden Centre is a family run enterprise which was founded by the Stevenson family in the 1950’s initially as a plant nursery and then as a retailer. I have just started a new job Managing Robert Stanley Optician’s in Grove and got chatting to one of Charlton Park’s employees. Jonathan was able to come up with some good ideas for Winter flowering shrubs which would provide me with the colour I needed. So off I went…

Patsy Smiles Dispensing Manager

Fabulous Flowers had some simple but classy Mason jars with decorative red and white bows. This proved the start of my inspiration. I was then inspired to buy red, silver and white decorations from Charlton Park to give work a festive feel. As the practice is largely white in colour this worked well.

Christmas @ Robert Stanley
Christmas @ Robert StanleyChristmas @ Robert Stanley


Christmas @ Robert Stanley


Christmas @ Robert Stanley

I loved the red and white gingham. I couldn’t find enough red berries at the garden centre so `foraged’ red cotoneaster berries from a tree in a neighbouring street after dark. They weren’t foraged from a garden, just a tree on the open street! I had been admiring the berries for weeks on my way to work.

Red Berries

I was extremely grateful for the bountiful red berries Yes I know they are meant to be picked from my garden according to my rules. However I’ve changed my rules to be able to complete my project! I am now allowing foraged leaves and berries, as long as they weren’t purchased in a ready made arrangement. That way I can still be creative even if the garden is a bit bare. I think the berries look spectacular in the jar I bought from Fabulous Flowers with the red gingham ribbon.

Happy New Year Berries

Vibrant Berries

I could have stopped there and called this December’s Posy. However I felt that I’d not utilised the shrubs in my garden. I added a few sneaky extras from Charlton Park Garden Centre to make up for the sparcity in our garden,  purchasing a reduced price pot grown Blue Spruce Christmas tree, Skimmia japonica shrub, dainty cyclamen coum  and a couple of hellebores.

Christmas Angel

We failed with Christmas this year and didn’t even get our pretty Christmas decs down from the loft! However this lovely little aromatic blue spruce should grow up to be just right for next year. I’m quite pleased I’m now ahead of the game and started Christmas planning! Hurrah! The angel decoration was given to me at a memorial service to remember my Uncle at the palliative care home. Unfortunately I dropped it in the middle of taking photos and the wings came off…oh well my Uncle was extremely fond of using aruldite glue to make do and mend! Fond memories.

We have no holly in the garden, but we do have ivy. I’m trying to cover the fence with ivy and a fence hugging hydrangea (sneakily). Mr Smiles likes to `maintain the fence’ and likes a clear run to use creosote for maintenance. Oh dear creosote and foliage don’t go together! The next house we move to will have to have a wild-life friendly hedge in addition to my dream art studio.

Christmas Ivy


My hellebores didn’t get going till February last year. However Charlton Park came up trumps. I purchased a couple of plants labelled Helleborus Gold Collection which sounded fancy.

`The term Helleborus Gold Collection®, abbreviated HGC, contains different varieties of Helleborus niger and hybrids, which are all propagated vegetatively.  The HGC varieties guarantee variety, identity and uniformity because of the propagation method. Each HGC variety must pass stringent criteria over several years before they are received into the Helleborus Gold Collection®.’

HGC Ice Breaker Max 

Cinnamon SnowIce Breaker Max

Large creamy white blooms with a fresh green blush and shiny dark green leaves.

HGC Cinnamon Snow

Cinnamon Snow

Pink buds which open to white flowers suffused with warm rose and cinnamon.

Skimmia japonica 

Skimmia japonica

This evergreen shrub was a wonderful find at the garden centre with her pinky/red terminal panicles. I knew this would provide a bit of welcome colour in my December arrangement.

I also purchased pretty pink cyclamen coum to go in pots with dainty viola. I knew they wouldn’t quite fit my colour scheme for December though.

Cyclamen Coum

December’s Posy ended up being a celebration of Christmas with an emphasis on red and green hues. I added in poppy seed heads which I had collected from the garden earlier in the year. I included dark viburnum berries, aromatic rosemary, cheerful rosehips and delicate papery Chinese Lantern skeletons.

Nature's Baubles

I was inspired by a table decoration I bought from Fabulous Flowers which I reworked with my own foliage including those wonderful vibrant red foraged berries.

December PosyDecember Posy


December’s Natural Hues were largely reds, greens and neutrals.

December Hues



December Mosaic


I hope you like December’s Posy. One more month to go and I have completed my challenge for a complete year. Better start planning January’s Posy!



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A Fitting Tribute

`I have no regrets. I have lived my life to the full. I have enjoyed my career and my leisure time. I would like to live longer, but there is nothing more I have left to achieve.’ 


Redclyffe Yacht Club

David A. Hills

Eliza James Flowers Nautical WreathRecently I had the emotional task of planning a funeral for my closest relative, My Uncle David. His life was cut short by pancreatic cancer. When my Uncle phoned me to give me the sad news of his cancer he said to me ` Try not to be sad Patsy. I have no regrets. I have lived my life to the full. I have enjoyed my career and my leisure time. I would like to live longer, but there is nothing more I have left to achieve.’

I wanted the funeral to reflect my Uncle’s personality and way of life.  As I am passionate about flowers I wanted to provide a fitting floral tribute.

I looked through the funeral director’s book containing sample wreaths and I thought `Ostentacious and ghastly in equal measure!’ I wanted a floral tribute that reflected my Uncle’s life and was truly personal to him. I really do not like lilies, although they are commonly associated with funeral services. Symbolically, these flowers are meant to show that the soul of the person has returned to a state of innocence. White lilies symbolise purity and appear at funerals more often than other varieties. Stargazer lilies symbolise sympathy, which is why they are often recommended as an appropriate option for the loved ones of the deceased. Lilies just weren’t the right thing for my Uncle or me. I was quite dismayed at the ubiquitous array of floral tributes that seem to be churned out for funerals. From my Bridal Bouquet Paintings I know that a lot of thought goes into the flowers at a wedding and a good florist will strive to create something unique for each and every wedding. Why not for funerals?

I chose Hilary of Eliza James Flowers to provide my tribute for the simple reason that she understood what I wanted. Hilary’s style of floristry is to include as much local foliage, seed heads and herbs as possible in her work. She loves searching the hedgerows for berries and leaves and her preference is to use flowers cut from the garden where possible. I asked for hedgerow style flowers for my mum’s funeral tribute in the nineties. I was very disappointed. I do believe the florist didn’t really get what I wanted and used conifer clippings with a few berries in a very sparse floral sheath. My tribute looked quite sad compared with the others. However the other tributes contained either lilies or commercially grown ostentacious blooms which did not reflect the free-spirit of my mum. I was determined to do better this time!

I asked Hilary James to provide a fitting floral tribute for my Uncle, who loved to walk in the Dorset countryside and along the coast. The design was to be full of rich colour and texture and a celebration of Autumn. 

Hilary was inspired by a walk around Stourhead Estate. She sat peacefully watching the leaves falling from the trees on a beautiful Autumn afternoon.

Autumn GlowSpindle BerriesRed BerriesRosehipsRed Autumn Leaves


Apart from decorating the funeral casket I planned to hold a Funeral Tea at my Uncle’s Yacht Club and wanted floral tributes there too.

Hilary proved to be an amazing florist as she is so passionate about her work. She is a wonderful person to work with as she has such a caring nature, an essential character trait when working on funeral flowers!

Country Walks 

David HillsDavid HillsDavid HillsI have grown up in a family that loves the outdoors and country walks. My Uncle retired to Dorset and enjoyed long walks along the Dorset Coastal Path and in the countryside. He made friends with Kate and his knowledge of wild flowers increased immensely on these walks with Kate as a guide.

When Mr Smiles and I visited my Uncle in Dorset he always planned quite strenuous walks as he knew we were trying to lose a few pounds and get fitter. I often struggled to keep up! We would also walk whatever the weather and last Christmas was particularly vile weather for a strenuous, bracing coastal walk!

Lovely ViewDorset CalmDavid Hills on Dorset CoastWinter Walk

 The floral tribute was made with a lot of love by Hilary James full of references to my Uncle’s life. The casket arrangement was made of hedgerow flowers, berries and foliage which would be seen by my Uncle on his country walks. Hilary used beautiful foliage from the Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall.

In Memorium


Eliza James FlowersEliza James Flowers

Eliza James Flowers






Eliza James Flowers




Eliza James Flowers








Eliza James FlowersCrab apples


I specified that crab apples should be included. On my wedding day I gave away home-made crab apple jelly as Bridal Favours. The crab apples had been picked with my Uncle on a walk in the New Forest and lovingly made into jelly using my mum’s preserving pan. Uncle David gave me away at my marriage to Mr Smiles as he had given away my mum (his sister) years before. In his speech at our wedding my Uncle said of my new husband `Simply by getting to know him a little I knew he was a good man, a hard worker and would take care of Patsy. He also makes her extremely happy and I am sure she makes him happy in return. What more could I ask than for Patsy to be happy with a wonderful man, and a man I welcome with warmly open arms.’   It was a very happy day. He wanted to wear the same suit which he could still get into – his `posh’ suit for formal occasions. I decided to hire him a new suit to be the same as everyone else. My Uncle enquired whether he should wear this suit for meals at the Somerleigh Court Palliative Care Nursing Home, even though his illness had got the better of him and he could hardly eat. I decided Uncle David should wear his best suit for his last formal do of his funeral.

Mum's WeddingPatsy and Uncle D

Crab apple jellyCrab applesThe crab apples were a stunning shiny rich ruby red colour with flashes of orange and yellow. However they proved a challenge in the design as they were on thick stems and were very heavy!


Apart from his love of walking my Uncle maintained an allotment. He hardly ever needed to buy vegetables as he was largely self-sufficient. It was obvious something was drastically wrong when my Uncle’s diet changed in March and he no longer fancied vegetables for dinner. Uncle D was known for his strawberry growing on his allotment. So much so that he couldn’t make a sailing trip as he was harvesting his strawberries and making strawberry jam! I asked for strawberry leaves in the design. They were placed so I could see them in a cluster, like a miniature strawberry patch.


Eliza James Flowers

When Hilary was out foraging for teasels and haws she found a beautiful baby teasel which was bright and green.Hilary decided to use this as her interpretation of new beginnings in the circle of Life.

Eliza James Flowers

The design was heralded by huge Magical Ruby Red hydrangeas in rich burgundy, orange and purple hues. Hydrangeas remind me of family holidays by the coast.

Eliza James Flowers

I also asked for dahlias to represent my Uncle’s allotment.

Allotment DahliasDahliasDahlia

It was hard to source dahlias in November, However Hilary managed to find some deep purple Black Fox and red Red Cap blooms. Viburnum Tinus from the garden was chosen to lighten the design and Eucalyptus Parvifolia shaped the arrangement, a gentle foliage giving movement. Each end of the long sheath was marked by Photinia Red Robin, chosen for its strength to support the heavy crab apples. Red Robin was placed at various focal points to convey a rich Autumn feel and was enhanced with the Red Cap dahlias and the crabs themselves. Light was introduced by Golden Sparkle, a golden tiny leaved foliage.

Uncle David


A love of Sailing and the Coast 

David Hills

Apart from walking as a leisure pursuit my Uncle had a life long love of the coast and the open sea.

Seaside HolidayBeside the Sea


In addition to decorating the funeral casket I planned a Funeral Tea at my Uncle’s Yacht Club and wanted floral tributes there too. Uncle David was never one to sit on his laurels. He used to go out before work and go canoeing for a few hours. This was in a canoe that he had built himself! At the start of his career with Marconi Satellite Communication Systems Uncle David joined their sailing club and purchased his first sailing boat White Lady in 1966 for £60 together with a trailer.This started a lifelong love of the sea and sailing as a leisure pursuit. White Lady was a wooden boat which leaked. Barry Doul crewed for my Uncle and part of this job was to bail out water!

White Lady

White LadyWhite Lady

My Uncle’s philosophy was always make do and mend. He used an old motorcycle engine to run one of his boats. He had a can of petrol in the kitchen which caught fire. Luckily he managed to extinguish the fire before too much damage was done! Other Marconi friends Roger and Jon would also crew for him, having wonderful fun over the years exploring the Blackwater, Stour, Orwell estuaries and even as far as the Swale on the far side of the Thames.

David Hills

Working for Marconi took Uncle David to Trinidad and Tobago where he enjoyed the warmer climate for sailing.

20141206-David Hills West Indies-1 David Hills West Indies-2









In 1972 Uncle David purchased a new boat,  a Vivacity 650 which he named Calypso remembering his trip to the West Indies. Calypso was moored at Bradwell Cruising Club where my Uncle was an active club member, exploring the Essex coastline and the French coast.

CalypsoCalypsoDavid Hills

When his longstanding friend Roger died of pancreatic cancer my Uncle purchased his boat Dubldee from his widow Celia. How ironic that my Uncle should also die of this horrible disease. Dubldee is a Trapper 501 for those of you in the know!

DubldeeRedclyffe Yacht Club


When David moved to the Dorset coast in retirement he joined Redclyffe Yacht Club and became an active member. He joined many group trips and was known there for his strawberries grown on his allotment which he brought along to summer barbecues.

Redclyffe Yacht Club Rally

I was able to sail with him on occasions and came to appreciate why my Uncle liked his boat so much. My Uncle’s favourite place to sail to was Warbarrow Bay on the Dorset coast. He would row out to shore and have a decent walk along the coast.  He often caught a mackerel for his dinner, washed down with a glass of wine. He liked to anchor up for the night, enjoying the solitude of the sea, listening to the gentle waves lapping against his boat lulling him to sleep. My Uncle had lots of interests and friends. However he was also a very private person. He never married, but was very content and chose to live a simple life. One of his favourite musicians was Acker Bilk. It seemed very fitting to play  Acker Bilk’s clarinet piece `Stranger on the Shore’ at the funeral. My Uncle listened to this piece of music in the last hours of his life. I was able to get him to visualise  being moored up in the peace and quiet of Warbarrow Bay as the sun was setting. David then gently slipped his moorings (figuratively speaking) and passed away.

The Unknown Shore

DubldeeWarbarrow Bay

I chose to host an afternoon tea to celebrate my Uncle’s life at his Yacht Club.  Although it was quite a way to drive I was delighted with the turn out . When I visited the Redclyffe Yacht Club I was struck by the peace and tranquillity of the River Frome where my Uncle’s boat is moored.  I provided Dorset Apple cake and a cream tea, my Uncle’s favourites. We managed to get Dubldee moored along side the pontoon by the club house. Hilary then made a nautical themed wreath to be placed on the Yacht. The wreath included bright blue hydrangeas and dark blue anemonies. I had provided Hilary with images of Dubldee so she could compliment the yacht livery. I made a tribute card with my watercolour painting of Dubldee and this was tied to the wreath.

DubldeeEliza James Flowers Nautical WreathNautical WreathThe floral tributes at Redclyffe were vastly different to those on the casket. The aim of this design was to capture my Uncle’s love of the Dorset coast and his passion for sailing. The tables, serveries and the porthole windows at the club were dressed in navy blue, white and natural colours in French grey buckets. The design had a blue and white Nautical theme. Beautiful shiny navy blue Viburnum berries matched the dark blue stamens and centres of the white anemone Marianne Panda.

Eliza James FlowersEliza James Flowers


I chose Eringium Orion Questar, a wonderful blue sea-holly which added texture and fitted the coastal theme. White roses complimented and gave light and there were natural additions of the seedhead Scabiosa Stellata and Myrica Gagel to give interest and height.

Eliza James FlowersEliza James Flowers

Eliza James Flower TributesEliza James Floral Tribute

Eliza James FlowersEliza James FlowersEliza James FlowersEliza James FlowersEliza James FlowersEliza James FlowersEliza James FlowersEliza James Flowers

At the end of the tea I gave away the posies in the French grey buckets to guests. Hilary also re-assembled the flowers from the casket and any remaining flowers. These were given to my Uncle’s nursing home Somerleigh Court, in gratitude for the wonderful care he received there. The blooms and foliage were made into fireplace arrangements. There was a huge blue and white bouquet made from the residue of the massive blue hydrangeas which was placed in the reception area and three smaller posies were given to residents in need of a bit of cheer.
Eliza James Flowers


I am so grateful to Hilary of Eliza James Flowers as her designs formed such a wonderful fitting tribute to my Uncle.

Hilary James ` My brief was done. I was proud that I had executed Patsy’s wishes entirely. I am thankful that Patsy gave me the opportunity to design and construct these most precious tributes and I am glad they gave her comfort at a harrowing time in her life. I hope that the images and notes remind her of her love for her Uncle and her determination that his passion for the coast and countryside of Dorset and her special memories of times shared together, were portrayed in all of the flowers, foliage, fruits and berries that went into the tribute.’


November Posy

November Posy

When I went out into the garden to pick flowers and foliage for this month’s Posy I thought there was absolutely nothing to work with! I was so wrong! I found an abundance of seedheads, hips and colourful leaves. I even discovered two baby squash.

November Pickings


This month has seen a real turn in the weather as Autumn gives way to Winter. At the beginning of the month I was out in the garden wearing a short sleeved top admiring my cheerful Helenium blooms.



The leaves on my Acer have glowed bright red.


Hydrangea flowers have changed in colour from bright fuschia pinks, purples and whites to coral pink, reds, oranges and browns. The white blooms are now lime green tinged with pink. Even the leaves have turned a wonderful red and yellow.

Hydrangea macrophylla

Mophead Hydrangea





Endless Summer - The Bride


November Flowers -21




As the month progressed I have been more aware of rain and frost. Colourful blooms have disappeared and been replaced with seedheads in muted colours. The change in season has felt symbolic. A close relative passed away recently. My senses have felt heightened by the beauty of nature. I had a wonderful visit to RHS Wisley at the beginning of the month and was struck by the beauty of plants in their `dieing’ state. If you follow my Blog you will know I am passionate about colour. However this month I have become fascinated by the textures and form of seedheads and grasses in more neutral colours. I have seen a beauty in something essentially in the process of dieing. Maybe it is because I know that the seeds symbolise new life and the promise of flowers to look forward to next year. My visit to RHS Wisley shared this juxtaposition of hues – the muted hues of November side by side with the bright remnants of Autumn.

Acer palmatum `Elegans'Red CascadeJapanese Anemone SeedsRHS Wisley Japanese AnemoneRHS Wisley Seedpod

`The song is ended, but the melody lingers on’
Irving Berlin

Gone to Seed

Echinacea Mood Shiny

The Colours of November

November Hues


Teasel Chinese LanternRosehip genrous GardenerSeedheadSeedheadAgapanthus Seedhead

For this month’s Posy I used a very special vase known in our family as `The Never Forgive Jug’. I grew up with my Gran saying `I’ll never forgive anyone who drops this vase!’ and so the black vase became known as `The Never Forgive Jug’. I found the vase when I was clearing my Uncle’s belongings after his funeral and decided it was an appropriate time to use it for November’s Posy. I must admit I never really liked the dark black colour. However some how this month it suited the effect I was trying to achieve with my November Posy. The dark black colour contrasted wonderfully with the foliage. I am not entirely sure of the date of the vase. My Gran thought it had been given by the lady of the house to my Great Grandfather George Spice when he worked as a gardener for Hempstead House, Bapchild in the 1880s. This story is yet to be verified! There are no markings on the jug so I may never know. However I l do like the story and the way it connects me to my past.

November Posy


So here we have November’s Mosaic  – a celebration of the hidden gems in my garden this month. Which do you prefer the muted or vibrant hues?

November Mosaic

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