New Opportunities!

POP-UP!

I think I mentioned it few times in the past but I didn't really have the chance to set up that many last year. So there you go, a new pop-up adventure is coming soon! 

It is not the most immediate task to set up something temporary. Because you appear an disappear relatively quickly, you must have a very well organised plan on how to act effectively and at the right time. Sometimes you can go through services like AppearHere, Storefront etc however I have found more exciting to address my little project directly to the thousand lovely cafes and pubs in London.

You'll be surprised to see how many cool people out there who welcome your idea to sell some fresh and seasonal bouquets outside their doors. Everyone knows it: flowers are beautiful, they can make you smile and turn a lovely place into something wonderful...so why not? 

The advantage of teaming up with pre-existing premises is that you can benefit from their established presence and relationship with the community itself.  So they help you to make contacts and showcase your products while you help them by offering a new different service to their clients. Isn't that great?! Besides I love being out there, meet new people, learn about what they like and they don't, listen to their stories: it's just exciting! 

I have to say I really love to see businesses helping each other and give their contribution, it is so meaningful and heart-warming in a world full of competition! Ah, I just remembered a brilliant quote I saw on one of those TFL boards on 12th Jan 2013 (!!) at Archway Tube Station. It was a bit of a tricky moment so I took a picture of it. Anyway It said "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great", Mark Twain.

So there you go! I have started my little project and had a small taste of how it could be (amazing obviously) last weekend. I still a couple of things to organise but it's so exciting to have your hands on new opportunities. There will be more to come and to be disclosed but for the moment I keep it for myself until it's time to actually shout it out! 

Flowers Galore!

"With freedom, books, flowers and the moon, who could not be happy?" O. Wilde

...how true! In fact driving on your own for 2 hours through the English countryside, Somerset this time, to get to a little corner of Paradise where flowers will be the main purpose of your stay, who would not be happy? Add the sun and a good book, the result is perfection! That was exactly my retreat at Holbrook House in Wincanton with Sabine Darrall, an amazing florist with a style of her own. I cannot stress out how important it is to be open-minded and inspired by different designs and technics. In this case it's a more natural and gardening style where flowers have however their own precise position in the arrangement yet with a very intuitive and spontaneous look. 

3 Weddings in 3 Days "gives a unique insight unique into the creative process of designing, installing and styling a wedding". The amazing thing about Sabine's course is that you have the possibility to go and work through different styles and to offer your clients the right result to a specific design. From deluxe weddings to elegant and classic or rustic ones, choosing the best option might be quite difficult as they are all beautiful and breathtaking! Sabine is a great teacher and really very nice, she will help you and answer any of your question from A to Z, thanks to her huge experience with flowers and weddings.

Now one thing that did make the difference between this course and any other that I have attended so far is that you have available a model and a photographer! Like this you can have great and professional photo shoots of your works that you can use in your portfolio...which is - I shouldn't need to say - AMAZING.

What great experience I had! 

At Wild at Heart

Have you ever seen that dreamy flower shop on Pimlico road, few minutes from Sloane Square tube station? Yes the one with amazing scented flowers on display that create a super colourful scenography around Belgravia every single day? The shop you have to stop and take a picture of as you can't resist its beauty? 

I'm sure you know what I am talking about, well I had the fantastic opportunity to spend some time there with Wild at Heart and their lovely Team. I will post here some pictures as you won't believe how beautiful the place is and the variety of seasonal flowers it has everyday. I was myself amazed, especially on a Tuesday morning after the Dutch flowers delivery. If you have never seen it before, I really suggest you to pop in that day, trust me, the "wow-effect" is guaranteed! 

What you may not know about Wild at Heart - and it's the very first reason why I decided to make contact with them - is that this fabulous company has also a Foundation that helps (and it really does) animals all over the world, in particular dogs. They fund and support rescue projects, neutering and rehoming programs as well as awareness campaigns to reduce the stray dog population. Take a look at their website as they are making the difference! 

 

The Chelsea Flower Show

After few years in London, I eventually managed to go to the Chelsea Flower Show. It has been a memorable day filled with fun, colours and flowers of course!

The very first glimpse of the event was through 300,000 hand-crocheted poppies covering 2,000 sq. metres of the grounds of Royal Hospital Chelsea. Needless to say that the view was just outstanding! I was welcomed by two lovely Chelsea pensioners who provided me with very interesting information about the Royal Hospital and their amazing lives. The event was lovely but it was them who made the day simply fantastic!

Huge congratulations to Veevers Carter for the colourful floral tribute to HM The Queen on her 90th Birthday. Sweet peas, alliums, Hydrangeas, roses and many other fresh blooms brightened up the design.

I particularly loved the atmosphere recreated by Primrose Hall Nursery with its "Timeless Elegance of the Peony": hundreds of flowers surrounding a chaise longue where a book seems to be left behind for anyone to enjoy. Another outstanding design was the Telegraph Garden by Andy Sturgeon, a peaceful and enchanted oasis where any visitor could plunge in deep reverie. As we all know, flowers, designs and landscapes are the main attractions of the show but we must not forget that sculptures are playing a very important role too by enhancing the light and space. 

If you have never been to the Chelsea Flower Show, it is definitely time to arrange your first visit as it is definitely worth it!

 

That's all Folks!

"That's all Folks!" Like the famous sign off from a great adventure, this is the end of a fantastic journey at McQueens Flower School. After 4 weeks of stunning designs, amazing people, fabulous teachers and beautiful flowers, the McQ adventure has come to an end. I would like to thank, once again, Wagner, Diana and Alina for being not just amazing but super-duper instructors. Their professional but very friendly and lovely attitude has made this experience unique. Another huge 'thank you' goes to the other students aka partners in crime for sharing the same dream with great passion and big smiles: It wouldn't have been the same without you guys!

This week - despite being the last one - has been very challenging and full of wonder as the main focus was on Large Scale Designs. Have you ever thought of 'building' a Tree? Well we did and it was just stunning! Definitely the best experience of the whole course as the result was an enchanting blue forest. 

Other designs were a huge colourful arch, impressive floral chandeliers, a stunning background with garden and a super very cute flower wall!

This course has been a well-deserved success for everyone and I couldn't genuinely ask for anything better than this. Thank you guys and see you soon!

 

"...and I dreamed your dream for you" M. Knopfler

Another week has gone. A week of flowers, smiles and good fun! 

I'm sure I will miss that place in the end, the amazing teachers and those lovely people I feel so close to me, with the same aspirations and hopes. There's always a wonderful atmosphere, very good vibes. Everyone is there to help, to listen or just to have a nice chat. Everyone loves flowers! 

The main focus this week was "weddings, weddings and more weddings"! We still miss one lesson because of the Bank Holiday last Monday, so a full day of "shower bouquets" is waiting for us. I can't wait, even if that means a whole day of wiring! 

Yes exactly, most of the times, according to the bride's preference of course, a wedding may involve a lot wiring and taping: from buttonholes and corsages, to circlets and bridal bouquets. The latter however, if not wired, can have different shapes and styles. The latest trend of the year is a very natural and sometimes asymmetric design with no wires involved as said above, called "garden bridal bouquet". Otherwise the dome-shaped bouquet is always a classic and can vary from monochrome/mono-flower to a selection of different blooms and colours. Plenty of choice for any preference or palette. No disappointed brides! 

Last wedding lesson is tomorrow, then big installations! Trainers are ready for hard work up and down the ladder. So so looking forward to it.

A big standing ovation for the weather in London this week: warm, sunny and beautiful. The Columbia Flower Market was very enjoyable today. Wonderful and colourful as usual with some good music too! 

What happened?

Very exciting and wonderful days at McQueens last week! We focused mainly on Corporate and Event works with a final special day: loose and natural arrangements that recalled the Dutch Masters! Wagner, the teacher, was just amazing.

Needless to say that I enjoyed each single day and looking forward to the next step, weddings! 

Take a look at the amazing pictures below for some inspiration. The last one is a "treat" by Yoshitomo Nara from Stephen Friedman Gallery which made me think to the quote:

"All the flowers of Tomorrow are in the seeds of Today". So very true, isn't it?

 

Celebrating Literature and Flowers

Another lovely weekend with culture as a main focus. It all started with Shakespeare's Birthday at the British Library. 
Here itinerant actors were performing different characters from the Bard's literature while a Shakespeare Karaoke was entertainingand involving enthusiasts who wished to give voice to the Writer through the most famous plays. 
Music, poems, interviews where then taking place throughout the evening. The atmosphere was vibrant and joyful, the perfect celebration for Shakespeare's 400! 
The weekend proceeded with a splendid exhibition at the National Gallery. A definitelynot to be missed one: "The Dutch Flowers". There is still plenty of time to enjoy it as it goes on until 29th August so I won't exclude a second visit. Indeed it is a tiny precious jewel within the National Gallery. Set in a quiet and dark room, the exhibition boasts a beautiful selection of paintings from XVII Century giving a great overview on the genre which coincided at the time with a grown scientific interest in botany and horticulture. From a more symmetric and linear style of the first works to a wilder and asymmetric design, the 'Dutch Flowers' exhibition describes a variation in taste, lines and colours towards a modern and more decorative taste. In this case I have to admit, the traditional style of the first paintings really stole my heart. In general being there, surrounded by beauty was like listening to a pure and gracious poem that pleased my senses.

 

Pleasure and delight: Flowers, Art and Music

Flowers but not only, what a bright and lovely Easter!

Having decided to stay in London during this Bank Holiday, we opted for something a bit less traditional a lot more colourful and different. If you love flowers and you feel the need to fill your eyes with beauty, Columbia Road Flower Market is the perfect place for you. Let me say that fortunately this street market is open on Sundays only, otherwise I could easily spend every morning slowly wandering around and carefully choose what flowers to pick each time. Anyway, despite the early showers, the stalls were there, proud and delighted to show beautiful spring flowers just for everyone's pleasure. Because of the time of the year, I thought I would easily walk undisturbed from stall to stall without queuing or zigzagging among a hundred people as I usually do, well I was obviously wrong. Thumbs UP to Columbia Road Flower Market, Thumbs down to Easter Lunch: the place was as crowded as usual!

After a walk up and down the road I was gifted with some lovely and vibrant flowers: mixed coloured anemones, hyacinths and white ranunculus… only for my enjoyment. What a lush!

Flowers were obviously part of this Bank holiday but not the only ones.

As Samuel Johnson used to say "Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last", therefore who are we to ignore this desire of fulfilment and satisfaction? Ah! We obviously took the opportunity to see something new (and great) by visiting one of London's architectural gems: Two Temple Place. A beautiful Victorian building of late nineteenth-century owned by William Waldorf Astor, the richest man in the world at the time and used as his office. This extraordinary place not only is a jewel in Central London but is also home of a lovely temporary exhibition, "Beyond Beauty. Transforming the Body in Ancient Egypt". We tried to focus on the stunning collection but kept a close eye on the building with the promise to go back for the guide tour on 21th April.  Time is never enough when you find yourself in a such remarkable places where your eyes are wide open with surprise and amazement.

Would you ask for more? Well if you can, why not!

Therefore last but not least: Music! Can you imagine your life without it? Nope, I can't so there is nothing better than a concert to end your evening with. Kodaline at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith! What a gig! The Irish band was simply amazing, very good music, great vibes and lovely company of course.

Give me Beauty

"Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed" 

W. Whitman

 

When you wake up at 4.30 am simply to head to the Flower Market, after sleeping only 2 hours because you spent a wonderful night at the O2 Arena for Adele's concert, that means just one thing.

Being at the New Covent Garden Flower Market, at this time of the year, when nature delivers beautiful, delicate flowers and you know that it's just the beginning, it's simply refreshing, fabulous. A wonder for your eyes.

This time I sourced my blooms from a different person, I knew he had one of the most beautiful garden roses and that is what I was looking for along with some sweet pea flowers. hellebores and hydrangeas. This time I thought: "I go wild, well a bit boho too!".

This is the result, I hope you like it.