Well, I’ve finally recovered from my week of classes and chaos in New York! And back to the deep freeze that is Grey County! Honestly, I am so DONE with cold and snow.
For those of you who don’t follow us on Facebook, I was fortunate enough to spend a few days in Gotham taking master class with Shane Connolly, royal wedding floral designer extraordinaire! Shane holds a royal warrant from the Prince of Wales (which is a big deal in the UK), with whom he does quite a bit of work, including Charles’s marriage to Camilla, and William and Kate’s big do in 2011 (remember the avenue of maple and hornbeam trees in Westminster Abbey? That’s him!), but he’s as humble as they come: “I’m just a guy who puts flowers in water!”
Shane is all about sustainability, so there was lots of discussion about trying to use things that are local and in season. He is also extremely opposed to using florist’s foam, which is non-biodegradable and carcinogenic. We agree with him, here at Paperwhite, so it was fantastic to learn some new techniques for structuring arrangements without it.
We tackled everything from large-scale branch installations to garlands to wired wedding bouquets that were so light you could hold them with one finger. We also worked on what Shane calls “collections” for table setting…essentially, instead of creating a single centrepiece, we used a group of different containers with different flowers or plants scattered over the length of the table. The results were stunning! Whilst I love a lush and bountiful arrangement for a table, this is a great idea for simple entertaining. I have a copy of his new book, which is not available here yet, that illustrates this idea beautifully — if anyone wants to come have a peek!
And while the work was great, I think I can safely speak for everyone there when I say that the highlight was hearing the details, and seeing pictures, of some spectacular events that Shane has orchestrated over the last few years (imagine drapery made of brightly-coloured marigold heads in India!). I would hasten to add that he is extremely discreet and did not mention names, with the exception of William and Kate, but there he stuck very professionally to the details of floral work he did for them. What a treat he was…a lovely guy and a great sense of humour (and a decent baritone!).
In anticipation of a glorious spring —