In early 2022, I received a request that immediately stunned me. I was asked to create an immersive floral experience using David Austin Roses for the Exclusive European Marketing Event at Parfum Flower Company's Fragrant Garden venue in Aalsmeer, Netherlands. The result was absolutely fantastic!
Award-Winning Floral Designs Using David Austin Roses Gave Me an Immersive Floral Experience
The image below recently won 1st Prize in the Wedding Work category of a prestigious Alexandra Farms' Fifth Annual Garden Rose Design Competition and was featured in the latest issue of Florists' Review, one of the U.S.'s oldest floriculture magazines founded in Chicago in 1897.
The image on the left has recently won the 1st prize in the Wedding Work category of a prestigious Alexandra Farm’s Fifth Annual Garden Rose Design Contest
Behind the image are an exciting story, 6000 flowers, and a team of no less than 20 passionate professionals plus the world's leading growers of luxury garden roses. On this exclusive blog on Thursd, I want to tell you how these images were created and share with you backstage photos and some insider information from the project. I wish you a pleasant reading experience!
A Little Background on One of My Best Floral Experiences Using David Austin Roses
Earlier in 2022, I was asked to create an immersive floral experience for the David Austin Exclusive European Marketing Event at Parfum Flower Company's Fragrant Garden venue in Aalsmeer, Netherlands. With the event taking place in early April, I was humbled and at the same time very excited to be given the opportunity and tremendous responsibility to work for this iconic English rose breeder, whose state-of-the-art garden roses I often use in my wedding flower designs.
We were offered to work with approximately 3,000 luxury David Austin garden roses from three of the world's leading breeders: Alexandra Farms, Rosaprima, and Tambuzi. We used about the same amount of supporting flowers, textural materials, and foliage, making the total amount of stems about 6000.
I worked closely with the brilliant David Austin’s team: a passionate and inspiring Creative Director Jo, and a lovely marketing team Amy & Zoe. Exchange of ideas, research, and sourcing of materials and props, as well as location checks and some adjustments to a floor plan, and a comprehensive floral design was approved by David Austin Jr himself. After this, the flowers and props were ordered, the florists’ team booked, and then the actual work began.
What Roses Did I Use to Create Event and Wedding Designs?
Our master flower list included 12 varieties of David Austin roses in a wide color palette from white Leonora, Patience, and Rose Purity to cream/blush Rose Eugenie, Rose Keira and Rose Charity, pale pink Rose Constance and Rose Miranda, yellow Rose Beatrice, Rose Effie and Rose Edith, peach Rose Juliet. Bright magenta Kate and Darcey were used for a styled shoot after the event to brighten up the floral decor.
Supporting Blooms for the Designs
The supporting flowers were Japanese ranunculus in various shapes and matching hues, sweet peas, clematis, spirea, acacia leaves, wild asparagus, hellebore, lily of the valley, allium, and salix, making the final master floral list quite rich: we used more than 25 different types of flowers and leaves.
The diversity of the flowers, colors, textures, shapes, the number of flowers, a careful perfectionist work make this design one of the most complex I have ever made.
Challenging Work Is the Most Rewarding
Sometimes I use dozens of different types of flowers for some of my wedding designs and events, which makes the job more challenging, but the result is always rich and interesting to our adult minds. My wonderful colleague Shari from South Africa, who was my right-hand man on the project, told me the care and conditioning of this project were insane.
The first batch of 6000 conditioned flowers is stored at the Fragrant Garden. And the beautiful Beatrice garden roses.
Imagine cleaning and conditioning 6000 flowers by a group of perfectionists. And those thorns! It was an unforgettable experience and the hard work of seven people.
A Delicate Color Palette Spotlighting David Austin Roses
Our color scheme is uplifting and delicate with some bright accents: white, pale blush, yellow, apricot, soft pink, and hints of lavender (not overpowering). The selected style is fresh, light, delicate, natural, ethereal, high-end, and inspiring.
The shapes are asymmetrical and dynamic, light and delicate with minimal foliage. I was given a clear briefing from David Austin Creative Director who helped me a lot to achieve their iconic look where roses are the main heroes of a design and the supporting flowers are used as a frame or textural elements to help them to stand out.
My Source of Inspiration
I suggested David Austin's award-winning rose gardens in Shropshire, UK, as my source of inspiration, bearing in mind that my floral design will be more decorative as we worked with more glamorous cut varieties of roses.
My goal was to create a fantasy "Spring Rose Garden" inspired by the natural beauty of the real English garden in Shropshire, where the David Austin family has been growing roses on their family farm for over 60 years.
Roses That Bring Joy and Life to Everyone
Founder David C. H. Austin OBE released his first rose, 'Constance Spry', in 1961. During his lifetime, he released over 200 new roses. Sadly, he passed away in 2018, but his beautiful roses live on and bring joy to many people around the world. David's son David Austin Junior continues his father's passionate path and currently runs the family business.
He worked closely with us on the event and was very involved in every detail. It was a great pleasure and honor for me to meet him in person and have the opportunity to create this floral experience for him and his guests.
The Most Cherished Moment After Creating My Designs with David Austin Roses
I was a little nervous waiting for his arrival at the venue a day before the event. We were working, very concentrated, when I heard this "Wow!" of David entering the front door. I felt relieved to hear that my client was satisfied and showed him our unfinished arrangements.
I think the most beautiful and cherished moment for me was to see David's emotional response, he shed a tear. It was such an emotional moment for me, I could hardly stand it. David came up to me a couple of times during the event and told me he was very happy with the arrangements.
More of My Work
We planned to create about 6 large pedestal arrangements for the welcome and reception areas, as well as a lavish floral arch, 18 centerpieces and a large hanging installation for the main meeting area, a "build your own bouquet" station, and a floral display in the lunch area.
It took 5 days of work by 7 people to complete this list of floral designs: two days of care & conditioning (the roses came in two batches depending on their opening potential, some were quick openers and others needed a little more time to reach their full potential) and 3 days of work on arrangements, including a mock-up I made on the first day.
My Passion Lies in Floral Designing
I am a hands-on floral designer. For my floral designs for events and weddings, I like to make as many arrangements myself as possible. I feel a deep connection between my clients and myself and anticipate their needs. The making process is very personal, I get a lot of pleasure from the actual work with flowers. On a project like this, it is literally not possible to make all agreements personally, as there is a limited time and I need to manage the team.
I was lucky enough to book an excellent international group of florists for this project. Our international female florists’ team consisted of eight different nationalities: Linsey from Canada, Anastasia from Russia, Ida Simone from Denmark, I from the Netherlands and Russia, Ariella from Australia, Shari from South Africa, Nancy from Bolivia, Ludmila from Ukraine.
Wedding Season Allowed Us to Create Magnificent Designs Using Featuring David Austin Roses
We worked in small teams. Each team was responsible for its part of the project. My role was divided into actual work on flower arrangements and close management work with each team to ensure the flower design plan is implemented in the best possible way.
My South African colleague Shari Tamar Akal, with whom I worked very closely during this very busy wedding season, oversaw the centerpieces and implemented the floral arch together with Anastasia. An Australian florist Ari worked with Lindsey and me on the hanging installation and large centerpieces. Nancy worked on ground arrangements and small vases.
Lindsey and Ida Simone helped Shari with centerpieces and other tasks. We also worked with two Ukrainian florists from Kyiv who helped with the care & conditioning and a flower display in the lunch area.
One of My Favorite Styled Shoots
After the successful event, the floral decors were generously donated by the David Austin team for a styled shoot (lucky me!). It was the fastest production ever. Thanks to Wouter, the owner of the venue, Fragrant Garden of Parfum Flower Company, this production was possible. It took me about two hours to organize a brilliant team. I first called my closest colleague Emilva Tervoort, planner and stylist at Sante Weddings and Events, and asked her to participate in the project.
Despite the last-minute call, she kindly agreed and within a day she managed to get beautiful props and organized a fantastic model Jessica. The next step was to make sure we had a photographer and some striking dresses. I called Edwin Oudshoorn, a leading Dutch couturier, with whom I had already worked on a few other projects, and asked him to give us some of his dresses. Edwin was very nice and helped me quickly. We’ve got his playful couture dress with big magenta bows and a few beautiful wedding dresses.
Edwin also introduced me to a talented photographer Sandra Von Riekhoff from Divine Day Photography. By chance, she was available and agreed to participate in the project. The last major additions were great makeup and hair styling by Olga Stasevich, beautiful jewelry, and vintage Louis Vuitton shoes brought by Sandra. The perfect ingredients were collected, and the styled shoot was scheduled for the next day.
The Styled Shoot Included 3 Different Settings
During the versatile styled shoot, we worked on three different settings: a wedding setup with the floral arch and a large lavish bridal bouquet, a rustic garden tablescape, and fun floral decor. It was created using cabinets filled with almost all largescale arrangements and centerpieces that we had. We've also created mono looks with Rose Eugenie, Sandra's favorites, and a few other images in between.
The photographer Sandra was so remarkably energetic, extremely professional, and inspiring. The few hours of work with her that day will remain in my memory forever. Sandra produced over 200 excellent images. I asked her permission and sent a few of these images to Alexandra Farm’s Fifth Annual Garden Rose Design Competition. Sandra said: "Send it! Win it!". And you know what? We won.
A Special Thanks to Everyone Who Collaborated
I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this project: our brilliant florists’ team, David
Austin's team, Perfume Flower Company’s team, growers’ teams, our styled shoot team, everyone
who worked hard to create these memorable floral moments.
To see in full the Immersive Floral Experience setup, made for David Austin Exclusive European
Marketing Event at the Fragrant Garden venue of Parfum Flower Company in Aalsmeer, Netherlands, please watch this film by Japanese cinematographer Eori Wakakuwa.
Photography: Sandra Von Riekhoff @divinedayphotography
Flowers and backstage photography: Katya Hutter Floral Design
Videography: Eori Wakakuwa @eoriwakakuwa
Floral Design & Production: Katya Hutter Floral Design
Florists’ team: Katya Hutter Floral Design, Shari Tamar Akal @sharitamar, Anastasia Levenets @anastasia_roots, Ariella Hill @rae_blooms, Nancy Bohorquez, Lindsey Zanchin, Ida-Simone Brerup
Garden Roses: David Austin Wedding & Event Roses
Venue and Flowers Supply: Parfum Flower Company
Growers: Rosaprima, Tambuzi Roses, and Alexandra Farms
Wedding planner & stylist: Emilva Tervoort, SANTÉ Weddings & Events @sante_weddings
Model: Jessica via @moxiemodels.amsterdam
Wedding dresses: Edwin Oudshoorn @atelieredwinoudshoornbridal
Make-up & hair: Olga Stasevich @olasevich
Ranunculus: Monarch Flowers
Sweet Pea: @lathyrus.nl