Now that Black Friday is out of the way it’s really full steam ahead to…
The list includes an elegant tea clipper overlooking the Thames, a historic hall where the wallpaper isn’t what it seems, and a secret garden courtyard that’s perfect for summer flower magic…
The world’s sole surviving tea clipper is dry docked in Greenwich on the edge of the Thames – a fitting resting place after her 19th century adventures.
The main event space has been cleverly incorporated on either side of the enclosed dry berth, running beneath the copper hull. It’s huge, yet still seems warm and inviting – despite being topped by a glass ceiling so tourists regularly peer down while we’re setting up flowers!
We go big on big, bold colours like yellows, oranges and reds as the gleaming copper in this event venue can really take it.
The Cutty Sark, King William Walk, Greenwich, London SE10 9HT.
As the wine trade’s spiritual home, you’d expect to find references to fruit and grapes around the Worshipful Company of Vintners’ lovely great hall. Follow the wood pannelling around the room and you’ll see carvings depicting someone becoming less and less serene (because of one too many glasses?) before your eyes.
For hundreds of years the company has also shared ownership of the swans on the Thames, and there’s a historic ceremony called ‘Swan Upping’ in July.
This is marked with a swan dinner, which is fun to design flowers for. Last year we chose white hydrangea and ostrich feathers (swan feathers aren’t available) for a finishing touch.
Vintners’ Hall, Upper Thames Street, London EC4V 3BG.
The walls of one of the drawing rooms are covered by what looks like incredible wallpaper. Look closer, and you see it’s tapestry by William Morris – the largest one in the country.
Massive chandeliers and stained glass windows add to the charm of the great hall. Ivy and burgundy blooms set off the rich wood panelling perfectly, as you can see in this photo, above.
Ironmongers’ Hall is atmospheric whatever the season, but particularly in winter. For a wedding the day before one Christmas Eve, we worked with four 10-foot Christmas trees. That meant putting them up, decorating and then taking them down again just hours later! No mean feat, but worth it for the bride and bridegroom’s happy festive smiles.
Ironmongers’ Hall, Shaftesbury Place, Barbican, London EC2Y 8AA.
This former royal residence boasts amazing architecture, incredible art and an uninterrupted 115-foot-wide vista to the Thames. Commissioned in 1616 by King Janes I for his wife, Anne of Denmark, it was the first Classical building in England.
There are so many real masterpieces on the walls of this event venue – including by Gainsborough, Turner and Hogarth – that it can sometimes be hard to concentrate when I’m creating my own floral masterpieces for events!
The light inside the venue is amazing, as are the other extras like an elaborate black and white tiled floor and famous helix-shaped Tulip Stairs.
A favourite event we were involved in was flowers for the 2014 launch of Ben Ainslie’s Americas Cup bid, also attended by the Duchess of Cambridge. The brief was ‘all English’, which we managed with a mixture of sweet peas, cornflowers and roses with herbs in white and blue.
Queen’s House is currently being refurbished, and reopens in July in time for its 400th anniversary. We’ll be producing the flowers for the first wedding after it throws its doors open again – we can’t wait to get in there.
Queen’s House, Romney Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF.
What makes Stationers Hall a hidden gem of an event venue isn’t just its location tucked away just by St Paul’s Cathedral. Nor is it about the gorgeously carved dark oak panelling and massive stained glass windows depicting greats from the world of printing and literature (including Shakespeare, Caxton and Tynedale, as you’d expect from the Stationers’ Company), although those are incredible too.
It’s the fact that it has something quite uncommon among livery halls – a large, secret garden courtyard. For one memorable secret garden party last year, we set to work lining the walkways to the entrance with birch trees.
Then it was time to fill the garden with bright summer plants to complement the shaded plane tree in the middle of the courtyard. Foxgloves, delphiniums and geraniums were all brought in to create a garden within a garden. Guests assumed they’d walked into a natural scene – not many people realised the work it had taken to create it all!
Stationers’ Hall, Ave Maria Lane, London EC4M 7DD.