AESME

JOURNAL | APRIL

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SPRING FEVER | JEJU ISLAND | KOREA


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What a way to start the season, hosting a destination workshop on a little volcanic island off the coast of South Korea covered in pine trees and mandarin groves! Starting in Japan (we’ll be sharing a couple of the gardens we visited in Tokyo & Kyoto here soon) we flew to Seoul to spend a few days getting adjusted and preparing for the workshop before heading south to Jeju Island. The workshop was held at a wonderful cafe with views out over the blue waters of the Korea Strait. It was the perfect spot - modern, tastefully designed and with atmospheric music, delicious lunches and some of the best coffee we found on our trip.

All the flowers, foliage and plants were part-shipped, part-flown from Seoul where we had chosen them at the flower market early the preceding mornings. The choice of materials (from Korea, Japan and Holland) was exceptional - I’ve never seen so many flowers and branches in one place, the Seoul market is labyrinthine and just goes on and on… Our palette for the workshop was soft and feminine, with pops of yellow to reference the canola flowers that can be seen everywhere around the island, and mandarins, since Jeju is a tapestry of unending groves of these sweet, fragrant fruits. While travelling I was deep into reading all about citrus via Jess’ recommendation in our last post - it was surreal to be preoccupied with lemons in Italy while speeding through an Eastern landscape dominated by orange fruits.

For three days the sun shone and the sea sparkled and lapped against the dark, craggy rocks. We foraged dried grasses and silverberry from the coast-path and strange pitted black rock formations (they say there are three-hundred and sixty-five volcanoes on the island; one for every day of the year) for a setting-specific installation on the final afternoon. It was such a privilege to be working somewhere entirely new and unfamiliar and yet be made to feel so at home.

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Flower School | A selection of materials lined up for our bouquet class including ranunculus, sweet peas, flannel flower and mandarin branches

Flower School | A selection of materials lined up for our bouquet class including ranunculus, sweet peas, flannel flower and mandarin branches

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Left: a spring centrepiece of ranunculus, tulips & fritillaria  Above: Urn of willow, ranunculus, tulips and mandarin branches

Left: a spring centrepiece of ranunculus, tulips & fritillaria

Above: Urn of willow, ranunculus, tulips and mandarin branches

Flower School | our wonderful group of students with their ruffly garden-inspired bouquets

Flower School | our wonderful group of students with their ruffly garden-inspired bouquets

Flower School | table styling & props: beach pebbles, shells, intricate vines and ochre linen

Flower School | table styling & props: beach pebbles, shells, intricate vines and ochre linen

Flower School | spring wreaths of moss and alpine plants

Flower School | spring wreaths of moss and alpine plants

 
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Left: a bouquet of spring flowers and locally foraged silverberry foliage  Above: a student’s sketches of the bouquet demonstration

Left: a bouquet of spring flowers and locally foraged silverberry foliage

Above: a student’s sketches of the bouquet demonstration

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Above: pale pink urchins and creamy shells to reference the coastal setting  Left:: Jess’ demo bouquet with spiraea and ranunculus

Above: pale pink urchins and creamy shells to reference the coastal setting

Left:: Jess’ demo bouquet with spiraea and ranunculus

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Flower School | Installations: a site-specific design using the local dark rocks with willow, spiraea, tulips, dried orchid leaves and rockery plants

Flower School | Installations: a site-specific design using the local dark rocks with willow, spiraea, tulips, dried orchid leaves and rockery plants

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Flower School | Colour: our palette for the workshop was soft pink with accents of orange and yellow, as a nod to the cherry blossom, mandarin groves and canola flowering all over the island in spring

Flower School | Colour: our palette for the workshop was soft pink with accents of orange and yellow, as a nod to the cherry blossom, mandarin groves and canola flowering all over the island in spring

Flower School | a friendly mandarin farmer who gave us permission to roam his greenhouses and gorge on the sweet ripe fruit as we picked

Flower School | a friendly mandarin farmer who gave us permission to roam his greenhouses and gorge on the sweet ripe fruit as we picked

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Thank you to Flower Workshop Korea for inviting us, arranging everything so beautifully and being the most generous and welcoming hosts, and to all the suppliers and assistants who helped make this workshop the magical few days it was. And to our students, for travelling the distance and being the most enthusiastic, giggly and talented band of flower-lovers we could ever hope to meet.


In the STUDIO


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Back in the studio we unpacked our cases laden with Japanese kenzans, bamboo sticks, scissors and secateurs, as well as a new collection of beautiful Japanese and Korean tea bowls and ceramics in beautiful uneven, earthy glazes.

The rest of the April has been spent gearing up for the start of wedding season and holding the first of our spring classes. The evenings are lighter and longer now, the temperature rising almost imperceptibly but enough for the doors and windows to be open in the afternoons. The workbenches have been strewn with narcissus and tulips up from the garden - primrose yellow and rust and milky-white.

 
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Spring flowers | Aesme Flower Studio London
Flower Studio | Table styling 1:1 class: clustered small bowls with garden-grown flowers & beeswax candles

Flower Studio | Table styling 1:1 class: clustered small bowls with garden-grown flowers & beeswax candles

Flower Studio | Left: Narcissus ‘Moonlight Sensation’ & ‘Segovia’

Flower Studio | Left: Narcissus ‘Moonlight Sensation’ & ‘Segovia’

Flower Studio | ‘Belle Epoque’ tulips, at their most beautiful as they fade and crumple

Flower Studio | ‘Belle Epoque’ tulips, at their most beautiful as they fade and crumple

Spring flowers | Aesme Flower Studio London
 
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Spring flowers | Aesme Flower Studio London
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Flower School | Table styling group workshop: antique Indian brass vessels and florals in a palette of red, gold and lime

Flower School | Table styling group workshop: antique Indian brass vessels and florals in a palette of red, gold and lime

 
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Flower School | Left: a section of the inspiration board for our Spring Masterclass, referenced during a discussion on colour theory

Flower School | Left: a section of the inspiration board for our Spring Masterclass, referenced during a discussion on colour theory

Last week we held our Spring Masterclass - a three day intensive course in flower arranging with a focus on seasonal, naturalistic and sustainable botanical design for weddings and events (with a difference - i.e. no flower foam, no traditional wiring, rule breaking encouraged etc). In these seasonal courses we focus on using the finest ‘produce’ or ingredients we can grow, source and forage, designing in a nature-led, garden-inspired style and taking inspiration from place, art, fashion and garden design.

Spring flowers | Aesme Flower Studio London
 
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Flower School | 1:1 class hanging installation: a suspended trough layered with tulips, geranium, narcissus and fritillaria

Flower School | 1:1 class hanging installation: a suspended trough layered with tulips, geranium, narcissus and fritillaria

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The intention on our Flower School courses is to create at atmosphere of open-mindedness, collaboration and creativity; we are always inspired by our students’ enthusiasm and curiosity, and their willingness to think outside the box. Last week the group was made up of students from the UK, Hong Kong and Portugal; everyone was fairly new to flowers, one ran a dried flower business, one wanted to enjoy flower-arranging as a pastime, others were considering career changes. By Friday afternoon we were having such a lovely time we didn’t want it to end - we’d shared a wonderful few days of creation and brainstorming, made lots of beautiful arrangements together, discussed business and social media and colour theory, shared some lovely food and listened to a lot of French jazz. There is an alchemy to what happens in the studio on weeks like this and that evening as we were blowing out the last of the candles, I think we all felt very grateful that we are able to live and work in this way, and to meet other like-minded people who share in the things we love.

Flower School | Table styling 1:1 class: bronze, blue, plum and accents of peach in ceramic vessels

Flower School | Table styling 1:1 class: bronze, blue, plum and accents of peach in ceramic vessels

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Above: Akebia quinata (chocolate vine) with runner and French climbing beans for planting

Above: Akebia quinata (chocolate vine) with runner and French climbing beans for planting

 
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Flower School | Spring Masterclass table styling: linear trough vases in a brown, mauve and pale yellow palette

Flower School | Spring Masterclass table styling: linear trough vases in a brown, mauve and pale yellow palette

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Flower School | Urn design 1:1 class: an ornate French urn with fresh spring greens, leggy tulips and butterfly ranunculus

Flower School | Urn design 1:1 class: an ornate French urn with fresh spring greens, leggy tulips and butterfly ranunculus

Flower School | Spring Masterclass demo: Jess’ loosely layered and romantic demo bouquet

Flower School | Spring Masterclass demo: Jess’ loosely layered and romantic demo bouquet

 
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Flower Studio | Actinidia kolomikta (variegated-leaf hardy kiwi) with tulip Clusiana ‘peppermint stick’

Flower Studio | Actinidia kolomikta (variegated-leaf hardy kiwi) with tulip Clusiana ‘peppermint stick’

With a new workbench installed to give us a little more space in the studio, we have decided to open up two additional places on our Summer Masterclass | 5th - 7th June. These spots are first come first served and full details can be found on the website.


In the GARDEN


Cutting Garden | Scabiosa potted on and waiting to be planted in the outside beds

Cutting Garden | Scabiosa potted on and waiting to be planted in the outside beds

‘Naught you can do about the weather’ one of the landscapers said as we surveyed the rows of ageing tulips in one of the tunnels after our trip overseas. An unseasonably warm spell late March (while we wrapped up and drank hot chocolate in chilly Tokyo) saw many of our tunnel-grown bulbs flowering a few weeks earlier than expected this year. You win some, you lose some. The outdoor planted beds made up for it however, where we were trialling small quantities of a number of different varieties of tulips and narcissus. The ranunculus are flowering prolifically; hundreds of white, pink, plum and bronze, with excellent stem length and ruffly petals opening to those seductive opaque centres. Fritillaria - persica, uva vulpis and imperialis, have been filling the studio with their ‘cannabis’ scent, along with peonies, aquilegia and the last of the anemones, which are very leggy now, with tiny little faces.

So begins the summer - or what I think of as the summer, anyway - the half segment of the year that is measured by bi-weekly deliveries from the garden to the studio and the constantly evolving stock of new, delicious colours and textures that we take from their unprepossessing buckets and that result in branchy urns and beautiful spilly bowls.

Spring flowers | Aesme Flower Studio London
 
Spring flowers | Aesme Flower Studio London
 
Cutting Garden | Tulips in the early evening sun in one of the outdoor beds

Cutting Garden | Tulips in the early evening sun in one of the outdoor beds

Cutting Garden | Ranunculus ‘Aviv white’

Cutting Garden | Ranunculus ‘Aviv white’

Spring flowers | Aesme Flower Studio London
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Spring flowers | Aesme Flower Studio London
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In the Ether


A few things we’re loving at the moment…

Snowdrop flower arrangements | Aesme Studio London