Peony perfection at the Narcissus Flower School ‘All Things Blousy’ masterclass
Even if you’re not a flower aficionado, we’re willing to wager that you still know a peony when you see one.
This fabulously fluffy flower has set social media alight over the past few years, thanks to its maximalist, extravagant look (so. many. petals!), range of beautiful colours and sweet scent. Who doesn’t love those soft ruffles? There’s more than 2.1 million posts hashtagged ‘#peonies’ on Instagram, if that helps give you an idea of just how popular this particular posy is.
Peonies bloom for around three to six weeks per year in the UK, creating huge demand whenever they’re in season. In fact, the teachers and florists from Narcissus told us that they’ve known many a bride to plan their wedding date specifically around peony season – so if that’s not demand, we don’t know what is…
Partial to peonies ourselves, we were delighted to be invited along to the Narcissus Flower School in May for a masterclass based around that very flower – the ‘All Things Blousy’ masterclass. Promising that we’d learn how to create a stunning floral display using everybody’s favourite summer flower, we couldn’t wait to head along to the school, in Edinburgh’s Abbeyhill, to get started.
The class itself began with a talk about floristry and the benefits of attending Narcissus’ workshops; there are so many to choose from, so it’s a perfect way to dip a toe into the world of floristry and work your way up to a more intensive level if you so wish. There are so many kinds of classes too, from wedding floristry workshops to creating displays for the home or learning to make hand-tied bouquets, and there’s professional-level courses available for when you want to take the next step too. In fact, our tutor for the evening, Fee, learned the art of floristry by attending the classes herself and is now a full-time florist and teacher, so that gives you an idea of the level of skills you can expect to accrue.
Fee talked us through the flowers and foliage we’d be using in our workshop, including an array of lush peonies in pink and yellow, and then gave us a step-by-step demonstration of the display we’d be recreating. Inspired by the style of the Dutch Masters’ paintings, Fee created a wild, tumbling asymmetric display using plenty of foliage, roses, hydrangeas and the peonies, housed in a rustic urn for a romantic, blousy look.
Fee’s finished masterpiece was a little intimidating, but armed with the support of the Narcissus team all around us and the option to ask any questions we might have, we set to work. Supplied with armfuls of fresh flowers and foliage, our mountain of blooms soon turned into something that was actually fairly representative of Fee’s display (if we do say so ourselves!).
Top tips from Fee: place your urn on a lazy Susan whilst you’re arranging, to make it easy to check from all angles, and use chicken wire stuffed and taped inside your urn to fix the display in place, limiting use of oasis and floral foams which are bad for the environment. Chicken wire was fiddly but held the flowers perfectly (and we learned that the beautiful floral displays at the Duchess of Sussex’s wedding were created with chicken wire, so that’s good enough for us!). And once you have enough foliage and flowers, it’s completely covered, so nobody will ever guess it’s in there.
After everyone had finished their floral displays, we took a quick break for snacks and champagne, a great chance to mingle with other pupils and admire each other’s work, as well as a good opportunity to glean some floristry advice from the Narcissus team too. And then we took our seats again for another demonstration, this time showing us how to use our floral displays as part of a tablescape, to create an elegant feel with draped linens, tapered candles, bud vases and scattered fruit for a dramatic look that was easy to achieve. We all had the opportunity to style up a table with our displays (and take lots of snaps for Insta, of course), so that we could take our flowers home and feel confident about how we were going to show them off. Suffice to say, mine took pride of place on my sideboard!
We left the Narcissus Flower School feeling confident, inspired and excited about our creations; it was such a fun and sociable class, and the two-hour time frame meant that we had plenty of time to pick up the skills required and learn some little extra tips too, to keep those flowers looking fabulous. The demonstration and the class were packed with info and handy professional advice that made the actual making much easier than it looked, and to leave the School with armfuls of flowers and the urn to take home was a massive bonus – meaning we got to enjoy our display at home for another whole week.
If you’re interested in learning more about Narcissus Flower School and the wide range of fun and professional classes, visit the Narcissus website, but be quick – the classes are in high demand, and with good reason!