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Monday Moodboard: Cherry Blossom

Monday moodboard: Cherry Blossom Ellasplace.co.uk

Today’s Monday Moodboard is dedicated to cherry blossom for no other reason than I love it and gives me a sense of a little bit of magic at this time of year.

When you are busy and going about your business you can forget to look up, but it’s so important to do so as so much wonder can reveal itself, especially at springtime. Whether you are in the country or the city chances are you’ll see a tree that’s frothy with flowers. It is such a joy, particularly for me when it contrasts with a dark grey or stunning blue sky (you know me, always looking for colour combo inspiration).

 

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Oh for the love of hellebores

Hellebore (c) Ella JohnstonThis time of year is just a gift for me as I celebrate my love for hellebores.
Hellebore (c) Ella JohnstonI have a confession to make though. Until we had our garden I had never heard of these blooms. Yes I know – I’m rubbish. I have Dr B to thank for this new love of mine.
Hellebore (c) Ella JohnstonWhen we moved from our London flat to a house with a garden, Dr B unleashed his inner Monty Don (no bad thing) and began his plan for ‘all year planting’. Hellebores, he told me, were a classic winter flower that pop up in Feb and I was assured that every February I would see lovely blossoms that would delight. Dr B didn’t disappoint.
Hellebore (c) Ella Johnston Now every year I look forward to the arrival of these beautiful flowers. I’m told they benefit from a little prune so I’m forever dipping into our garden to snip some flower heads to display indoors.
Hellebore (c) Ella JohnstonThis also gives me a chance to use up my glass globe mini vase (a gift from my sister) and upcycle some charity shop finds. I’ve used my Posca pens to draw on some tealight holders for some floating water displays and spray painted a really rather ugly small vintage vase for a more traditional arrangement.
Hellebore (c) Ella Johnston Hellebore (c) Ella Johnston

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Monday Moodboard: Luxe Florals

Monday Moodboard Luxe Florals

Luxe florals are just the right thing for this time of year, which is why today they have made my Monday Moodboard.

The freezing, wet weather and grey skies are atmospheric sure but the damp and cold can be a little draining day after day (last nights evening walk was a very muddy affair). So I’m warming myself with, and getting creative inspiration from, rich purples, velvety blacks, deep maroons and cerise tones as seen in beautiful, frilly flowers. I’ll be working on some sketches of these in the coming weeks with a view to working up pretty patterns and evocative illustrations.

 

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Monday Moodboard: Folk patterns

Monday Moodboard Folk pattern

Joyous, colourful and breathtakingly beautiful, my folk art moodboard is perfect for brightening up this grey Monday afternoon. .

Marks, patterns and painting made by ordinary people is a constant inspiration for me. The simple shapes, harmonious composition, strong colour combinations and celebration of birds, flowers and animal life in folk art are timelessly popular in interior design and illustration.  I’ve used them as a spring board for some of the work I created for my Christmas Posca pen workshops and Christmas wrap designs – look out for those next week.

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Friday fun! Botanical love; more spoils from the garden

Garden flowers ellasplace.co.uk

More indulgent love for botanicals from me. My garden just keeps giving. Roses. ellasplace.co.uk

What a beautiful, beautiful summer it’s been so I’ve been reaping more spoils from the garden.
Roses. ellasplace.co.uk We have beautiful bright pink roses which need constant pruning – they just keep blooming. This is great for us as we have an abundant supply of vibrant blooms to grace our rooms with.
Roses. ellasplace.co.uk Luckily we’re also in dahlia season so everyday I’m checking which heads I can chop to bring indoors and display in our home.
Dahlia. ellasplace.co.uk I love a big fat dahlia bloom – you can display a single stem and enjoy its wonderful structure and architecture. So I’ve placed one of my orange flowers in this lovely marble effect  vase I found at a charity shop and the other in my favourite green fishbowl vase (sorry about the reflections, I’ve still got so much to learn about photography and picture editing)
Dahlia. ellasplace.co.uk

dahalia 1

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Plant of the week 30 May 16: Hibiscus

Hibiscus Black and White drawing by Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

As tropical themes proliferate the summer collections this year I thought I’d concentrate on hibiscus flowers for my plant of the fortnight.

Hibiscus Black and White drawing by Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

According to legend, the hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian and Hawaiian girls and is symbolic of relationship status. Apparently if the flower is worn behind the left ear, the woman is married or in a relationship. If the flower is worn on the right, she is single or openly available for love.

Hibiscus Black and White drawing by Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

These flowers look so robust and full of allure with their strong trumpet shape and long stigma. That makes them such fun to draw. Check out my watercolour and ink illustrations on Friday.

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Stash-busting How-to: Make Paper Banners

Banner display ellasplace.co.uk I don’t know about you but I’ve got a big stash of plain and patterned paper from previous projects and from when I’ve taken advantage of bulk offers in art shops. It seems like a waste to have them languishing in drawers and boxes so last week I took action and turned some of them into stash-busting banners to decorate our study with a simple wall display.
Banner display ellasplace.co.uk I had some lovely light blue card that I’d been waiting for something to do with and some left-over summer swallow and butterfly designs that I had created to decorate a friends wedding. I thought the colours all worked really well together and I had some Posca pens in a lovely slate grey that would lift the blue card and unify the whole scheme once I’d added some simple text and design.
Banner display ellasplace.co.uk Making these banners is a synch. It just requires a ruler, a length of doweling, a craft knife, twine, double-sided-tape and the paper(s) of your choice. I measured my doweling at various lengths and cut to size (I could easily snip mine with a craft knife but you may need something more ‘robust’).
Banner display ellasplace.co.uk I then trimmed my papers into rectangles making sure I had about a 2cm allowance to wrap them over the doweling and leaving room at the bottom for cutting the bottom into a ‘v’ or inverted ‘v’ or at an angle while not compromising the main design.
Banner display ellasplace.co.ukOnce the blue card was cut, I could draw a bespoke illustration on it. I thought I’d keep it some with a hand-scripted ‘hello’ and some simple laurel leaf and flower motifs. Let me know if you’d like me to talk through hand scripting and drawing these leaves and flowers – they’re easy to master and you don’t have to be a great draftsman/woman, I promise .
Banner display ellasplace.co.uk With everything cut to size I applied lengths of double-sided-tape to the doweling and, in the case three out of the four banners, I attached the ends of my twine before rolling the edges of the rectangles over the doweling to fix.

I’m pleased that I was able to give my old stash a new lease of life and I’m delighted to be able to add another bit of quirky handmade styles to a little corner of our study.

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Easy ways to display cut flowers

Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.ukI love using fresh flowers to brighten up my spaces. Even when I was a poor student and lived in the worst house in England* I would buy some daffs and irises for a pound a bunch and display them in mugs and tin cans (this gaff did not have vases – in fact I would be being kind if I said the place was basic at best).

My love of fresh flowers grew way after I graduated and I went on a  Paula Pryke training course (amazing) and even worked as a Saturday girl in, in my opinion, one of the best florists in London; Rebel Rebel – two kinder, sassier and stylish women you will never meet, they were wonderful to me and I learnt so much from them in terms of floristry but also kindness and generosity.

Every time I arrange blooms for my home I remember my PP training and time spent with RR. The things that have stuck with me is the PP team’s celebration of colour and form. RR taught me to be brave, to enjoy design and look out for classic blooms and unusual receptacles ( I once spent an entire day sticking red glitter to shoes for table centres – it was brilliant).

Below are just a few ideas to spruce up your floral displays – I’ve deliberately kept the arrangements themselves quite easy that don’t take any skill, after-all this is simply to brighten up your spaces not to create something formal.

Go wild with vintage vases

Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.uk

Myself and the good Dr B quite like a ceramic and over the years we’ve amassed lots of vases, jugs and decorative bowls in various styles, all of which are great for displaying flowers. I like to cluster pieces from around the same period when I’m putting flowers in them to great a mini still-life.

Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.ukThis collection of shop-bought irises and home-grown daffodils and rosemary has been very loosely cut to size (always cut stems at an angle as they have greater surface area to drink the water) and very informally placed in some beautiful mid-century jugs. This arrangement now lives on my (very hardworking, aka scruffy) dining room table.
Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.ukBe bold and punk up charity shop finds
Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.uk

Wherever I am one of my favourite things to do is to spend a day scouring local charity shops. In the mid nineties it used to be for clothes (I may well do a post on my nineties style but then again maybe not) now it’s for homewares that I can either display with pride or customise and up-cycle. When I found this swan vase it was very twee, achingly so and not even in a good way. Initially I sprayed the vase in a beautiful neutral blue and white paint for a Homemaker Magazine project that you can see here.

Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.ukThis time I wanted something brighter and more edgy. So I got this fab Rust-oleum neon spray paint in pink and yellow and went to town on punking this bad boy up! I also wanted it to be rough and ready so I like the little  bits of dust that have gathered (if you like it sleek you can avoid this by thoroughly cleaning and dusting your object beforehand).  I used the spray in a well ventilated area and you should too.

Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.uk

I didn’t want a big, tight pom-pom style arrangement as I did with the Homemaker one, as I say the brief I set myself was quick and informal. So I simply filled the vase with water and filled with stems of white spray chrysanthemums. These blooms are usually used to fill out a bouquet and I normally avoid at all costs, however their spiky petals look rather apt here.

Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.uk

Embrace easy charm with clear jam jars

Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.ukOne of the first things Dr B did when we moved into this house was to plant hellebores as he wanted something beautiful in the garden in the first few months of the year. I must say he made the right choice. We have beautiful light and dark versions all over our patch in Feb and March and they really are lovely. Because we have so many I’m always snipping a few buds off to display indoors!

Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.uk I like to show off these garden cuttings in clear glass jam jars to celebrate each individual stem. There’s a good reason why jam jar displats have been so popular in wedding tables, bars and restaurants – they don’t disrupt your eye-line but are elegant and stylish while being super practical. Honestly if I could get away will filling my house with flowers in jam jars I would.

Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.uk
Create a chic up-cycled arrangement
Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.uk
This is inspired by my time with Rebel Rebel. On my first day I helped out on a wedding doing the tables (which were long and thin). I was really worried as I thought this was going to be really complicated but the arrangement was beautifully simple and very effective. We lined the table with clear and cut glass receptacles at various heights (bottles, vases, jars, bowls, tea-light holders etc), filled them with water and placed blooms in shades of burgundy and crimson. It looked stunning. We then illuminated the glass with tea lights all down the table. Class, pure class.
Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.uk
Since then I am always on the look out for bottles and jars with interesting shapes and indentations that I can use for flower display. I admit these Italian fruit juice bottles are a bit fancy (the drink was nice too) but I’ve put flowers in milk and cola bottles before now. The trick is to have more than one and keep to the same colour bloom so they look like a display.
Home flower display ideas ellasplace.co.ukThis post was longer than I anticipated and I hope it’s useful to you. It’s actually been really nice to share some of my memories with you from my floristry days.

(*Re the worst house in England. A bit of an exaggeration, but it was a horrible place to live. A monument to all things beige, it had layers of dirt built up over decades and to be honest me and my two flatmates only added to it. The mould made me ill and then the house had a major infestation of mice, then ants. Still, you know, student times.)

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Darling Dahlia

Dahlia (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

I couldn’t resist sharing this pic with you. These gorgeous dahlias, so prevalent in the month of August, were actually grown in our garden. There are so many blooms coming from it, we’ve had to cut some for the house in order to let the little blossoms thrive.

Forgive me proper gardeners, I’m still quite new to this. In fact this is our first year of growing dahlias so I’m really pleased with this, having learnt that planting flowers for the garden is all about celebrating the little successes. I’m hoping this wonderful abundance of velvety flower heads isn’t a fluke and we have the same again (or even more) next year.

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June Blooms: Phlox

Photo by Keith Pomakis
Phlox paniculata.  Photo by Keith Pomakis

One of the things I love about June is seeing the phlox in full bloom. I love its masses of small, star-shaped flowers bedecking garden borders, filling them with colour.

Most phlox people grow in British borders are derived from the American native phlox paniculata. Phlox is a relative new come to British gardens as it was brought from America by phlox-breeder Captain Bertram Symons-Jeune in the 1950s and made popular by gardener Alan Bloom in the 1970s.

Phlox flowers (c) Ella Johnston

Annoyingly,  much as I love them, and however many times I read they are easy to cultivate, these flowers do not grow in my garden – they don’t seem to like our Essex estuary clay soil. So I will have to content myself admiring other’s borders and with drawing these flowers instead.