Dahlia Flower Arranging at a Very Special Workshop

The studio inside Anna's Flower Farm


As most of you will already be aware I LOVE flower arranging.  For me it is pure heaven.  When I arrange I am completely in the present.  Sometimes it’s only for ten minutes when I’m making a quick display to put around the cottage, but other times, such as at Christmas or when I’m doing our village church flowers, it can take me up to an hour to make an arrangement. And I absolutely love it.

My mother was an amazing flower arranger and I wish she was still around to pass on her tips and advice.  As a child, she would have me blow drying washed pampas grass for some display she wanted to create, or there was the Christmas she decided to make huge, fresh garland swags to hang around the fireplace.  It took us hours to tie in all the fern, and the cinnamon sticks and the orange slices but it looked amazing, smelt divine and is now a memory I cherish.

So it was with great timeliness that I signed up to a Dahlia Workshop with amazing florist Cissy of Wild Stems at Anna’s Flower Farm in Saffron Walden.  Anna & Cissy joined forces during lockdown and the combination of Cissy’s creativity and Anna’s knowledge is just heavenly.  The workshop was back in September when the children had just gone back to school and I felt I could do with some much needed ME time and to get creative. 

The flower farm is like an oasis of calm and beauty.  Even now, weeks later, I find myself day dreaming about its tranquility.  Tucked away within the Audley End village and estate it has a shed that is insta worthy all by itself, even before the most divine buckets of dahlias of all shapes, colours and sizes were brought in, cut fresh the day before.

Anna's Flower Farm on the Audley End Estate

I’ve never done a bowl arrangement workshop before so was intrigued to get Cissy’s expertise on it.   What I love most about her arrangements is how natural they are both in form and choice of flowers and foliage.  She picks each flower for its shape and arranges so every stem has its own space around it, has room to breathe yet still works cohesively.

Cissy does have lots of demonstrations on her instagram page so do take a look if you’re interested.  It’s fascinating to me.  Below is Cissy's arrangement.

Cissy at Wild Stems Dahlia workshop arrangement

For my arrangement - oh the agony of choice, picking from all their buckets of delicious dahlias and foliage was like being a sweet shop!  But in the end, it was easy.  I’ve always loved the Penhill Watermelon dahlia - it's so massive it looks almost bonkers and as soon as I spotted some in the buckets I knew I had to use it.  Plus some beautiful bouncy Cosmos and some blackberry stems in there just brought it all to life.  And I was thrilled with the result!  My arrangement is below:

Rhubarb & Hare's Dhalia arrangement

I love how Cissy challenges me to produce almost 3D displays with flowers at all heights, levels and depths.  And the variety Cissy and Anna had chosen was amazing.  Till that day I'd never thought to put a blackberry branch in a display and now, with the hedgerows so abundant, I can't do a display without some!  And as always, the thing that amazed me most is how everyone's arrangements all looked so different, with different flowers, foliage and yet all of them looked amazing.  If you have ever wanted to try your hand at arranging - do give it a go.  If you love flowers, the pleasure it gives you is just immense.