What’s On gets to grips with floral arrangements at a Vintage Bloom masterclass
If your idea of flower-arranging involves picking up a cheap bunch of supermarket blooms, chopping an inch from the stems and plonking them into the first vase you can find then… we have that in common.
But spend a mere five minutes in Vintage Bloom’s fragrant studio and you will repent your sloppy ways and vow to do better.
Here a glass jar filled with purple eustomas; there a trio of deep pink hydrangeas in a simple gold vase – the displays dotted among the scented candles in Nada Gokal’s JLT haven are proof you don’t need armfuls of flowers or hours to spare to create an arrangement with impact.
That said, Nada also knows how to do big and bold. While the florist’s true passion is reserved for rustic, vintage-inspired displays, she admits restraint is rarely the aim when catering for major corporate events or weddings with guest lists of over 1,000.
“Small, simple, contemporary – these are not words we use here in Dubai,” Nada jokes, recalling one of her more extravagant commissions of late: a pair of enormous peacocks built from scaffolding and covered with plumage made entirely from fresh flowers.
Thankfully the arrangements we are here to attempt are not quite so elaborate – no ladder required.
First Nada and her team guide the class through the process of making a simple hand bouquet. Equipped with a pair of ultra-sharp scissors and a bucket filled with fresh blooms, we set about cleaning the leaves from the lower portion of each stem. Starting with our lilies, Nada shows us how to rotate the bunch in our hand as we add hydrangeas and roses, then Italian ruscus and eucalyptus leaves for those all-important flashes of green. Pretty sprigs of purple veronica add the finishing touch to our (by now surprisingly heavy) bouquets, which the team expertly wrap in black tissue paper and cellophane tied with a raffia bow.
Next we create a wreath, studding a ring of oasis foam with eustoma, more hydrangeas and waxflower in shades of purple. “Using purple flowers instantly makes a display look more formal,” Nada explains. We place a glass candleholder at the centre of the flower-festooned ring and our arrangement is complete.
We are blown away by how a few simple steps can create such striking results, and leave determined to devote a little more care to our foliage in future.
1 Carefully clearing the stem of a rose from thorns with a classmate
2 Getting to grips with a pair of lilies as the arrangement begins to take shape
3 Job done. Proudly displaying the finished – and beautiful – bouquet after two-and-a-half hours of hard work
THE EXPERT: NADA GOKAL, Founder, Vintage Bloom
What’s your favourite flower? Ranunculus. It’s very soft, almost like a rose made out of tissue.
Are there any flowers you refuse to use? Carnations. Also, I’m not fond of gypsophila, or baby’s breath, which seems to have come back into fashion.
What inspires your work? I really love doing vintage and rustic arrangements. With these, it’s not just flowers; you can add candles or jars or even books. With a vintage theme you can go really crazy.
Where do you source your supplies in the UAE? Everything is available here, there’s nothing we can’t get. But, as things are imported it does get expensive – it’s not like in the UK where you can choose home-grown flowers.
Can you buy Vintage Bloom bouquets in stores? No, 99.9 per cent of our work is weddings and events.
Have you ever refused to create something a bride wanted because it was not to your taste? I always want my clients to be happy so I would never refuse. But if I thought something wasn’t going to look good I might try to guide them towards a different option.