Meet the Festive Makers: The Florist, Saffron Walden
Working out of her garden studio, Saffron Walden florist Elly Yates is known for her romantic wedding work. But Christmas is cue to create dozens of door wreath designs – each inspired by a different Harry Potter character. . . Alice Ryan chats to her
Advent wreaths, set with candles, have long been a part of the Christmas celebration; in Victorian times, wreaths then made their way to the door to welcome friends and family during the festive season. It’s a beautiful way to welcome guests, so it’s no wonder this tradition has endured - much like the Christmas tree. They are so symbolic, the circle shape and evergreen foliages representing everlasting life. They really are the start of Christmas for so many.
Wreaths fly out of the door at the beginning of December. I make all orders bespoke, no one is the same. My designs are all named after and designed around Harry Potter characters. This year’s DIY wreath kit is named Draco, a beautiful frosty and spiky wreath.
This year we’ve had almost 100 workshop tickets available at various venues, but my main events are held at The Studio, in Bartlow, a beautiful Cambridgeshire yoga and fitness studio. Christmas workshops are without a doubt popular, with friends and family coming back every year as a new tradition they’ve started. I offer a wide selection of foliage and natural decorations, as well as pretty velvet ribbons, to create a very bespoke design. DIY kits are also available for UK postage, so you can make a wreath from the comfort of your own home with my video tutorial.
Nature is always a big frontrunner: think foliage in volume with rustic berries and pinecones in beautiful mantlepiece and staircase garlands. Also very prevalent this year are ornaments in shapes of fruits, mushrooms and birds. This crosses over into the big glass trend that leads the way most years, as well as the timeless delicate gold glass decor and baubles which will never go out of fashion. Jewelled tones are definitely in the mix again, with their richness and hints to traditions through winter fruits and rich velvets and table decor.
I started back in August 2021 with a few small gifting bouquets made from my kitchen table. I decided after five years as a stay-at-home mum to my two beautiful girls, and also my personal styling business, that I had an itch to get creative. I have always loved flowers and I find being around them so therapeutic. I’d done a wreath course previously at The Cambridge Flower School and just fell in love. From that moment it became a dream and I couldn’t let it go! So I went for it. I now have an amazing garden studio and love working at home surrounded by nature and also my children.
Eleven months of the year are focused purely on weddings! I am so lucky to have met the most incredible couples and created floral magic in my first two wedding seasons. Next year will see some incredible floral installations and lots of new exciting venues. Being a little part of a couple's special day is so wonderful; helping to create memories and florals that live forever through a photograph is magical.
Sense of style
I focus on a luxury style, using the best quality flowers I can source, and in abundance! It’s very romantic, a little wild and also seasonal. I always try to stick to what’s in season, focusing on sourcing locally through the summer months from local flower farms.
Home for Christmas
We always order a tree from a local garden centre which I decorate with my glass decorations that I've been collecting since I first moved into my own home. The collection has grown immensely and is all gold! Making the wreath always takes a lot of consideration as it’s the last to be made - usually with whatever’s left! Last year I went big and included pheasant feathers from Audley End Estate and dried grapefruits for a bit of a Dickensian vibe.
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