Course review: making a vintage hand-tied bouquet at the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers

I’ve always loved flowers, particularly vintage-inspired blooms. I’ve never been one for structured, modern, displays, preferring the hand-tied, wildflowers, herbs and faded roses look. So when I got an invitation to come and try my hand at making vintage-inspired flower arrangements at The Covent Garden Academy of Flowers, how could I refuse an opportunity to banish bunging shop-bought flowers into a jug forever?


Even the outside of the academy is unfailingly pretty

What is the course about?

The course, which runs for a day and costs £195 including materials, teaches you two fundamental skills. The first is how to make a vintage-look hand-tied bouquet, and how to wrap it like a pro, the second is how to make a small tea cup or pot arrangement. The course is run by the academy’s very glamorous and lovely principle, Gillian Wheeler, and her wonderful team.


Who is the course for?

At first, I thought this course would be just for brides who are looking to flex their creative muscles on their wedding day, but I soon realised it’s more. It’s for anyone who loves flowers and wants to learn a skill in a day that will keep them in beautiful, inexpensive bouquets for the rest of their life. I will probably never buy a store bought bouquet again, now that I know how to do it, I would much rather make them myself when it comes to treating family members and friends. I think this would make a fabulous hen party activity with your best gals if you are going with a small group.


Foliage for our bouquets

Is it worth it?

Definitely – if you’re a vintage-loving flower enthusiast. The course is taught in a way that is easy to process and remember, although I’d recommend bringing a notebook and taking some cheeky camera phone snaps if you have a poor memory. It will also correct a lot of your bad flower habits, for example you would be surprised how much of the foliage and flowers you actually need to strip and prepare before you start to make your bouquet.


The example made by the teachers. Despite this not yet being tied, it could be safely passed around the class without falling apart

How difficult is it?

I’d put the difficulty level at medium. Although some of the techniques can be a little tricky to master (particularly wrapping the bouquets, which took some getting used to) the great thing about vintage, hand-tied bouquets is that they don’t have to be perfect. Once you have the basic spiral strategy down, you can be as creative as you like with the flowers and colours you choose – anything goes. The idea is that it looks like you’ve swept up a handful of unstructured foliage and flowers from your cottage garden. Gorgeous!


My attempt at a hand-tied bouquet. Lots of pink roses, as you can see!

The tea cups are particularly easy to master, and make perfect little arrangements for weddings and tea parties alike, so it’s a great skill to learn if you entertain a lot.


This is the result of a relatively speedy tutorial and look how ace it looks! As you can see, I went a bit glitter mad, but hey, what do you expect?

Just to prove mine wasn’t a fluke, here is the collective work of the class:


What to consider if you want to do your own wedding flowers

Even I, as the most DIY-mad person on the planet, wouldn’t advocate doing all of your own wedding flowers, but if you did want to do something special and make your own bouquet, then make sure you:

♥ Make sure you definitely have access to the right flowers in good condition.
♥ Find time, the night before or on the morning of your wedding to make the bouquet.
♥ Practice, practice, practice so that you could do it in your sleep and it doesn’t cause you undue stress.
♥ Properly prepare, condition and store the flowers so that they don’t wilt when it’s time to take them down the aisle.


Review based on a PR sample.

1 Comment on Course review: making a vintage hand-tied bouquet at the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers

  1. Heather Cordell
    January 23, 2014 at 8:37 am (6 years ago)

    I had that privilege of doing the exact course that you have just written about and took part in. Gillian is delightful and so are all the staff at the Academy. Although being a florist in South Africa, I still learnt very different techniques and new skills and up and coming trends while there… I am putting into practice what I have learnt – wspecially convincing brides that “anything goes” for a wedding and they are loving the advice that I am giving them. I have family in London and will definitely be doing a further course with them once I am there again… if the exchange rate behaves itself…. I recommend The Covent Garden Flower Academy to all my friends in the industry who are going over to London. Even if I do not do a course, I will definitly be popping in to say “hello” – Heather Cordell – South Africa with love


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