Tragic and Devastating Loss


A Message from Rachel

The reason why it is me writing this time and not Sally, is that on the 31st May 2014 Sally died tragically in a car accident along with her daughter Ella and her best friend Abi Hone. Her husband Shane was seriously injured but is recovering.

Sally was my closest friend and business partner for the last 6 years.

At present I am in Germany, taking a break and working out where to go from here in my life without my dearest friend.

It has taken me until now to bring myself to write this message. My heart goes out to the Summerfield, Rumble and Hone families. I have no words for how I feel.

I would like to pay homage to my friend, soulmate and artist in the only way I know: visually. I will continue to seek out the beauty we shared together that sustained us through life’s challenging times. Sally will continue to be a huge inspiration to me in this quest.

Dear friend,
Thank you for the gift of yourself that you gave me. You will always be by my side when I am gathering. Every wreath from now on will be a celebration of our friendship and the beauty we created together.

Rachel Thornton
June 2014

The last of the season’s hydrangeas


Desperate to preserve the last hydrangeas before bushes are pruned back for winter, I sent a pleading email to friends, neighbours and loyal Carousel fans. So yesterday, secateurs in hand, we visited gardens all around the neighbourhood, gathering the last of the flowers, truly taken aback by the spectrum of shades we discovered – ranging from lime green, sky blue, blush pink to the deepest red and every combination in between! Once home I tied bunches of stems together, hanging these exquisite bouquets upside-down on hooks and curtain poles all over the house! The petals have already started evolving; their texture becoming as fragile as paper, and colours fading into beautifully-muted shades of raspberry pink and antique blue. Drying flowers is such an incredibly therapeutic process and somehow makes them even more precious than when freshly-picked from the garden. My advice is to seek out the largest flower heads you can find (keep eyes open at all times and secateurs always at the ready!) and keep the stems as long as possible when cutting. A few long stems in a tall vase create wonderful drama and have a rather romantic, vintage effect.  Combine antique-blue flowers with sun-dried bronze yarrow for arrangements reminiscent of  the Botticelli palette.

rachel gathering hydrangeas

Festival of Flowers

Fresh Hydrangea WreathSally & Our Baby colour trialArriving at the Botanic Gardens at the crack of dawn, Rachel and I start unloading the trailer.  We’ve got a couple of hours to hang our ‘baby’;  an enormous blue gum wreath, 1.5 metres in diameter, the wire base of which we sculptured from a salvaged old farm fence.  The decorative eucalyptus looks absolutely divine and its scent triggers fond memories of our shop in Lyttelton where we held floral workshops pre-earthquake.  Eucalyptus along with pine trees baking in the hot sun are probably my most favourite smells.  I adore them.

Our giant wreath hung on branches of the magnificent purple beech tree near the Peacock fountain in the Gardens.  Using the giant wreath as a backdrop, Rachel and I started designing our little ‘set’ ready for the demonstration we were giving, ‘How to make a seasonal wreath from your garden’.

carouselgirlsarehappy b&w

Magnolia sketchClose Up FOF arrangement resizeI am a huge fan of  grandiflora foliage in arrangements requiring scale,  and actually prefer to focus on the brown suede-like underside of the leaves which are really quite beautiful.  The rich brown  looks amazing contrasted with deep pink flowers and other red / pink foliage.  Smoke Tree Bush perhaps.

Make a Heart for Your Valentine

Wild flower heart resize blogInspired by a profusion of wild flowers growing in abandoned land sections around town, Rachel and I felt compelled to celebrate these humble materials offering glimpses of beauty amidst our earth-shaken city.  Nature somehow manages to thrive even in the most inhospitable and unlikely environments.

We gathered armfuls of rose-pink Queen Anne’s Lace and feathery stems of white yarrow along the coastal roadside near Lyttelton to create our giant Wild Flower Wire Heart in time for Valentine’s Day.

Once the Queen Anne’s Lace flowers are finished, the umbel kind of curls up into a bird’s nest shape (hence one of its other common names) which when combined with freshly flowering stems create contrasting form in arrangements.

The contradictory properties of these fragile, romantic wild flowers and the man-made wire structure complement each other quite effortlessly.

Rachel with Wild Flower Heart copy

Come and learn how to make basic wire structures from recycled fence wire.  Check out our workshop dates.  Coming soon.

Wire Heart for Sarah

Happy Summer Holidays

Corsair Bay resizeCorsair Bay – photographer Rebecca Bijl

Signing off for the summer holidays feeling exhausted but delighted by the amazing response we  had to our pre-Christmas Wreath workshops.  Rachel and I are always inspired by these classes and the beautiful wreaths that everyone makes.  Each wreath quite different and unique – despite having the same materials to choose from at the start!