International Poinsettia Day

When Liz Anderson called us in the summer with the prospect of working together again we jumped at the opportunity. Liz is the brains behind British Flowers Week & we have also worked closely with her for the Chelsea Flower Show - both times creating show stopping floral pieces that gathered a lot of media attention. 

The best part about working on commissions for interesting projects is the freedom to create whatever it is you are envisaging, something we don't often get the change to do, since it is such a niche line of work - so thank you again Liz for giving us this opportunity to shine!

Liz came to us with a simple idea - create a dress to showcase the versatility of the British Poinsettia. She knew that the shoot was going to be at a Poinsettia nursery and that a dress or headpiece was the way to create a really striking image within the setting. Chatting ideas through we decided that a dress that appeared to be growing out of the mass of Poinsettia was the way forward. 

In true O&S style we sketched out some vague ideas, but mainly decided that we would ‘wing it’ on the day, as it was on location and knowing that we would have to adapt to our surroundings. We knew that the dress would start out red and full at the bottom, so as to blend in to the plants at the base, and then to showcase the array of different size and colour poinsettia available, we would create an ombre effect - blending the red skirt into a cream bodice at the top. 

Poinsettia are very funny plants to work with - sometimes hugely temperamental and sometimes very hardy & resilient. They are notoriously difficult as houseplants - they absolutely hate the cold & any sign of a draught & you’ll be lucky if you keep them more than 6 weeks. As a cut flower we didn’t have high hopes for them, however cutting them & then searing the stems in boiling hot water, followed by a quick plunge into cold, seemed to do the trick. They held up great in all the bouquets that were made in addition to the dress. 

However, out of water, they do not last. Liz did a bit of research and realised that once cut, seared, and left out of water, you get about 4 hours out of the flower heads before they start to discolour. This posed a bit of a problem in terms of being organised & preparing the dress the day before the shoot…meaning that unlike most shoots we do - we did not even have a base of a dress the morning of the shoot. What we did have was a red fabric skirt, a stick on bra, a pair of spanx shorts, 6 tubes of cold glue, and a very patient model. 

Construction of the dress basically consisted of a production line of cutting & searing the stems followed by the flower heads being directly applied to the fabric skirt using cold glue. Once the flowers were all affixed, we dressed the model in the skirt, covered her dignity with the bra & spanx, and then proceeded to directly glue the more delicate poinsettia flowers to her bodice, creating the ombre effect as desired.

Okishima & Simmonds International Poinsettia Day_Julian Winslow Photography

The surroundings of the nursery were what really gave the shoot that wow factor. The vast fields of Poinsettia plants, in such a vibrant red, gave as much of an impact in real life as they do in the photos. The combination of the dress & the endless red plants gave a truly spectacular feel & fully achieved everyones desire to see the Poinsettia as the amazing, stunning & versatile plant that they are.

We want to say a huge thank you to everyone that was a part of this experience and that helped us on the day. It was a truly amazing day and wonderful once in a life time experience, so thank you!

About International Poinsettia Day

International Poinsettia Day is celebrated on 12 December and marks the death of Joel Robert Poinsett, the US diplomat and botanist, who introduced the poinsettia to the United States from Mexico in 1828.

About Hill Brothers, Chichester

The family-owned and managed Hill Brothers Nursery was founded in 1920 and, now based in Chichester, covers over 8 acres of ornamental pot plant production. Hills currently produce approximately 3 million plants a year- including half a million poinsettias - for the UK consumer and also directly supply UK supermarkets.

Poinsettia Bouquet by Okishima & Simmonds - photography by Julian Winslow

Floral stylists: Okishima & Simmonds

Photo credit: Stars for Europe. Photographer - Julian Winslow (All above photography by Julian Winslow)

Make-up: Harriet Simmonds

Model: Tara Francis-Smith

Grower: Hill Brothers Nursery, Chichester