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Image via Jemma Keech

Riverdale Farm share a behind-the-scenes insight into preparing for autumn florals and designing with the best floral material the season has to offer. Be inspired for your autumn wedding flowers below…

Images via Jemma Keech

Mother and daughter team – Helen and Abbey Leighton of Riverdale Farm in Albany on the south coast of Western Australia – grow fresh blooms for their on-farm floral design work. As floral designers they both love the joy and challenges that working seasonally presents. There is a constantly changing palette of material at their disposal in the gardens as a result of careful planning for a succession of blooms that is carried out by Helen and her husband Jim.

In addition to providing floral design services to weddings and events in Albany and surrounds, they run Floral Design workshops using home-grown product. The gardens at Riverdale Farm also contain a potager for home-grown vegetables, a large orchard with summer and autumn fruits, deciduous trees and a pinot noir vineyard. The garden provides much material and inspiration for designing floral arrangements and bouquets through the change of seasons.

Images via Jemma Keech

In autumn the garden becomes a little wild and overgrown as it moves towards its winter hibernation. Cooler nights, as the sun sinks lower in the sky, find mists in the Kalgan River valley as warm days become rare highlights.

Preparations commence many months before one of their Autumn Garden Gathered Workshops. Seeds were selected and sown in the nursery. Some varieties were planted in late spring, others which gallop along were left till a little later.

Warm, dry summers – particularly with strong winds – always make it a challenge to get the young seedlings to establish and thrive in time for autumn. Garden beds have to be reticulated. In addition to annuals, there are a large number of garden grown roses to look after. The colours of the roses intensify as the weather cools. Dahlias are also a popular autumn flower but production slows as the nights cool. Annuals that provide the beautiful russet tones so well suited to the season include rudbeckia, zinnia, phlox, cosmos, scabious, amaranthus, strawflower and calendula.

Images via Jemma Keech

Perennial wildflowers are a delight in autumn. The gardens include native Australian varieties of kangaroo paw and grevillea in colours that are also well suited to an autumn palette.

In the week of the workshop, time is spent each morning and evening harvesting blooms which are then stripped, conditioned and stored in the cool room. Preparation of the vessels for students with a chicken wire base for foam-free work is also completed. The highlight is displaying all the blooms ready for the students. The benefit of holding the workshop where the flowers are grown is that it provides a relaxing inspirational experience for all attendees whilst giving insight into how the flowers are produced.

Images via Jemma Keech

As floral designers it is critical to give our work a ‘sense of place’. How does our work sit in the landscape or wedding? How does our choice of materials link in with the design? Does the work honestly reference our ‘Farmer Florist’ concept?

As the season rolls into autumn, an abundance of the most beautiful blooms and foliages in rich tones begin to appear in the garden. The autumnal palette contains gold, brown, copper, bronze and red tints. At this time of year, the fruit tree foliage and grapes vine canes in the gardens at Riverdale Farm reflect these colours and are a bonus addition to add style and elegance to the arrangements. Quinces, buerre bosc pears, medlars, pomegranates, ornamental grapes, crab apples all ripen in autumn and also reflect this palette.

Rosehips from once-flowering roses are left to develop and mature giving a wonderful display of different seasonal colours and shapes. A few of the leaves from the ornamental pears and other deciduous trees in the garden flutter from branches when picked adding a lovely seasonal dimension. Textural berries, architectural seed pods and tawny grasses waving gently in the breeze and are a perfect addition to add movement to arrangements and bouquets.

Image via Helen Leighton

Embracing imperfection is Helen and Abbey’s advice to working in autumn! Not to be overlooked is the beauty of dried, shapely seedpods on a wide variety of garden plants, sunburnt leaves, hydrangea flowers fading from their summer colour to a subtle medley of soft greens, beige and speckled reds. The seed pods of clematis known as Old Man’s Beard are a favourite. Do not forget the dried Queen Anne’s lace seed heads are a particularly lovely architectural shape for designs!

Helen particularly enjoys collecting antique and vintage vessels for their work. Rustic and imperfect urns are a particular favourite, wooden containers and antique washed terracotta goes perfectly with the autumn aesthetic.

Styling of autumn arrangements is a must. Make use of the lovely fruits and leaves in the garden and choose table linens and candlesticks to reflect the colours and textures in the designs.

Ms Zebra Says: I love all the colour and flowers used to create these interesting bouquets and table settings. Very clever use of seasonal produce!

About Riverdale Farm: Bespoke bouquets and arrangements made with care from our locally grown seasonal flowers from Riverdale Farm.

Image via On Three Photography

In the months of unpredictable weather, we will always check the forecast in the days leading up to the wedding date. We like to plan for all scenarios and keep not only our clients but our drivers informed of what the weather is doing.

Image via Passion8 Photography

We also like to make our couples aware that when the roads are very wet, traffic tends to slow down and as such we always suggest leaving extra time for travel. Many venues or country locations have dirt or gravel roads or even grassy areas where we can take the cars. This all changes in the really wet months as we may not be able to drive on these roads or paths. It’s always a good idea to check with your event/venue coordinator for an update on the conditions of the grounds.

Choice of cars also plays a large role in the cooler months, choosing a convertible Jaguar or Mercedes Benz is not really ideal in June or July. It does happen occasionally however chances are you would not get to enjoy the benefits of the top down on a cold rainy day.

Image via Studio 477

Autumn lends itself to creating some beautiful photographs, there is a certain buzz in the air in the early autumn days, although it does cool down earlier in the late afternoon. The combination of the colourful leaves and the sun creates a rich, golden hour light in the late afternoon. This time is perfect for wedding photos and we highly encourage planning to take advantage of this.

Unlike summer weddings where we have light until 9pm, you will find in from late autumn to the middle of winter, the sun will set around 5pm and get dark very quickly after that. It’s a good idea to factor this into your days proceedings so as to allow enough time for photos either before or after your ceremony. We notice that the average reception drop off/finish time in autumn/winter is 5-5.30pm whereas in summer this can be 6.30-7pm. Bear this in mind so that you leave enough time to utilise the cars in some of your wedding photos and video.

Image via Ateia Photography

Image via Fine Art Media

Keeping the bridal party comfortable, warm and dry is our main priority on the day. Our cars all have large golf umbrellas in the boot and our chauffeurs will open the doors and hold the umbrellas to keep everyone dry while they make their entrance into the ceremony. For the photos after the ceremony, we provide the bridal party members with these same umbrellas as they may need to use these during the photos outside.

Our experienced chauffeurs can suggest some photo locations that may be appropriate when the skies open up, however, this is mostly organised by the photographer on the day who should have a backup plan in case of rain.

If the day is particularly cold we also provide some soft blankets in the cars just to keep everyone warm and comfortable.

Image via Fine Art Media

Ms Zebra Says: A luxury car is such a great way to elevate the sophistication level of any wedding! Who wouldn’t want to roll up in a Rolls, looking their best to marry their best friend? Count me in.

About Triple R Luxury Cars: Triple R Luxury Car Hire is Melbourne’s leading provider of classic European wedding cars. With over 36 years of experience, this family owned and operated business has provided unrivalled friendly and reliable service to over 22,000 couples. Our fleet of 30 classic vehicles offers timeless beauty and sophistication for your wedding day or special event to ensure you arrive in style.

One of our specialties here at Ed Dixon Food Design is grazing tables – we’ve been doing them for over 10 years!

Autumn is an unexpectedly amazing time for outdoor dining and grazing. The evenings are still light and there is also a great selection of seasonal produce available. Another big win is that the outside temperatures are still warm without being uncomfortably hot – this means the food offering on your grazing table, particularly cured meats and soft cheeses, can survive out of the fridge for a longer period without melting away.

A good starting point is deciding upon the hero elements of your table. This could be a stunning array of cheeses, a whole glazed leg of ham, or even a salmon gravlax (something with some substance as it’s not spring/summer lightness we are after). These items should take pride of place on the table, preferably in a higher position, then surround these with the accompaniments. A grazing table should also be accommodating to all of your guests – be sure to consider some vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan inclusions.

When deciding how to style your generous food offering, consider an seasonal colour palette – rich reds and oranges combined with generous amounts of crisp white and soft greens make for a beautiful display! In addition to your hero food items, consider adding some smaller, edible styling items – crunchy green grapes, roasted almonds and fresh in-season fruits like figs and pears make the table look abundant and delicious.

All images via En Pointe Events

Or, if in doubt, you can always order one from EDFD – we can deliver and style on site!

Ms Zebra Says: Seriously, who doesn’t love a good grazing table?! Such a great way to allow guests to mingle and chat over cheese and biccies. The grazing tables by Ed Dixon Food Design are completely spot on.

About Ed Dixon Food Design: Ed Dixon Food Design is an award-winning caterer and event managers, partnering with brides, private clients and big companies across Melbourne since 2001. From intimate morning teas and boardroom lunches, to large seated events and Gala dinners, themed cocktail parties, store openings and city and country weddings. our passion is creating beautiful events and delicious food people will remember.

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