Book Review / 1

I love books. It’s a love that my mother installed in me at a young age, and like flowers we always have random non fiction books, on any topic, from Chanel, to Liz Earle, to homeopathy, to Bobbie Brown, to flowers hanging around the house, but the flower section is starting to get out of control! Currently flung upon my coffee table are seven separate flower books; I have therefore made a decision…we are going to have a book review on By Bethany once a month.

So to kick off I thought I’d introduce you to possibly one of my favourite books ever. Big statement I know, however this book makes my brain fizz, it just fills me with inspiration on everything from design, sources, concept, colour, composition, container. The photography is beautiful and the creativity that spills from each page is staggering. This book is ‘Vintage Flowers’ by Vic Brotherson the founder of Scarlet and Violet.


‘Vintage Flowers – Choosing, Arranging, Displaying’ has become something of a Bible to me, and here’s why…

Its stuffed full of at least 80 images of floral displays, beautifully captured by photographer Catherine Gratwicke, that are individually discussed, and described for you, it has helped me learn many a flower name with ease, and for that I am amazingly greatful. These photos have then been split into one of six categorises, including ‘Rosy and Random’, ‘Blooms and Bonkers’ and ‘Holly and Ivy’, making it easy to find the inspiration you’re looking for. There is also and ‘Tools and Rules’ section at the back which isn’t fusty or complex, simply focusing on key elements, and always returning you to what is truly important, the flower.

Its impossible to show you every image I love (because it would be the whole book), but here is a small taste for you.


So beautiful in its simplicity.



I adore the way the patterns on the judges have inspired the flowers used in the above two designs, inspired and subtle.


As Vic says ‘bonkers’! But its designs like this, which in essence should not work, that give me confidence…experiment, be loose, there is no right or wrong, flowers are about your taste and displays are meant to be fun and enjoyable to create.


Again it’s the simplicity of the design that is so striking.

So to round up I’ll leave you with a quote from Vic; “I am very, very lucky to have my job. It is the same as it would have been 50 year ago, using flowers to delight, to placate, to overwhelm, to sympathise, but most portably to look beautiful…I hope this book will allow anyone to paint with flowers and to appreciate the leading ladies when they arrive on venter stage”.

If you want to know more about Vic check this out ‘Lessons from the stylish: Vic Brotherson’.

(Photos from ‘Vintage Flowers’ by Vic Brotherson’)


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