Circle of Life

In the circle of life, its the wheel of fortune, its the leap of faith, its the band of hope, Till we find our place. on the path unwinding in the circle, the circle of life
— Sir Elton John

Sir Elton John knows how to write a good song. There was a poll aired recently on TV rating his best songs. I must admit I didn’t watch it or know which one won but if you ask me I would go for “Don’t let the sun go down on me”. The live duet with George Michael on Live Aid in 1985 brings me out in goosebumps every time. 

But I digress. I chose these lyrics as my opening quote as they sum up two subjects that are monopolising my life at the moment. 

It’s a leap of faith, it’s a band of hope

So once again I’m taking the plunge into high street retailing. The Church Park Flowers pop up shop is back. Now in its third year, an empty unit in Butcher Row, Barnstaple becomes my home for four weeks. I never know what is going to be available, I only get 2 weeks notice of an agreement between myself and the council to have a temporary licence to sell natural Christmas goods to the masses of North Devon. I guess being my third year means it’s not such a leap of faith as it has been. But that little voice of doubt always sits on my shoulder whispering; will people find me, will people buy my wreaths and decorations for their homes, is it the right decision. 

Put my positive hat on and it’s a different story. Butchers Row is a great place to be. Full of independent businesses. Some new this year, others been there for yonks. It’s a very friendly place to be. I love being somewhere I can meet the public. Working mostly from home in a workshop in the garden can be pretty lonely at at times - so an opportunity where people can pop in just for a chat - and hopefully spend some money - is very welcome in the winter months. 

And of course it’s Christmas. I love Christmas. My little pop up shop is a tiny slice of a natural rustic Christmas. Twinkling lights and (unlit) candles. Pretty sparkly ribbons galore. And the scent - well where do I start: pine, eucalyptus, cimamon, orange slices. It’s potpourri on a massive scale!

Circle of Life

The best seller of this pop up enterprise? The natural Christmas wreath. It's circular shape represents eternity, for it has no beginning and no end. From a christian religious perspective, it represents an unending circle of life. The evergreen, most frequently used in making wreathes, symbolizes growth and everlasting life. Holly, ivy, spruce are all good winter growing evergreens. Add some eucalyptus and rosemary for scent and you have a pure “green” wreath. Fresh for the festive season, all British grown, but of course fully biodegradable afterwards. See, the circle of life manifests itself again!

A selection of wreaths in different sizes and styles will be available to buy at the Butcher Row shop. Or order something bespoke.

Want to make your own? Then the shop is the place to come to buy all your materials: copper rings, moss, foliage, reel wire, cones, dried citrus fruits, ribbons and plenty more beside. All the sundries and natural supplies you need to make your home truly Christmassy  

So it may be a small temporary space but again in the words of Sir Elton John:

There's more to be seen than can ever be seen. More to do than can ever be done

Come say “hi”, came have a nose and have yourself a natural little Christmas. 

Church Park Flowers will be at 16 Butchers Row, Barnstaple EX31 1BW from 27 November until 23 December. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 10ame til 4pm

Posted on November 25, 2017 and filed under Christmas, Workshops.

Wedding fairs - the season of selling

Selling is essentially a transfer of feelings
— Zig Ziglar

From February to April ( and again in Sept and October) it is wedding fair season! Across the country you will find hotels, marquees, village halls and all manor of venues filled with an eclectic mix of wedding suppliers.

There are the traditional types - dresses, cake makers, hairdressers and florists

There are the contemporary and on trend - vintage hire, prosecco vans and photo booths

And then there are the dam right original and unique - 'cheese' vans, macrame bunting and space hopper hire.

But we are all there together early on a Sunday morning emptying our cars and vans of boxes, display items and promotional materials. Carting things back and forth as we each try to build an eye catching display into our 6ft allocated space. I confess I tend to rock up about half hour before 'kick off' and layout my wares. Mainly because if I gave myself more time I would spend it moving everything around only to end up with it in the same place I started! So instead I can set up, grab a cup of tea then chat and network with the other exhibitors.

Being that there is only a finite number of fairs in the area with a finite number of suppliers, I have got to know my fellow exhibitors quite well over the last few years. We can gossip about bridezillas and swap notes on upcoming weddings - you can actually get more business from networking than you can from the brides to be sometimes!

Then it's 11 o'clock and the doors are open. Brides and their entourage flock in to peruse the ideas and inspiration on offer. There's a real mix of ages and genders. Brides and their mums, brides and their friends, brides and their grooms. The mums tend to be sensible with reasoning and budget control. The friends tend to be over enthusiastic and over the top with their suggestions and ideas. And the grooms tend to either be 'rabbit caught in the headlight' scared - or frankly bored and have no comprehension what the fuss is about!

Some couples are newly engaged and have no date or venue in mind, others are in the final stretch of planning with the wedding imminent. Either way my role is to smile, talk flowers and send them away impressed and with my business card in hand. It's a long day - but great fun to meet such a mix of brides to be. It's a real happy occasion as everyone is full of dreams and exhibitors are working hard to help them realise those dreams.

Hopefully brides go away with goody bags full of leaflets, samples and business cards - and exhibitors go away with notebooks of contacts to follow up and ultimately........ bookings!


But as a bride..... what do you want from a wedding fair?

These images are from the fabulous Tim Lamerton. A regular at north Devon wedding fairs offering great wedding photography. They were taken at the Clovelly Village wedding fair in April. It definitely wins the 'fair with the best view' award and who could resist a donkey or two!

My own stand! (My own photo!)

My own stand! (My own photo!)


Donkeys at Clovelly - who wouldn't want one at their own wedding! 


Jax's cakes - I love the sugar roses and the marbling. Grey and pink is very on trend!


Two beautiful vintage vehicles. First 'Clementine Batsey Whu' - a beautifully restored 2CV, perfect for your vintage wedding car. Available from Best.Day.Ever. The bright red Volkswagon van is an unique pop up photobooth! Definitely an eyecatching vehicle! 


And the man behind the photos - the fabulous Tim Lamerton himself! 

Posted on April 30, 2017 .

Tell me why we don't like (blue) Mondays?

When I have a bad day, I dream about opening up a gelato stand on the streets of Sydney. Doesn’t everyone have a random escape fantasy?
— Nancy Lublin

Blue Monday: the day (allegedly) that we are supposed to feel at our lowest in the year. Lack of pay check, grim weather, festive adrenaline died out, diets and resolutions boring, the list goes on. But if this is the worst day then let's get it out of the way and enjoy the rest of the year!

Nancy Lublin says that her dream was the ice cream booth in Australia. Mine was that I always wanted to be that sho sho florist in the south of France. Painted in shabby chic Farrow and Ball colours with vintage pails full of frothy flowers in the never ending sunshine. Chic people buying armfuls of flowers and putting them in their wicker bike baskets as they pedal away. A pipe dream? Or an aspiration?

Okay so there may not be wall to wall sunshine (especially today) or fancy paint effects. The pails are black plastic and not all my customers are necessarily 'chic' but I'm still living the dream. Maybe the parameters just needed to be moved a little. 

There is nothing wrong in dreaming big, many a time in a soulless office I would daydream where I would rather be and how I would tell my boss exactly what I thought of them. It helps you get through the bad days and then other days would be 'wow' days. Everyone has bad days, some more than others, but if we can dream our way through them then all the better. 

Now this pipe dream of mine is not all a bed of roses (excuse the pun). There have been plenty of compromises and sacrifices along the way. January is not a good month for a flower grower or florist. My to do list is all about admin and accounts. Income is minimal. Motivation is scarce. But I know in the coming months the flowers will start to grow, the weddings will continue to build. There will be sunshine. And maybe I could paint the door of my very shabby but not necessary chic workshop a hue of Farrow and Ball. 

So what will you aspire to this 'Blue Monday' ?

oh and some lovely pictures of 'blue' flowers to lift the mood...... 

blue monday.jpeg

Wedding Flower Crowns

With grace in her heart and flowers in her hair
— Mumford and Sons

Flower crowns - I love them! They are so pretty, so delicate, so individual. Don't think of them as purely for flowergirls, they look equally stunning on a bride. 

There is a real trend currently growing for the bridal crown. This has been taken from the custom of wearing them at festivals where they are worn to symbolise the carefree nature of the countryside, the music, the relaxed vibe. And why shouldn't you take this relaxed - some may say bohemian - look into your wedding.

Of course flower crowns are not a new thing. Julius Caesar rocked a pretty good laurel crown back in the day. The Chinese had their own version using orange blossom which, as it blossoms and fruits at the same time, symbolises fertility. Queen Victoria borrowed this idea and wore an orange blossom flower crown for her wedding to the hunky Prince Albert. But I guess it's the hippy 60's we most associate with the flower crown and it's from there it transferred to mainstream fashion and weddings of today. 

So wear your crown with pride. Whether small and dainty or bold and beautiful, you can wear flowers in your hair and celebrate being 'you'

Posted on September 23, 2016 and filed under Bridal, Bouquets, Weddings.

Thank you.....

None of us got to where we are alone. Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone’s help is a big part of understanding the importance of saying thank you
— Harvey Mackay

A simple thank you is the best investment to give and the best dividend to receive. How often do you yearn for a straightforward thank you from your boss, your partner, your children? I've spent countless opportunities encouraging my children to say thank you from the moment they make their first baby noises. Ta They still need a prod from time to time but hopefully it will become an automatic response. 

A thank you is not just a sign of good manners but can really make a difference to someone's self esteem and boost confidence. 

In a previous office based life I could spend days swearing at technology and grappling with spreadsheets and data to produce a report that would be checked and double checked before sending off to a boss at an increasingly tightened deadline. Of course I would never receive a financial bonus or promotion for doing it - but a simple thank you and recognition of my efforts would have gone a long way. Likewise when hours have been spent in the kitchen preparing a new recipe for dinner a simple thank you when served makes it all worth while. 

In my current business Thank you's are just as important. I love to receive emails from my 'brides' saying thank you for their flowers. Even after countless weddings I still get terrible butterflies hoping the flowers meet the brides often high expectations. To receive a little thank you just reassures and boosts moral the for the next one. 

And I should say a huge thank you to you - For reading this blog, for following me on social media and liking and sharing my work and images. I say thank you for taking the time to be interested in Church Park Flowers, for giving me the encouragement and for helping me reach new audiences. Without you my business would not be what it is - so genuinely - thank you

But who else should we be thanking? Is there someone that needs recognition this summer. Thank you for feeding the fish, helping with the childcare, watering the tomatoes.... A simple thank you you may go a long way but imagine how much better it could be with a locally grown British flower bouquet. So order yours today (with delivery available in the area) and make sure you say thank you in style 

Thank you...

Posted on August 29, 2016 and filed under Bouquets, Gifts, Flower Farm.

British Flowers Week

If one takes pride in one’s craft, you won’t let a good thing die. Risking it through not pushing hard enough is not humility
— Paul Keating
british flowers locally grown.jpg

It's British Flowers Week. It's also National Picnic Week and today is National Sewing Machine Day!! So why do we need a week dedicated to British Flowers? 

We live in a world where we are all interested in the provenance of our food, our clothes, our politicians   - so why not our cut flowers? The UK fresh cut flower and indoor plant market is worth £2.2 billion a year. (The UK music business is worth £2 billion so you can see that it is big business) The average spend per year on cut flowers is £28 per person, which has also risen considerably since 1984 when it was just £8 a head. But compare it to our European neighbours - they spend a whopping £60 - £100 per person per year!

A majority of our flowers are imported from all around the world where warmer climes and cheaper labour make it economic to grow on large scales. Columbia, Kenya and Israel being the top growing countries. 
In fact just 15% of the £2.2 billion is grown in this country. But this equates to £300 million so I'm happy to be a teeny weeny part of that. 

Before moving to Devon around 8 years ago, I had a florist business on the Kings Road in Chelsea. I used to visit the Covent Garden flower market two to three times a week where I could buy any flower all year round. I felt I was spoilt. 
I had one particular customer who only ever wanted white tulips, every week they bought white tulips. 
I could buy these tulips in June and sell them to her for £5 a bunch. Of course I was making a profit on that, I had overheads but still made a profit. The seller at the market made a profit selling them to me. They had been shipped from Holland where the auction house had made a profit on them. They had been flown from New Zealand where the grower had made a profit on them - and paid their workers a wage. All for a final retail value of £5? Where is the ethical value in that? And how exhausted must those tulips be to have travelled that far through numerous handling and different climatic zones.

Now I love tulips, they are one of my favourite flowers. But not in June! Why buy tulips when you could have sweetpeas, cornflowers, godetia and many many other beautiful English flowers. All grown in the UK, ethically grown, fresh and providing demand for the growing army of independent growers across the country. I'm proud to be part of this network and work hard not just at growing the flowers but I work hard at growing demand for British Grown flowers  

There is a lot of focus in the media at the moment to be proud to be British - and I agree. There is also a lot of focus to be more like our European neighbours - and I agree with that too (spend more on cut flowers!) When shopping at the supermarket do you check where your strawberries for National Picnic Week are from? Do you look for British meat? I'm sure many of you do. Well next time you spend part of your £28 per head on flowers - make sure they are British!

(I'm hosting the Twitter feed for SmallholdersUK this week to help rise awareness of British Flowers - come join in!)

Posted on June 13, 2016 and filed under Flower Farm.

The Friday Photograph - Oversized Bouquets

if you are going to be thinking anyway, think big
— Donald Trump

Now I'm not one for actually even listening to Donald Trump but I was rather surprised to come across this quote and find myself, heaven a bid, agreeing. But I'm pretty sure he was not referring to the oversized wedding bouquet. 

Sometimes, just sometimes, big is better and I for one am loving the trend for these bold and beautiful oversized wedding bouquets.

With a wild asymmetrical structure of flowing foliage and statement flowers they truly make a wow factor as you walk down that aisle. 

Now you don't need to go too mad - after all you will be holding it for quite a while during the day and you don't want a sprained wrist by the end of it. But actually stem wise they are not a lot heavier than a standard bouquet and also won't break the bank either!

Of course it's not for everyone, you need the confidence to carry it off so you still 'own' the look rather than the bouquet taking over. Wear a simple fitted dress and this beauty will finish the look. 

These are a couple I made recently on the Tallulah Rose wedding flower retreat. The white one is a real favourite for me. For more inspiration check out my pin board

So, let's say it together, big is beautiful!

white oversized bouquet
pink oversized bouquet
Posted on May 27, 2016 and filed under Bouquets, Bridal, Friday Photographs, Weddings.

and the winner is........

I say luck is when an opportunity comes along and you are prepared for it
— Denzel Washington

I never enter competitions, I never buy lotto tickets - I always feel the odds are always too highly stacked against me for it to be worth the effort. So why I went against this habit for the Tallulah Rose competition must demonstrate the appeal of the prize. I mean, three days in an amazing location, being taught by one of the best in the business surrounded by beautiful flowers - that would be the jackpot for me! Sparkford Hall Wedding Flower Course Retreat?  This Cinderella was up for it! 

So 200 words or less on why it should be me? Let's see...........

I'm a flower grower and florist.

I spend time with dirt filled fingernails willing seedlings to grow, cursing slugs and rabbits and celebrating when I get the blooms. 

I spend time tweeting, facebooking, instagramming - spreading the word of British flowers.

I spend time talking 'jam-jar weddings' to brides and juggling quotes because they're on a 'budget'

I spend time studying Pinterest pictures, deciphering how to deliver bride's dream weddings

I spend silly-o'clock mornings in all weathers cutting and conditioning flowers

I spend time marketing my business - on my own tight budget

I spend time convincing my husband its a viable business

I spend time doing this with two preschool boys

I spend time doing all of this because I absolutely love flowers with a passion.

What I do not spend time doing, what I've never spent time doing, is learning how to arrange show-stopping flowers in a spectacular house by one of the best and having portfolio pictures to show for it.

For the experience, the confidence, the reassurance from fellow florists and, honestly, for the reward and touch of glamour the course would give me - I would love to 'spend time' at Sparkford Hall.


and guess what? I only went and won it!!!

Sparkford Hall here I come......



Posted on May 13, 2016 and filed under Bridal, Weddings, Workshops.

May the 4th - a Star Wars wedding?

Sometimes you must let go of your pride and do what is asked of us
— Anakin Skywalker, Episode 2: Attack of the Clones

So they are a Star Wars nerd. You've accepted that, you find it kind of endearing. Well it's better than being into fly fishing - right? But what happens when they want a Star Wars wedding? 

Not quite what you had in mind eh? But worry not as "fear is the path to the dark side" as Yoda once said. You can include the Star Wars world into your big day without dressing like Darth Vader or wearingbagels in your hair (remember that episode of Friends!) 

Star Wars buttonhole

Some subtle inclusions of galactical fun could actually make your big day truly unique and be a real reflection of your personalities. I've put a little Pinterest board together of some ideas I came across that are actually quite sweet. But how far you go to include the trilogy and beyond is up to you - and your obsessed partner. With Hans and Leia, Luke and Mara and even R2-D2 and C-3PO showing us how it is done there is always room for love and romance what ever Galaxy you live in. 

Mind you if you have your eye on Mr Hamill himself you may have some competition from the obsessed Sara. Check out her hilarious Instagram feed or through her blog

Photo by Tim Lamerton

Posted on May 3, 2016 and filed under Bridal, Weddings.

The Friday Photograph - the 1950s one

Marriage is a great institution
— Elizabeth Taylor

The 1950's. The decade of the first organ transplant, colour TV, the credit card, the opening of Disneyland, trials of birth control pills and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth.

All these key events are still heavily influencing society today and have really shaped the culture of the world we are currently living in. 

And no one can forget the style and glamour of the brides of the 1950's. Grace Kelly, Marilyn  Monroe (twice!) Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor (twice!) ....and my mum..... 

I met a bride to be and her intended this week who are recreating a wedding from the 50's. A beautiful rural setting so think 'Darling Buds of May' with buckets and baskets full of frothy English flowers. They're paying such attention to detail so I wanted to look into the bridal party flowers of the day. What was en vogue and sought after of that era. 

The look is informal and country. The palette is pastels of blues, pinks, yellows. An English country garden transported into the wedding. For a sneak look at some visuals I have put together a Pinterest  board 
In the main, high street florists were the only vendors of flowers. Dutch imports didn't start until the 1970s and growers were mostly regional. Florists purchased flowers from growers and wholesalers within 25 miles of their stores, and, sometimes, there were florists who were selling their own flowers they had grown themselves! (Imagine that? It will never catch on.....!) Internet searches show that, generally, flowers were white with very little additional colour. They were also seasonal as the flower import market was yet to take off. Lily of the valley in spring, maybe roses in summer but lilies and carnations were common place as grown in hot houses across the country. 

Asparagus fern was the foliage of choice, more often than not cascading through a shower bouquet. Gardenias and orchids featured in the celebrity bouquets but my mums bridal shower was .... shhh dare I say it ..... artificial! 

1950s wedding

At least Marilyn Monroe would have been proud of her footwear! 

I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot
— Marilyn Monroe
Posted on April 28, 2016 and filed under Friday Photographs, Bridal.