Let’s “forget-me-not” the May Day customs

So how did you celebrate May Day?

Did you dress up in white and dance around a maypole?

Did you bathe in the morning dew??

Folklore suggests anyone who ‘bathed’ in the May Day dew would have beautiful complexion for the following year. Rolling around in the dew would bring flawless skin and protect the person from freckles, sunburn, wrinkles, pimples and spots! 

Posted on May 2, 2018 and filed under Bouquets, Gifts.

Spring time wedding on the 'farm'

In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours
— Mark Twain

Who doesn’t love spring? After the dark, cold wetness of winter we all love the fist glimpse of the sun, the first feeling of warmth and the first sighting of roadside daffodils. 

Spring flowers. They are just so god-dam cheerful. Bright cheery daffodils, bobbing bright tulips, scented hyacinths and the delicate ranunculous. What’s not to love. Put them altogether and they really are everyone’s favourite flowers.  

So take a bouquet of spring flowers, a sunny day, a beautiful ‘bride’ and (best of all) a cute four day old lamb and you get the happiest photoshoot ever! Or actually as we had the brilliant Katie on board it was the “best day ever

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Grace and Elegance supplied the bubbly smiling Katie with one of their beautiful bridal dresses. Wedding Belles and Isabella Grace worked their combined magic and produced pure gorgeousness. 

The Big Sheep were our hosts of the shoot and had built a brilliant straw and hay backdrop. The best.day.ever styling van turns up and like a Mary Poppins carpet bag, produces the most spot on props and styling. Add a good sprinkling of spring flowers and the result is the perfect setting for our star of the show: “Lottie the lamb”. He really was the most chilled out cuddly lamb ever. Stole the show with not a spot of lippy required.  

We were especially blessed to have Gavin Warland on board to capture all of this spring sensationalism.  

There's not a lot more I can say but just let these fabulous images do the talking.  

Planning

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.
— Gloria Steinem

January. Wet, cold, wet, dark, wet ....... have I mentioned wet? We have had so much rain here in North Devon that my fields almost represent flooded Paddy fields normally found in monsoon regions. Whilst the rest of the country was posting pretty snow scenes and glittering frosty images on Instagram, I was wading around in mud trying to prevent my workshop from getting washed out.

Solution: retire to the sofa, light the fire and commence the annual act of planning. For me planning is a great excuse to buy new stationery. I’m not saying I’m a stationery addict but...  I have my lovely Moleskine diary for the year. (Different colour to last years) A project notebook: A5, plastic backed with divider pages and ruled lines. This is my main notebook for the year. Each sub section is for planting, workshops, weddings, events etc. But come May it will be scribbles on random pages. I also have a A5 graph paper jotter for planning cutting lists and buying quantities, a reusable wipe page notebook for rough drawings and a to do list pad to write my endless lists on. So, add in a few post it note pads, a folder for wedding enquiry forms and a couple of random other notepads and scraps of paper and I can give Ryman’s a run for their money. Oh and am I the only one that prefers to write in pencil rather than pen? The propelling type with a rubber on?.

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But I love the look and vibe of new notebooks and jotters. It’s the clean slate, the start of something new, dreams, aspirations and the promise that this year I will be organised and productive. 

All wedding and event bookings are written in the diary. Quotes and contacts cross referenced. Seed and plant lists drawn up. Key planting dates noted. Receipts filed and the to do list can begin

 

But essential admin aside there is also a chance for the fun side. The creative thinking. The Inspiration for the year ahead. Whether it’s ordering new varieties of seeds and trying something new in the garden or looking for new wedding trends, January is a great time to get excited about the year ahead. I’ve yet to really hit the seed catalogues for this year. I need to get on with it and source my favourite blooms and try something different, but watch this space for more on that. What I have been doing is the style inspiration, new looks, new colours, new themes. I don’t need to tell you that the best place to lose yourself in for a couple of hours is Pinterest but sometimes this ideas stalwart can be a little unachievable, a little too perfect and photo shoot based (read my previous thoughts on Pinterest here) but there are plenty of other places to delve into. Instagram is another great online visual mood board. Search the hashtags #rusticweddings #natural weddings or whatever it is you are looking for and you’ll find a whole mass of images and people to become your new best friends. One of my favourites is the French florist Avril May. Based in Bordeaux she creates a stunning mix of rustic and boho but edgy bouquets, arrangements and accessories. The variety of foliage’s and flowers and berries she uses is truely stunning. And being that I am going to be out in Bordeaux later this year she is definitely on my must visit list. (Note to self: brush up on French). 

I also always look outside the flower world. Floral trends and styles and weddings are just as likely to be influenced by fashion, interiors, celebs. Unfortunately I didn’t get the job of being the florist for Megan Marckle and Prince Harry’s wedding in May (I’m running a flower crown workshop for a hen weekend that day) but you can guarantee with the beautiful mix of cultures and backgrounds of this most lust aftered couple, their wedding will be truly unique and influence weddings to come throughout this year and the next. Albeit it probably on a smaller budget. I predict a bouquet of peonies - you heard it here first!

Interior wise last year was all about copper, flamingos and jungle prints! And again I’ve seen all these making their appearance in wedding designs. This year, according to Ideal Homes, it will be brass, velvet, bold colours like indigo, texture and 70s glam that will dominate our homes. I’m already a fan of velvet ribbons, they add a real deluxe feel to a wedding bouquet. Violets and indigos will be a new one for me (back to the seed catalogues) but I’ve always included texture within my style. From lambs ear leaves to ornamental grasses and berries it’s great to mix and match. So when my style setting brides-to-be get in touch I’ll be one step ahead of the game. 

But for now I’ll keep drinking the tea/baileys/ovaltine (delete depending on time of day) and writing in my pristine notebooks in my bestest handwriting, feeling smug and organised before reality kicks in and I’ll be back to scribbles on back of envelopes and mud unde the fingernails.  

Oh and guess what?  As I wrote this blog this weekend the frost paid a visit and I got my pretty frosty social media image after all!

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Posted on March 9, 2018 .

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

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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!)

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

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

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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! 

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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...... 

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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'

 rustic flower crowns

rustic flower crowns

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
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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.