Have yourself a 'natural' little Christmas!

There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away it must go somewhere.
— Annie Leonard, Proponent of Sustainability

 Unfortunately we are still living in an age of mass consumerism, where landfill and single use plastic are top of our conscientious minds. Over the festive period it is estimated that we in the UK generate 30% more waste than usual. Tons of wrapping paper and glittery Christmas cards will end up in landfill, around one in ten Christmas gifts are unwanted and will end up discarded. And even those thoughtful gifts that are treasured – how many are packaged in unnecessary amounts of plastic packaging?

Not good eh?

So, the theme of this years Church Park Flowers Pop Up Christmas Shop is natural, green and recyclable.

All Christmas wreaths are being made with British sourced sustainable moss and foliage – most of it local. The wreaths will be completely compostable with no plastic used.

Table, centrepiece and tree decorations are all natural and recyclable and new for this year will be recyclable Christmas wrapping paper.

Apparently last year we used enough Christmas wrapping paper to get us to the moon! (220,000 miles worth) with over 85% of it unrecyclable by local councils. The Church Park Flowers Pop Up Christmas Shop will be stocking a variety of recyclable gift wrapping and presentation ideas to make your gifts this year stand out in style whilst being kind to the environment.

To follow through on this green and recyclable theme I’ve decided to republish last years Christmas Pop Up Shop blog post. I thought it was a good one – so why waste it!!?

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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. (Actually now fourth year!!)

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

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Confetti - and the value of “Green”

Red and yellow and pink and green. Purple and orange and blue. I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too!
— Arthur Hamilton

When I was a little girl I was a very eager, but very average, pupil at the Brenda Stevens School of Dance. Twice a week I would skip happily along to classes in tap, ballet and modern theatre dance. I, along with millions of other little girls (and boys!) would dream of being a ballerina and twirling in a beautiful pink tutu on stage.  

Now, every four years the dance school would put on a full school recital at a local theatre. There would be months of rehearsals and mounting excitement. I would have been around seven years old when our tap class number was to be the “sing a rainbow” song. There was seven of us in the class and we were arranged in a line in descending height order. Now, not only was I average in dance ability but I was also average in height so I was right in the middle of the line. Our costumes were home made little dresses from satin lining material (oh so flammable!!) Starting from red on the left - I was to be ........ green! 

Suzanne, tall, leggy and blonde, was in striking red (coz she needed to be noticed that little bit more) Then sunshine yellow - all happy and shiny, Pink - every girls dream and envy (I had to stand next to her whilst looking like an offspring of Shrek! - actually Shrek hadn’t been invented then so it was more like kermit!) Vibrant purple - just like the Brazil nut in Quality Street, Orange (maybe not my second choice but at least it’s cheery!) and then cute little Melanie with her curls in a baby blue dress. Being average is not what it’s cracked up to be - it’s obviously stayed on my mind all this time!

Green as a colour in the natural world is everywhere. Trees, grass, leaves and stems. But it’s the other colours in nature that stand out and provoke memories:

Red rose petals - symbolic with love and romance. The cheery and vibrant yellow marigolds. Soft pinks of the elegant larkspur. Heritage sweet peas with hues of mauve and purple. The stand out orange candulas and the ever blue of the most popular cornflower. These are the flowers that make the real floral rainbow and all were growing in profusion this summer in my cutting patch  

The long hot summer put most of the flowering plants into overdrive. Bloom after bloom kept coming but they would also start to go over so quickly in the heat that it was sad to see them come and go without realising their full potential! So why not capture that beauty in an everlasting way by drying the petals to make natural confetti? 

Home grown and hand picked, the petals were dried either in racks in the greenhouse or in a dehydrater to fully dry without losing the natural colour.  

 Each colour way is stored separately so that they can be mixed to create different combinations. Custom mixed to match your wedding themes and colours. But the best thing about this confetti is not it’s colours but the fact it is totally 100% “green” and with no guilty conscience of the pretty littering they will leave behind.

If only my seven year old self knew the true value of “green” 

So don’t let your wedding be average - instead throw a rainbow of colour into the air like you just don’t care and sing that rainbow loud! ***

(***whilst being green and proud!)

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Posted on September 12, 2018 .

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

naturalchristmaswreath.jpeg
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...... 

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'

 rustic flower crowns

rustic flower crowns

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