Posts filed under Flower Farm

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!)

natural confetti.jpg

 

 

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

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 - the Good Friday

I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that.
— Gillian Anderson

So today is Good Friday, the day we gorge on hot cross buns knowing there is only another 48 hours until lent is over and we can go back to chocolate, gin, crisps - and all those other things that make us happy! It represents new beginnings and awakenings.  

Without getting too religious on you I did do a quick Google to find out why it was called 'Good' Friday when it's actual biblical roots are rather sorrowful. One school of thought is that it was actually a typo! Previously called 'Gods Friday' (Godos Fruday) a couple of letters got switched and howzat - Good Friday it was! Following this same school of thought maybe in several thousand years Church Park Flowers will become 'Chalk Perch Furrows' or 'Sprawl Chock Fuhrer'! (Visit wordsmith.org for an hilarious anagram generator)

But today is a very Good Friday for me for one key exciting reason. Church Park Flowers are now available to buy at Johns of Instow and Appledore! Two amazing, award winning delis who face each other across the Torridge estuary are now stocking posies and bouquets of locally grown British flowers. This week's selections are true Easter and Springtime tidings of scented narcissi, tulips, ranunculus and sprigs of contorted willow and birch. And as the seasons change then so will the selection of flowers. 

I'm pursuing the opportunity of a new beginning. Get yourself to a Johns deli, buy some flowers and join me in a Good Friday, Great Saturday, Amazing Sunday, Fab Monday........

Apes Therapy! 

(or Happy Easter!)

The Friday Photograph - the Sharing One

The more we share, the more we have.
— Leonard Nimroy

Due to strong winds I have been without phone and Internet for most of this week. Very frustrating and the inclement weather is not conducive to making much progress outside either! So in someways it was lucky that I had a little road trip planned for Tuesday anyway. 

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to invite myself along to the impressive Tallulah Rose Flower School in Bath. Right at the top of the salubrious Milsom Street, the flower school is modestly hidden behind an unassuming door. Up some steps and little corridors and you find yourself in the most delightful flower workshop and studio. I instantly went green with envy. Light and airy the space is styled to perfection with props, vases, organised storage areas and every sundry you could ever require. 

The equally modest and instantly likeable Rachel has run the Tallulah Rose flower school since 2009 - following on from a successful career in fashion and floristry. Her courses are amongst the most sought after in the country with florist skills classes, business skills and the much in demand career change course running throughout the year. 

I shared this incredible day with 14 fellow cut flower growers and florists from across the South West. A fabulous bunch of inspiring women (Was it a coincidence it was International Woman's Day? - I think not!) each with a plethora of experiences and knowledge to share. Some had enviable walled gardens, perfect soil conditions, locations and client bases whilst others had the challenge of clay soils, inaccessible fields and relocation. There were old timers with decades of experience and newbies with infantile businesses like me. But what we all had in common we were more than happy to share - passion, belief and commitment to growing British flowers and spreading the love of anything floral. 


I came away enlightened and upbeat. It doesn't matter that technology or weather is fickle. There are few guarantees in this world but the knowledge that others are committed to locally grown flowers means at least the future looks (Tallulah) rose- y. 

www.tallulahroseflowers.com

Posted on March 11, 2016 and filed under Flower Farm, Friday Photographs.

What a woman really wants for Valentine's.

Love is the answer, and you know that for sure; Love is a flower, you’ve got to let it grow.
— John Lennon

Love it or hate it, Valentine's is nearly upon us. The Christmas cards have been cleared from the shelves and replaced by romantic, funny, rude, huge, in your face cards all declaring 'LOVE'. And it's big business now with the Brits spending around £1 billion pounds every year to show how much they care!

If you are strictly in the 'no way' camp, then the sight of these cards fills you with dread. But maybe that is because the idea of synthetic chocolates, synthetic undies and synthetic flowers turns you off the idea of 'love'. 

But what if there was another way? A declaration that is handmade, artisan, locally grown? Something that still symbolises 'love' but is natural, beautiful, seasonal? 

Men have been 'trained' to buy red roses ever since the 17th century when it first became de rigueur to present flowers to their loved one. The ancient Greeks and Romans identified the rose with the goddess of love, Aphrodite / Venus and so the association began, but did you know that the tulip is also a flower with the meaning of love?

The gift of a red or yellow tulip is seen as a declaration of love, the flower's black centre representing a heart burned by passion. And the simplistic, humble daffodil represents purity and new beginnings. Add some scented rosemary for remembrance and suddenly you have a bouquet that spells out a message of Remembering Pure Love. Clinton Cards couldn't write something that good that will also fill the house with scent and the promises of Spring. 

british grown valentine bouquet

Still not wanting to embrace the Valentine vibe? Well these bouquets are not exclusive to just one day. What greater way to show you care than gifting flowers any day......spontaneously.

Church Park Flowers can create your unique love token with delivery throughout north Devon and north Cornwall including Valentines Day! 

Posted on January 18, 2016 and filed under Flower Farm, Valentines, Bouquets, Gifts.

...........autumn sowings

Every sucessful person I have heard of has done the best he could with the conditions as he found them, and not waited until next year for better
— E W Howe

E W Howe is apparently an American Author – no I don’t know what they wrote, nor have I managed to look it up. Feel free to educate me in the comments below if you want!

You would have seen by now that I love a quote to set the scene of a situation. It’s quite interesting to look them up and find one that is relevant to my musings at the time. As I am about to talk about autumn sowings then I felt the above was pretty apt as you do have to take advantage of what the weather is doing at the time and not worry too much if it the right thing to do. Yes, we may get severe frosts this year, we may get a cold wet spring but also the weather is set good at the moment so hopefully my new seeds will get off to a good start.

So as my previous blog outlined, this year’s annuals have all but gone. But actually this is not strictly true, I still have a good row of daucus (My little favourite!) Some cleome (Nasty thorns – but actually I will save seed! – give it a chance). Sunflowers still to flower (fingers crossed) and cosmos taking over the polytunnel! Considering its October in a couple of days I am still impressed with the return from a few annual seeds. 

Of course I want the flower patch to work even harder next year so I am kicking off my autumn sowings. By direct sowing half hardy annuals you can hope to get seeds germinating and putting down a good root system ahead of the winter. This will pull them through the hard months and mean they are a bit stronger and ahead of the game come next spring. The result: earlier, stronger blooms available from April and May.

                                                Seeds from the fabulous  Higgledy Garden

                                               Seeds from the fabulous Higgledy Garden

These last couple of weeks have rewarded us with beautiful weather for late September (thank you!) so have managed to clear, dig and rake over the beds all dedicated for autumn sowing and of course spring bulbs. But what I hadn't realised at the time – so therefore not planned that way – was the current moon phrases. Do you know about lunar gardening? Well Google it as I'm not going into the nitty gritty here but basically Ute York, in her book "Living by the Moon" says

“The old-time gardeners say, "With the waxing of the moon, the earth exhales.” When the sap in the plants rise, the force first goes into the growth above ground. Thus, you should do all activities with plants that bear fruit above ground during a waxing moon. With the waning of the moon, the earth inhales. Then, the sap primarily goes down toward the roots. Thus, the waning moon is a good time for pruning, multiplying, fertilizing, watering, harvesting, and controlling parasites and weeds” 

These same forces affect the water content of the soil, creating more moisture in the soil at the time of the new and full moon. This increased moisture encourages the seeds to sprout and grow. So hopefully I was spot on in my sowing last weekend.

This weekend I also managed to make good headway in the planting of 250 bulbs I had ordered! As the ‘Synodic period of the full moon’ (!) is a good time to sow bulbs (The gravitational pull drives the sap and goodness down through the bulbs) I am very hopeful of an impressive display of anemones du Caen, muscari and paperwhites come next spring.

But in the words of Margaret Mitchell, another American author…..

“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect”
— Margaret Mitchell

 


Posted on September 29, 2015 and filed under Flower Farm.

Clearing the annuals.....

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” 
― J.M. BarriePeter Pan

 As summer draws to a close (sorry!) it’s time to say good bye to last year’s annuals. These have been my floral stewards over the last five months and it is a bittersweet exercise when pulling them up.

They have faithfully provided colour, scent and beautiful blooms for all manner of requests over the summer. The birthday bouquets, the thank you bouquets, the blue cornflowers and nigella for the nautical themed weddings, the brighter bolder zinnias for the mid summer buttonholes and the scented sweetpeas nestled in bridal bouquets.

As they are pulled from their spots I make mental notes for next year plantings. Definitely yes to more larkspur - Long lasting stems in mauves, purples, whites and pinks. Save space for the ever favourite cornflowers – the blues win hand down on popularity and vibrancy. Need to include more colours for the antirrhinums. (Only had deep crimson and a few white ‘snapdragons’ this year) Jury still out on the zinnias. They win ‘most colourful annual’ award hands down – but not popular for brides unless the Caribbean them takes off in 2016. Dill flowers will appear again as I love the zingy yellow that works so well with other colour palates and adds a spicy scent to bunches of blooms. Cleome?? What were they thinking when they recommend it as a cut flower? Yes it looks impressive but those thorns?! Really? They are killers on your hands. Don’t want the dry-cleaning bill as they prick the finger of a bride in pure white! Escholias, again look great in the beds – but no real staying power for the vase. Must remember to pinch out cosmos next year as picking from 6 foot high plants is no easy task! The sunflowers are still giving so can stay put for now. As can my years favourite – the daucus. The colour, the shape and the generosity of this annual makes it my current favourite. Still producing well in the outside beds it pairs perfectly with dusky pink hydrangeas that are still looking good. (If anyone is looking for a gift in the next few weeks this would make a fabulous long lasting floral arrangement or bouquet – hint hint).

The nice part about clearing the annuals is that it is not a hard task. No deep roots to dig out you can literally just tug them up and chop them into the compost heaps. So at least they are not wasted on any level. You can then clear some beds in super quick time and get them dug and raked over ready for the next ‘guests’.  ………to be continued

Posted on September 17, 2015 and filed under Flower Farm, Weddings.