The Friday Photograph - the One of Me

Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror or the painter?
— Pablo Picasso

This week's Friday Photograph has been triggered by a blogger that I follow; Me and Orla. Sara is a real whizz when it comes to anything Instagram or photography related, and when she posted a blog a couple of weeks ago about 'putting yourself in the picture' it struck a chord. 

I am always more comfortable about sharing pictures of my flowers and letting them 'sell' the story and speak for themselves. But of course there is much more to 'Church Park Flowers' than just the flowers and I must show my face occasionally to show that, obviously, there are people behind the scenes squirrelling away - planting, weeding, watering, picking, creating and delivering. So....... Here I am! 

'Modelling' a bouquet and flower crown that I made for a recent wedding fayre, you can just about make me out. The flowers still take centre stage, but firstly I am more comfortable with that and actually they should be the focus!

Posted on March 18, 2016 and filed under Bouquets, Bridal, Friday Photographs.

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.

The Friday Photograph - the First One.

I like to challenge myself. I like to learn - so I like to try new things and try to keep growing.
— David Schwimmer

I have a long list of blogs to write. Some are just ideas, some for future use, some are drafted out and others as good as completed just waiting for the right time to post. But scheduling is something I have yet to master and I am acutely aware that this blog page seems a little neglected - a little forgotten - and it needs some attention, some content, some interest. So I have set myself a little challenge. A blog series called 'The Friday Photograph'

This will 'challenge' me on a number of levels and serve several purposes;

1) it ensures more regular and up to date posts

This is good for me and you. Hopefully for you it will give a greater insight into the world of Church Park Flowers. In return I hope to see what posts are popular, find out what people like and what people like to know.

2) it will help give me more confidence in my writing

Writing does not come naturally to me, by making myself regular pen something - albeit short - I hope to become more comfortable with the written prose

3) it will chart my planned improvement in photography 

Good images are essential on a website, and more so when illustrating a creative art such as floristry. I am determined to improve my photographic record of behind the scenes and 'front of house' images of Church Park Flowers. By putting them under a series heading it will be easier to map any progress made

So the First One is a picture I took last week of a spring arrangement I made for a couple of wedding fairs.

I really like how this arrangement turned out. The container is a copper footed urn found in a charity shop. Asymmetrical arrangements are on trend right now and I think they work so well with natural and seasonal flowers. The shape mirrors so well how these flowers and foliage would be found in the garden and hedgerows in early spring.

Narcissi, primroses tulips and ranunculus nestle in with foliage, twigs and even feathers to create a tableau of spring.

The photo is taken on my iPhone against the battered door of the workshop. The door may be 'distressed' but I like the rustic look it gives to the image.

So.... The gauntlet is down, I have started the Friday Photograph blog series. Let's see where it takes us. 

Posted on March 4, 2016 and filed under Friday Photographs, Weddings, Bridal.

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.

Making a Christmas Wreath

Ho, Ho, Ho!
— Santa Claus

This the season to be jolly, and as the flower beds become dormant for the winter it is time to bring the outdoors in (or at least as far as the front door ) with the making of a Christmas wreath.

Pine, holly, ivy, eucalyptus, poppy heads, daucus heads, berries, rose hips - all can be gathered in and wired together to make a natural, seasonal door adornment.

Start with your wreath ring. Buy a metal one or fashion your own from straw or willow. Cover in moss - and there you have your starting base. Make small bundles of your foliage of choice and wire them onto the wreath ring, slightly overlapping each bundle as you go. Continue all the way round until the base ring is covered. 

Leave as is or add cones, dried orange slices, seed heads by wiring them in. Add a fabulous bow and your door will be perfectly dressed for the festive season.

Need a helping hand or some more inspiration? Then come along to Church Park Flowers pop up Christmas shop and discover our world of wreaths. Ready made noble fir wreaths, fully dressed or all the sundries and natural supplies you need to make your own. Your can also stay for a drop in workshop to learn the tips and tricks for making your own wreath or door swag.

Have yourself a natural Christmas at Church Park Flowers pop up Christmas shop, Butchers Row, Barnstaple. EX31 1BW. 


Posted on November 28, 2015 and filed under Workshops, Christmas.

...........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.

Blogs, Blogging, Bloggers?

Of course I knew about these things, maybe had actually read a few in my (free?) time but actually never really understood what they were about. So when Loveland Farm in Hartland approached me to run a workshop for a group of 24 ‘professional bloggers’ you can imagine my trepidation. It was to be known as ‘Sisterhood Camp’

wildflowers at Lovelands

I ‘stalked’ these people via social media and found a group of confident, knowledgeable, articulate and strong women that were coming from all over the country to stay at Lovelands in order to promote their message and they wanted little old me to show them how to make a flower crown? Yikes!!

So I arm myself with buckets and buckets of foliage, florist tape, wire and ribbon and turn up at the spectacular Lovelands with their crazy glamping pods.

Wow! The location is awesome, the pods are out of this world and ‘Sisterhood’? They really were the most inspiring, uplifting and beautiful group of ladies. I wanted to stay all day, I wanted to stay all evening, dam it, I want to be one of the ‘Sisterhood’ gang. I just need to learn how to blog. I showed them how to create foliage crowns and in return I picked up snippets about the blogging world. So truly fascinating – who knew that this form of communication could be so powerful, far reaching and motivating. From subsequent 'stalking' I can see how they each share in their own way their own loves, passions and experiences – how they want to tell everyone all about it and how they want to include everyone and encourage everyone to join in.

True to their word the message of Church Park Flowers has now been spread amongst their thousands of followers through some amazing ‘blogs’. I know I’ve not stumbled across them all but when you have a few minutes please take a look at those I have discovered:

Little Green Shed 

Lobster and Swan  

Decorators Notebook 

So it may seem a bit ‘geeky’ or ‘nerdy’ to be a blogger – but really the Sisterhood are a normal group of friends who have the gift of sharing and the skill of writing. Now, where is that thesaurus, oh and some spare time……

Posted on June 30, 2015 and filed under Workshops.

Being Bridal at Bracken House

"When April blows his horn, Tis good for both hay and corn" Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady.

I've not seen the film (or even actually read the book!) but I'm sure that Bracken House would be the perfect location for the book. A gorgeous former Edwardian rectory, Bracken House offers the perfect venue for an intimate country house wedding. The ever fab Blue Fizz Events leapt into action to perfectly encapsulate the look, vibe and aspirations of this edge of Exmoor setting.

Honoured to be invited to do the flowers, I got the chance to be featured with some true bridal style from Lily and Louie and Lottie the dog!

Matt Stockman (of Photo Booth fame!) perfectly captured this quintessential Edwardian era style wedding. I'm sure you'll agree his photos are exquisite. And of course guest star my flowers!

Posted on May 20, 2015 and filed under Bridal, Weddings.

Weeding, Watering and Worrying - the www in www.churchparkflowers.co.uk!

So this is the key sowing and growing season for my annual flowers crop. The greenhouse has been chock a block with trays and trays of seeds all waiting their time for germination. It's not a place for the impatient because whilst some little babies seem to pop up over night (corn cockle) others can take up to 100 days (lace flower) before they show any sign of life. So you sow the seeds, keep them moist then make sure they don't get too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry and then keep peering at the blank compost willing for some signs of life! Eureka moments always seem to happen when you turn you back for a couple of days so I've decided most of them are just shy!

Before long the seedlings get their 'true leaves' and it time for them to leave the greenhouse kindergarten and settle into their cutting beds in the polytunnel. (Frost still a risk to use the outside beds yet) so more 'www' takes place but now there are different perils lurking. Blinking* rabbits got in a couple of nights ago and munched their way through my crop of antirrhinum and China Aster - heartbroken. Not to mention a particular 2year old munchkin who was 'helping' and managed to rake straight through the direct sown cornflowers and nigella. Only time will tell if they survived that little game!

Space is already tight in the polytunnel and the outside beds look a little on the small side with all the trays still full in the greenhouse and a plant sale to attend this weekend! Methinks a smile at Mr E for more cutting beds may be in order..... 

Posted on May 18, 2015 .