In the STUDIO
It’s been a busy and productive month in the studio with weddings every weekend, a steady flow of beautiful flowers coming in and out and the constant to-ing and fro-ing of vessels and buckets and plants. May is perhaps our favourite month, fast-paced and flashing by so quickly, yet at the same time strangely long and drawn-out - the flowers of late spring - tulips, anemones, the last of the narcissus - giving way to peonies, clematis and bearded iris.
We’ve so enjoyed working from some very colourful and creative briefs this month. Autumnal rusts and berry tones for a wedding on the Kent/Surrey border with a beautiful blowsy blossom and hawthorn arch. A long aisle of Italian alpine meadow-inspired arrangements (to reference the groom’s heritage) in the Nash Conservatory at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens. A Chinese-Jewish wedding at the extraordinary Sezincote House (a two-hundred year old Mogul Indian palace on an idyllic country estate in Gloucestershire, built by an English aristocrat for his homesick Indian bride), with a rambling clematis and wild rose briar chuppah, oodles of lush table arrangements and hundreds of metres of twisting, curving leafy vines across the clear marquee ceiling. Last weekend, a church wedding and reception at Cowley Manor in the Cotswolds with abundant urns, table arrangements and a marble mantelpiece laden with peonies, bearded iris, spilling with tiny blue Lathyrus flowers on twirling vines.
In the GARDEN
The garden has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few weeks with the help of Becky who is a recent addition to our growing team, assisting with cutting for weddings and events, maintenance and turnaround between crops. Once over the tulips were whipped out and replaced with annual seedlings - stocks, runner beans and Nicotiana (tobacco flower), and lots of seeds direct-sown to cut from later in the summer. Two new long beds have been planted up with dahlias. In the tunnels the sweet peas, calendula, Californian poppies and corncockle have been flowering like mad, the ranunculus waning and soon to be replaced with sea lavender and straw flowers. Every week there are new varieties showing - this week the bearded iris and first flush of roses have been gently brought back and coo’ed over at the studio. And the nigella are just starting now too - African Bride, Sativa (black cumin) and Hispanica, which are the colour of dark blue denim.
One of the most exciting things for us this year is growing crops of different varieties specifically for our clients within a particular colour palette. The red sweet peas (Air Warden, Winston Churchill and Red Ace) that we grew for David and Tash’s wedding at Sezincote - sown from seed on Christmas Eve - started flowering just in time and we were able to cut long, whole vines for them with these hits of beautiful scented red flowers. For Anna and Andras, who had a white/buttercream and peach palette with accents of blue, we cut Lathyrus sativus azureus and Californian poppies like wrinkled silk rosettes.
Our first roses are fairly short-stemmed at the beginning of the season but we cut them into crates filled with jars of fresh water and bring them back to the studio regardless - so useful for low bowl arrangements and small clustered vessels for table styling. We use many of the weeds that we pull up in our designs too - speedwell, hairy bittercress, shepherd’s purse, forget-me-nots, jack-in-the-hedge. At the moment we have a real problem with invasive creeping buttercup but the upside is a profusion of glistening, sunny flowers just when you are searching for that hit of yellow. Herb Robert is an old favourite – it grows everywhere around the garden, and at the moment is a nude pink turning to flaming red. We pull it up by the root, soak it, store it in buckets of water and use it for filling the base of arrangements; a touch of vermilion when you want to spice things up a bit. We don’t discard the stunted, strange (sometimes slightly freaky) plants in our garden; it’s a bit like nose-to-tail eating in a restaurant; there’s a use for everything, weeds and weirdos alike.
If you’d like to join us for a day in the studio we have a A Day’s Flower Arranging Workshop coming up next month on Wednesday 17th July, 10am to 4pm. We’ll have an abundance of freshly cut flowers, foliage, fruits, vegetables, herbs (and decorative / edible weeds!) from the garden in an array of delicious colours to arrange with and we’ll be covering garden-inspired bouquets and table centrepieces (using the chicken-wire technique). Further details and tickets are available here.