Gardens have always been the greatest inspiration to us; to see how flowers converge when plants are grown together and shapes, colours and textures are combined, is fuel for so many of our creative ideas and designs. Establishing our own cutting garden came about simply because we fell in love with the myriad varieties of quirky, unusual and subtle flowers that grew in the gardens we explored, in their borders and around their trellises - climbing clematis with petals like crepe paper, breathtakingly beautiful, fragile roses, fragrant shrubs, massed grasses, luscious vegetable foliage in kitchen gardens.
The nostalgic and evocative power of such flowers was impossible to ignore, and we knew we had to use them in our work for their character, intoxicating scents and subtle gradations of colours. In 2016, faced with the offer of a small plot of Hampshire land to rent, and encouraged by a re-emergence of small-scale growers around the UK championing the use of organic, locally-grown ingredients, we took it as a chance not to be missed. The first winter we cleared the ground and tentatively experimented growing from seed with a small row of sweet peas, some silky Californian poppies and ruffled cosmos. By June, burrowing our faces in bunches of own-grown produce, we were hooked.
Many of the flowers we grow cannot be bought at the wholesale market for precisely the reasons we love them - unsuitability for mass production is reflected in irregular individuality, unique flaws and quirks, variabilities in shape and colour. We celebrate these inconsistencies in our arrangements, the curve or fork of a stem, the mottled effect of leaves turning on the cusp of autumn.
Every flower we use is cherished in the moment, whether it is a single stem of spiraea blossom, briars of dog rose in the first warm days, or an architectural umbel of wild carrot glittering with winter frost. The process of growing and cutting our own flowers utterly informs the way we think about arranging with them. Having an intimate connection with the materials we use is an inestimable joy and has given us a deep appreciation for the cyclical rhythms of the year and the gifts each season brings, not only in the garden, but in the surrounding landscape.
Alongside produce from our own garden, for weddings and larger events we also buy from a number of excellent small growers and farms and are always on the look out for new suppliers of interesting seasonal ingredients. After taking down arrangements from events everything is added to the compost, along with green kitchen waste and cardboard from the studio and our homes, nourishing the soil for future flowers.
Headed up by Jess, our cutting garden is a productive space that we have adapted to suit our needs for weddings and workshops throughout the year. After the quiet of winter sweet scented narcissi and striped tulips burst into flower in the spring, along with speckled hellebores and fritillaria, and anemones and ranunculus in the tunnels. By early summer clusters of alliums, foxgloves, sweetpeas, poppies and early annuals are in flower, and the scented roses make their first appearance. In autumn we harvest Japanese anemones, buckets of richly coloured dahlias, cosmos and grasses, the final flush of colour and growth giving way to berries, seed pods and skeletal silhouettes as the year comes to an end and the garden is put to bed once more.