For the last few years I have visited Chelsea Flower Show. I love to see who is growing what and how, pick up new seeds, check out varieties of Tulips and Roses that I might plant for next year and generally soak up the atmosphere. I usually go with my sister but this year I went with a group of friends that I trained with from Otley College.
My highlights this year included this beautiful Peter Rabbit themed garden and Cleve West's show garden. I was also really inspired by the show garden designed by the young Rich brother's who combined wild and cultivated plants and said the plants had not been forced but grown naturally which was so refreshing. Throughout the show I loved this combination of wild and cultivated plants which is something I use in my own work. I saw much Sweet Rocket, Campion and Cow Parsley. Another favourite garden which had a similar theme was the artisan Potter's Garden. This garden had beautiful Aqueligias, Astrantia, Lunaria ( Honesty) and so much more. The Topiarist Garden had this type of planting interspersed with Topiary shapes which was a really interesting juxtaposition of formal and informal.
Plant favourites included some wonderful yellow Lupins in the Lauren Perrier show garden and indeed Lupins in general, Foxgloves,Campion, Roses, Auriculars, Peonies and a fabulous Sweet William called Sooty on the Avon Bulbs stand. I bought seeds from Avon Bulbs, so hopefully next year!!! I also bought foxglove seed from The Botanic Nursery, Lupin seed from West Country Nurseries and Auricular seed from Drointon Nurseries. I was also given free seeds by M and S to encourage Bees into the garden, what a great advert.
One of my must sees is Peter Beales Rose stand in The Grand Marquee, wonderful as always, Norfolk Roses. This year they seemed to feature more small headed ramblers creating a real secret garden effect.
The dresses made by the Young Florists of the Year were sensational. So all in all a really inspiring day.
I like to include a flower which might be considered wild in my bouquets and wedding work. This might include, Cow Parsley, Sweet Rocket, Forget me Nots, Honesty, Ox Eye Daisy, Campion, Feverfew, Foxgloves... Many of these I encourage to grow in my garden so I can pick them, othertimes I just benefit from serendipity as they just grow there! Some last longer than others but mixed with cultivated flowers they really add something to the overall effect. I grow Sweet Rocket, Honesty, Forget Me Nots, Foxgloves and Ox Eye Daisy form seed. In the case of Honesty and Sweet Rocket so that I can have the white as well as the more common purple variety. I am finding that Cow Parsley lasts very well in water as does Sweet Rocket. I am intending to experiment with cutting other wildflowers as the season progresses and will let you know how I find them. Please remember it may be illegal to cut certain flowers in the wild, things have changed as we have become more aware environmental issues. Many are eay to grow from seed so you could have a small wildflower patch in your garden.
My jam jar posies are proving very popular. They come in two sizes 1lb at £5 and 2lb at £7.50. Decorated with ribbon they make great gifts and thus far I have made them for dinner parties, get well soon, parties, weddings, gifts and pure pleasure. I recycle jam jars so we are eating a lot of jam, which may or may not be a good thing!! However it is a great environmentally friendly way to package flowers. I do fill vases as well, either customers own fav vases or I buy in from local charity shops, supporting their cause but also recycled or should I say reused.
I am finding scented flowers a particular favourite with customers, my first Sweet Peas are coming through but I have also been harvesting Sweet Rocket and Stocks, both of which I plan to grow more next year. It seems to be scent that suffers terribly with mass produced flowers. As we head into summer I will have Lavender and Roses for scent along with Sweet Peas and Sweet Williams. I am always keen to hear about other scented flowers for cutting, if anyone has any bright ideas!
I am currently experimenting with making buttonholes from new and different flowers. The traditional Carnation and Rose buttonholes are much less popular these days, partly as a result of discerning brides wanting something different but also because of the interest in British grown flowers. Cut Carnations and Roses are not available year round grown in Britain and in fact are almost exclusively imported from South America and Africa via Holland.
As a result I am trying all sorts of flowers as buttonholes to see how they work. So far I have tried Muscari/ Grape Hyacinths, Lily of The Valley, Daisys, Anenome de Caen, garden Roses and Tulips, all have worked well. Some of the little filler flowers I have used have wilted a little too quickly so the experiment continues. I plan to include more examples in my blog as the season progresses. At college I was taught to wire and tape which keeps moisture in but not doing this does allow you to keep the flowers in water to the last minute....the jury is out!
I have begun cutting my Lilac, which I love for it's fabulous rich colour and fraqgrance. A friend mentioned a superstition around not bringing Lilac indoors which I thought I would try to investigate. It seems this may be related to it's use in days gone by to line coffins to sweeten the smell. Lilac is related to the Olive family and was imported from the Baltic region where it grows on rocky outcrops. The exact details of when it was introduced into the UK are not clear. However it has gained in popularity of recent years and is now a popular cur flower. It is best to cut early or late in the day and make a small slit in the cut stem, then put in water and keep cool overnight before using. It is not long lived as a cutflower particularly if displayed in a warm room but if kept cool I have found it to last much longer. It looks fabulous in large vases or jugs and works wonderfully well in church flowers. In my experience it prefers to be kept in water and doesnot respond so well to Oasis floral foam. I have three Lilac trees and the white is always the last to flower with the paler of the two purple varieties coming out first. I will be taking bunches to Snape Maltings Market on Saturday....see you there.
My story in flowers started as a child growing a tiny patch of London Pride Saxifraga...also known as Whimsey or Look Up and Kiss Me! Fast forward to 8 years ago when I started a City and Guilds training in floristry. I qualified as a florist and then to deepen my growing knowledge and skills I trained in horticulture as well. I trained under a WRAGS scheme at Darsham Nurseries and at Somerleyton Hall. Developing a passion for both growing and designing/arranging British garden flowers, I planted a cutting garden. Having become increasingly concerned about where and how flowers are grown, coupled with a love of British grown flowers. and natural styling, I now specialise in growing and using beautiful British grown flowers to make romantic natural designs. for weddings, events, gifts and much more.