Monday, 27 January 2020

Hurrah for the humble jam jar

This is one of the most popular images I have posted on my instagram feed over the last few months. A painted jam jar full of pretty flowers has a timeless quality which people seem to like a lot. I love to use jam jars...sometimes naked, like this:
But more often decorated. Sometimes with pretty paper.
Sometimes to celebrate a special event like Halloween.
The great thing about jam jars is that they are cheap (or even free as a by-product of your honey or your gherkins) and they can be dressed up or down in many ways. Often I decorate them with lace and string/ribbon for weddings.
The jars look great on tables or window sills, and after the wedding they can be given away as gifts to selected guests.
But most of all, I like a painted jam jar. The pattern I have developed looks brilliant for a country wedding.
I often fill these painted jam jars with flowers and give them as presents. They are lovely to take round to someone's house when you have been invited for supper - you can just place them in the middle of the table. They look great and make everyone feel happy!
If you come to my next flower workshop you will make a small posy using spring flowers from Cornwall. These will be placed in one of my painted jam jars. This will be your chance to practice hand-tying before making a large bouquet to fill a pretty jug.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Happy Christmas

Christmas is in the air! It's made me dig out one of my jugs decorated with poinsettias. I`ve filled it with white flowers (so soothing and a lovely contrast to all the bling coming our way).
The pine cones and dried peppers around this jug are pointing the way to the materials needed for wreath-making. I will be running my wreath workshop next Saturday. The wreaths can be hung inside or outside and will look something like this:
I think this is the last year I will run this kind of wreath workshop. I might experiment with other approaches in future years. Here is an example of one I made a few years ago. Instead of wire and straw as the base, I used branches from our cotoneaster tree woven together. Then I added dried materials. Jessie said it looked a bit Mrs Haversham-ish - hmm, she had a point!
Over the years I have run several Christmas flowers workshops and I've picked out a couple of the more interesting ones. For this first one we used dried materials to make a container and then we added gorgeous dark red roses, berries and foliage.
This second idea was inspired by Francois Weekes' woodland arrangements concept. All the materials were attached to a piece of wood through the medium of moss. We made a little moss-covered container for a few fresh flowers.
After all the work preparing and running workshops, when it comes to my own Christmas flowers I prefer just placing my flowers in jugs - I especially like pewter, ivy designs and vintage with a bit of gold in the design:
A couple of years ago I left everything too late and I just couldn`t bring myself to buy the glittered, glitzy, nearly dead red flowers in the supermarket. Instead I bought a couple of bunches of flowers in vibrant, mixed colours. I was pretty pleased with the arrangements I got out of them.
This weekend I will be in Filey where the fishtive Christmas tree will be turned on. This is a tree shape made out of lobster pots by Filey's few remaining fishermen. It's a tradition in Filey and it's brilliant.
A very happy Christmas to you all.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Harvesting and creating

This is a haul of flowers cut from our garden a couple of weeks ago. I tried to select a good range of flowers in terms of colour and shape....but some of the flowers (sweet peas especially) are cut and come again and you just have to get on and cut them nearly every day. On this summer morning I cut phlox, hydrangea, cosmos, crocosmia, hebe, alliums, sweet peas, sea holly, mallow, lavender, scabious and dahlias. This blog is about what I did with the flowers. First of all, I used fluffy pink phlox and hydrangea off-set with white phlox, white dahlia, white hebe and blue sea -holly. There was so much pink, I used a contrasting white enamel jug.
Then I tackled the sweet peas. I started off by selecting the purples and whites with good, long stems and I placed them in a vase and a sweet moroccan glass.
Next I took the old-fashioned sweet peas (lovely scent, but shorter stems) which are a mix of purple and lavender and I hand-tied them into a jam jar.
The thing about sweet peas is that you get some with recalcitrant, curved stems - I put these into a pretty bottle (nice for the dinner table).
Then I used up the short-stemmed bits and pieces. I hand-tied them into small round containers and lined them up on a window sill. I love the splash of red here, and the flowers looked stunning in the morning light.
I had quite a few airy, floaty flowers to use (like mallow, scabious and cosmos) and I decided to use these together in glass vases. I added a hydrangea near to the rim of the vase just to give a bit of weight/stability. It works well when you can see the stems in this kind of arrangement.
It can be a it of a challenge when you have flowers with really strong colours. These can be mixed in with other contrasting colours, but I decided to use them together - I mixed orange dahlias with dark pink cosmos and red sweet peas.
Then I was left with one gorgeous dahlia. I used this on its own in a brown jam jar. It is such a dramatic bloom that works on its own.
Finally, what to do with the crocosmia? I love crocosmia - such elegant and intriguing flowers. I placed them in this simple white jug. I stripped off some of the spiky foliage and added that to the jug. Perfect.
It is wonderful to have flowers to cut in your own garden....but it is important to allow enough time to harvest them - this is best done in the evening after the heat of the day. Then you need to allow plenty of time to really enjoy creating something lovely with them. This may demand a bit of imagination. It helps to have a good range of vases, jars and bottles. What I love about the end result is the way cut flowers bring the garden into the house.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Mothers, daughters and flowers

This is my daughter, Jessie, and me a long time ago......We both love flowers and Jessie has played a big part in Meadowsweet right from the beginning. We`ve been to flower classes together, shopped in flower markets and she helped me with my workshops, especially in the early days. Now we are moving on to a new project together. We are swapping ideas about how we use flowers in an everyday way in our homes. We both think that flowers make life better - whether it is sharing a cup of tea or planning a party:
So...we`ve set up a new instagram account called just.add.flowers  Our aim is to show lovely pictures of easily available flowers (bought from the supermarket or grown at home) in our own home environments. We are trying to show how everybody can do something really satisfying with flowers with a small budget and a little thought. Before we started we decided to improve the way we take pictures of flowers and we had some brilliant help from Rachel Sinclair  She showed us how to set things up inside our homes with different backgrounds. For example:
And she showed us how to shoot into the light and blur the background:
Jessie lives in a flat in Walthamstow with a balcony where she grows flowers, tomatoes and herbs. Her flat is filled with attractive books and she uses quite small, beautiful vases to display her flowers. She's a graphic designer so she looks at flowers through the eye of an artist. Here is a sample of Jessie's recent posts on just.add.flowers:
As readers of my blog know, I have a house in Sheffield with a medium-sized garden. I look at flowers through the lens of a gardener/florist and I tend to use bigger vases than Jessie just because I have more space (the jaunty little goat is an exception!). Here is a sample of my recent posts:
We really like the way our use of flowers and our pictures inter-weave and contrast. As we develop just.add.flowers, we plan to build on this to find other ways of sharing our ideas about getting the most out of flowers every day. If you don't have an instagram account you can just click below to get to our pictures:
just.add.flowers
I will finish with another picture of Jessie and me from long ago, and a picture taken just last month. Still laughing and smiling.