Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Christmas Markets

After the success of the Nether Edge Farmers’ Market in September, Ann and I were keen to take part in the Christmas Market in December. In fact, we were so geared up for Christmas that we decided to have a stall at the Sharrow Vale Market as well. Here we are all wrapped up against the elements – it was very cold and wet at both markets – but we are smiling! It was fantastic that lots of people turned out despite the weather – mostly they were on the hunt for Christmas presents, as well as soaking up the great market atmosphere along with the rain.

This time I made arrangements in seasonal colours – green, white and red. I got very excited when I found a grower/wholesaler of English flowers and foliage who could deliver flowers straight to our front door. I was able buy red/pink and white alstroemeria which were robust and proud and also parvifolia (the kind of eucalyptus with small leaves which I like best) and pittosporum, again with small leaves. It was a great surprise to find that English narcissi (wonderful scent) – both bright white and yellow – were available. I supplemented all of this with the last of the flowers from our garden – some lime green chrysanthemums, dark pink chrysanthemums, cotoneaster berries and even a few scabious. I also used some glossy green wild holly to add to the seasonal feel and some fatsia leaves from the garden. Then I added some gorgeous white avalanche roses and some white and red chrysanthemums which I bought from Sheffield Flower Market. Here are a few of the bouquets and bunches which I made.

The shoppers at the markets seem to like the posies in a jar very much. Often they say that they make great presents because the posy and the container come as a complete whole and they don`t have to worry whether the person they are giving it to has a vase at home which is the right size. I wanted to make Christmassy jars this time. My friend Ann (another Ann!) who lives in Oxford gave me the idea of gluing hand-made paper to jars. She had done this with old glasses to make tea-light containers and she said that the paper seemed very strong and even stood up to being left outside in the rain. I used green and red paper and painted over it with gold paint to add a bit of sparkle. Then I tied the jars with tartan ribbon. I was very pleased with the effect – I thought the jars looked bright and seasonal without being tacky. I sold nearly all of them – so quite a winner.

My other product was the completed pomanders. These looked and smelled lovely. Lots of people came to sniff them and some reminisced about making them when they were children. Again, I sold most of these, but I also kept a few back to give to friends and family as stocking fillers.

The farmers’ markets have been a great experience for me. They have given me an opportunity to buy flowers on a larger scale than just a home situation and I have learned a great deal about the flower supply chain and how to judge the amount of flowers and foliage needed to make a lot of arrangements. I have also offered my work to a buying public and talked to people about my values and approach. It is heartening that people like what I am doing and I feel encouraged to build on this.

We are now coming to the end of 2011 and during this year I have travelled a long way in my learning about how I want to work with flowers. I have lots of ideas I want to try out in 2012 and I am hoping to grow my business a little. Meadowsweet has made a great start and I am looking forward to the excitement and challenges of the next stage in its development.

Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year to all my friends, family and readers.