Monday, 28 May 2012

Blossoming, Blooming, Burgeoning Spring

I am writing this in May – just as the last tulips and bluebells finish and the cosmos (white and pink) are starting to flower. It has been a strange Spring with days as hot as July in March followed by bitterly cold weather all through April and most of May. But just look at this gorgeous bleeding heart (dicentra) that is growing in our front garden. It seems to really like the place it has settled into. Such pretty, fairy-tale flowers. And here they are in a Kilner Jar together with tulips, veronica, delphiniums, alstroemeria and stocks (some of it from the flower market in Sheffield).
Our garden has produced some wonderful flowers through the Spring – bluebells (both sorts – English and Spanish), daffodils, tulips (a fantastic range of colours – pink, deep purple, bright orange, white and red), snakes head fritillary, gorgeous vibernum (the blossoms start off lime and then turn into frothy white balls), berberis (with little pink, delicate flowers), camellia, sweet rocket and self-set aquilegia. Here is just a small taste of it:
In April we visited a new antique shop in Sheffield with our friends Angela and Ianthe who were staying with us. I found a lovely rose bowl made out of ‘vaseline glass’. This is a really pretty green colour and it is called ‘vaseline glass’ because it looks like petroleum jelly. It is made by adding uranium to the glass! It probably dates from the early part of the twentieth century. It has a removable grid on the top (I think it’s very attractive) to hold the flowers in place. Here is my first attempt at making an arrangement in it – everything was picked from the garden on a lovely day in late April.
I have been making a few commissioned bouquets over the last few weeks. I used English flowers from my wholesaler. The lilies were especially gorgeous – a dusky pink and without an over-powering smell. I also really liked the narcissi, the pink tulips and the anemones. I used similar flowers for my stall at the Nether Edge Farmers’ Market in March. Here are some examples of what I did with them:
Later this year I am arranging the flowers for a couple of weddings – for Jessie’s friend Lisa and for Mike’s god-daughter Eleanor. I will be doing table arrangements, bouquets and button - holes. This made me think about how to gear up to make multiple arrangements (for up to 14 tables say). One idea I had was to use the pretty jugs produced by the Heron Cross Pottery in Stoke-on-Trent. I love this business. The pottery was built in 1876 and has operated since then apart for a period during the Second World War when it was requisitioned for storage. It is still a family run business and the pottery is made in the traditional way in a bottle kiln. The products are really pretty with a great range of chintzy patterns which suit the country look of my flowers very well. I bought half a dozen jugs in two different colours and patterns – this gives a flavour of what they might look like when several are used together.
I sold some of my flowers in these jugs at the Farmers’ Market – people really seemed to like them and I will be selling them again at the next market in June. I am also building up a collection of vintage jugs and vases. These would create a different sort of feel – more quirky and eclectic. As I am moving into events now, I thought it would be a good idea to get hold of a pair of large vases with a narrow neck. My idea was to make really big arrangements for a church or a venue without floral foam. In practice I found it very hard to find anything that met my requirements. In the end I had a couple of vases made for me by the Brook Street Pottery in Hay-On-Wye. They are about 14 inches high and made out of terracotta with a pale sandy coloured slip on the outside. I have only just started to experiment with them. Here is the pair filled with simple plum blossom, and one with an arrangement in it. I will be doing more with these later in the year.
Mike and I have just finished planting out new flowers for the summer. We have grown lots of things from seed – sunflowers, corn flowers, ammi, sweet peas, scabious, bells of Ireland, antirrhinums, cosmos and meadowsweet. We have also bought some perennial plants – veronica, astrantia, phlox, delphiniums, lady’s mantle (alchemilla), baby's breath (gypsophila), verbena and echinacea. So there is lots to look forward to over the coming months – both seeing these flowers develop and working on ideas for wedding flowers. I will be back again soon with summer flower news from Sheffield.