Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Sunshine and flowers

South Yorkshire has been like the South of France for most of July. The sun shone nearly every day and our garden has flourished. We have had glorious roses, poppies, cornflowers, astrantia, cosmos, alchemilla, phlox, lavender, mint, geraniums, verbena bonariensis, scabious, sea holly, campanula and penstemon…..and the tomatoes have just started to turn red. I ran a couple of flower workshops in July and the main challenge was to keep the flowers in a good state in the tremendous heat. The first workshop was to make a grouped bouquet of summer flowers and here are the main ingredients.

Most of the flowers were from my Cornish wholesaler – pinks (gorgeous smell), agapanthus, pink dahlias, pink cornflowers, ‘misty blue’ limonium, white alstroemeria, white astilbe and powder blue scabious. Then I supplemented these with flowers from our garden – blue cornflowers, alchemilla and dog daisies (leucanthemum). We also included two different sorts of eucalyptus and ruscus. Once the different groups of flowers had been made into individual posies they were bound together into the bouquet. This was then wrapped in cellophane, filled with water and finished off with some candy pink raffia.

The bouquets were then placed in their Meadowsweet gift boxes. They had a light, frothy, mid-summer look. Lovely. 

The second workshop was to make three posy arrangements in hand-painted jam jars. This is a really good workshop as participants get a chance to practice hand-tying three times…everyone feels that they really get it by the end. We used similar ingredients as in the previous workshop, but with a few additions from the garden – spiraea, snapdragons, astrantia, lavender and alliums. This meant that the flowers were just as fresh as they possibly could be as they had been cut from the garden that very morning.

Here is the finished product and some pictures of the participants with their arrangements. Between the four of us we made 12 jam jars – quite enough to use as table centres for a wedding or a party.

Talking about parties…we had a celebration this weekend to welcome my father to Sheffield (he has recently moved here from Cheshire). I decided to fill our house with flowers and I bought a bucket of flowers from Rachel Dyson who grows flowers on her farm on the outskirts of Sheffield (you can`t get much more local than that!). My idea was to combine her flowers with mine. Here are the flowers that I bought from Rachel.

Her flowers had a really fresh just-picked country feel to them and the things I liked the best were the different sorts of mint, the clary sage, the love-in-a mist and the hydrangeas. I added my own cornflowers, cosmos, dog daisies, hydrangeas (ours have only just started to flower) and scabious to Rachel’s and I also added some phlox, sea holly, penstemon, lavender, spiraea and verbena to the mix. Our flowers combined together really well. It was interesting to see the similarities in our choice of flowers, though Rachel is growing on a far bigger scale than I can achieve in my small domestic cutting garden.  I made lots of posies in jam jars similar to the ones we made in the workshop and also three jugs of flowers – I used the same Heron Cross pattern in all of the jugs to give the room a sense of coherence.

To finish, I have selected a couple of images that capture the vibrancy of our garden at the moment. Look at these vigorous daisies and this exquisite rose. It is wonderful to be surrounded by such incredible beauty and we still have all of August to look forward to…..