Wednesday, 11 February 2015

South West Flower Growers

Last week I went down to Devon to the annual meeting of the South West British Flower Growers. We stayed with our friends in Exeter the night before the meeting and I gave them a present of a few English spring flowers (hyacinths and anemones) mixed up with several different types of foliage from our garden. I hand-tied the flowers and placed them in this pretty Heron Cross jug. This is the jug we will use for the flower workshop on Saturday 14 March – lovely for Mother’s Day or just for yourself!  I went along to the meeting of the SW growers because there were some interesting talks and flower arranging demonstrations, and it was a chance to meet James from Clowance Flowers who is my main supplier. The meeting was thronged with excited growers and florists who specialise in using seasonal British flowers.

Several wholesalers had stands – growers, seed suppliers, packaging suppliers and more. Here are some pictures from the Clowance stand – an abundance of lovely English flowers (and a good example of the kind of flowers we will be using at the workshop in March).

The flower arranging demonstrations were done by the Academy of Floral Art which is based in Exeter. They run a mix of accredited floristry courses leading to qualifications and short courses aimed at florists and flower arrangers.

I liked the way they picked up the natural ethos of the growers and demonstrated arrangements made without floral foam. They used fallen twigs to create structures to hold seasonal English flowers in place, creating some impressive arrangements.

There was also a hand-tied arrangement in a large tin. I have used tins myself quite a lot, but I think they look a bit industrial – great for some commercial premises like restaurants or delis, but not so good for a softer domestic environment. I liked the touch of adding a bird and nest to the pussy willow.

The finale was the creation of a large arrangement in a heart shape. A wire structure covered with moss was used for the framework, then tulips sitting in plastic test tubes were tied in. This used surprisingly little flower material, but created great impact. All in all, some good ideas which I will have a go at modifying for my own purposes.

I was also really pleased to meet Georgie Newbery who is an energetic flower grower and entrepreneur. She runs a very successful flower farm in Somerset called Common Farm. She grows gorgeous flowers, does wedding and event flowers, sends bouquets through the post and runs lots of workshops. She has grown her business over the last few years and now employs several people – hats off to her! She has also just written an inspiring and practical book called ‘The Flower Farmer’s Year’ which I bought from her. It has already given me some good ideas and helpful tips as I plan my seed planting for 2015.

On the subject of books, I am on the look out for books by Constance Spry. She really was a front-runner of modern floristry ideas and I am going to write a blog about her later this year. So far, I have found this book with the great title of ‘How to Do the Flowers’.

Spring seemed quite a lot further on in Devon than Sheffield, but when we got back I found a clump of snowdrops poking through the snow in our back garden. Just a little sign that Spring in on its way…….