Tuesday, 28 November 2017


Nearly the end of November already. After quite a mild Autumn, it suddenly turned very cold this week. It was also very beautiful. This is a picture of the gate into our garden in the middle of the afternoon a couple of days ago. There was a low sun and a bright, blue sky. I am surprised by how much life there still is in our garden. The cotoneaster tree is laden with berries and we are waiting for the flock of redwings to appear and devour them.
We still have some climbing roses blooming.
We also have some pretty red rose hips.
And, despite a few frosts, the nasturtiums haven`t yet collapsed.
The flowers from the late clematis have formed lovely, silky seedheads.
Mike and I have both been working hard in the garden this week. Here is Mike, loppers in hand, after pruning the apricot tree. I took this photo from the warmth of the house! You can see our artichoke heads still standing proud and adding a bit of structure to the view out of the window.
I brought some of our succulents in from the wet and I`ve placed them under our veranda. It will be interesting to see how they fare there.
I have also spent days clearing out pots and clearing beds ready for the bulbs. I`ve planted lots of different tulips and narcissi and I'm already looking forward to the first shoots of spring.
Whilst we are waiting for the redwings, I will finish with this pretty picture of pretend birds!

Thursday, 7 September 2017


Yellow is the most luminous of all the colours in the spectrum and it really grabs our attention. The Cambridge Dictionary defines yellow as 'a colour like that of a lemon or gold or the sun'. Exactly! It lifts our hearts and makes us happy. What better colour could there be for a summer wedding in Ecclesall Woods. I mixed in some blue for the venue flowers. Sarah's (the bride) Dad made her a cute little crate which I filled with flowers:
The yellow flowers are sunflowers and gerberas. The blue flowers are cornflowers, sea holly, veronica, brodiaea and ageratum. 
I used kilner jars for the registrar's table:
Then I dotted a few jam jars around and about.
The wedding photographer was Ben West and I am delighted that he has given me permission to use some of his photographs to show the flowers with the wedding party. You can find more about him and his work on his website http://www.benwestphotography.co.uk/ Sarah chose to have her bouquet made with sunflowers, gerberas, gypsophila and just a little foliage. Here she is arriving with her proud Dad:
And with her beautiful bouquet:
The bridesmaids' posies were classy and simple, just with gerberas. They contrasted very well with their navy dresses.
The men had buttonholes made with gypsophila. The ladies had buttonholes based around a single gerbera. They looked great and complemented the wearers' smiles magnificently.
Here are Sarah and Chris looking bright, sunny and happy. Everything that yellow symbolises.
I think just a bit of yellow as a pop of colour works really well. Here are the bouquets that Sarah asked me to make as gifts to say thank you to people who made a big contribution to her wedding day. What a lovely idea.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

The Dutch Masters

Last month I ran a new workshop broadly inspired by the Dutch Masters who painted pictures of flowers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Their art has influenced a lot of great floristry over the last few years and produced some wonderful, abundant arrangements. Here are a couple of examples of Dutch paintings. The first is by Jan van Huysum and the second by Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder (thanks to the Getty Open Content Programme for use of the digital images):
Real blooms, especially tulips, were so expensive at the time that wealthy people commissioned pictures of their favourite flowers. But the paintings were not of actual arrangements - often the stems were unrealistically long and flowers were painted which were not in season at the same time. There was also a still life feel about the pictures with cut flowers and insects placed around the arrangements, or artefacts like skulls or books. The paintings showed off the skill of the artists, especially their use of colour, light and shade. In fact, it is the use of moody shade that pervades many of the images of floristry influenced by the Dutch Masters. It is so much part of the current trend that I was taught how to take these dark photographs at a course I went to last year (at the Green and Gorgeous Flower Farm) to improve my skills of photographing flowers.
Whist I really admire some of this dark, romantic work, I prefer a light-filled environment. Here is the example arrangement I created for my workshop participants.
The shape of this arrangement is based on an asymmetrical lazy-S rather than a pyramid or a dome. The workshop took place in June when there were some vibrant late spring flowers for us to use. Sweet william, brodiaea, cornflowers, pinks and alstroemeria from Clowance in Cornwall.
Gorgeous white avalanche roses and pink and white stocks from the Sheffield flower market.
And lovely pink astrantia from our garden. I love this starry, light flower.
I had sourced these attractive beaten metal bowls for our arrangements which would be made in chickenwire (the gardening gloves are to protect people's hands from the spiky wire).
The arrangements that participants produced were simply wonderful. Gorgeous, sumptuous and exciting to the eye. Here are a few examples.
It was hard to capture the magnificence of the arrangements in our work area as there were just too many flowers to get into our peripheral vision! After the workshop a couple of participants sent me pictures of their arrangements in situ. Just fantastic.
I really enjoyed this workshop and was stunned by the results. I am planning to run it again this Autumn - there should be some great seasonal flowers to use. I am hoping for dahlias.

Monday, 29 May 2017

All White

Usually I use beautiful colours when I work with flowers, but recently I have been drawn to using just white flowers. There is something pure and exquisite about white flowers. This quote from Vanessa Diffenbaugh's novel The Language of Flowers captures the essence of white 'The bouquet was white as a wedding and spoke of prayers, truth and an unacquainted heart'. Last month I ran a workshop with all white flowers. Here are some of the flowers set up before the workshop - tulips, roses, delphiniums, white bluebells, lily-of-the-valley, veronica, alstroemeria, soloman's seal and feverfew.
We lined up all the flowers for making a large hand-tied bouquet. The flowers looked absolutely beautiful and everyone felt that there was something very calming, and almost therapeutic, when we worked with them.
We placed the finished bouquet in a simple, unadorned kilner jar.
Then this was presented in a green Meadowsweet gift bag. Green works especially well with white.
Weddings are associated with white - of course they are given the connotations of purity! Mostly I have used white in buttonholes - either a single white rose, just with some green foliage or a touch of colour:
....or a little bunch of gypsophila tied with lace and string:
For one wedding I decorated tables in a marquee just with gypsophila - a frothy mass of white!
This white urn would look gorgeous in a wedding venue.
Finally, here is a simple jug of mainly white flowers - peonies and astrantia picked from the garden, snapdragons and foliage. Joyful and lovely.