Creative and unique wedding inspiration

I cover lots of weddings every year, and everyone of them is special. Mostly the people make it memorable. I love sharing the emotion of the day, after all the day you marry your Mr/Mrs right is a very special day indeed, I feel very lucky to be able to see so much love so often. Every now and again a wedding comes my way that is memorable for lots of reasons and not just the obvious warm fuzzy love stuff.

Nathan and Alice got in touch with me in the Spring of last year asking if I might be available to help them out with their wedding flowers. Ceremony venue was yet to be decided, the reception was to be Springfort Hall in Mallow. We met not long after to discuss what they had in mind, just like every couple I work with. As soon as I met with Nathan and Alice it became apparent that they were passionate, creative, inspired and to be honest, a little bit mad! I loved it. They got to talking about their inspiration for the ‘theme’. A Dutch painter Jan Weenix (17th century) famed for his depiction of dead game and hunting scenes. Many of his paintings had fruits and flowers lavished around carcasses of dead game, even insects played a role. Gold and bronze added depth to paintings, the flowers were natural, not forced or arranged, just thrown or perched. Colours of burgundys, reds, oranges and soft pinks. These paintings were immense. Can you imagine my reaction? I seem to remember trying to play it cool, but I know that I was very excited, very very excited. This was massive scope for me to let out my inner ‘mad badger’ as Nathan later called me.

Some weddings, most actually, are easy enough. I have a stock of props that I can use that cover most clients requests. There are some weddings that require me to do a lot of research including sourcing of props and this was one! I certainly didn’t have a treasure trove of taxidermy to whip out. Luckily though I did have quite a lot of copper and brass vases and vessels that we could use (thanks mum!) and a few skulls and antlers. My prop hunt was for taxidermy, seems an easy enough right? Not so, taxidermy and especially the sort I needed was not that easy to find, eBay helped, but lord there is quite an amount of crap taxidermy out there, even a Facebook page dedicated to it I found! I did manage to acquire some lovely pieces, 2 of my favorites were Barry the rabbit and Stewart the mouse. When Barry arrived in the post with his broken ear (I glued it back on!!) he was accompanied by a note from his previous owner. Barry was his name and he had lived sat on a desk for 35 years and was much loved and hoped that he would go on to be much loved. Yes he did- yes he did!

Stewart (as he became known) was a little white mouse. Stewart was the very definition of crap taxidermy. Not until he arrived did I realise he was a bit thin and his tummy wasn’t quite sewn together, poor Stewart. Stewart had the last laugh though, as he had an entire barrel of apples on his table and even won the hearts of many of the guests at the wedding as he got ‘rescued’ many times!

Besides Barry and Stewart, there were many more, none so fortunate to be named, we had squirrels, black birds, owls, quails and slugs and ants and an assortment of skulls, all arranged with flowers and fruits strewn as though set for Jan Weenix to get out his paint brush.

Some of my favorite table pieces were the ‘Granny friendly’ ones, the ones that were just floral, after all flowers are my thing!

The tables in Springfort Hall were the easy part for Alice and Nathan, they had delegated that to me. When I originally met with Nathan and Alice they were talking about having their ceremony in a warehouse beside the Cavalry Cork. They showed me photos on their phone and I was in disbelief that the wreckage yard of a warehouse that I was looking at could possibly be turned into a wedding ceremony venue…But they did. Possibly the best wedding ceremony venue ever! I cannot imagine the work that went into getting it all together- the result was truly reflective of the work they put in. I went up the night before to set up the garland and antlers for the ‘chuppah’ and when I walked in, even without lighting and music, I was just blown away. It was magical.

Alice’s choice of flowers for the bridal party were reflective of the Jan Weenix theme of flowers, don’t worry, no dead animals! Rich tones, natural, wild quite boho. Everything tied together so well. My personal favorite was Alice’s head band, I made it under severe pressure as I was running late and it was my last piece to do, you often keep the best for last!

All photos credited to White Cat Studio. Egle is one of the most passionate and talented photographers I know, check her out www.whitecatstudio.ie

I cover lots of weddings every year, and everyone of them is special. Mostly the people make it memorable. I love sharing the emotion of the day, after all the day you marry your Mr/Mrs right is a very special day indeed, I feel very lucky to be able to see so much love so often. Every now and again a wedding comes my way that is memorable for lots of reasons and not just the obvious warm fuzzy love stuff.

Nathan and Alice got in touch with me in the Spring of last year asking if I might be available to help them out with their wedding flowers. Ceremony venue was yet to be decided, the reception was to be Springfort Hall in Mallow. We met not long after to discuss what they had in mind, just like every couple I work with. As soon as I met with Nathan and Alice it became apparent that they were passionate, creative, inspired and to be honest, a little bit mad! I loved it. They got to talking about their inspiration for the ‘theme’. A Dutch painter Jan Weenix (17th century) famed for his depiction of dead game and hunting scenes. Many of his paintings had fruits and flowers lavished around carcasses of dead game, even insects played a role. Gold and bronze added depth to paintings, the flowers were natural, not forced or arranged, just thrown or perched. Colours of burgundys, reds, oranges and soft pinks. These paintings were immense. Can you imagine my reaction? I seem to remember trying to play it cool, but I know that I was very excited, very very excited. This was massive scope for me to let out my inner ‘mad badger’ as Nathan later called me.

Some weddings, most actually, are easy enough. I have a stock of props that I can use that cover most clients requests. There are some weddings that require me to do a lot of research including sourcing of props and this was one! I certainly didn’t have a treasure trove of taxidermy to whip out. Luckily though I did have quite a lot of copper and brass vases and vessels that we could use (thanks mum!) and a few skulls and antlers. My prop hunt was for taxidermy, seems an easy enough right? Not so, taxidermy and especially the sort I needed was not that easy to find, eBay helped, but lord there is quite an amount of crap taxidermy out there, even a Facebook page dedicated to it I found! I did manage to acquire some lovely pieces, 2 of my favorites were Barry the rabbit and Stewart the mouse. When Barry arrived in the post with his broken ear (I glued it back on!!) he was accompanied by a note from his previous owner. Barry was his name and he had lived sat on a desk for 35 years and was much loved and hoped that he would go on to be much loved. Yes he did- yes he did!

Stewart (as he became known) was a little white mouse. Stewart was the very definition of crap taxidermy. Not until he arrived did I realise he was a bit thin and his tummy wasn’t quite sewn together, poor Stewart. Stewart had the last laugh though, as he had an entire barrel of apples on his table and even won the hearts of many of the guests at the wedding as he got ‘rescued’ many times!

Besides Barry and Stewart, there were many more, none so fortunate to be named, we had squirrels, black birds, owls, quails and slugs and ants and an assortment of skulls, all arranged with flowers and fruits strewn as though set for Jan Weenix to get out his paint brush.

Some of my favorite table pieces were the ‘Granny friendly’ ones, the ones that were just floral, after all flowers are my thing!

The tables in Springfort Hall were the easy part for Alice and Nathan, they had delegated that to me. When I originally met with Nathan and Alice they were talking about having their ceremony in a warehouse beside the Cavalry Cork. They showed me photos on their phone and I was in disbelief that the wreckage yard of a warehouse that I was looking at could possibly be turned into a wedding ceremony venue…But they did. Possibly the best wedding ceremony venue ever! I cannot imagine the work that went into getting it all together- the result was truly reflective of the work they put in. I went up the night before to set up the garland and antlers for the ‘chuppah’ and when I walked in, even without lighting and music, I was just blown away. It was magical.

Alice’s choice of flowers for the bridal party were reflective of the Jan Weenix theme of flowers, don’t worry, no dead animals! Rich tones, natural, wild quite boho. Everything tied together so well. My personal favorite was Alice’s head band, I made it under severe pressure as I was running late and it was my last piece to do, you often keep the best for last!

All photos credited to White Cat Studio. Egle is one of the most passionate and talented photographers I know, check her out www.whitecatstudio.ie

Baby’s Breath….The alternatives.

Babys breath, or to use its proper title Gypsophila. I have to confess……I hate it. Natasha will verify this!

Now having said that, forgive my brutal honesty, I do understand its popularity. It is a people pleaser, brides love it because it is ‘cheap’ and delicate and neutral. Florists love it because it is cheap and indestructible (I mean seriously. You cant kill it!). But just because it is cheap and indestructible, does that mean we have to use it?

Gypsophila has been done to death, every second wedding has got Gypsophila somewhere and some weddings ONLY have it! It lacks any imagination or creativity and it stinks…literally…stinks, hence the name ‘Baby’s Breath. Who wants their bridal bouquet to smell like bad breath?

Ok so maybe the smell isn’t that pungent, but put enough of it together and you’ll be looking over your shoulder to see whos looking while you check your breath!

I go to great lengths to persuade my clients that they really don’t want Gypsophila. Not least of which they are coming to me for 2 reasons, 1- I am a creative genius (trumpet fanfare!) and 2- is I grow my own flowers. ( I don’t grow Gypsophila). I offer alternatives to ‘Gyp’, as if its the delicate tiny flowers that is your buzz there are lots of alternatives, and best of all these alternatives give me the scope to get my creative genius out! So here are my alternatives, all of which I grow.

 Achillea The Pearl. Just like Gypsophila, it is almost indestructible. Elegant sprays of pure white double blooms, slightly larger flower size than Gyp, but only slightly. Available all summer long.

 Omphalodes, This is one of my most treasured little plants. Very similar to Gypsophila, tiny pure white flowers in large sprays, unlike Gyp, Omphalodes smells so sweet! Unfortunately though Omphalodes is not indestructible and needs to be minded slightly, but that’s not to say that it cant be used just as for Gyp. Available May-August

 Ammi Magus, Who couldn’t love these little umbrellas of tiny white delicate flowers, sweet smelling and tough as old boots. Fantastic for creative arrangements. Available April-Oct.

 Thalictrum. So not white, but other than that it really is so very similar to Gypsophila. Completely indestructible, large clusters of  teeny tiny flowers. No bad smells and you couldn’t get a more delicate flower. Available July/August.

 

 

Babys breath, or to use its proper title Gypsophila. I have to confess……I hate it. Natasha will verify this!

Now having said that, forgive my brutal honesty, I do understand its popularity. It is a people pleaser, brides love it because it is ‘cheap’ and delicate and neutral. Florists love it because it is cheap and indestructible (I mean seriously. You cant kill it!). But just because it is cheap and indestructible, does that mean we have to use it?

Gypsophila has been done to death, every second wedding has got Gypsophila somewhere and some weddings ONLY have it! It lacks any imagination or creativity and it stinks…literally…stinks, hence the name ‘Baby’s Breath. Who wants their bridal bouquet to smell like bad breath?

Ok so maybe the smell isn’t that pungent, but put enough of it together and you’ll be looking over your shoulder to see whos looking while you check your breath!

I go to great lengths to persuade my clients that they really don’t want Gypsophila. Not least of which they are coming to me for 2 reasons, 1- I am a creative genius (trumpet fanfare!) and 2- is I grow my own flowers. ( I don’t grow Gypsophila). I offer alternatives to ‘Gyp’, as if its the delicate tiny flowers that is your buzz there are lots of alternatives, and best of all these alternatives give me the scope to get my creative genius out! So here are my alternatives, all of which I grow.

 Achillea The Pearl. Just like Gypsophila, it is almost indestructible. Elegant sprays of pure white double blooms, slightly larger flower size than Gyp, but only slightly. Available all summer long.

 Omphalodes, This is one of my most treasured little plants. Very similar to Gypsophila, tiny pure white flowers in large sprays, unlike Gyp, Omphalodes smells so sweet! Unfortunately though Omphalodes is not indestructible and needs to be minded slightly, but that’s not to say that it cant be used just as for Gyp. Available May-August

 Ammi Magus, Who couldn’t love these little umbrellas of tiny white delicate flowers, sweet smelling and tough as old boots. Fantastic for creative arrangements. Available April-Oct.

 Thalictrum. So not white, but other than that it really is so very similar to Gypsophila. Completely indestructible, large clusters of  teeny tiny flowers. No bad smells and you couldn’t get a more delicate flower. Available July/August.

 

 

Trends- drama, drama, drama!

As a wedding florist ,I have always said that your wedding day is the biggest fashion show and photoshoot that you will ever attend…unless you are Kate moss that is! With that in mind, most couples are conscious to put on the best show they can, and are keen to make their day unique, special and unforgettable for their guests. Most couples have been to many weddings prior to planning their own and take on the task to both emulate the weddings they enjoyed and make their day unique…..introducing the Wedding Trend. Our wedding trends are usually inherited from the USA, and take a little while to get to Ireland and filter down to Cork.

When I meet with my clients, I try to make the meeting as informal as I can, chit chat, small talk and anecdotal stories all help to put couples at ease, all the while I pay attention to the adjectives they unconsciously use to describe their likes and dislikes. Most people find it difficult to pin down their vision when asked directly so I find it is best to let it just evolve organically through our conversations on flowers and décor.

An adjective that has recurred frequently in recent meetings is DRAMA! Lots and lots of drama, not the ‘my sister snogged the waiter’ kind of drama, but the big, bold, show off kind of drama. I feel this is a back lash to the recession weddings of understated, minimal and budget conscious floral décor. We had several years of cutting cloth to suit the measure, colours were understated, lots of pastels and wild/natural looks. Whilst pastels will never go away, the couples looking for drama are keen to make a statement with both big bold colours and statement arrangements.  A colour that keeps cropping up is ‘Marsala’ ( an Americanism for burgundy/wine), usually a colour kept for autumn in all its finery. But not this year…this year it is a feature colour right throughout the year, and I have to say I am delighted. I love this colour, its rich and deep and surprisingly works well with an enormous spectrum of other colours. Spring and summer brides are lifting the depth of Marsala with corals and pinks and creams and to add an extra layer of opulence I am seeing lots of gold being thrown into the mix. A far cry from the jam jar pastels of a couple years ago!

 

Another trend that is apparent following the DRAMA theme, is the types of arrangements requested. Of times recent, the trend was milk churns, chalk boards and jam jars and before that bay trees and pedestals. Now though, irrelevant of whether you are going for moody marsala or pretty pastels, the arrangements are BIG, big flowers, big scope. Flower walls, something unheard of before (budget reasons alone!) are now a feature piece in many of my up and coming weddings

.

Where previously we had jam jars on tables we now have pedestal (gold) bowl vases filled to exploding point.

Where we had milk churns we now have huge urns dripping in flowers.        

There really is no stopping the drama! I personally love it..I love the colour choices, and for someone who struggles with ‘understated’ I love the opportunity to create some DRAMA!

As a wedding florist ,I have always said that your wedding day is the biggest fashion show and photoshoot that you will ever attend…unless you are Kate moss that is! With that in mind, most couples are conscious to put on the best show they can, and are keen to make their day unique, special and unforgettable for their guests. Most couples have been to many weddings prior to planning their own and take on the task to both emulate the weddings they enjoyed and make their day unique…..introducing the Wedding Trend. Our wedding trends are usually inherited from the USA, and take a little while to get to Ireland and filter down to Cork.

When I meet with my clients, I try to make the meeting as informal as I can, chit chat, small talk and anecdotal stories all help to put couples at ease, all the while I pay attention to the adjectives they unconsciously use to describe their likes and dislikes. Most people find it difficult to pin down their vision when asked directly so I find it is best to let it just evolve organically through our conversations on flowers and décor.

An adjective that has recurred frequently in recent meetings is DRAMA! Lots and lots of drama, not the ‘my sister snogged the waiter’ kind of drama, but the big, bold, show off kind of drama. I feel this is a back lash to the recession weddings of understated, minimal and budget conscious floral décor. We had several years of cutting cloth to suit the measure, colours were understated, lots of pastels and wild/natural looks. Whilst pastels will never go away, the couples looking for drama are keen to make a statement with both big bold colours and statement arrangements.  A colour that keeps cropping up is ‘Marsala’ ( an Americanism for burgundy/wine), usually a colour kept for autumn in all its finery. But not this year…this year it is a feature colour right throughout the year, and I have to say I am delighted. I love this colour, its rich and deep and surprisingly works well with an enormous spectrum of other colours. Spring and summer brides are lifting the depth of Marsala with corals and pinks and creams and to add an extra layer of opulence I am seeing lots of gold being thrown into the mix. A far cry from the jam jar pastels of a couple years ago!

 

Another trend that is apparent following the DRAMA theme, is the types of arrangements requested. Of times recent, the trend was milk churns, chalk boards and jam jars and before that bay trees and pedestals. Now though, irrelevant of whether you are going for moody marsala or pretty pastels, the arrangements are BIG, big flowers, big scope. Flower walls, something unheard of before (budget reasons alone!) are now a feature piece in many of my up and coming weddings

.

Where previously we had jam jars on tables we now have pedestal (gold) bowl vases filled to exploding point.

Where we had milk churns we now have huge urns dripping in flowers.        

There really is no stopping the drama! I personally love it..I love the colour choices, and for someone who struggles with ‘understated’ I love the opportunity to create some DRAMA!

Irish A-Z of Storms!

Ok so we all like to moan about the weather…it’s a national past time. We are all used to the Irish winter’s barrage of storms, sometimes feeling relentless and unforgiving. But now we have a new talking point on our winters storms….introducing…Abigale, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, Frank(I wont forget him!), Gertrude, Henry and Imogen. I find this rather entertaining, a comparative of storms…’oh, desmond was very bad’ as a passer by might mention whilst making small talk….It gives us a focus point for our sh*t weather. Without the naming of these storms it would be harder to reference the dramatic storm stories….there is less effect to…’do you remember the storm we had there a few weeks ago?’ where as, as soon as you say with confidence…’remember storm frank’…it somehow has more Spielberg effect…..As an avid story teller…I love the Spielberg effect! However despite my love of a Spielberg story, I now have had enough of Abigail, Barney and all their friends. Frank especially challenged me…he arrived right on time for 4 Christmas weddings…leaving me in a panic, waiting for flowers to arrive from cancelled ferrys and power cuts in the night…leaving me arranging by torch light whilst the roof was trying its damnedest to cling on….and even trying to get delivered was like mission impossible….if there was a reality T.V show on extreme flower arranging…it would have being a nail biting episode!

I just spent the weekend with my dear friend and colleague Samantha Harding. We spent most of the weekend sheltering from Imogen…Who happend to be the latest storm bully in the playground. Samantha and I had much to catch up on…..weddings, flowers, wedding fairs and maybe a little gossip too! Samantha being the hardy Canadian she is and using her uber organisational skills(Sams a wedding planner!) she had Me and Edie along with the mutts Percy and Cougar packed into the car and down to the beach just as Imogen was pushing her weight around….It was bracing to say the least! That kind of soaking through to your undies, needle skin piercing kinda bracing. Even the hairy mutts thought getting back to the car was the best part of the walk. I was then convinced by my companions that it would be a fantastic idea if I made cup cakes….I..?! So whilst dashing around the supermarket…sopping wet and probably looking homeless, Samantha picked up a mindfulness February edition magazine….and on the cover…tips for February mindfulness. 1. A bracing Beach walk. 2. Making Cup cakes 3. A random act of kindness……Samantha looked so smug….”SEE” she says….pointed excitedly to the 3 point tip. So having bought our ingredients so …..I…. can make everyone cup cakes…(see I told you she has uber organisational skills) and heading home to get dry and cosy…I think to myself to complete the 3 points…I needed a random act of kindness…..So whilst all are drying off and getting cosy…I find myself yet again out fending off Imogen….looking to see what spring can offer me in the way of flowers. Spring never fails to amaze me….even though the garden is nearly floating, and everything has been either beaten to death or is suffocating under a blanket of winter rot…spring is there for anyone wishing to see….snowdrops and narcissus, crocus and anemones, these little faces of pure joy and brilliance ….almost giving ‘the bird’ to the likes of Imogen and her friends. So I picked a little posy …and made my cup cakes, brewed some coffee and sat to watch the rugby. And despite Imogen trying to spoil the fun…she made it better some how. I took such huge pleasure in finding my Spring flower friends in this playground called winter ….I’ve had enough of bully storms….i’ll pick spring stories over Spielberg storm stories any day.

http://www.samanthahardingevents.com

 

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Ok so we all like to moan about the weather…it’s a national past time. We are all used to the Irish winter’s barrage of storms, sometimes feeling relentless and unforgiving. But now we have a new talking point on our winters storms….introducing…Abigale, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, Frank(I wont forget him!), Gertrude, Henry and Imogen. I find this rather entertaining, a comparative of storms…’oh, desmond was very bad’ as a passer by might mention whilst making small talk….It gives us a focus point for our sh*t weather. Without the naming of these storms it would be harder to reference the dramatic storm stories….there is less effect to…’do you remember the storm we had there a few weeks ago?’ where as, as soon as you say with confidence…’remember storm frank’…it somehow has more Spielberg effect…..As an avid story teller…I love the Spielberg effect! However despite my love of a Spielberg story, I now have had enough of Abigail, Barney and all their friends. Frank especially challenged me…he arrived right on time for 4 Christmas weddings…leaving me in a panic, waiting for flowers to arrive from cancelled ferrys and power cuts in the night…leaving me arranging by torch light whilst the roof was trying its damnedest to cling on….and even trying to get delivered was like mission impossible….if there was a reality T.V show on extreme flower arranging…it would have being a nail biting episode!

I just spent the weekend with my dear friend and colleague Samantha Harding. We spent most of the weekend sheltering from Imogen…Who happend to be the latest storm bully in the playground. Samantha and I had much to catch up on…..weddings, flowers, wedding fairs and maybe a little gossip too! Samantha being the hardy Canadian she is and using her uber organisational skills(Sams a wedding planner!) she had Me and Edie along with the mutts Percy and Cougar packed into the car and down to the beach just as Imogen was pushing her weight around….It was bracing to say the least! That kind of soaking through to your undies, needle skin piercing kinda bracing. Even the hairy mutts thought getting back to the car was the best part of the walk. I was then convinced by my companions that it would be a fantastic idea if I made cup cakes….I..?! So whilst dashing around the supermarket…sopping wet and probably looking homeless, Samantha picked up a mindfulness February edition magazine….and on the cover…tips for February mindfulness. 1. A bracing Beach walk. 2. Making Cup cakes 3. A random act of kindness……Samantha looked so smug….”SEE” she says….pointed excitedly to the 3 point tip. So having bought our ingredients so …..I…. can make everyone cup cakes…(see I told you she has uber organisational skills) and heading home to get dry and cosy…I think to myself to complete the 3 points…I needed a random act of kindness…..So whilst all are drying off and getting cosy…I find myself yet again out fending off Imogen….looking to see what spring can offer me in the way of flowers. Spring never fails to amaze me….even though the garden is nearly floating, and everything has been either beaten to death or is suffocating under a blanket of winter rot…spring is there for anyone wishing to see….snowdrops and narcissus, crocus and anemones, these little faces of pure joy and brilliance ….almost giving ‘the bird’ to the likes of Imogen and her friends. So I picked a little posy …and made my cup cakes, brewed some coffee and sat to watch the rugby. And despite Imogen trying to spoil the fun…she made it better some how. I took such huge pleasure in finding my Spring flower friends in this playground called winter ….I’ve had enough of bully storms….i’ll pick spring stories over Spielberg storm stories any day.

http://www.samanthahardingevents.com

 

IMG_20160207_153255

 

And the good brown earth.

I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be in Spain, sipping cheap wine and licking my fingers after a healthy dose of tapas. This was the reward to myself for the years hard work behind me, and the opportunity to recharge the batteries for the year ahead….also did I mention cheap wine? However I find myself at home, feeling frustrated. I had a plan…as the season wound down as it does in November, as I do every year, I clear the tunnels, put them to bed so to speak. Take out the last die-hard annuals as the frosts pick them off, cut back the perennials, lift any reluctant weeds. Try to have the tunnels ship shape, ready for the springs new life and to give me the opportunity to take some well deserved rest. Unfortunately this year I slipped, as my mother puts it….on ‘Gods slippery banana skin’. With a departure date for Spain on 23/12, I had it in my mind to have all my winter work done before I could relax and take full advantage of all that tapas and cheap wine. The aforementioned ‘banana skin’ came in the form of a twisted bowel, emergency surgery, promptly followed by infection and a lengthy stay in hospital. Best laid plans……out the window!

There is a childrens book I used to read to my daughter, ‘And The Good Brown Earth’ by Kathy Henderson. A simple story about the seasonality of a garden, what comes to mind when I think of Winter and what is happening in the garden, this book pops into my mind, as Charlie the child character of the story asks his Grandmother whats happening in the garden in winter she replies with…’nows thinking time’. And how true is this, as horticulturalist/florist I find myself thinking……lots. Thinking about the year behind me, my successes, my failures, what I might have done differently. I think too as to what is in front of me…what I have yet to do, what I need to buy, what seed to order, how to improve on what has gone before. This is the usual ebb and flow to the seasons, in winter the plants rest, as do we,  hoping for enough cold to to kill the enemies, but not so much to kill our friends. Winter is as important to the garden as is the hope we will have a good growing season.

So now, as I convalesce, my brain still fully functioning is filled with the thoughts of all I haven’t achieved, my tunnels filled with dead annuals, untidy perennials, weeds taking full advantage of my ‘banana skin’. I did manage to prick out my winter hardy annuals before the ‘twist’ in fate (a pun in bad taste I feel!!!), but I didn’t manage to plant the some 600+ plants that were waiting for valuable space to be cleared for them and I try to tell myself that its winter and what harm will come. But attention to detail matters, and I am behind…..seriously behind. There is a lesson in here some where….I just need to find it.

Well true to the book, ‘And The Good Brown Earth’……now is thinking time, it is all my body will allow me to do. So plans are afoot, seed catalogs are being poured over, catch up plans being worked out. All the while winter is busy doing its worst, and the first signs of spring bravely poke out their heads. I took a stroll in the garden for the first time in a month yesterday and predictably the Crocuses and Snowdrops are the first green spikes of the new year…..the new season, and all the promise that comes with it. To my surprise, the very first of the Rhododendron in our garden ‘Christmas Cheer’ was flowering.christmas cheer

And even though I am not where I should be, I am full of optimism for whats ahead. Again Kathy Henderson’s book reminds me…..’and the good brown earth goes on doing what the good brown earth does best……’

I’m not supposed to be here, I’m supposed to be in Spain, sipping cheap wine and licking my fingers after a healthy dose of tapas. This was the reward to myself for the years hard work behind me, and the opportunity to recharge the batteries for the year ahead….also did I mention cheap wine? However I find myself at home, feeling frustrated. I had a plan…as the season wound down as it does in November, as I do every year, I clear the tunnels, put them to bed so to speak. Take out the last die-hard annuals as the frosts pick them off, cut back the perennials, lift any reluctant weeds. Try to have the tunnels ship shape, ready for the springs new life and to give me the opportunity to take some well deserved rest. Unfortunately this year I slipped, as my mother puts it….on ‘Gods slippery banana skin’. With a departure date for Spain on 23/12, I had it in my mind to have all my winter work done before I could relax and take full advantage of all that tapas and cheap wine. The aforementioned ‘banana skin’ came in the form of a twisted bowel, emergency surgery, promptly followed by infection and a lengthy stay in hospital. Best laid plans……out the window!

There is a childrens book I used to read to my daughter, ‘And The Good Brown Earth’ by Kathy Henderson. A simple story about the seasonality of a garden, what comes to mind when I think of Winter and what is happening in the garden, this book pops into my mind, as Charlie the child character of the story asks his Grandmother whats happening in the garden in winter she replies with…’nows thinking time’. And how true is this, as horticulturalist/florist I find myself thinking……lots. Thinking about the year behind me, my successes, my failures, what I might have done differently. I think too as to what is in front of me…what I have yet to do, what I need to buy, what seed to order, how to improve on what has gone before. This is the usual ebb and flow to the seasons, in winter the plants rest, as do we,  hoping for enough cold to to kill the enemies, but not so much to kill our friends. Winter is as important to the garden as is the hope we will have a good growing season.

So now, as I convalesce, my brain still fully functioning is filled with the thoughts of all I haven’t achieved, my tunnels filled with dead annuals, untidy perennials, weeds taking full advantage of my ‘banana skin’. I did manage to prick out my winter hardy annuals before the ‘twist’ in fate (a pun in bad taste I feel!!!), but I didn’t manage to plant the some 600+ plants that were waiting for valuable space to be cleared for them and I try to tell myself that its winter and what harm will come. But attention to detail matters, and I am behind…..seriously behind. There is a lesson in here some where….I just need to find it.

Well true to the book, ‘And The Good Brown Earth’……now is thinking time, it is all my body will allow me to do. So plans are afoot, seed catalogs are being poured over, catch up plans being worked out. All the while winter is busy doing its worst, and the first signs of spring bravely poke out their heads. I took a stroll in the garden for the first time in a month yesterday and predictably the Crocuses and Snowdrops are the first green spikes of the new year…..the new season, and all the promise that comes with it. To my surprise, the very first of the Rhododendron in our garden ‘Christmas Cheer’ was flowering.christmas cheer

And even though I am not where I should be, I am full of optimism for whats ahead. Again Kathy Henderson’s book reminds me…..’and the good brown earth goes on doing what the good brown earth does best……’

Pinterest Weddings

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I love it as it give me creative ideas, as it does everyone who uses it. However I hate pinterest at times because it sets up an unrealistic idea of what is achievable. So many brides come to me with pins from Pinterest, wonderful beautiful pictures of stunning flowers and I have to point out to them that what they see is not in fact reality….a picture of a ‘spring bouquet’ with Dahlia in it is not Spring! Nonetheless Pinterest remains the mainstay for brides looking for inspiration, and is a fantastic guide for me to get to know what brides like.

However….last week I had the pleasure of doing what I would call a Pinterest wedding. Elaine came to me back at the beginning of the summer wishing for me to do her wedding, Elaine was if anything vague as to what she wanted, she knew her venue, Charlesfort in Kinsale with the reception in the Carlton. She was looking for something vintage or maybe rustic, she couldn’t make her mind up as to go for all whites/creams or colours. Time elapsed, and her plan evolved. After many changes of mind we settled on colourful with the exception of yellow…..She was positively allergic to yellow! Elaine is a cool chick, she had expressed certain ideas to me about her wedding that I thought were truly unique. Her daughter had drawn a picture depicting their family on the wedding day, mum, dad, brother, sister all dressed up with wedding cake in the picture. It was a sweet naive drawing that Elaine turned into her wedding invitations. To take it one step further Elaine had shown the picture of the cake to a cake baker who then went on to recreate the cake for the day. Elaine was so proud (as she should have been) to show me the cake. It was just fantastic!

DSC_0120

As for the location of the wedding, Charlesfort is just simply stunning as a venue. You could not get a better place to get married. Its small and intimate..(perhaps apart from occasional tourists….whom I am sure only go to emphasis the fact that you are a celebrity for a day!)

DSC_0116

Elaine had my 2 bay trees at the entrance and then she had given me creative license to ‘make an impact’ in the room that the ceremony was being held. I had a total of 60 jars of various sizes lace wrapped to use at Charlesfort, with them then being moved to Carlton. It was such fun dotting them around…one here…one there.

DSC_0097         IMG_20140927_113851

The finished product looked amazing. Elaine was wearing a buttermilk lace vintage dress, her bouquet again I had creative license, her bridesmaids were wearing stunning navy blue with silver sequins in a kind of 20’s style. I used a combination of silver foilage and David Austins Darcy Bussell rose, with some Eryngium and pale pink Scabious, For Elaine I used a similar theme but instead of Darcy Bussell I used David Austins Tea Clipper for a reflection of the buttermilk.

DSC_0088~2

Elaine even had the most to die for vintage cars to take her to and from her venue, she explained to me that the cars were her fathers ‘real’ children. I even adorned these with flowers!

DSC_0122     DSC_0127

I was so proud to be apart of this wedding, it all came together so perfectly. Elaine was so pleased with my small part in her epic wedding she even went so far as to send me the sweetest tx at 3am! “I just wanted to let you know that everyone commented on your flowers! Not just guests but staff in Charlesfort and Carlton- the response in Carlton was that they “have never seen such beautiful flowers”, I am sure they compliment every bride but they went out of their way several times. Whatever small touches I did, your flowers had max impact! The way you set up Charlesfort was just magical, everything was beyond my expectation! I know I should send this tomorrow but thought today would emphasise how blown away I am with everything, thank you so much, Elaine x”

 

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. I love it as it give me creative ideas, as it does everyone who uses it. However I hate pinterest at times because it sets up an unrealistic idea of what is achievable. So many brides come to me with pins from Pinterest, wonderful beautiful pictures of stunning flowers and I have to point out to them that what they see is not in fact reality….a picture of a ‘spring bouquet’ with Dahlia in it is not Spring! Nonetheless Pinterest remains the mainstay for brides looking for inspiration, and is a fantastic guide for me to get to know what brides like.

However….last week I had the pleasure of doing what I would call a Pinterest wedding. Elaine came to me back at the beginning of the summer wishing for me to do her wedding, Elaine was if anything vague as to what she wanted, she knew her venue, Charlesfort in Kinsale with the reception in the Carlton. She was looking for something vintage or maybe rustic, she couldn’t make her mind up as to go for all whites/creams or colours. Time elapsed, and her plan evolved. After many changes of mind we settled on colourful with the exception of yellow…..She was positively allergic to yellow! Elaine is a cool chick, she had expressed certain ideas to me about her wedding that I thought were truly unique. Her daughter had drawn a picture depicting their family on the wedding day, mum, dad, brother, sister all dressed up with wedding cake in the picture. It was a sweet naive drawing that Elaine turned into her wedding invitations. To take it one step further Elaine had shown the picture of the cake to a cake baker who then went on to recreate the cake for the day. Elaine was so proud (as she should have been) to show me the cake. It was just fantastic!

DSC_0120

As for the location of the wedding, Charlesfort is just simply stunning as a venue. You could not get a better place to get married. Its small and intimate..(perhaps apart from occasional tourists….whom I am sure only go to emphasis the fact that you are a celebrity for a day!)

DSC_0116

Elaine had my 2 bay trees at the entrance and then she had given me creative license to ‘make an impact’ in the room that the ceremony was being held. I had a total of 60 jars of various sizes lace wrapped to use at Charlesfort, with them then being moved to Carlton. It was such fun dotting them around…one here…one there.

DSC_0097         IMG_20140927_113851

The finished product looked amazing. Elaine was wearing a buttermilk lace vintage dress, her bouquet again I had creative license, her bridesmaids were wearing stunning navy blue with silver sequins in a kind of 20’s style. I used a combination of silver foilage and David Austins Darcy Bussell rose, with some Eryngium and pale pink Scabious, For Elaine I used a similar theme but instead of Darcy Bussell I used David Austins Tea Clipper for a reflection of the buttermilk.

DSC_0088~2

Elaine even had the most to die for vintage cars to take her to and from her venue, she explained to me that the cars were her fathers ‘real’ children. I even adorned these with flowers!

DSC_0122     DSC_0127

I was so proud to be apart of this wedding, it all came together so perfectly. Elaine was so pleased with my small part in her epic wedding she even went so far as to send me the sweetest tx at 3am! “I just wanted to let you know that everyone commented on your flowers! Not just guests but staff in Charlesfort and Carlton- the response in Carlton was that they “have never seen such beautiful flowers”, I am sure they compliment every bride but they went out of their way several times. Whatever small touches I did, your flowers had max impact! The way you set up Charlesfort was just magical, everything was beyond my expectation! I know I should send this tomorrow but thought today would emphasise how blown away I am with everything, thank you so much, Elaine x”

 

Lows and Highs!

So Last week I did wedding flowers in west Cork for two weddings, one on Thursday, a lovely humanist ceremony in the Dunmore House hotel, and one on Friday a wild colourful affair in Ardfield Church, with the reception also in the Dunmore. Now I pride myself on attention to detail, but last Thursday I learnt a valuable lesson! The bride to be, Ruth, an absolute pet of a woman, relaxed and charming, is an Australian emigrant, so our communications had being through emails up until the previous Sunday when she came to meet me and have a look around the gardens with a view as to her flowers for the day. As always I take notes, and compile a list of what I’m doing. So I did what I do for any wedding, I picked Ruths flowers on the Wednesday and got up bright and breezy on Thursday morning and started arranging, what I had to do was simple enough, we had vases of flowers on each dining table, plus a few scattered around the hotel. I also had bouquets for the girls and buttonholes for the boys, all in a colourful array. I had on my list ‘3 b/m-b’ To me this is 3 Bridesmaids bouquets, so I arrange my bouquets, wrap them up, load up and head off. The Ceremony was at 3pm (love late weddings!), so I got to the Hotel at 1.15pm, as I am parking, I noticed on my notes in a different note book, the 3 b/m-b…. as per yours…… I had forgotten the brides bouquet!!!!!!!! All at once I wanted to vomit/cry/scream, my heart stopped. Luckily I had time to rectify my total c**k-up. I had plenty of flowers to play with as I had over 25 bouquets for the tables. My mind was going so fast, I think I stopped breathing. My issue then became, well how will I tie the bouquet? I didn’t have enough time to go home to get ribbon and other accessories. Eeek! I frequently get told (mostly by my teenage son) that my van needs cleaning out, but I tell you, never to be cleaned out again. In my blind panic, I thought I might have something in the van….I found…stem wrap, navy ribbon(bridesmaids were wearing navy) and pins! Thank you little van for being my savior! Luckily I was able to put together a perfect Bridal bouquet, though I have to say the experience aged me. The lessons learnt, always read your notes 50 times….and never tidy your van. It has never happened to me before that I have forgotten an arrangement, least of all the brides. It is no excuse, but I think the distance of communication and the last minute meeting meant I didn’t have time to put together a final brief for the bride to approve, which is what I always do. Still, lesson learnt, mistake never to be repeated. The ceremony looked fabulous, and Ruth was delighted with her flowers, commenting, they were better than she could have ever imagined. Phew!

So from that confidence knocking low point, I went home and had to get straight on picking flowers for Fridays wedding…this time with a concise brief pre approved by Kate the bride, I read and re read and read some more the notes. The brief was ‘ country, relaxed, just picked, colourful,nothing matching.’ Ardfield Church is a sweet church, I am quite familiar with it as I have had a couple weddings there. Kate really had put so much effort into the decoration of the church, it really looked like a pin from Pintrest. Enamel jugs, jars with flowers for pews. No alter arrangement just vases of flowers, lots of colour.

autumn-20140905_104327---Copy(sm)

Even a black board and over 50meters of bunting! (I believe her mum tirelessly made the bunting). It really did look fabulous. I was proud of my part in Kate and Brian’s wedding, the flowers really did steal the show.

autumn-20140905_105417(sm)     autumn-20140905_105037---Copy(sm)

The bouquets…of which I had all of them, were along the same lines, wild and a colour explosion, along with the buttonholes, all to be different. It really did look fab!

autumn-20140905_100838[1](sm)     autumn-20140905_100920---Copy(sm)

So once I had set up the church which was no mean feat, a quick dash down to Dunmore again, (which is where I caught up with Ruth from the previous day, to find her delighted with her wedding.) to add a splash of colour to Kate’s cake.

autumn-20140905_122827[1](sm)

I was fit to drop……home for a nap then….I ended on a high, though even as I write this I can feel that pang of O.M.G!!!!

 

So Last week I did wedding flowers in west Cork for two weddings, one on Thursday, a lovely humanist ceremony in the Dunmore House hotel, and one on Friday a wild colourful affair in Ardfield Church, with the reception also in the Dunmore. Now I pride myself on attention to detail, but last Thursday I learnt a valuable lesson! The bride to be, Ruth, an absolute pet of a woman, relaxed and charming, is an Australian emigrant, so our communications had being through emails up until the previous Sunday when she came to meet me and have a look around the gardens with a view as to her flowers for the day. As always I take notes, and compile a list of what I’m doing. So I did what I do for any wedding, I picked Ruths flowers on the Wednesday and got up bright and breezy on Thursday morning and started arranging, what I had to do was simple enough, we had vases of flowers on each dining table, plus a few scattered around the hotel. I also had bouquets for the girls and buttonholes for the boys, all in a colourful array. I had on my list ‘3 b/m-b’ To me this is 3 Bridesmaids bouquets, so I arrange my bouquets, wrap them up, load up and head off. The Ceremony was at 3pm (love late weddings!), so I got to the Hotel at 1.15pm, as I am parking, I noticed on my notes in a different note book, the 3 b/m-b…. as per yours…… I had forgotten the brides bouquet!!!!!!!! All at once I wanted to vomit/cry/scream, my heart stopped. Luckily I had time to rectify my total c**k-up. I had plenty of flowers to play with as I had over 25 bouquets for the tables. My mind was going so fast, I think I stopped breathing. My issue then became, well how will I tie the bouquet? I didn’t have enough time to go home to get ribbon and other accessories. Eeek! I frequently get told (mostly by my teenage son) that my van needs cleaning out, but I tell you, never to be cleaned out again. In my blind panic, I thought I might have something in the van….I found…stem wrap, navy ribbon(bridesmaids were wearing navy) and pins! Thank you little van for being my savior! Luckily I was able to put together a perfect Bridal bouquet, though I have to say the experience aged me. The lessons learnt, always read your notes 50 times….and never tidy your van. It has never happened to me before that I have forgotten an arrangement, least of all the brides. It is no excuse, but I think the distance of communication and the last minute meeting meant I didn’t have time to put together a final brief for the bride to approve, which is what I always do. Still, lesson learnt, mistake never to be repeated. The ceremony looked fabulous, and Ruth was delighted with her flowers, commenting, they were better than she could have ever imagined. Phew!

So from that confidence knocking low point, I went home and had to get straight on picking flowers for Fridays wedding…this time with a concise brief pre approved by Kate the bride, I read and re read and read some more the notes. The brief was ‘ country, relaxed, just picked, colourful,nothing matching.’ Ardfield Church is a sweet church, I am quite familiar with it as I have had a couple weddings there. Kate really had put so much effort into the decoration of the church, it really looked like a pin from Pintrest. Enamel jugs, jars with flowers for pews. No alter arrangement just vases of flowers, lots of colour.

autumn-20140905_104327---Copy(sm)

Even a black board and over 50meters of bunting! (I believe her mum tirelessly made the bunting). It really did look fabulous. I was proud of my part in Kate and Brian’s wedding, the flowers really did steal the show.

autumn-20140905_105417(sm)     autumn-20140905_105037---Copy(sm)

The bouquets…of which I had all of them, were along the same lines, wild and a colour explosion, along with the buttonholes, all to be different. It really did look fab!

autumn-20140905_100838[1](sm)     autumn-20140905_100920---Copy(sm)

So once I had set up the church which was no mean feat, a quick dash down to Dunmore again, (which is where I caught up with Ruth from the previous day, to find her delighted with her wedding.) to add a splash of colour to Kate’s cake.

autumn-20140905_122827[1](sm)

I was fit to drop……home for a nap then….I ended on a high, though even as I write this I can feel that pang of O.M.G!!!!

 

dahlia

Fabulous Dahlia (said with a slightly camp san-fran accent!)

These wondrous flowers really need no introduction, a lover of the lime light, Dahlia’s take centre stage whether it is in the garden or in a vase. I find these super easy to grow flowers an essential addition to my gardens. They start to flower just after my first flush of roses are fading, they champion the gap, filling my bouquets with the craziest most outrageous blooms.

DSC_0027

Regarded as a vegetable rather than a garden flower initially, dahlias were discovered in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors, not until 1872 was a box of tubers sent to Holland. Within a few years Victorian catalogues listed hundreds of varieties, trust the Victorians to see sense in growing them for beauty and not nutrition! The Victorians believed it to be most dignified to have a Dahlia border, and only the most aristocratic garden grew them.

I have to confess, when I started growing flowers to sell, I rather looked down my nose at Dahlia. I used to think of them as tacky and garish. And in some respects they are garish. The colours can be intensely strong, and their form also can be overwhelming. The dinner plate Dahlia’s which can be 30cm wide is a little too big for me, but mostly Dahlia’s are fun, they have such a variety, I would challenge the biggest flower snob to not be able to find one they didn’t like. ( I think there was too many negatives there…you know what I mean!)

DSC_0024not-lydia

What I think has to be said is that the Dahlia is quite the most rewarding plant. For a bed of manure to grow in,( they are super hungry!) Dahlia will reward you with endless amounts of flowers, keep cutting, they keep coming, all the way to the first frosts. They last forever in a vase….F.y.i only cut them when they are fully open! The really huge headed varieties are difficult to arrange, but I’m sure they have a place somewhere…other than the dinner plate! I can’t recommend them enough…….Go forth and plant some Dahlia!

These wondrous flowers really need no introduction, a lover of the lime light, Dahlia’s take centre stage whether it is in the garden or in a vase. I find these super easy to grow flowers an essential addition to my gardens. They start to flower just after my first flush of roses are fading, they champion the gap, filling my bouquets with the craziest most outrageous blooms.

DSC_0027

Regarded as a vegetable rather than a garden flower initially, dahlias were discovered in the 16th century by Spanish conquistadors, not until 1872 was a box of tubers sent to Holland. Within a few years Victorian catalogues listed hundreds of varieties, trust the Victorians to see sense in growing them for beauty and not nutrition! The Victorians believed it to be most dignified to have a Dahlia border, and only the most aristocratic garden grew them.

I have to confess, when I started growing flowers to sell, I rather looked down my nose at Dahlia. I used to think of them as tacky and garish. And in some respects they are garish. The colours can be intensely strong, and their form also can be overwhelming. The dinner plate Dahlia’s which can be 30cm wide is a little too big for me, but mostly Dahlia’s are fun, they have such a variety, I would challenge the biggest flower snob to not be able to find one they didn’t like. ( I think there was too many negatives there…you know what I mean!)

DSC_0024not-lydia

What I think has to be said is that the Dahlia is quite the most rewarding plant. For a bed of manure to grow in,( they are super hungry!) Dahlia will reward you with endless amounts of flowers, keep cutting, they keep coming, all the way to the first frosts. They last forever in a vase….F.y.i only cut them when they are fully open! The really huge headed varieties are difficult to arrange, but I’m sure they have a place somewhere…other than the dinner plate! I can’t recommend them enough…….Go forth and plant some Dahlia!

A dirty word… Christmas!

Ok, so it’s only September 1st… yesterday was still August for pete’s sake, but I find myself writing about flowers for Christmas. For some, this is just rude to talk about when we haven’t even packed away our summer skirts and thought about getting out the thermals yet. However, it is now that I find myself collecting up bits and pieces for use at Christmas. What better gift to give at Christmas than a home grown, home made Christmas decoration. All that’s involved is a little pre planning. There is heaps that can be picked, dried, collected and stored for use at Christmas.

Christmas-Wreath-Crafts-8

Almost all plant material can be dried, everything from flowers, foliage, seedheads, grasses, nuts and cones. Natures larder really is bursting right now. There really is no limit to what you can harvest, and if in doubt, what have you got to loose? if you try to dry it and it is a spectacular failure, so what?! Just be sure you always take much more than you anticipate needing as you will have failure to some extent.

Use your imagination when collecting, I like to include feathers( pheasant is a favourite….sometimes my cockerel drops the odd feather too!). Lichens can be stunning as can barks of different textures and colours, as the autumnal leaves change their colours collect them too. Seed heads are the obvious ones. I could write a list as long as my arm of all the ones I use, teasel, allium, poppy, nigella, cardoon, eryngium, echinops to name a few. There are plenty of flowers that dry very well, amaranth, cockscomb, celosia, helichrysum, statice, hydrangea. My daughter takes great pleasure in finding all sorts of treasures, especially cones and acorns, i’m sure she was a squirrel in a past life!

dried hydrangea wreath

What ever you are harvesting for your Christmas extravaganza, make sure to collect it when it is dry, avoid recent rain or morning dew. Always use a sharp blade and choose specimens of good quality. Some plant material is naturally dry like seed pods, grasses ect and will take little effort to preserve them. Air drying is the easiest way to preserve plant material. Simply tie together in a loose bunch and hang upside down in a dark, warm, dry place for 1-3 weeks.

All you need do then is get out the glue perhaps some ribbon a little glitz and let the creative juices flow!!

Ok, so it’s only September 1st… yesterday was still August for pete’s sake, but I find myself writing about flowers for Christmas. For some, this is just rude to talk about when we haven’t even packed away our summer skirts and thought about getting out the thermals yet. However, it is now that I find myself collecting up bits and pieces for use at Christmas. What better gift to give at Christmas than a home grown, home made Christmas decoration. All that’s involved is a little pre planning. There is heaps that can be picked, dried, collected and stored for use at Christmas.

Christmas-Wreath-Crafts-8

Almost all plant material can be dried, everything from flowers, foliage, seedheads, grasses, nuts and cones. Natures larder really is bursting right now. There really is no limit to what you can harvest, and if in doubt, what have you got to loose? if you try to dry it and it is a spectacular failure, so what?! Just be sure you always take much more than you anticipate needing as you will have failure to some extent.

Use your imagination when collecting, I like to include feathers( pheasant is a favourite….sometimes my cockerel drops the odd feather too!). Lichens can be stunning as can barks of different textures and colours, as the autumnal leaves change their colours collect them too. Seed heads are the obvious ones. I could write a list as long as my arm of all the ones I use, teasel, allium, poppy, nigella, cardoon, eryngium, echinops to name a few. There are plenty of flowers that dry very well, amaranth, cockscomb, celosia, helichrysum, statice, hydrangea. My daughter takes great pleasure in finding all sorts of treasures, especially cones and acorns, i’m sure she was a squirrel in a past life!

dried hydrangea wreath

What ever you are harvesting for your Christmas extravaganza, make sure to collect it when it is dry, avoid recent rain or morning dew. Always use a sharp blade and choose specimens of good quality. Some plant material is naturally dry like seed pods, grasses ect and will take little effort to preserve them. Air drying is the easiest way to preserve plant material. Simply tie together in a loose bunch and hang upside down in a dark, warm, dry place for 1-3 weeks.

All you need do then is get out the glue perhaps some ribbon a little glitz and let the creative juices flow!!

Zany Zinnia Sept 1st

I can’t quite believe it’s September already, with the lovely summer we have had it seems quite impossible that we are now into Autumn, and with it the downward turn in the season. Nevertheless, there is still plenty a blooming. A flower I have always grown predominantly for flowering later in the season is the zany Zinnia. An annual flower ridiculously easily grown from seed, starts to flower just as all other high summer annuals are becoming rather tired.

Zinnias fell out of favour for a while with home gardeners, but they are now back in fashion with a vengeance.

ZinniaI grow a variety called Tetra Flowered “State Fair” which is a lovely old series of giant dahlia-flowered zinnias from the 70’s. A time tested winner that performs well in the garden and in the vase, and is great for attracting bees and butterflies to the garden.

The semi-double blooms are large and long-lasting. The blooms grow to around 10 to 15 cm (4 to 5in) wide and come a full range of bright uniform colours including scarlet, pale rose, orange, bright pink and dark pink.

State Fair is a tall and sturdy plant and an excellent choice for garden colour when all else starts to look drab. They have greater tolerance to diseases than other cut flower zinnias. The thick stems are less likely to bend when being cut and the blooms have a longer vase life.

Zinnias are the perfect flower for beginners, they are extremely easy to grow from seed and provide colour from mid-summer to first frosts, keep cutting and they keep reappearing, an absolute ‘must have’ flower in the garden is the old fashioned Zinnia.

I can’t quite believe it’s September already, with the lovely summer we have had it seems quite impossible that we are now into Autumn, and with it the downward turn in the season. Nevertheless, there is still plenty a blooming. A flower I have always grown predominantly for flowering later in the season is the zany Zinnia. An annual flower ridiculously easily grown from seed, starts to flower just as all other high summer annuals are becoming rather tired.

Zinnias fell out of favour for a while with home gardeners, but they are now back in fashion with a vengeance.

ZinniaI grow a variety called Tetra Flowered “State Fair” which is a lovely old series of giant dahlia-flowered zinnias from the 70’s. A time tested winner that performs well in the garden and in the vase, and is great for attracting bees and butterflies to the garden.

The semi-double blooms are large and long-lasting. The blooms grow to around 10 to 15 cm (4 to 5in) wide and come a full range of bright uniform colours including scarlet, pale rose, orange, bright pink and dark pink.

State Fair is a tall and sturdy plant and an excellent choice for garden colour when all else starts to look drab. They have greater tolerance to diseases than other cut flower zinnias. The thick stems are less likely to bend when being cut and the blooms have a longer vase life.

Zinnias are the perfect flower for beginners, they are extremely easy to grow from seed and provide colour from mid-summer to first frosts, keep cutting and they keep reappearing, an absolute ‘must have’ flower in the garden is the old fashioned Zinnia.