Sprout & Flower

I have known Sarah, the owner of Sprout & Flower in Mere, Wiltshire 
since my days working at Ted Martin Flowers in Tisbury. 
Sarah was Ted's manager there for many years, before deciding to go it alone and try running her own shop. She and her husband Bob were in the process of thinking of moving (their two sons were getting too tall for their cottage's ceilings!) when the old fruit and veg shop in Mere came on the market.
The shop hadn't been renovated or decorated for many years but the position was perfect. After a huge amount of work they moved in - also taking the accommodation above the shop (with tall ceilings!).
Now Sarah combines fruit and veg with gorgeous flowers and bread at the weekends. And if you're lucky you can often find cake for sale by the till.
It is beautiful shop and always a joy to visit. When I called in last week I found Sarah busy with posies for Proms and  bouquets for a Golden Wedding.
This rose always makes me smile; Miss Piggy
Recently Sarah has taken on Josie to help with the fruit and veg.
I think it is fair to say, from this photo, that Josie has a way with flowers too ...
 ... although I think radish earrings could look pretty good too ...
 Sarah delivers flowers all around the UK ad you can find her at Sproutandflower.co.uk and she is well worth following on instagram @sproutandflower

Hampton Court Flower Show

In May I was lucky enough to have a stand at Chelsea Flower Show displaying our fountain pens - Plooms - alongside my flower books. 
I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to be there during the build up and to see the gardens in the first early light. Meeting Diarmuid Gavin as he watered his garden one morning we fell into conversation.
What I really wanted to say was that when my daughters first met their now step-father, Billy Kelly, they said: "We knew he was Irish and we knew you like Diarmuid Gavin so we thought he would look a bit like him." (So far so good) "Then we came in and saw a tramp sitting on the sofa." 
My lovely husband is not known for his sartorial elegance!
This is how the conversation actually went with Diarmuid:
Nice garden," I said. "Thank you," he said.
 One of the best parts about Chelsea was seeing old friends. Those who visited and those that helped on the stand, including Claire Foster who runs the wonderful Green Pavilion flower shop in Buxton, Derbyshire.
And proudest moments? There were two. First when Kazuyuhi Ishihara, who designed my favourite garden, came on the stand and bought a number of my prints. Secondly when a girl of about 20 spotted my books and asked "is it you?" She went on to explain that my books had inspired her to be a florist. And now she had just won a medal in the floral design marquee for her arrangement. (I have to admit I cried)

Exhibiting at Chelsea convinced me to start blogging about flower again. I had not quite realised how much I had missed talking to people about them.
 So here, after a bit of an absence is my first post. 
A visit to Hampton Court Flower Show.
We arrived on a grey morning after huge queues to the car park, but once we were in the grounds it was if the sun realised it really ought to get its act together and start shining. There was so much to see - there is lots more room than Chelsea - and of course you are never far from wonderful views of the waterways and the Palace.
 Here are a few of my highlights. 
I loved the Vegetable and Flower Boxes that give inspiration for even the smallest garden. These two photos are from the Gold winning display created by Alton Infant School. Their display of "Growing to Eat, Eating to Grow" took different recipes that the children and parents had contributed and planted out the ingredients you would need. Above, Strawberry Lemonade. Below, Herb Omelette. 
 In addition to the Floral Marquee there was the Festival of Roses marquee set aside exclusively for ...well... roses. Even on a good day this was quite muddy underfoot - so I really hope that the weather keeps fine for everyone.
The roses were fabulous, despite the very strong smell of damp mud!
A floral arch from Peter Beale Roses.
 The roses from The Real Flower Company are always a treat. They were close to us at Chelsea and I would go over to their stand and just take a deep breath whenever I wanted to enjoy their fabulous scented display.
The RHS award their medals on a huge number of criteria. I have gone for just 3 awards of my own.
 1. Most like to be when sharing a bottle of wine with my family
This goes to The Viking Cruises' Scandinavian Garden
- which basically is a beach with a driftwood fire
 2. Most like to be when sharing a bottle of wine with my best friend
This goes to Cherry Carmen's Immerse Garden.
What you cannot see from my photo is that water is flowing down all the walls of the sunken garden
 3. Most like to be when on my own with a book and a glass of wine
(I think you can see there is a common theme to my awards!)
This goes to Inner City Grace.
Very calming. Very Sauvignon Blanc.
 And I could not leave Hampton Court Flower Show without mentioning the school's Scarecrow Competition. This year this had a distinctly space age theme
Tim Peake would have felt right at home!

Saturday in Mere

 On a Saturday morning I have taken to getting up earlyish and heading to Sprout & Flower in Mere
 I was always a sucker for the flowers, but have now become addicted to shopping from their display of fresh croissant and bread.
 I cannot think of a better way to start the weekend.
 I have also discovered that Sarah, who runs the shop, buys the best nectarines and locally grown salad.
 And of course everyone needs flowers!
 This time I went for the tall pale-blue scabious, and as I type this they are sitting happily in my hall.
 And if anyone tells you I smile and talk to them every time I go passed, they are exaggerating.
Not every time.

Returning to Pythouse Garden

There is nowhere I would rather be on a sunny afternoon than in Pythouse Walled Garden
The Potting Shed has recently undergone a refurbishment and so the garden has been closed for a few months.
It is good to be back
 I'm not the only one to think so.
Mitch and his team have spend the winter working on the garden and it looks fantastic.
And inside the new Potting Shed looks glorious.


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