Art Trail through the Flowers

I don't think they could have chosen a better week for this event - all around our local villages artists are opening up their homes and gardens to visitors. My friend Sarah Coward, who is a sculptor, has decided to display her bronzes on plinths in the vegetable garden next to her studio.

As I drive up to her cottage I can see Sarah down in the garden watering her plants. An old bicycle carrying baskets of pansies gets a particularly good soaking.
Sarah kindly let me photograph her garden for my forthcoming book; The Flower Shop in your Garden, which shows what you can do with the flowers and foliage you find around your home. I visited her garden in the autumn, just before she took her bronzes to be exhibited at Burghley Horse Trials. To help decorate her stand at Burghley we cut bundles of burgundy dahlias and blush coloured snowberries.
Today, in the bright summer light, a model hare, in the early stages of development, appears to leap across the vegetables beds as if Mr McGregor was on his tail.

A finished bronze hare races past through the delphiniums and lupins.

Whilst a stately bull watches as Sarah's dog, Mouse, leads visitors around her exhibition of work. If you would like to see more of her work you can visit her website; http://www.sarahcoward.com/
In the flower beds next to Sarah's studio are clumps of lemon coloured aquiligia, their fresh tones complimenting the dainty pansies potted up in the terracotta pots lined up below.

London Flowers

When I am in London I cannot resist looking around some flower shops and stalls. I am particularly pleased to see this step-ladder looking so pretty outside Chivers on Charlotte Street, and take it as a good omen. The previous evening I had been discussing with friends what we are going to do this year for the rugby club ball (has to be highish, easy for all the helpers to decorate, not need too many flowers AND not get knocked over in the scrum for the bar), Val had hit upon old wooden step-ladders painted pink covered in flowers, plus some trellising and terracotta pots. Perfect.

Flowers are blooming everywhere; in shop windows and on pretty cotton skirts and dresses.
At Liberty I fall into conversation with Chris who has been a florist here for many years. In fact when the concession recently changed hands he decided to change too; "I'm like a cat" he tells me "I come with the building!"
The posies Chris and the staff have prepared are a beautiful mix of summer colours. It seems like a bit of the country has been gathered up and scattered amongst the passing taxis and shoppers.

I wish you could smell these roses! They are Italian garden roses and have a deep and sweet, musky scent that is intoxicating. And what a luscious colour!
Chris directs me to a large enamel bucket of Madonna Lilies. He explains that this is the variety that has been featured by artists for centuries. When you see their tall elegant stems
and small beautifully curved flower heads you realise you have seen them many times before in books and paintings. I am taken back to a small church yard in the Lake District where I once photographed a gravestone that appeared to have been draped with a mass of lilies - now grey and moss covered - but the carvings still unmistakable as Madonna lilies.
And of course I have to photograph this wonderful hydrangea. It's head appears to be made up of pink and green buttons. Very Liberty!
Having drunk in the flowers I decide to to do a little bit of shopping and it is impossible to visit Liberty without at least browsing in the chocolate department. I choose this very pink and elegant chocolate bar for my daughter Libby who has just published her first book; Love Pink - a celebration of all things girly and pink. If you would like to see more of her book you can look on our website www.fanahanbooks.com or follow her blog www.lovepinklibbypage.blogspot.com

Calling in at Ted Martin Flowers

With my books keeping me busy I spend much less time than I used to working at Ted Martin Flowers. And I really miss it. In fact this is one of the reasons I have started a blog, it gives me a great excuse to call in for a cup of coffee and to find out what has been going on in the shop.

The sun is shining and the trees and hedges are an almost luminous green as I drive across to the village of Tisbury. Outside the shop flowers and plants are piled up on wooden crates and as I walk through the door I am met by the warm and heady fragrance of lilies.

In the doorway there are buckets of weekend posies ready and waiting for customers. I can't decide between a posy of cerise stocks and anemones or one with a blush pink peony.

Inside on the dresser are bundles of dried lavender and fresh lavender plants potted up into terracotta pots. Ted tells me that they recently used dozens of lavender plants - as well as many other plants and flowers - for a really flower filled wedding. The bride had decided on a floral theme and each of the tables was decorated with a different variety of flower. So guests were sitting on either a lavender, sweet pea, daisy, nigella, phlox or rose table.

I think this is a lovely idea, especially as the flowers were displayed in vintage cups and saucers and glass vases around a central tier of cupcakes. A small bunch of matching flowers was then arranged on each place setting.

Just Back from Chelsea

When friends call and say they have a spare ticket to Chelsea the only thing to do is to drop everything and say 'yes please' - particularly when they tell you they have pink Champagne for the train!
I think I love the small gardens best. There is such a sense of passion about them, whether it is the mass of blues, whites and reds of this Entente Cordiale garden, (designed by French and English friends) or the intensely planted Cook's Garden, complete with hanging cullender's of strawberries.

I have just finished photographing a book about gardens, which was a real joy for me as I spent a year exploring other people's gardens. One of these belonged to Sarah Coward, a sculptor, and I was reminded of it when I saw the Potter's Garden with it's fat alliums and lines of clay pots.

And of course, having written about David Austin roses I had to go and visit their stand in the marquee where they had replicated one of the water gardens from their rose garden at Albrighton.

On my way around I called in to see Bradley who was selling leather goods from his family tannery in Shropshire. Bradley had lent my daughter Libby some wonderful pink leather gardening gloves and hats for her recent book; Love Pink. So I wanted to drop off a signed book to say thank you. Thank you Bradley!

A Workshop in Middlesex

I often get asked to do flower demonstrations, but one of my favourite ways of catching up with other flower lovers is to conduct a workshop in their homes. Then everyone gets to play with the flowers!

Chiaki and her friends live in Middlesex but originally come from Japan, Malaysia and Austria - however they are all fans of English flowers. Chiaki first came across my books in Selfridges and she and I have been emailing each other ever since.

I could not have been made more welcome - especially as her friends all brought beautiful cakes with them. When I finally loaded my car up at the end of the day Chiaki sent me off with a bag of cakes in return for a promise to come back and run a Christmas workshop!

All the ladies created hand-tied posies and made arrangements and gifts using the flowers I had brought with me from Ted's shop. I think the favourite was the teacup filled with a blue and white posy.

I wanted to show how many different styles you can achieve by combining different colours with white.


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