The Potting Shed

I don't need much of an excuse to head up to Navenby in Lincolnshire to visit Becky at her Potting Shed flower shop. So I am delighted when she says she is organising a signing event for my latest book. Becky is the August florist in my Flower Shops & Friends book. (And no, we have no plans for a nude florists' calendar - People do keep asking!)
Becky and her assistant Fiona, have spent the previous day cleaning and planting, and the shop looks wonderful. I have already spotted something I want to take home with me for my kitchen table.
Becky's shop is a posh Potting Shed, complete with chandeliers and venetian mirrors, but part of the shop has been filled with all the paraphernalia from a real potting shed, including an old garden gate, flower pots and tin cans planted with tomato-red geraniums.
In between old china bowls planted with hyacinths and pots of vintage bunnies, I am pleased to see my latest book gets a spot. 
Those of you who have come across Becky before will recall she is a great believer that a wreath is not just for Christmas and invariably her shop door is hung with a seasonal offering. Today it is a sweet avalanche rose surrounded by late lavender and eucalyptus.
Visitors are welcomed with a glass of Bucks Fizz and lavender shortbread hearts.
And I can't resist taking a picture of my daughter Libby's book as I am sure she would approve of the setting!

Seasons of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

Today is one of those glorious autumn days with gentle golden sunshine the colour of leaves. I decide to visit Stourhead, the National Trust garden near to my house - beautiful at any season but particularly so at this time of year. They also have a craft fair on this weekend and there are many friends to visit; on one table my friend Fiona has an old chandelier hung with soft, stripy alpaca hats. Just across from her stand her brother Gary is exhibiting highly seductive chain-mail jewelery that feels like liquid against your skin. (Gary who is a welder by profession - not your typical craft fair jeweler - has just been spotted by Swarovski and signed up as one of their designers. Which just goes to show you should never judge a book by the cover!)
I am glad to see on another stand Jennifer is exhibiting a collection of  vintage fabric hearts filled with lavender and old china rose-bud teacups planted with violas. I buy some of the teacups as I am staying away tonight and it will make a good thank you present. And if I keep quiet they might think I have made them myself!
Outside the National Trust shop are piles of pumpkins ready for Halloween. I wander in and find Pat the shop manager who is eager for news of my latest book. I love Pat, she has been hugely enthusiastic about my work from the very beginning and hers was one of the first shops to ever stock my books. We start to arrange a signing and decide that I shall come to her Christmas craft event on December 5th and conduct some flower demonstrations for visitors.
All in all it has been a very good day.
" Let misty autumn be our part,
The twilight of the year is sweet:
Where shadows and the darkness meet"
Ernest Dowson

Deep Scarlet to Raspberry Pink

There is a rose which I love, called Ecstacy. This deep scarlet rose starts its life in the flower shop with slim elegant buds of tightly furled petals. Imagine twenty or so stems in a tall glass vase, and you have a real movie star rose. Or tuck it amongst a bright autumnal posy and its sweet heady scent will remind you of the last days of summer.

And they Smell Good too!

Roisin and Ellie decide they are in need of some extra help and advice as they finalise plans for their new flower delivery service. So Jennifer and I fill my Mini with buckets of flowers and head off to Twickenham to see if we can be of some assistance. The day is spent working on bouquet ideas, chatting through the business and sharing ideas over slices of cake.
The girls are going to be busy!
On the way back I spot a sign for Farnham and we decide to take a detour so I can introduce Jennifer to Emma and Hazel and show her their beautiful shop.
As I sip tea amongst the flowers on a sunny autumn afternoon, I decide that life is very good.


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