A Year Filled With Flowers

The year started with a wedding.
Our wedding,
with a bouquet made up from flowers I collected from florist friends around the country, that Billy and I visited on our way north. We get married in Durham, 10 years after we met there.
The florist's year really gets under way with all the rush and romance that is Valentine's Day. Calling into Leentje's tiny, but exquisite shop in Cambridgeshire seemed like a very good place for me to start too.
Soon after cupid delivered his last rose, florists, like Kate in Sturminster Newton packed their shops with plants and posies for Mothers' Day.
In Arcade Flowers in Ringwood local primary school children hung blue hearts on a tree that the girls have planted in their window.
The warm spring rolled into a showery May and into the shops came the summery flowers and herbs; such as the delicate blue Scabious and daisy-like Fever Few.
This was a year for new ventures; Sprout & Flower in Mere in Wiltshire opened its doors selling an enticing mixture of vegetables, flowers and fresh bread,
and Rustic Rose launched its new website - complete with a heavenly day for me helping to photograph bouquets and blooms for it.
It is not only the flower shops that I love but the many flower stalls I visit on my travels, such as this fabulous display outside Bibendum on the Fulham Road.
New faces included Grace,
whose shop Bramble & Wild is a wonderful discovery, perched at the top of Catherine Hill in Frome.
But the year would not be the same without several trips to Ted Martin Flowers in Tisbury, the subject of my first two books about flower shops.
I can always rely on my flower shop friends to fill my life with colour!
From the first spring tulips to the late November chrysanthemum blooms.
It was a year for celebrating, with a party for a my daughter and my birthdays.
(I cannot believe she is twenty one - let alone how old I am!)
There were weddings to help with, including Gemma who did not have a huge budget - but as luck would have it, happened to know a friendly florist.
As a finishing touch I pick sweet peas for her from the pick your own flower fields at Hatch near Tisbury.
It was also a year of flower workshops - one of my favourites is based on the sort of flowers you can find in your garden.
The ladies attending it may be teachers and nurses and retired civil servants but they were born florists.
There were flowers to admire in the many flower festivals around the country - such as the magnificent displays at Salisbury cathedral.
And there were ways to create an atmospheric table display of flowers for yourself, even when you did not have masses of flowers to play with.
My flower filled year would not be complete without mentioning Tom from Tretter's cocktail bar in Prague. I do love a man who puts orchids in my cocktails. And I do love a best friend who takes me to Prague to celebrate my birthday. (Yes, I know, I have been celebrating since the summer!)
As the year drew to a close it is back to one of my favourite flower shops - Ted Martins. Christmas would not be Christmas without stopping by to say hello and to wish them all (and you) a very Happy New Year.

Christmas at Ted's

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without a few visits to Ted Martin Flowers - now with a new website so check it out - www.tedmartinflowers.co.uk
As we arrive Clare and Ted are loading up the van with holly and pine as Ted is off to decorate Santa's sleigh! He is visiting Tisbury this evening, along with many market stalls that are being set up for some late night Christmas shopping.
We have decided this year, rather than face the crush of Christmas shopping in Bath we are going to do all our shopping locally.
The funny thing is people would pay a lot of money for a weekend away to this part of the country with a bit of Christmas browsing thrown in and yet each year I seem to feel I need to rush off to a big town or city. Mad.
Oh and what a good present! To be honest there aren't many friends I would give one of my calendars to - I would feel a bit awkward that they might not really want one - but I know my Mum will definitely be keen to have one!
It is lovely to be back looking at Ted's dresser stacked with a mass of china. I spent a number of years working here (and dusting it) and I really miss it.
As always, there are beautiful ready to go posies ...
... and pottery jugs filled with flowers.
Plus Christmas decorations and a good supply of Flower Shop books!
A friend of mine got married at this time of year and her mother always gives her a new Christmas decoration for their tree as an anniversary present.
It is a bit of a flying visit but it certainly gets me into the Christmas spirit perfectly.

A Very Jolly Christmas Workshop

I am at Stourhead making wreaths and arrangements in a Christmas workshop - we have carols and chocolate cake, and my phone has no reception here. What more could you want?!
For the first arrangements I demonstrate, I go for smokey hydrangeas, a pretty rose called Upper Secret and a splash of gold eucalyptus.
Then just a touch of something darker to set the colours off - burgundy skimia and tiny spray chrysanthemum heads.
There is enough left for a luscious hand-tie that is now sitting opposite me as I type this. Well, there have to be some perks for carrying all those flowers around!
Everyone then has a go at making a door wreath - it is interesting to see how different they all are.
I also show how to make a large white and silver table arrangement before we all have a go at some pudding basin arrangements.
I love these old fashioned bowls. Although I think our local hardware store think I am mad seeing the amount I order.
And if you didn't want to surround the candles with flowers you could always fill the edge with nuts or clementines.

Thinking Christmas

I am collecting some flowers for a workshop I have planned from Rustic Rose and looking around the shop you can see that Christmas is creeping in.
In amongst the conkers and bronze oak leaves you can glimpse a bit of Christmassy glitz.
So I am starting to think Christmas!
With a car laden down with wreaths and pine and pudding basins ...yes, pudding basins, I am ready for a Christmas flower workshop.
Watch this space ....

Rosemary for Remembrance

As I am writing this I have the radio on in the background and I can hear the piped bands playing at the Ceremony of Remembrance from the Cenotaph. It is impossible not to be moved by the familiar and haunting music.
As florist we often include rosemary in funeral tributes as in the Victorian language of flowers it represents remembrance.
Yesterday I called in to see Sarah at Sprout & Flower and the CD of music she was playing took me back to another era...white cliffs...blue birds...
Music is a big part of Sarah's family life as her partner Bob sings in a local choir. Recently he organised for singers from a Vermont choir to visit Mere when on a UK tour. She was delighted to find one of the choir owns an organic fruit, vegetable and flower farm in New England, specialising in the growing of sunflowers, lisianthus and delphiniums.
As we move well into the month of November, Christmas is starting to creep into her shop.
There are lanterns and stars and jingle bells.
I am particularly taken by some festive letters and momentarily wish my girls were little again. Then I realise that I needed worry, they will like them anyway!
For those who would like to have a go at making some Christmas wreaths Sarah is running some workshops at National Trust's Stourhead.


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