The Flower Shop in your Garden

I am at Kate's shop, Rustic Rose, getting ready for my workshop. We are going to have a go at making arrangements and posies using flowers from the garden.
As it is a garden party theme, I think we need some bunting, some old china and a vintage mirror to set the scene.
Without actually doing much things are already looking up - Mother Nature is on our side, providing us with a wonderful combination of colours.
I make some hand-tied posies for jugs and jam jars, plus some arrangements in teacups and an old button box.
Then everyone else has a go. To the garden flowers we add some shop bought roses such as the deep red Grand Prix and a sugar-sweet pink and orange rose called Miss Piggy. The stronger stems of these roses provide support in the posies for the more delicate (but beautifully fragranced) roses we have cut from the garden.
One of the ladies, Gail is getting inspiration for her retirement. By the time we have chatted about flowers over cake and coffee I can see she is making plans for future days filled with wine and roses.
Another budding florist, Di, has never worked with flowers before - her days are too busy with her job as a teacher in a nursery for children with special needs.
She is a natural, and I can see she is secretly delighted with the posy she makes packed with sweetpeas and lavender.
In fact she is so pleased with the whole experience she suggests people should be prescribed flower workshops as therapy.
I couldn't agree more!

Gathering Flowers for Gemma

It is an early start at Rustic Rose as I am running a workshop based on my Flower Shop in your Garden book (more of that another time). But very importantly I am also gathering flowers for Gemma's wedding.
Gemma, like me, fundraises for the children's charity Hope and Homes for Children, and this Sunday she is marrying her boyfriend Matt.
A few months ago we went out for lunch to talk flowers and after a glass of wine (the way to my heart) I volunteered to do them for her. I knew Kate would help me get some really lovely flowers, and as I arrive for the workshop, she and the girls are busy unpacking them.
So, Gemma, here are your flowers!
We have buckets of creamy and pale pink roses, white lisianthus with pink frilly edges. We have lavender and herbs and splashes of cerise roses and purple veronica.
I have also added the herb, feverfew as I think it will look so pretty in amongst the flowers in the buckets and jam jars on the tables. There is just one thing missing ... On my way to Hatch Pick your Own flower farm, I swerve to a halt to take a picture of the hall in the village of East Knoyle. Someone else is getting ready for a wedding.
And the flower that is missing? You have to have some gorgeously scented sweet peas when you get married. Then whenever you smell them you will be reminded of yours and Matt's day.
See you tomorrow Gemma!

A Tasty Bunch of Florists

I will not hear a bad word said against Essex. I met such a nice bunch of florists there this week (and I do like florists who know how to put on a good lunch). I was invited to the very pretty village of Pleshey to give a talk to a group of women, who became friends when they all attended a floristry course at Writtle agricultural college.
The talk and demonstration took place in Jane's very beautiful barn and later on the flower conversation spread out into the garden.
What I particularly enjoyed was seeing how a passion for flowers could bring together a wide range of women in terms of age and careers to form such strong bonds of friendship. Even after the course ended they continue to meet once a week - now dubbing themselves 'the bunch of florists'.
It was also a lunch for confessions, as one lady explained how she had once nearly forgotten a wedding (but with the help of other florists pulled it out of the bag at the 11th hour). You could see the ladies around the table blanching in sympathy, myself included.
Later that day I was telling the story to my friend Anne who is a vicar. She told me how she once forgot a wedding rehearsal, only remembering as she was drinking wine with friends. She bolted to the church and rushed in late, shaking her head and sighing "so sad, so sad". No one ever asked her what had held her up!
I was particularly taken with Jane's splendid pink lilies, which she bought from Hampton Court Flower Show last year.
Well, actually she bought white lilies - and finding the same stall at the show this year, asked them about the colour change. Apparently (and not a lot of people know this!) lilies can get an embarrassed blush in years where there is not a lot of rain.

Get the Party Started

The marquee is up and there is certainly plenty of bunting!
We are having a party to celebrate my daughter Alex and my birthday. We have a wonderful garden to have it in, thanks to friend's Martyn & Gay and a great tent, thanks to friend, Gill.
I must have done something good in a previous life (!) as the sun is really shining.
The good thing about being a florist is that you are never short of vases, lanterns. hurricane lamps and baskets. For each table I fill a huge basket with picnic food ...well all the food I like to eat on a picnic!
I did think (for one brief minute) of the extravagant things I could do with the flowers, before I thought, I would just like to keep it simple - so all around the marquee were jugs, vases and flowerpots filled with deeply scented stock.
My daughter Libby and her french friend Juliette spent the day baking dozens and dozens of cupcakes.
I ended up taking very few photos as I was having such a good time - or crying when my daughters made a speech! But I will never forget the evening and especially seeing Alex so happy with all her newly graduated uni friends.

Country Kate

Kate has been busy. The church at Child Okeford definitely has been 'Rustic Rosed'.
Libby tries out the pulpit for size. Some how I can't imagine her as a vicar!
The pew ends are a country mix of hydrangeas, peonies and sweetpeas.
And in the entrance Kate has also added scabious and white lisianthus that look like they have been brushed with a touch of pink paint.


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