An Autumnal Palette

Some people find the autumn depressing as they see it as a time of decay, with winter lurking just around the corner. I, on the other hand, love the autumn. I love the colours, the sense of change in the air and the memories it brings of conkers, new school shoes and the pale lined pages of fresh exercise books.
As I drive over to the National Trust garden at Stourhead the air is warm and fragrant, but with an enticing tang of autumnal bite in the breeze. The hydrangeas by the roadside look like they have been brushed with a smoky palette of new paints.
They are not the only flowers to have been painted. In the memorial hall near to the garden there is an exhibition of floral paintings.
How can I resist a look?!
Artists call by to demonstrate their craft for visitors to the exhibition.
Next door in the First-View Gallery there are more flowers spilling from the walls.
My favourite, this fabulous display of sunlit anemones.

In the Steps of Eliza Dolittle

There is no doubt it is in London where you will find some of the finest flower stalls. So when I am in South Kensington on my way to a meeting I find I am very easily distracted by the wayside flowers.
One of the most beautiful stalls is in the entrance to the old Michelin Building on Fulham Road, home to the Conran shop and the light and airy, and very elegant Bibendum restaurant.
I am in for such a treat - I am being taken out for lunch here today. And what is more, I am being treated by one of the supporters of the children's charity I fundraise for. Anyone who has ever fundraised will know this is not the norm. The norm is you are the last one anyone ever wants to speak to and your emails will be bottom of the list to reply to! So today makes such a change and I am going to enjoy myself.
Wandering back to the tube station after lunch (happily full of saffron and haddock risotto and a glass of Sauvignon) I spend some time admiring the flowers at the flower stall on the concourse outside the station entrance.
The girls at Gilding the Lily are busy making up posies of roses, delphiniums and veronica.
It seems idyllic on a sunny day like today, but I can imagine in the rain and the cold it is another days work altogether.
I love the mix of varieties the girls have chosen - in this case amaryllis, celosia and anthuriums.
Plus the colour combinations would make anyone smile.
Especially a woman who loves flowers who has just been treated to a very nice lunch.
Thank you very much Mr & Mrs P.

Birthday Blooms

It's my party and I'll flower arrange if I want to!
I call in to decorate the room we are having supper in at Hotel Grosvenor in the centre of Shaftesbury.
I was once told, a birthday without flowers is like a ship without a sail. And who am I to argue?
We are being joined by ten friends for a birthday supper. The Hotel Grosvenor is well known for its gorgeous food, but I also happen to know that many of the rooms have been decorated using Cecil Beaton inspired fabrics. These include the Beaton Bouquet design based on his hand drawn flowers.
Cecil Beaton used to live near to Shaftesbury in Ashcombe House - perhaps now better known as the country house of Guy Ritchie, and at one time, Madonna.
I never met Madonna but Guy once sat in the back of our very old Land Cruiser, in the pub carpark with my husband Billy Kelly listening to and arguing over Irish Music..... a very long story ...
There is also a wonderful tale of Guy taking Brad Pitt into one of our local pubs and asking the landlord if anyone famous ever came in. To which the publican replied firmly. "No. Never."
But back to the Grosvenor. I do like a hotel that takes its flowers seriously.
I am sure I am not the only one who feels better seeing these large displays of sunflowers and lilies.

Sprout & Flower - Open for Business

The scene is set, the door is open and in the constant stream of customers it is difficult to get a quick photo of the proud proprietress.
There are ready to go bunches of flowers in a display on the street with further banks of flowers inside. A man driving past stops to call in to buy flowers for the friends he is visiting. As the shops is crowded I step in and am proud to say I make the first Sprout & Flower bouquet. Once a florist, always a florist!
I also make a posy for my florist friend Jennifer who is not very well. She, Sarah and I all used to work together at Ted Martin Flowers in nearby Tisbury. I know she will be keen to hear how Sarah's first day is going.
At the back of the shop near the garden are two larger pieces for sale.
A floral painting on silk by local artist Tamsin Guy, plus a hazel chair that Sarah made herself. Is there no end to her talents!

One Day to Go

The new sign is up and so is the bunting. "Sprout & Flower" - a good name for a fruit, veg and flower shop.
Sarah and her friend Emma are putting the finishing touches, and deciding and re-deciding where everything should go.
"What do you think? ...there ...or maybe ...there?"
Some of the walls have been clad in new cedar wood which will soften to a smoky grey over time. This will go perfectly with the stone walls and new slate counter.
Some of the plants have arrived but the fruit and veg order and the flower delivery will arrive tomorrow.
But what does arrive today is a Dorset apple cake from neighbour, Deeanne. She stops for a quick chat but is soon off back home to bake a pear upside down cake to use up her windfalls.
Sarah tells me that all week people have been calling in with gifts, including a pizza for her partner Bob, when someone saw him working late in the shop one evening!
Sarah has a notice up in the window looking for local produce - but almonds is the last thing she expected. A gentleman brought them in telling her they were from their farm in Andalusia.
I am looking forward to visiting tomorrow when the doors open officially.

From This to That

What a difference a few days, a lot of hard work and Peter the Painter makes! As I am admiring the new shop front, Peter is passing and introduces himself. He is clearly (and justifiably) proud of his work and stops to brush some dust from the gleaming paintwork.
I can't believe the difference - and what a great colour. A colour I would have never chosen from a colour chart, but it looks amazing.
A clue of things to come? I know Sarah is keen to stock locally grown fruit and veg, including the more specialist varieties. And I also know from working with Sarah the flowers she stocks are sure to be gorgeous.
People from the village peer inside as they pass to see how things are progressing.

So far, new woodwork, dustbins and bags for the rubbish ...and is that Granvil's bike?


Related Posts with Thumbnails