How to keep your flowers looking fresh and at their best for your wedding or event

When you get your flowers from Plantpassion, they'll already be conditioned. This means that unlike market flowers, you don't need to cut the ends, soak them overnight, or strip off foliage or take off side shoots or deadhead and divide up the bundles. Our stems will come ready for you to use except cutting to length. However there are quite a few things that you can do to make sure they stay as fresh as possible. Here's our suggestions.

Wedding flowers in a car.jpg

1) when you take them home in the car, wedge them in (gently) in the footwell, so that the buckets don't fall over the first corner you take. We can provide you with buckets if you are able to recycle them back to us within a week - if not, please bring some of your own. 

2) when you get them home, transfer them into fresh water, - either into fresh/  more buckets or rinse out the buckets you've brought them home in and fill again. They should ideally be half full of water, and do check that in the moving of them the stems are all at the same length, and they're all still in the water.

3) if you're not using them straight away, store them in a cool dark place. Note they don't have to be cold, just cool.  These flowers have been grown on a field, and the only travelling they've done is home in your car, so they're not used to refrigerated temperatures and won't need cold as you're going to use them in the next day or 2. My Hall and downstairs cloakroom are the best places in my house, or a spare bedroom with the curtains closed is good. A garage or a shed in summer is not a good idea as it will have extremes of temperature.

4) Things that will make the flowers go off quickly are 

  • Heat,
  • Sources of ethylene (fruit, or petrol, so don't stop for fuel on the way home if you can help it, or store your flowers next to the bananas)
  • Bright sunlight,
  • Dirty water
  • not using sharp scissors / secateurs (if the stems are damaged they will go mouldy quicker, so sharp tools are required)

5) Your flowers have been picked to be open perfectly at the time of your wedding, so when you pick them up a day or so before, they will need to open just a bit more. We've done all the work for you, picking them at the correct stage, so if you follow the instructions above, they'll look wonderful for your wedding. If you want them to carry on looking lovely afterwards, do remember to take vases / or jam jars with you to put any bouquets back in, especially if you're having photos later in the day. Because they're fresh flowers, we're often told that our table flowers last well over a week, but we do use blooms like Roses which are at their peak, so may need deadheading, while the others carry on flowering.

6) Enjoy your flowers and your Wedding party, and do please send us photos of how the flowers looked, particularly if you've arranged them yourselves. 

 Photo by Ariana   www.arinaphotography.co.uk

Photo by Ariana  www.arinaphotography.co.uk

Can I buy your flowers? (and other questions for a flower farmer)

I'm often asked questions that I've given the answers to a hundred times before, but of course that doesn't mean that everyone knows,  so here's some straightforward answers to Can I buy your flowers? and other questions, for you to refer to.

Do you sell flowers? - Yes, although we love growing them, the money doesn't come in unless we sell them, so please buy away..... they go to :

Do you sell flowers?.jpg
  • Local people - as bunches, bouquets and flower arrangers buckets (local = Horsley and Clandon Villages, plus slightly further afield from Guildford up the A3 Corridor to Cobham. GU4 and KT24 are our main postcodes) prices from £10-£55
  • Florists and flower arrangers, as growers buckets and stem orders (If you know a florist who you think should try our flowers, please do send them here, for more details) prices from £35 +
  • To Brides and those organising parties as DIY buckets and as DIY floristry (where we make up bouquets, buttonholes and displays and you take them away) prices from £65 +  - our Average DIY bucket wedding is £260, and our average DIY floristry wedding is £500

Where can i buy your flowers? - and how can i pay?

From us by placing an order online, by email, or by text. You can pay by credit card through the Stripe system, or I can invoice you so you can pay me directly by Bacs, or you can pay cash on delivery/ collection, or you can send me a cheque. We can deliver to you, (Between Guildford and Cobham) or you can arrange a time to collect from the barn. Online or email orders are preferred as then I know i have all the correct information, and i don't have to get my gloves off and get up off my knees if i'm on the field to answer a telephone call or text.

The only retail outlet for our flowers currently is the RHS at Wisley in the gift shop. They sell seasonal bunches and Market bouquets (£5-£15)

When will I get your flowers if i order today?

Because we are dealing with flowers that we grow, rather than are bought in, we have to pick and condition our flowers before they go out to you. If you order before 9.30am Monday- Friday then you'll have caught us while we're picking, and we can deliver to you later that day. If you place an order later in the day, it will be next day delivery unless we've picked too much!. Just occasionally, I do have a day off, and my team only work with me Tuesday-Friday, so please do give more notice if you can. We also sell Friday flowers, and subscription flowers, so those have set dates for delivery, whenever you order them.

Do you send your flowers to someone further away?

I sell locally, and don't send flowers, as I believe they are better locally grown. However i'm a proud member of Flowers from the Farm, so please use their map to find a grower near to where you want to send flowers. 

I'd love to buy flowers, but i've no idea how to arrange them!

We can either make bouquets for you which we send in a vase (there's £5 off your next order if you recycle it to us as well), But we also have a flower club twice each month to teach you about flower arranging, and give you confidence with using seasonal flowers.

How do I find out more about your flowers, and get reminders of what you have available?

We are all over social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube, Pinterest, and we send regular emails about what's happening on the field, please sign up here 

Proud member of Flowers from the Farm

Just after I set up the flower farm almost 5 and a half years ago, I went to a meeting of other flower farmers in Devon. There I met Gill Hodgson, the founder of Flowers from the Farm, and became a member, of a group of (then) about 30 growers across the country. 

This week, Flowers from the Farm is promoting British Flowers at the pinnacle of horticultural excellence - The Chelsea flower show. In the centre of the Great Marquee is a stand showcasing the best in locally grown seasonal blooms created and designed by FFTF members. It has flowers supplied by FFTF members (94 of them) and is sponsored by members (now over 500 of them) and has no external funding.

Flowers from the farm stand close up.jpg

Wow!, what a feat, what a team, what a display, and in what a year! The hard work will all be worth it when this coming Wednesday evening, they'll be a feature on the TV coverage of the show that follows the growers through the season.  ** Updated, and the Stand got a GOLD**

Flowers from the farm in the pavilion.jpg

So are my flowers there on the stand? Well, no actually one of the most wonderful parts of Flowers from the Farm is that there are now so many capable, experienced and talented members, growing in gardens, allotments, fields and glasshouses, and working as a team sharing knowledge and experiences, that between us, we can promote British Flowers all over the country without over stretching us all and creating  problems in our individual businesses. My flowers will be off to Hampton Court at the beginning of July to continue educating the public that locally grown and seasonal flowers are the best.

I have to say though that thanks to one of my regular florists, there are some of my flowers gracing a couple of the display stands at the RHS Chelsea flowers show, and there's a copy of my book there somewhere to help with any reference queries.

So i'm a really proud member of Flowers from the Farm. If you're planning to go to the Chelsea flower show this week, please do go and find the FFTF team and enjoy the full range of the flowers available in May. If not, join me on the sofa on Wednesday evening at 7pm on BBC 2.

 

Florist's open day for our Surrey flower farm

Yesterday we had a lovely group of new (to us) Florists come to the field. We love giving this chance  to florists to see the field producing it's goodies. They are used to the already picked and travelled plastic wraps of the wholesaler, market or dutch lorry. As we wander round the rows, in the sunshine (avoiding molehills admittedly) they get to see the flowers in bud on the plants, the plants that will become flowers in weeks or months time, and the picked blooms sitting in buckets of water in our cool barn without being bunched, sorted or counted into wraps.

If you'd like to see what's likely to be available from a flower farm in Surrey in May, and you're a florist or student of floristry, then please do come along to our next Open Day this Thursday 17th, anytime between 10 and 1pm. - Fill in the form to let us know you're coming so we've got enough flapjack.

Here's our You-tube time-lapse of this month's key flowers

Green and white all Surrey grown May wedding flowers

Today it almost felt like Spring, and i've been out in the garden, and at the farm making lists for what needs planting in the next few weeks. 

I've had a few days off with my boys over half term, which has meant i'm fired up and ready to start seed sowing and attacking my inbox, which is full of Wedding and party enquiries.

So now's a great time to show you the flowers from a wedding at the beginning of last May. Pete and Amita were married at Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park. It was obviously an amazing time of year to be married there, as the Wisteria looks amazing in the background of these fantastic photos by Krishanthi (www.photographybykrishanthi.co.uk "Photography by Krishanthi") 

Bride and groom agains Wisteria.jpg

Amita was keen on a neutral flower colour scheme, and a week before the wedding i was worrying a bit as all the best flowers on the field seemed to be bright. In the end though there were plenty of blooms and a wide selection of green and white. We had the last of the Tulips, the first of the White Ranunculus, and lots of Anemones, Special Colibri Poppies, Sweet rocket, and plenty of green and white foliages.

Amita wedding bouquet against dress.jpg

This bouquet was quite a bit larger than most wedding bouquets i make, but the scented Viburnum and Mexican orange blossom shrubs provided a great backdrop, and the Bleeding heart (Dicentra) and Solomons Seal, provided great interest and movement in the bouquet.

Amita bridesmaid wrist circlets.jpg

Instead of Bridesmaid bouquets, Amita's 4 bridemaids had a wrist corsage each. These were all individually wired and had hand dyed ribbon to tie them on. The Rosemary, Maythorn, Ranunculus and Anemones gave a lovely different effect to a hand held bouquet, and were showed off wonderfully against the lovely Navy blue dresses.

bride and bridesmaid bouquet and wrist corsages.jpg

For the table decorations Amita and her Bridesmaids found the most amazing collection of bottles and jars, for us to fill, and we had 5 lovely containers for each table to theme. I loved seeing how these were displayed at the venue.

table arrangements 2.jpg
table arrangements.jpg

Thank you Krishanthi for sending me these lovely photos. I'm sure Amita didn't put down her bouquet all day by the wonderful array of photos with her clutching it. If you'd like to see more of her photos do pop over to Instagram @KrishanthiPhoto or facebook https://www.facebook.com/photographybykrishanthi (she's been nominated for Best Wedding photographer of the year!)

Thank you Amita and Pete, for trusting me to provide you with all locally grown flowers. For labelling your vases and containers beautifully to make my job easy. Thanks also to your lovely bridesmaids who collected the bouquets and containers on the morning of the wedding,  oohed and ahed in all the right places to make a very early morning finishing off worthwhile.

Here are some more of my favourites.

Amita in garden with bouquet.jpg
Amita in garden with bouquet 2.jpg
Amita and Pete Walking with bouquet.jpg
bouquet on patio.jpg

Sustainablility in flowers and business

As often happens, it's an email that's inspired today's post.... I got one from Zack, who's read my blog, and wondered why I hadn't written about sustainable growing. It's a big thing in his home garden, with varying degrees of success, so he was wondering how it fared on a much bigger farm.

blue anemone.jpg

My first thought was "I bang on about sustainablity all the time!" but actually looking through the blog, I havn't recently. So coupled with the discussions that I held with my breakout group at the Flowers from the Farm conference on Monday, this post is all about how my Small flower farm, has become, and continues to be even more sustainable each year.

First let's look at what we mean by sustainable

  1. the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

    "the sustainability of economic growth"

  2. avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.

    • "the property of biological systems to remain diverse and productive indefinitely"

So my flower growing business needs to be sustainable on 2 levels. The biological systems that are needed to grow healthy plants, that provide fantastic flowers. Plus the ability of my business to continue on year after year, providing top quality flowers for the customers, making me a decent living, and providing a workplace for my staff.

Twool.jpg

Actually for me the 2 are really closely intertwined.

When I started the farm, I didn't have money to invest. My Mantra was reduce reuse recycle. Manure from local horse stables, pots from the local garden centre, plants from local gardens, vases from charity shops, cast out kitchens, 2nd hand greenhouses, packaging cardboard, wooden pallets, waterbutts, bins, milk bottles, newspaper have all been repurposed on the farm. All with the aim of creating better growing conditions. If you get known as someone who recycles, it's amazing what comes your way.

What we do buy in is recyclable. Twool, (shown above) is our biodegradable flower tie material, We wrap our flowers in paper and tissue, and if water is needed for transport we use buckets or vases, not plastic wrap that will be discarded and binned when home. We offer a money off your next purchase recycling scheme to get our vases back.

flower arrangers bucket spring.jpg

 

If we buy in flowers, we always go for those with as little wrapping as possible. - We love Smith and Munson Tulips as they come in paper wraps that go on the compost heap. plus Narsissus that need no wrapping at all. If we need to wrap our flowers while they condition, we use newspaper.

Smith and Munson tulips.jpg

 

There is no electricity at the farm. Great for the environment,  brilliant for my work / home life balance. No temptation to be at the farm late. Short days in the winter, longer ones in the summer. No debates about when visiting groups need to leave, Dusk it is...  We use power tools a minimum amount, mindful of noise pollution as well as the fuel used.

The Plastic we do use, is all bought with using it as many times as possible. We've bought stronger sowing trays, which should last 10 years or more, Environmesh for covering the plants to protect them from pests. But the best addition to our Sustainability on the farm has got to be the weed fabric.

Unlike a lot of flower farmers, we rarely use our fabric to plant through. We use our fabric in the off season. 

When we started, we hand weeded all our beds at least once a season, sometimes twice. Back breaking, and not productive, and it meant there was no profitability from some crops. After our first season we ran out of time to weed, and the beds were left with fading crops, and they just grew over with weeds. We could have used chemicals, but i don't like using them on the plant beds, only occasionally on the paths and hardstanding,  so we had the same amount of work to do in year 2 as year one. We learnt from that, and now we strim the crop as it finishes. We leave it on the bed, and cover with the weed  membrane. Between 2 and 5 months later depending on the time of year, and how soon we want the bed, we lift off the membrane, rake off the debris (a lot of which has mulched down into the soil enriching it) hand weed any deep rooted perennial weeds (fewer and fewer each year) add additional compost if needed and plant again. 

Mulched beds montage.jpg

This takes so much less time and input, and creates such good bed conditions, that it has to be our most sustainable process on the farm. It means we have more time to raise great quality plants in our recycled greenhouses, and my team enjoy working at the farm, instead of coming in to endless weeding every week.

It means our time can be used picking and selling fabulous flowers that make people smile. That's the best part about a sustainable business : Happy smiling customers and staff.

 

February flowers and Spring round the corner

It was a long January.....

Probably no colder than usual, certainly no snow this year, and with few School runs to do, I had more lie-ins that normal (and if you read my blog about New Year resolutions I've kept to all of them so far), but it felt like it went on for ages....

February is now here, phew, and it's brought with it buds, and the first of this season's flowers. The Snowdrops (Galanthus), Snowflakes (Leucojum) and Hellebores are now budding and starting to flower, and the Muscari, Hyacinths, Narssisus and Tulips are poking through.

leucojum.jpg

of course there are now plenty of winter foliage plants on the field, so we're working our way through the Eucalyptus, Viburnum, Rosemary, Senicio, Pittosporum and Sage, and this week we've been pruning the Willow to make our Valentine hearts.

V heart on barn door.jpg

Next week we'll be adding to our field and garden foliage, and the first few flowers , with Tulip blooms and Anemones from Lincolnshire, and Alstroemerias from Sussex. Our Valentine flowers are perfect for your loved one, and are easy to order through the website or directly from us by email, text or phone claire@plantpassion.co.uk or 07813456865

Valentine website page.jpg

 

 

New Year resolutions

Hellebore and alstroemeria bouquet.jpg

I do like to make resolutions in the New Year. For me the main thing about the beginning of January is that from now on the light will start to return, so it really does feel like a new start

Since i've been working outside, i've become a lot more attuned to the seasons.  My mind and  body work easily for long hours in the summer, but the winter mornings mean it's impossible for me to get out of bed. This year with no early school runs to do, i've given in, and my first resolution for 2018  is "listen to your body". This i've heeded, so far with Lie in's until 8.30 or 9.00am meaning i'm much more productive as soon as i do get up.

I've also vowed to declutter in 2018. it's so easy when you're busy to just keep piling the "stuff" up without sorting it out. I was given a lovely novel to read last Autumn, (A spring affair by Milly Johnson) which got me thinking, and so far this year i've sorted my wardrobes, my study bookcase and started on the loft. I even made the smallest beginning in the barn today  (more to do there) but i'm hoping all this decluttering will mean that i'm tidy, organised, and that i find things that i'd forgotten i'd got, which i can either repurpose, or recycle.

My third big resolution is to hoe more......... This one came about because i listened hard to Charles Dowding at the Flowers from the farm Autumn Conference and he recommended hoeing before you can see the weeds. We lost the battle with the annual weeds last season, mainly because we covered everything with environmesh when it was planted to prevent the rabbits eating everything, and then didn't remove it until the weeds were pushing up past the plants. so we'll have even more this year. But if i attack them while they're still small small, and do it every day, I might stand a chance.

Last week, I read about only resolving to do the smallest amount that you think you can keep up every day for the rest of the year (thanks Emma, great tip) So my 3 resolutions are

1) spend 5 minutes sitting down each day really listening to my body and how it feels.

2) remove one thing from the house or farm each day to be repurposed or recycled.

3) spend 5 minutes hoeing every time i'm at the farm (the amount of time it takes to hoe one 10m bed - I've timed it) 

Happy New Year

Excess plant sale, can we help you fill your Surrey borders with Cut flower plants?

Over the last 5 years, we've had plenty of practice at propagating plants.

We've got pretty good at it, and as soon as our gro-house empties of one crop, we fill it with others. 

 Gro tunnel full of plants this Spring

Gro tunnel full of plants this Spring

This means that we've got to the point where we've got excess, too many, more than we can fit in.....  Can you find a home in your garden for them? - We're mostly selling well rooted pots of plants that will give you a really good crop of flowers for cutting next year, or will make your garden borders look great. They're all priced to sell so we've got room in the polytunnel - most pots are between £2 and £5

Here's some of what we've got available (and details with photos below)

Achillea and Achillea the Pearl, Helenium Moerheim Beauty, Leucanthemum, Mint, Nepeta, Helianthus Lemon Queen, Salvia May night, Bearded Iris, Alstroemeria (variety unknown sorry), Oriental Poppies, Helianthus Lemon Queen, Dark Leaved Euphorbia, Ranunculus Double Feverfew and Chivesb. They'll undoubtedly be more as we get round to weeding more of the field, and potting up what we find.

Achillea and Achillea the Pearl. We love these plants for dependable July flowers, strong stems and a bountiful supply of cut flowers. However to give us the best each year we need to divide them quite severely, so we've got plenty (or if anyone wants a big clump to divide up themselves, we've still got plenty of them too!). In a garden they can be left in situ for several years, and will give lots of flowers, just with smaller flower heads in the following years.

 Pastel Achillea

Pastel Achillea

 Achillea the Pearl

Achillea the Pearl

Helenium Moerheim Beauty

This orange coloured August flower needs some sunshine, but will give strong stems with burnt orange blooms if offered the right position. 

helenium.jpg

Leucanthemum. Wow these can flower..... You don't need a whole row of them, as we found out this year! Also a sun lover, these started in June, and just went on and one - we've even had another flush in the last couple of weeks

leucanthemum.jpg

Nepeta. This Stalwart of May has a scent that isn't to everyone's taste, but the grey blue flowers are a wonderful drift of colour, and it has stems that can be used for flower arranging even before it's flowers come out, making it an important beginning of the season plant. It's a big plant, so don't plant it next to the lawn, but it will look great softening wide paved areas.

Nepeta.jpg

Mint. We've become experts at growing mint for cut flower bouquets. One of our favourites is the Morrocan mint 

 Morrocon mint on the left, apple mint on the right, there's a Surplus of the Morrocon at the moment

Morrocon mint on the left, apple mint on the right, there's a Surplus of the Morrocon at the moment

Salvia May night (or it may be Caradona, the label is missing)

any way it's a purple spired plant that looks good in June and July and looks like this 

Salvia May night.jpg

Oriental poppies. Ok, I admit, this one is being rejected from the field. I love the colour of the flowers, but they don't last in a vase. They've been saved from the chop the last couple of years because they have wonderful seed heads, - but i need more space, so they're going....

oriental poppies.jpg

Alstroemeria

We've collected a range of these over the years from oranges, through peaches and pinks to creams, so i can't tell you what colour it will turn out, but we've divided all our clumps, so are selling the excess

alstroemeria.jpg

They'll be lots more in the spring as well, We'll be dividing up our Dahlia tubers, and we'll let you know if there are excess of anything else.

If you're interested in any of the above, or want to know what we might suggest for the holes in your border, please fill out the form below. We deliver plants locally, or they can be collected from the farm by appointment.

Name *
Name

 

 

Stretching the Wedding flowers season, Late October flowers for Surrey brides

The mornings have turned cold, and although we haven't had our first frost yet here, it's not long away.

We've stopped our Florists sales for this year, as we need large numbers of each thing to tempt them in, and although there are still flowers, they're in smaller quantities. 

There were enough though last week for us to stretch our wedding season further than before, and provide DIY buckets and bouquets for Rachel's wedding on Wednesday 25th.

 Bridal bouquet with Nerines, Dusty Miller, Helichrysum, Astrantia, Eryngium, Clary Sage, Digitalis, Dahlias, Achillea, Acidanthera, Chrysanthemum Allouise pink and Lavender multifida

Bridal bouquet with Nerines, Dusty Miller, Helichrysum, Astrantia, Eryngium, Clary Sage, Digitalis, Dahlias, Achillea, Acidanthera, Chrysanthemum Allouise pink and Lavender multifida

Rachel was very laid back about what was going to be in her flowers, and hadn't specified any particular colours or themes, She just wanted flowers for the table, a bouquet with some additional matching stems for the bridesmaids, and some buttonholes/ corsages

 Corsages and buttonholes, using the pink and purple shades from the bouquet, but all individual.

Corsages and buttonholes, using the pink and purple shades from the bouquet, but all individual.

The photograph that she'd sent me looked wildflower, in a loose style, but was actually all imports (thanks pinterest), so although the Craspedia, Thalaspi and wax flower were off the menu, we had Eryngium, Feverfew, cosmos and Verbena to give a similar look, - here's the 2 DIY buckets of flowers we put together.

 Buckets of flowers including Daucus, Feverfew, Cosmos, Verbena bonariensis, Dahlias, Statice and Cynoglossum - plus some scented chocolate cosmos, maybe not on theme, but i couldn't resist!

Buckets of flowers including Daucus, Feverfew, Cosmos, Verbena bonariensis, Dahlias, Statice and Cynoglossum - plus some scented chocolate cosmos, maybe not on theme, but i couldn't resist!

Unlike in past year's i've actually had some of the brides collect their flowers this season, and it was lovely to meet Rachel after lots of email and phone conversations, and see her reaction to the flowers.

Then when i turned up at the farm on Monday, this was waiting for me...

 A personal note, and recycled jars #result #lovemyjob

A personal note, and recycled jars #result #lovemyjob

For the next few months, we'll be concentrating on making the field floriferous for 2018. There are still rather a lot of bulbs to go in, plants to propagate, rabbits and deer to keep out, and beds to clear. We'll be working on next year's wedding season very soon though, here's to lots more lovely laid back brides who want British Flowers for their weddings.

The next Wedding open day is 9th March, - more details here

DIY Event flowers for weddings and parties, and our last Open afternoon of 2017

DIY event flowers, - What are they?

When you're holding a party, you've usually got several choices, - grab some flowers from the supermarket or garden centre (cheaper, but takes time and effort) , or hire in a florist to make a beautiful display for your event (more expensive but show-stopping, and they do the work)

There is however a 3rd, middle road, - DIY event flowers. This is where we fit, firmly in the middle. We provide boxes of flowers to a theme (A colour scheme or a style), that you can take away and use for whatever displays you want. OR we can make your arrangements in your vases, plus design bouquets and buttonholes, and you can come and collect them and take them away to decorate your venue. We've made a video to show you what we mean

 

So that we can explain better how it works, and to give you ideas of displays that you can make up, and the vases and vessels you could use, we have regular open days through the year. I've got 2 appointments available  this coming Saturday on our last Wedding/Event open afternoon of 2017. If you'd like to come and see us at the farm, please contact us now

War is declared, so I get early season blooms

The Bulbs arrived today, and my anemones and ranunculus are waiting to be planted, so that i have a nice early start to next season

anemone hellebore bouquet.jpg

Although i'm really keen to get planting, I know there's something i have to do first to ensure the best chances of success to be able to put together a bouquet like this one above by the end of March. I have to wage war on my farm rodents, and the polytunnel slugs.

Today with the help of my Tess, who's survived a week of work experience with me on my Intern programme, we cleared the poly tunnel of all excess foliage and weeds, and did a detailed slug hunt.

I then reset all the traps that i'd put out for the mice yesterday. 3 of them got caught, and most of the traps were sprung, so i've got another couple of weeks of battles to get them to a level where i can put the Tulip bulbs and the anemones corms  and ranunculus claws in without worrying.

War on bulb eaters

I posted this photo on Instagram this morning and got lots of comments about the fact that it was Organic peanut butter, but the fact is that my Surrey mice don't like the cheap Tesco stuff, they need the nutty bits to get caught in the act!

Anyway, once we've waged war, and think we're on the winning side, the bulbs can start going in.

Florists Dahlia Day Workshop

My florists workshops are a fantastic opportunity for florists and flower arrangers both experienced and in training to take time out, enjoy the flowers, and have the opportunity to practice some floral foam free arrangements. 

Our summer workshop took place in huge heat, but for last Monday's workshop, we had lots of contrast with sun, rain, and scudding clouds. After a talk about Dahlia varieties and how we grow them at Hill top Farm, the florists were let loose on the field to pick their choice of the goodies out there. Here we all are debating which Dahlias to start with.

 Discussing Dahlias

Discussing Dahlias

Considering the storm that had damaged the Dahlias the week before, there were plenty of beauties of every shade to pick, and the florists were given free reign over what they could have. I always love how from the same field, all my workshop participants can create such different designs.

dahlias waiting to be picked.jpg

Each florist had brought their own urn or vessel, and they all created amazing centrepieces. Then Emma Davies taught them how to think about Light, Background and Viewpoint to get the best photos for their portfolios. (that often means getting down low)

emma dahlia photo.jpg

Here are all the results, - i'm sure you'll agree that they're all amazing floral creations, and that Emma has taken great photos.

 Sunflower Ruby Eclipse as the hero flower, with sweet pea trails, molucella and amaranthus highlighting the dark dahlias

Sunflower Ruby Eclipse as the hero flower, with sweet pea trails, molucella and amaranthus highlighting the dark dahlias

 Preference and Cafe au lait dahlias on a beech background

Preference and Cafe au lait dahlias on a beech background

 The pinks of the Phlox, Sedum and Karma Lagoon dahlias are softened by the Panicum frosted explosion grass

The pinks of the Phlox, Sedum and Karma Lagoon dahlias are softened by the Panicum frosted explosion grass

 A low arrangement with the dark leaves of Physocarpus backing up the Digitalis and Dahlias

A low arrangement with the dark leaves of Physocarpus backing up the Digitalis and Dahlias

 The scent from this one with the Dill and Rosemary providing the upper storey was wonderful

The scent from this one with the Dill and Rosemary providing the upper storey was wonderful

 Pink and orange do got together wonderfully

Pink and orange do got together wonderfully

We'll be offering Florist's workshops again next season, a great opportunity to treat yourself, and take time out to "play with flowers!" and if you want to get more ideas for how to take photos of your floristry creations, do pop over to Emma's website and check out her FREE photography week by week instruction, and her books for beginners to enable you to take pictures like these.

 

 

How to create a DIY Wedding table centrepiece

I spend quite a bit of my time with brides trying to show them how to make maximum impact with the fewest flowers, so that they can stick within their budgets. Sometimes that doesn't mean using just bottles with single stems, but means making a big display with just a few key vases of flowers.

If you want to have a go at creating a centrepiece display that can use some garden stems, and some bought in flowers. - Here's one i made earlier.......

In a table centre display like this, the foliage and interest parts are just as important as the flowers. Here at the end of June, we used a great selection of green and yellow, plus seed heads. Then for the flowers we used the pinks of Campanula, Dianthus and Roses, with White Sweet Williams, and an accent colour of blue from the Tritellia.

 The flowers of Dianthus, Campanulas, Bonica Rose, Cornflowers and Tritellia are shown off against a backdrop of Alchemilla, Bulplurum, Nigella, Honesty and Scabious seed heads and mint.

The flowers of Dianthus, Campanulas, Bonica Rose, Cornflowers and Tritellia are shown off against a backdrop of Alchemilla, Bulplurum, Nigella, Honesty and Scabious seed heads and mint.

Because we don't use Floral foam, and the vase we were using had a wide neck, our first task was to put in some chicken wire to support the stems so that we could have a bigger effect.

Vase with chicken wire

I then started by creating a shape and support matrix for the flowers with the foliage. Bulplurum was the first to be added because its thin wiry stems give strong support. Then mint for scent, Alchemilla and the seed heads were added in.

Foliage base for centrepiece

At this stage the vase was already looking like  a centrepiece display, but we added in the scented round heads of the Sweet Williams

and then the bell flowers of the campanula, the Roses and Campanula, and then the Tritelia bulbs

The finished result would look great as either a top table display, - An entrance hall arrangement, or something to floralise the buffet table.

If you'd like to get ideas for your wedding in the next year, do come along to one of our open days, where we can show you both the flowers, and the types of display you can make up. Either our public open days, where you can turn up whenever you want, and stay as long as you want, or make an appointment for one of our Bridal open days. 

If you'd like to have a go at making your own arrangements, then do sign up to one of our Flower clubs, or our workshops so that you can try your hand at arranging with natural locally grown flowers

4 Weddings and lots of flowers sent out

I've survived the peak wedding week of the year. There's always a major wedding weekend in high summer. The last 2 years it's been the first weekend in August, this year it was the last weekend in July. With 4 sets of wedding flowers to go out through the week. 2 wedding florist orders, 4 other local florists, and a plethora of flower arrangers buckets and bouquets to get to the right people at the right time, it needed 4 whole pages of my notebook for the planning! but everyone got their flowers on time.

I even got to meet 2 of my brides this weekend, which is a rare occurrence for me (being DIY flowers, someone usually gets sent to collect) but both of them seemed genuinely pleased with what they were taking away with them, and the field, and my team produced when it was needed, (don't they always), and the range of flowers was astounding. I even managed to find time to take some snaps, - So here's our selection of end of July Surrey Grown wedding flowers.

First to depart were the flowers for Natalie and Alan. They had a friend helping them make up the displays, and had asked for a Burgundy, pink and purple theme

 Burgandy Dahlias, Sunflowers, Hypericum and amaranthus. Pink Cosmos, Phlox, Antirrhinum and Achillea, Purple Verbena and Buddleya and a supporting cast of Mint, Ammi, and Panicum grass

Burgandy Dahlias, Sunflowers, Hypericum and amaranthus. Pink Cosmos, Phlox, Antirrhinum and Achillea, Purple Verbena and Buddleya and a supporting cast of Mint, Ammi, and Panicum grass

On Friday morning a Purple and white theme went out with a Gentleman who's second Daughter was getting married with Plantpassion flowers. Thank you to Katie to recommending us to Suzy, and i hope you all enjoyed putting these together.

 Hydrangea, Monarda, Antirrhiunm, Feverfew, White flowering mint, Evelyn Dahlias, Nicotiana, Daucus Dara, Panicum, Ammi, Buddleya and Hypericum

Hydrangea, Monarda, Antirrhiunm, Feverfew, White flowering mint, Evelyn Dahlias, Nicotiana, Daucus Dara, Panicum, Ammi, Buddleya and Hypericum

The next wedding was had a theme or wildflowers or  meadow flowers and relaxed, a mixture of light colours. I'd met Stephanie and Arturo several times, and they were relaxed, so they were quite happy to go with the flow. They had a buckets and bouquets wedding with buckets of flowers to fill mini milk bottles for all the tables.

 Poppy/ Scabious seed heads, mint, Nicotiana, Cynoglossum, Achillea, Phacelia, Feverfew, Molucella, Daucus seed heads, Ammi, Sedum, Buddleya, Antirrhinum

Poppy/ Scabious seed heads, mint, Nicotiana, Cynoglossum, Achillea, Phacelia, Feverfew, Molucella, Daucus seed heads, Ammi, Sedum, Buddleya, Antirrhinum

Our Wildflower and meadow flower mixes are our cultivated versions of what you might find along verges and in meadows during the year, I'm always devastated when our local council cuts our verges and the wildflowers disappear for the year (always too soon) - so this is our approximation of that.

We then did the buttonholes and bouquets. Normally i'd use a grass in a wildflower buttonhole, but i decided to go with Rosemary this time, as Stephanie had mentioned scent. 

 with different ingredients in each buttonhole, but a relaxed wildflower meadow theme

with different ingredients in each buttonhole, but a relaxed wildflower meadow theme

And here's the wedding bouquet. 

 Wedding bouquet with Evelyn and Bonica rose, Dahlia, Cosmos, Scabious, Verbena, Veronicastrum and grasses

Wedding bouquet with Evelyn and Bonica rose, Dahlia, Cosmos, Scabious, Verbena, Veronicastrum and grasses

Our last wedding of the weekend (thanks to Liz and Steve for getting married on a Sunday, so i could fit all of them in....) was actually the most fun for me. The majority of the flowers that go out for weddings are lighter colour shades, so when i met this couple for the first time last year and they said they wanted Primary colour flowers to go with their Comic Book Theme, - I know it was going to be something different. I've loads of pictures from their displays, so i'll save most of them for a separate posting, but for now, Here's The Brides Bouquet.

 Primary colours bouquet with sunflowers, solidago, agapanthus, antirrhinums, Nostalgia rose, Dill, Echinops and Mondarda. (and paper flowers)

Primary colours bouquet with sunflowers, solidago, agapanthus, antirrhinums, Nostalgia rose, Dill, Echinops and Mondarda. (and paper flowers)

I didn't really mind that Staple Lane was closed on Sunday for the Cycle race, and i couldn't get to the farm, a day off was well needed. I loved growing, picking and creating all these flowers, thanks to all the couples who put their faith in my British Flowers to produce all these different themes from one small field.