Monday, 26 September 2011


So much going on, so little time to get to write anything here.

Bill Tingey is an interesting and excellent photographer and I feel v lucky to have him working with me, we're getting images together for a joint project, this weekend he came round and took some lovely autumn arrangement shots but I'm afraid I haven't got them yet, but he also took some of some v simple church decs a couple of weeks ago (sills were small hanging decorations to be removed and put in the marquee) and in the field. My favourite was the random one in the flower house above of a message I'd left for Di as I had to be at my mum's!

I'm still totally in love with ammi because I love using things just as they are, the church urn was actually huge but hard to show as the bride just wanted simple structural arrangements with no fuss, but this weekend was very different, a flock of candelabras (no doubt pics later) and a trailing bouquet which is the one type of bouquet that takes a lot of thought. As I only use our flowers in the gardens I have to find things that have the right shape and form as well as colour so it can be less easy than hand ties where I have just so much choice. This weekend the bride wanted creams and greens with touches of cornflower blue, so the trails were arching stems of the lovely clematis viticella alba complete with many hanging green and white flowers, and some jasmine, coming out of a collection of creamy roses, cleomes, white larkspur and greenery and some wired cornflowers in the trail. I know that florists conventionally often use ivies for these types of bouquets but I'm not a great fan of ivy, somehow it just seems too ordinary when there are so many other possibilities.

I have been totally useless at marketing this year, in fact I have done none and do feel a bit stupid about it but there has been so much going on  on the personal front that it has been impossible to find time for extras, but I do have lots of plans for next year! I was slightly amused, slightly less than amused to open the computer to find a regular weekly marketing email from a company near here that sells all manner of country stuff and does very well, they are sizeable and successful and they have a large online store. They also sell mail order flowers, and have fantastic marketing and advertising campaigns selling english bouquets. All fine, and very different from those that we produce here. Ours are home grown, I guess they are in many ways bouquets for gardeners and garden aficionados as well as for anyone who loves flowers, the other company sells english flowers mainly bought in from wholesalers for their florists to work with. They are proudly stating how their bouquets are now in the Jigsaw clothing stores who are now using english flowers. Two years ago (or maybe three) we were the first flower growers in this country to work with Jigsaw and provided all their stores with our flowers for some while, and have for three years provided them with all their christmas arrangements (though presumably no longer) but I just couldn't find a way to make our organically grown home grown seasonal flowers stand up to the lights and heat in the stores so we decided not to continue with the contract. I'm sure their new providers will make it work but it was interesting for me to see marketing at work when I don't think I ever publicised the fact we were working with Jigsaw! I obviously miss many tricks..... Next year I may tell you who we're working with as we are currently exploring an exciting new possibility, but I guess for me the most important thing is making sure something works, properly. The Jigsaw contract was exciting for me, but actually it was a bit too early for the business and a bit too much trial and error at that stage. I believe that growth needs to be organic in every sense and I am now excited to say that I think I know what we're doing now, and how to provide the best service.

It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but actually sometimes it's a bit annoying! This same company copied my way of packaging flowers with moss, then started selling the exact same jugs that I was selling at Hampton Court and shows... for heavens sake, they are big and successful, they do not need to look over their shoulder at my little enterprise. But they gave a list of the flowers they are sending out this week which made me smile and also made me think of providing a list:
Today I sent out bouquets including snapdragons, stocks, phlox, asters, verbena, larkspur, molucella, asparagus, viburnum, scabious, nigella, cleome, statice, ammi, dahlias, roses, zinnias.......The field has really come up trumps this year.

We are moving towards the end of wedding season as I decided not to do any from November through February because last year's snow made me realise the impossibility of transport when you live far from main roads (or snowploughs). We still have a mass of blooms, and lots of berries and foliage to come, but the thought of being unable to deliver is just too stressful.

And the most wonderful news is that my gorgeous daughter Rowan is marrying her wonderful partner Dan next April. The florist has been booked!

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