Monday, 25 April 2011

St George's Day - mushrooms

I spent St George's Day at the wedding of friends who have waited well over 20 years to get married so the aisle was full of their children and grandchildren and the bride looked like a pre Raphaelite painting, stunning old-fashioned long gown and flaming red hair, bridesmaids had similarly glorious long medievalish style dresses - plus wild circlets of flowers in their hair of course, my wedding gift (and oh yes I forgot my camera but will blag pictures, picture blagging from recent weddings is top of my must do pile as soon as the sun stops shining).

It has been the driest spring ever. Even here we are completely parched. Yet, YET, every year a patch of St George's Day mushrooms appear on St George's Day. I missed Saturday as I wasn't here but went out this morning and lo and behold. Magic! I can hardly wait for lunch!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Church - and tulips

I went to visit one of my favourite ever little churches last week to see about decorating it for a wedding in June. It is tiny, 12th century, in the Black Moutains, in the middle of a field. I was early so I could take the dogs for a walk first, but instead spent most of the time trying to rescue a lamb who had fallen down inside a cattle grid. Country life!

Tulips are still flowering their socks off far too efficiently here, thousands in bloom, it looks like Holland - Alex Ramsay brilliant photographer came on Monday to marvel at the regiments and will no doubt have some fab pictures, I just have more snaps. The tulips do make me smile although I know that's not quite the point as they should all be SOLD. Great friends, who I have been encouraging to start growing cut flowers for years, have finally got going this year in Gloucestershire, and I confess to a certain touch of brief jealousy when I discover they have sold every tulip they produced as they are on a fairly busy road so just put tables out front - I briefly even considered taking a vanful over there but then got sane and realise I'm actually quite happy working the way we do. And occasionally the seasons bugger things up. It has been ever thus..... The cottage decorations look quite elegant at tulip time!

I have had another half acre ploughed up this week. Hurrah! And tomorrow a mountain of muck is being moved, then a mountain of soil is being shifted, it's all terribly exciting. (For me, probably not for you). I'm going in for some major roses and shrubs grown through plastic on the new bit, but I'm not planting until next autumn or even next spring so it's all slowly slowly.

A lovely thing happened today. A friend has a rather autistic brother who has never lived independently in his life but their mother died recently and their father moved so he has now moved to this area to live locally in his own house. He has only been there three weeks but is doing brilliantly and today he came up here to spend half a day doing the first "job" he has ever done in his life. He loved it, we loved having him, and he is coming back. 

Saturday, 16 April 2011

wedding today

Beautiful day for a wedding, this week a less complicated affair, no candelabras to be seen though Naomi did ask for circular low arrangements with candles as the beautiful dining hall at Penrhos is dark and atmospheric. Last night Bill Tingey came and took pix of bouquets etc as I was getting ready and came to Penrhos this morning so there will be some proper photos from him soon, but this time I did remember to take a camera for snaps as well as a photographer. So here's a few of my dashed off murky snaps for now -  and the hanging decs in the church did have their ugly strings changed, and after the service they were to double up as windowsill decorations back at the house.

Oh it is so lovely when there is so much to pick in field and hedgerow once again, good old nature's bounty. And lovely to get to use some mad tulips sometimes, as well as my favourite elegant tall white lily shaped ones.....

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

tulip fiesta

Well all this sunshine and the pictures below are already out of date but I haven't been out with the camera for a couple of days, in one week I am picking tulips that I was picking at this time last year along with tulips that I was picking on May 8th for a wedding last year. It looks like blooming Holland out there and how I wish I was by a sensible roadside where I could pop them on a table for sale! Usually I do extremely well with tulips at events at the end of April and beginning of May, this year I won't have any by then. Win some, lose some, and they do look so beautiful I am half happy just to be able to look at them, I'll take more pix today!

So if you know anyone you'd like to send flowers to they will get extremely generous bunches of tulips for the next two weeks!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

P.S. Thanks

Goodness, customers have just been so kind about the MD mix up, not my finest hour but thanks so much to everyone who has been so understanding, and particular thanks to the lovely regular customer who herself runs a specialist nursery and thanked me for the apology and told me not to beat myself up about it. However, I think I might be rather good at beating myself up about things as I really do want things to work at all times.......
And there will not only be my camera at next weekend's wedding (as long as I remember) but a proper photographer is coming along and will be taking pictures throughout the year here for a calendar and book, so that's very exciting.  After the mix up I think I might need a photographer on hand at all times to keep me on track!

poor pictures but the basic idea

Well I was relying on son Joe who is usually rather a good photographer but he says his are unimpressive so here are just a few snaps from last weekend to give some idea. I am assured good ones will appear, and I'm sure they will as I rather bludgeoned the official wedding photographer to take lots of flowery ones before the event proper kicked off. So please be patient!

Much prettier than it looks here, a mass of hellebores - had to be low as it was rows of packed chairs then standing room only behind the font.

Imogen looking uncharacteristically grumpy as we try to prepare the arch on a doorway with no fixings at all!

tall sconces - we kept them quite small and tidy as we knew the church would be rammed and decided that fascinators and hats tangled with flowers would possibly not be a bonus!

hard to tell but there were about 30 candelabras interspersed with candlesticks - a good thing as it turned out as the generator broke down half way through the evening so the candles were more necessary than just decorative!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


So many tulips now blooming. The double yellow vanilla scented and/or pointy dull pinks should have gone out in the Saturday bunches... I love the scented ones more than any, they get stronger and stronger as they age and are really strongly scented when they turn almost pure white and fade. Heaven. They are all at least two weeks earlier than last year which is a surprise, and may all come at once if the weather turns very warm again.

Younger dog is in season and has to be watched like a hawk.

Diane has got the tunnel looking wonderfully organised and we're finally sowing outside tomorrow.

awful bloomer

The worst thing happened, this is the letter I had to send out to all MD customers as I had no idea who got the good and who got the bad bunches. I realised the disaster when I went out to the packing shed on Monday morning and spent all yesterday and so far today trying to sort it all out. I feel pretty damn bad......
Dear Customers,
This is to apologise that some very poor quality flowers were mistakenly sent to some customers for Mothering Sunday. It should never have happened but I left the flower elements to helpers as I was organising a big wedding in Suffolk and I obviously did not leave clear instructions. So some of your mothers will have received the right selection of flowers but I'm afraid some will have received ones that were not meant for sending but were rejected from the wedding flowers (where they were meant to be fully open for one day only on some of the garlands) - I realised the mix up when i returned late on Sunday night to find many of the good longlasting tulips that should have been sent were still in buckets when I returned, and the others were nowhere to be seen....

It should never have happened, I can only apologise wholeheartedly to those of you who got a bad service. It was not the fault of my helpers who I am sure tried their best but had not been put on the spot before without me or longterm helper`Meg somewhere at hand (she was scheduled in to supervise but had to go to a family funeral) so of course the blame is all mine. I know it cannot make amends but if any of you would like me to send more flowers to your mothers please let me know and I shall do so, or please let me send another order for you at any time at no charge - just email me with the order details when you would like me to do this for you.

With very many apologies, and assurances that this is very definitely not my usual service.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

lovely weather for Suffolk wedding - and Mothering Sunday

Well it was a huge wedding to start my full-on wedding season and I forgot my camera. Luckily the press didn't forget theirs so I found this one immediately on Google from a French royal-following site (and I promise many pix will come from friends and family soon!) Gorgeous Lucy married delightful Will on Saturday and it was fabulous to do their flowers. We did masses of large candelabras for the series of tipi tents which looked sensational, flowers for the other marquee and very simple spring church flowers for a beautiful church that was packed to the gills.

I had been in a state of usually quiet but sometimes frantic panic the week before as I didn't know quite what would be flowering but bless my flowers they came up trumps. I used masses of white and green hellebores and lovely pink ones, plus my favourite double white tulips that were kind enough to open in the tunnel with spot-on timing along with lily of the valley, hyacinths, hellebores, white ranunculus, anemones, rosemary, tons of blossoms, pittosporum, euonymus....... on Thursday we headed for Suffolk, me with my van plus Imogen with a huge hired van both packed so tight nothing more could fit in, and I think everything looked lovely when it was finished despite the distance. Lucy's simple but I think stunningly suitable bouquet was white double mount tacoma tulips with white hellebores and lily of the valley plus a sprig or two of myrtle and euonymus, she had lily of the valley and white hyacinth pips in her hair, little bridesmaids and adorable Theo the pageboy all had simple circlets of white hyacinth pips in their hair with head bridesmaid 5 year old Molly also carrying a posy of lily of the valley tied with red ribbon to match their red and white liberty outfits and red baseball boots. I made buttonholes from the lovely double tulips or white hellebores mixed with lily of the valley and a sprig of foliage. I'm not sure what my favourite bit was, I loved the font which was just a mass of hellebores with trailing ivy and the windowsills which were the simplest tied sheaves of blossoms and catkins and rosemary that we then took back to the tents as the vicar didn't want things left in the church because it is mid Lent.

Candelabras were a mix of foliages and anemones and ranunculus with pink hellebores and ivy looking down on the guests. I always forget how long full candelabras take to do but every single second is worth it for the ultimate effect. And the tent pole garlands were fun, just rosemary and anemones but they did the trick.

Thanks to all my helpers who made sure that it all happened. There were seven of us here on the Thursday getting it all together including my lovely daughter Rowan who happily was having a few days off from her usual work in London as an environmental lawyer and oldest friend Annette from Gloucestershire who thought she was having a fun day out.......! Her daughter Imogen (now a gardener and flower grower herself) was a total star and calmly plodded through everything with me when we got to the wedding destination after a five hour drive, and we both really enjoyed it. On the way home this afternoon I realised that we had spent about 120 woman hours on the wedding flowers including 20 hours of driving but excluding picking, but actually, it was worth every single moment as I think we did a good job. Phew!

Meanwhile, Rowan and Annette sorted out finishing and sending out all the Mothering Sunday flowers and did a brilliant job. I had spent a day earlier in the week bunching up beautiful birch and eucalyptus bundles and they added all the tulips and the anemone posies on Friday. They were a bit surprised at how long it all took and I think Rowan is glad she is a lawyer and Annette is wondering why she has just started growing cut flowers at my suggestion!

But it has been a brilliant week, and the reason why I haven't written anything on the blog for ages as it has been a tad busy here.

Oh and the wonderful news is that I have an AMAZING gardener now supervising all the growing. Diane is astonishingly wonderful and my tunnel now looks as it should, very professional and productive as she has years of brilliant experience and seems to enjoy being here and will be sorting out the field very soon. Please keep your fingers crossed she will continue to enjoy it here for a very very long time as we just have so many plans........

And the slightly more marginal news is that the husband, who is not a huge fan of the flower growing (I was rather more financially fluid and relaxed when I was working as a writer!)  has decided his future lies more on the marine environment than in the dirt and is planning on disappearing on his boat for a long time, maybe for ever. Heigh ho, just as well I love what I do and I find it so brilliant and exciting!