The Dutch Golden Age, Flower Painting and how my dog tried to camouflage herself with hedgehog poo

I wrote a nearly-serious essay when I really meant to write specifically about flower painting and our up coming workshops for spring. Anyway, here is the boring bit, tomorrow i'll put up some stuff about the workshop, but you'll have to earn it by reading this first.  (I lapse a little into Simon Shama-esque turns of phrase, umm ... Sorry?) 

 

Rachel Ruysch 

Rachel Ruysch 

The Dutch Golden Age was a pivotal moment where art, science, nature, the exotic and the domestic at once cleave together and away from one and other.  Late 17th century Dutch people pursued colonial expansion and ventured into unknown territories.  From New Zealand, South Africa, the Dutch East Indies, Brazil and the North Americas, trade and commerce flourished and fed rapid urbanisation at home;  towns and cities into which flowed spices, exotic plants, birds, insects, gold, and an whole new world view.  These new geographies brought about new understandings of home.  Home ownership, literacy rates and employment outside of agriculture were among the highest in Europe at the time.  Urban life responded to these shifts away from the 'land' aesthetically and culturally, in ways bound up with their geography, religion, politics and plant life. 

So these merchant classes emerged with time and money for the development of aesthetic ideals alongside a real interest in developing 'scientific' understandings of the world around them.  Beauty and knowledge were not so separate. Art and Science were motivated by the same things, responding to the same stuff. Commerce meant new systems of ordering the 'things' of empire and imperial domesticity, effective quantification of goods was needed, as were the tools and skills of navigation. The recording of time, space, movement stretched the hearts and minds of clerks and clock-makers, ships captains, courtiers and cooks.  New skills  and practices hard baked in porcelain from China, skills stretching continents, weaving techniques, mathematics, medicine, leisure time.  And what to do with all this new stuff, symbols of wealth, of intellect, of new horizons? How to relate this to the things we already know, how is this connected to that, or how is it not? How to document that which can't be collected, categorised, how to decide what constitutes an object of curiosity.  

van Elst 

van Elst 

Its human nature to be fascinated by the things we can’t have, to ask questions about the things we don’t yet understand, to question established understandings.  So the Dutch, who were very good at agriculture, were fascinated by exotic plants, by the variety and change in the life span of a plant, by the seemingly random colours, shapes, textures, But this was not a dutiful, scientific pusuit.  Beguiled by the beauty and form of petals, by the alchemic growth from seed to flower, enchanted by nature: growth, decay, reproduction, by the arrangement of petals, leaves, stamen, by texture, luminousity, this was art/nature, held up to the light for admiring eyes.  Painters sought to capture this effervescence in qualities of light and colour before they were spirited away as quickly as they appeared.

Dutch Flower painting emerged at the same time as landscape painting, yet both were less esteemed than portrait and allegorical painting. Luther's notion that salvation could be sought in scriptures and the Bible rather than Rome, (now translated and readily available in a book shop near you) fed a sense of individualism, and meant people took more responsibility for their fate, destiny, health, morality.  Houses, coupled with time and money meant the Dutch Republicans had seriously more art on their walls than any other Europeans at that time.  A sense of patriotism, for a newly independent state that was actually doing pretty good job of looking after itself (thank you very much Spain). Paintings were a place to hang ones hopes, dreams, intellectual energies, collective identities.   More Dutch homes, for more Dutch people meant more walls on which to hang painterly celebrations of its landscapes, the very 'stuff' from which they emerged after all.  Knowledge and intellectual ownership of the dutch empire and its curiosities was expressed visually and manifest itself in the huge popularity of both landscape and floral painting.   A widening of perspectives on the one hand, in explorations and mappings of new territories, was balanced on the other by a curiosity for the minutiae of life, the internal workings of living organisms and how they are at once autonomous and yet so interdependent.  Quite unusually there were several very well respected and quite wealthy women flower painters, with education and skills to match any other. 

In our age, the boundaries between science and art seem clear cut, the anatomically correct depiction of a botanical or zoological subjects, (shouldn't Zoo - ological really have three 'o's?) the focus of dry academic representation, and the creative, responsive, romantic, subjective theme of a painting are kept in opposite corners.  

Dutch Flower painting really reminds us of how we falsely categorise the subject of our gaze. Here a tulip is at once fantastical, beautiful, intriguing, at once presented in all its botanical correctness and celebrated for its depth of colour, its qualities of texture and substance.   Insects were perhaps included for their religious allegorical symbolism, or their delicate beauty, or both, at the same time, always already.  Perhaps included because at that time no one really understood how insects reproduced,or the related stages of their metamorphoses (in no particular order!!) egg laying, larvae, nymph, chrysalis, caterpillar and so on.  Ideas of 'spontaneous generation' prevailed, (where butterflies just 'arose' from the flowers, or beetles from dust, historians have even found a 'recipe for mice'), but at this time were beginning to be seriously questioned too. We’ve come full circle in a way, with increasingly more holistic understandings of nature, of interdependence, of ecosystems and actor-networks. Perhaps butterflies do represent the resurrection in allegorical art, but maybe they do other things here too? Maybe the painter just painted what they saw, and made the logical and simple assumption that they belong together, and quite liked that they do.  Insects and flowers. 

Thinking through how insects and flowers appear in paint here, we might make false distinctions in conceiving of insects, microbes, molds, animals, plants, as separate, distinct, discrete entities. Not only is the notion that these things can’t exist without the other too simplistic, we can recognise in the use of paint, light, colour, shape, a complex layering of fluid, blurred interrelated existences.  We should not trust our eyes alone. There is a politics to how we see that does not only involve culture and society, but might involve other world views, ‘non-scientific’ conceptions of how plants and animals are, of historical narratives which belie accepted assumptions, of knowledge built up over years of practice in animal husbandry, farming, growing, passed down through generations of immersive, conversant understanding, in folk art, in colloquial turns of phrase, in flecks of paint thought of as a culmination of experience, study, visual and visceral understanding. In looking more closely at these paintings I really want to explore how “to be enchanted is to be struck and shaken by the extraordinary that live amid the familiar and the everyday” (Jane Bennett 2001). How the ways in which they are painted describes joy and excitement as much as social values and cultural contexts: to re-asses just why we, now, only like a flower when it is just so, not too closed, not too open, why we reject 'dead' flowers, why we spray them with insecticide and buy soldier straight stems, why we only pick flowers that will 'last' why we value longevity over beauty or perhaps blindly conflate the two? Why do we not celebrate flowers and insects, or the stages of their 'decline' as much as their 'peak'? 

The late 17th century was a period of technological development in shipbuilding, and Dutch ports were the hub of Europe's contact with the new world.  Commerce fed curiosity alongside merchant classes and urbanisation. Urban dweller's reaction was to view nature from a distance, and conversely hold it close, by bringing flowers, landscapes, plant life into their homes, still life and landscape were opposite sides of the same coin.  Our concepts of the aesthetic, beautiful, enchanting involve a sense of otherness, a glass cabinet, a picture frame, a window pane, looking glass or photograph drain the warmth of emotion, of liveliness and agency almost by accident, despite themselves (don’t get me started on social media ;-)) a way for someone to symbolically assert who they’d like to be, to signify subtle differences of class, nationality, culture, wealth, learning.  I’d like to argue that some of those flower painters were not just chasing their tails, in a futile attempt to capture the ephemeral, vibrancy of flowers, light, movement or fulfill the desires of a new consumer class to define itself with objects of material culture.  Flower painters often painted small so their work could be hung sensibly in the homes of their patrons, and were not at all guided by notions of declining flowers being ugly or 'dead'.  These paintings demonstrate a celebration and fascination with flowers and an emphasis on change rather than static conformity. Wild and cultivated flowers, fruit, fauna, flowers common to different seasons indicates change and fluidity, renewal.  They are not 'perfect' and so dissolve that distance, a decaying petal or insistent insect brings a flower to life, in the way that putting a painting on your wall at home, or jug of flowers on the kitchen table, among the ebb and flow of daily life, reminds us how connected we are.  The Dutch Golden Age, in all its successes and riches, was not willing to let go of that which remained just out of reach, perhaps it was their obsession, glimpsed moments and poised, still vignettes haunted by time itself.  

Anyhow, on a different note,  its gone midnight on a school day, my dog has just rolled in hedgehog poop and is outside barking at hedgehogs, (who are not in the least bit scared). Imagine what your poo would be like if you only ate slugs, well, that is all over my dog, even hedgehogs don't actually smell of hedgehog poo.  Maybe that is the source of their fearlessness, spines and a diet of slugs? all that rolling up into a ball? stomach cramps. Slugs.   

super stylin' ... with port, pears and cheese?

Yes, I have used this before, but well, its a good one and i've got stitches in my hand, and my brain doesn't work, alright (I just wrote 'my brian' ... see what I mean?) ! Enter The Dance and all that, I love that video ... However, We have not been practicing our dance moves at the farm, but putting together some nice pictures of flowers and table settings, incidental still-life style corners.  Here they are.  We love rare days like these, when we have more time and flowers than we need, and a few hours just to mess around.  

It is the middle of September and there are plums, pears, blackberries, and apples all over the place.  Whilst tasting quite nice they are also very beautiful, so we sought to capture the bloom that makes a deep red plum look like there is moonlight touching its skin, and the russet texture of conference pears and the ochre colour particular to it. Contrasted with the translucent elegance of rosepetals, the ruffles of cafe-au-lait dahlias and the turn in the season reflected in flushed pink spindle leaves, we set up a nice supper table for two, with port and blue cheese.  Autumn visits at night in September, cool cosy evenings and warm summer days that are calm and serene.  Its like getting home form work and putting on your most comfy slippers.  In the garden the flowers are at their peak, we've had a good season and the plants are pretty much looking after themselves for now. We can all relax a little and take the time to plan for next year.  

Oh, we did have a wedding too.  Autumn is the absolute best time for flowers.  Early autumn weddings are so beautiful.   We used Silk and Willow's ribbons in gold and cream hues to set off the glow you get in the flowers and foliage right now.  It just sits right with the light too.  Antique gold coloured dressed would be fantastic... 

dahlias have never been modern

I don't think dahlias have ever been the in-thing.  They look so reminiscent of 1950's allotments,  with their prim bobbly old-lady's swimming hat kind of vibe.   I bet in the 1950's they looked so like, 1940's? Those just perfectly plastic shades of barbie-flesh Bakelite, stomach acid yellows, ORANGE, and a white so unlike any kind of white you can find in the present.   They are so kitsch it is almost impossible to believe that they are actually real.  Real-life, growing, of out-of-date, retro, polite flowers.  With names like 'Butch' 'Barbarosa' 'Boy Scout' The 'Bishop of ...' Series, Alfred this, or Arthur that they remind me of my Nan's outfit in my parent's wedding photos from the 1970's.  They are so always-out-of-date that they have never gone full-circle and become fashionable again.  Somehow they are just the right side of prim, conservative, suburban, little miss goody-two-shoes, Enid Blyton, bucket and spade, little flower fakes we love to hate.  The minute we start to come back round to maybe beginning to like them, like flares or stone-washed jeans, or pencil skirts, they slide back into that no-go, tv-dinner back-to-the-future zone that is too close for comfort. 

 

Oh dear, listen to me with all that dahlia vitriol.  Well, I don't take full responsibility because there it is, with all its cultural baggage tucked neatly between its perfectly formed, unnaturally colored petals.  Oh and Slugs love them, earwigs camp out in them, they rot, they get munched by beetles ...   And so here is our way in.  Insects.  OK they are a pain but they at least give the things some personality, they scuff the patent shiny surface behind which the dahlia sits. Dahlias don't appeal to the senses, they are just visual .. You may as well watch them on the telly, behind the glass which divides us from the past, we subconsciously historicise them, because we don't want them to be ours.  We do not love you dahlias.  They don't nod, they don't flutter, they don't smell, they last ages.  They are the kid in the class who tries too hard, forgets who he is because he wants to be the child he thinks they want him to be. The kid with no friends, too boring, too perfect, too rigid, not enough and too much, the one who doesn't want to go and play and has nothing to say.  

 

Dahlias sit on that uneasy fence between nature and culture, they are so cultivated and inter-bred they have lost their spirit.   We define 'nature' by its otherness, its difference from that which is 'man-made', its ability to inspire, to evoke awe, and beauty, and wonder.  Nature is by definition unruly, the wild, animal, vegetable, mineral, working to its own logic, romantic or cruel by turns.  These flowers, we 'know' to be 'natural', they grow, they need sun and water and food like other plants, but they don't fit with what we instinctively want a 'flower' to be.  They are too human, too engineered, not natural enough, they are too like something we have made, not something we have grown. Mutants. Their oddly shaped tubers are like some sort of internal organ, their rigid stems grow almost before your eyes.  They don't appeal to our need to be reminded of why it is we love flowers.  They neglect the human/nature in us all, they don't invite a sensory response, they are senseless, scentless, static, and grown in disciplined, well-staked rows, they stare at us like zombies.  

We have grown a lot of dahlias this year, some that we love for their kitsch perfect circle whiteness, some for their richness of colour.  Those decorative types have ruffles that whilst they don't actually 'move'  do enough to suggest movement.   Marilyn Monroe, Margaret Thatcher, Madonna .... oh, VOGUE? strike the pose...  some of those ladies do have attitude?

... so put a quiet little pompon next to a blousy rose, its like giving it the confidence to step back into the garden.  Let a cactus dahlia strike a pose next to the soft threads of ornamental grasses and its colour will bleed into those around it.  We are not very fastidious gardeners and ours sort of flop about a bit, some wiggle on their stems and some grow at funny angles, chamomile self seeded between he tubers and persicaria pops up its bobbly head between the flowers.  A few stingers hide out and get you on the ankle when you least expect it.  Picking our dahlias you don't escape the visceral, the now demands your attention as much as a nostalgia that comes with distance from the here.  Dahlias have never been modern and neither have we.  The sinister perfection of a dahlia just needs to be dragged onto the dance floor, cajoled into drinking a pint of cheap cider and inspired to fulfill its superstar potential. Dahlias want to go with the flow if only we let them, there is no them and us.  Take a look at Floret Farm or Pyrus or The Blue Carrot or Amanda Taffinder to see just how a Dahlia Beauty Queen can really be the last to leave the party.  Speaking of which we are holding a last hurrah, a celebration of summer at the end of the month. A workshop where we will let you loose on our flower patch and learn to create a bowl arrangements with an edgy Dutch Masters inspiration.  Look out on our Workshops page for details coming very soon.  


 

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Taking some time...

I'm feeling today like all I want to do is sit on the sofa, eat every type of food in the house that I know is bad for me and look at pretty pictures on Instagram! 

August is a funny month, everything builds up to the summer, all the hard grafting in the garden, all the bridal consultations, all the tending too small seedlings, all the marketing and social media and now, just now, I'm (and I think it's fair to say Maz too...hope that's ok Maz?..) a little bit knackered!  Don't get me wrong I love it and fully embrace the flower life and even my four year old thinks about flowers as he goes to bed to stop himself having nightmares - how cute.  But like our garden we never sit still, I'm always looking to what I / we could do better, how the garden could work more efficiently, wondering what will be the popular next year, asking ourselves endless 'what if' questions....

 

 

August for us is also about balancing work with family - this year we got organised with a large selection of mountain bikes at the farm and my step dad fashioned a great rope swing in the corn barn - all of which has given us a bit of extra time to get into the flower field.  We have also been lucky as the weather this summer has been kind to us and ultimately the kids so they have been happy to all traipse off and find their own adventures on the farm.

 It's easy with this job to permanently have one foot in the next season and some day's that is exciting and all I can think about - but so often I don't get a chance to reflect on what we have achieved, stop and soak it in for a bit, take time to remember the teary smiles from last months bridal bouquets, or the surprised look when you deliver a bouquet to a stranger. 

So I'm going to put the kettle on and just enjoy looking back at some of this seasons creations and try very hard not to think about next year....or look through the seed catalogue...just for now enjoy what has passed and what is now! 

P.S next year we are definitely going to find room in the garden for one of these....not that I'm planning or anything!!!!!

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roses, roses, roses and three weddings.... we are living in a material world

This week the roses have completely proven themselves to be the best thing we ever did, closely followed by the dahlias. What jolly lives we lead!  They are seriously fantastic, and have been flowering for over a month with endless, romantic, scented, blush pink, creamy, deep red, burnt umber buttery yellow, exuberant blissfulness. And they are ours! We did put in a lot of muddy cold hours with bare root planting over the winter, and barrowed huge amounts of mulch up hill to plant them, but it was more than worth it.  The flowers this year have been more, more, more, than last with sunshine and showers and half an irrigation system that actually works, and hedgerow honeysuckle, grasses, wild roses and jasmine to cheer them on. 

We had three weddings this weekend.  This was Josie's soft and romantic bouquet, swiftly followed by Laura's washed-out-sunflower-showcase bouquet, and Anna's bright and warm bouquet and her bridesmaids too.  Phew!  Those gestural giant yellow scabious, wild carrot, heuchera flowers, gaura and Icelandic poppies just made this weekend all the more special. Right now we really, really, love flowers like these. 

I kind of fell out with blogging, and photographing flowers and all that for a while, for no particular reason, its all gets a bit humdrum sometimes, and I don't want to scare anyone off (or bore them and myself rigid) with lots of being trite.  I think these roses have finally given me back some of the need to show off, because that is all it is really! Lady Emma Hamilton, Buff Beauty, Jude the Obscure, Gentle Hermione? Prove yourself girls. These flowers really deserve some showtime, and there is nothing wrong with a bit of drink-me-in photography is there not?  Look! More... 

Marvelous roses, annoying annuals, and lots of white fluffy delphiniums, dahlias, scabious, snaps, astrantias, for whites in differing textures in-between.  Finished with Silk and Willow's unrivaled and gorgeous plant dyed silk ribbons.  Get into the groove ... 

PS Bulb catalogues just arrived for 2015... 

Blossom shoot features on Wedding Sparrow...

on what seemed like the windiest day of the year a group of creative people came together to create a shoot inspired by the apple blossom in the orchard at Lantallack.  

We co styled this shoot with our great friends Louise & Teo from Taylor & Porter.  Louise & Teo are Fine Art Film Photographs and their work is beautiful - the soft tones and colours that real film reveals is so refreshing in our digital obsessed world.  

Using a palette of soft peaches and fresh greens we created bouquets that stood out from the blossom but remaind soft, wild and romantic.  

Here are a few of our favourites from the shoot...  You can see more on Taylor & Porters 'Editorial' section of their website or on Wedding Sparrow Blog.   

 

 

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Photography & Styling by : Taylor & Porter 

twitter : @TaylorandPorter

facebook:https://www.facebook.com/taylorandporterphotographs

instagram : http://instagram.com/taylorandporter

Florals & Styling by : The Garden Gate Flower Company

www.thegardengateflowercompany.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheGardenGateFlowerCompany

Twitter: @GGFlowerCo

Instagram: www.instagram.com/THEGARDENGATEFLOWERCO

Venue: Lantallack

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/LantallackWeddingsCornwall

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cornishwedding

Website: www.lantallackweddings.co.uk

Ribbons: Silk & Willow

www.silkandwillow.com

www.facebook.com/silk.willow

Twitter: @silkandwillow

Instagram: www.instagram.com/silkandwillow

Hair Accessories : Silver Sixpence In Her Shoe

https://www.facebook.com/pages/silver-sixpence-in-her-shoe/243610077016?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/Silversixpence1

http://instagram.com/silversixpenceinhershoe

http://silversixpenceinhershoe.co.uk

Cake by : Divine Wedding Cakes (Devon & Cornwall)

http://divineweddingcakes.co.uk

Facebook : Divine Wedding Cakeshttps://www.facebook.com/divineweddingcakes

Twitter: @DivineWedCakes https://twitter.com/DivineWedCakes

Instagram: http://instagram.com/divineweddingcakes

Model : Miriana Tumoana

Instagram: http://instagram.com/tumoana_m

Twitter: @tumoana_m

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mtumoana?fref=ts

Antique Jewellery : Little Jems

http://www.littlejemsjewellery.co.uk

facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Little-Jems-Jewellers/597527480274045

Stationery : Meticulous Ink

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/meticulousink

twitter: @Meticulous_Ink

instagram: http://instagram.com/meticulousink

website: www.meticulousink.com

Hair Styling : Capella

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Capella-Bridal-Occasion-Styling/238111159572928

www.capellacornwall.co.uk

Sottero & Midgley Apple Blossom Dress via

Days Of Grace

Twitter  @DaysofGraceLD

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaysOfGraceBudleigh

www.daysofgracevintage.co.uk

Make Up Artist : Jasmine Blundell

twitter: @JasmineBlundell

Instagram: http://instagram.com/jasmineblundellmua

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jasmine.blundell

Naomi Neoh Silk Marianne Dress & Tara Keely Tulle Sherrie Dress via

The Bridal House Of Cornwall

http://thebridalhouseofcornwall.co.uk

twitter : @BridalHouseCnwl

instagram : http://instagram.com/thebridalhouseofcornwall

facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bridal-House-Of-Cornwall/424780147635192

 


Country Living comes to the farm...

it seems like ages ago that country living came to our farm to write a feature on our flower business.  The wait is nearly over, we are about to see it in print....lucky subscribers have already seen it and next week the August edition hits the shops.  

We hope you enjoy reading it. 

thank you Country Living, Sue Heardman & Jason Ingram. 

 

 

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British Flowers Week

last week was officially #britishflowersweek a social media movement lead by New Covent Garden Market  this, their second year, saw a whopping 535% increased twitter reach on their 2013 campaign.  Head over to their website to see some amazing gallery photos! 

As you guys know british flowers week is every week on our patch but we couldn't help make a bit of a big deal about it!  So with the generous donation of a shop window in Fowey we turned brocante ltd into a floral dream! Thank you Kieron we will bring you more flowers again soon!

 

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we also flower bombed Fowey with Lonely bouquets - this caused twitter madness with shop owners running down streets to try and find the bouquets before anyone else could! 

 

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our floral escapades caused such a stir that The Cornish Guardian has written on it which is out tomorrow (Wednesday)...fingers crossed they got my good side! 

And whilst we weren't flower bombing Fowey with lonely bouquets we were working on our new rose patch...more on this soon!  

 

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Little Flower School, London

This time last month we were in a pub (yes, I know, a p u b !!) in Stoke Newington, which is a rather nice part of north London, with almost all the other florists we have ever looked at on instagram/facebook. Ever.  It was all a bit surreal because we hardly ever leave Cornwall and hardly ever leave our kids in the capable hands of their fathers, all by themselves, to eat chocolate at bedtime, and go the pub, (yes, I know, the p u b !!) on a school night, and loose their school shoes (under the kitchen table) and all sleep in a pile in the big bed like puppies ... Anyway, we were in London on our own!

Becca used to be a PA and is really good at organising 'stuff' ... (i'm not sure how she does it ...) ... and then ... we found ourselves at the Rose and Crown with all our floral idols!.  It was just a little bit intimidating to be in the company of not only Nicolette Camille and Sarah 'Saipua' Ryanhen but Jo Flowers, Bare Blooms, Amanda Taffinder, The Blue Carrot, TB Florist, Rona of Flowerona, Pyrus, Rachel Tallulah Rose Flower School, Blue Poppy Florist, The Florist in the Forest ... I could go on! We had a really great evening talking all things flowers, its not often you get an eager audience for flower chat, and we totally had the best night in our respective flower based careers so far.  Big thanks to Becca, florist gatherer extraordinaire.  Becca also used this as an excuse to buy really pretty stationary. (See above xx).  So on Tuesday morning we got our stuff together, notebook, camera, pen, shoes without mud on them, and walked through the pretty streets of Stoke Newington to 'The House Next door'.  From the outside it looked a bit unimpressive, but inside it was all stately decay but with a nice kitchen and loo.  This town house had, the previous day, seen The Little Flower School on its first London workshop, and today it was our turn.  

At this point I was lost for words, and now a good few weeks later I am still stumped for something to say.  Here are our pics, they can do the talking. It was a huge creative challenge, so it was: a challenge and a joy, we met some great people, saw some great work happen, had really useful chats and ate nice food. It didn't rain, we didn't get stuck in traffic, Becca used the old 'oh come on, come on' school of changing lane at the last minute technique and we took home not only great flowers, but a whole wealth of knowledge that we are now furiously working on putting into action.  Thank you Little Flower School for being so generous with your know how. We absolutely enjoyed every minute of London Spring Riot and Revelry 2014.  


  

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Celebrating the return of cow parsley to our hedges & an international delivery...

Just in case anyone hadn't noticed we seem to be in the full swing of Spring down here in Cornwall.  The tunnel of brown branches that frame the roads to the farm are slowly turning a zingy green and the first of the bluebells are out.  

Hedges are now packed with frothy cow parley which is hard to resist for the snipper handy floral designers.  But a note of caution - never strip our hedges bear please and mind the stems that are close to dog height....you've been warned! 

Condition your cow parsley by standing the stems in water in a cool place over night.

 

seasonal bouquet with cow parsley by The Garden Gate Flower Company

seasonal bouquet with cow parsley by The Garden Gate Flower Company

Combining our hedgerow forage with all our own organic flowers like tulips, rannunclus, narcissi and geums.  In soft yellows and apricot corals the cow parsley is the perfect partner.

And what better way to show of these seasonal blooms than with this stunning pure silk ribbon from Silk & Willow all dyed with natural ingredients - the hardest part was choosing what not to buy from our American friend!

 

Silk ribbon by Silk & Willow, bouquet by The Garden Gate Flower Company  

Silk ribbon by Silk & Willow, bouquet by The Garden Gate Flower Company  

 

The last few narcissi...

The last few narcissi...

All of these photos were shot in one of our old barns, which has now been dubbed the 'photo barn'.  All our workshop attendees get the opportunity to play with different back drops for their creations.  This one is painted using Nature Paint a Cornish paint company with a beautiful range of colours.  If you would like to learn how to create a floral hand tie pop over to our workshops page for up and coming classes.  

 

nature paint boards for photography back drops

nature paint boards for photography back drops

 

Leading with lemon...

Tulip season is always a little fustrating.  You can't stagger their flowering and no matter whether they say 'early' or 'late' flowering they seem to arrive when they want too.  It makes for tough planning if you are a flower farmer florist...or whatever we call ourselves!!!  

We can't imagine not growing them and only hope that next year we have a bumper crop of April brides to enjoy them...hint hint brides out there planning their wedding!!!!  

But with our Little Flower School Floral Immersion course fast approaching and coinsiding with the excess tulip stock this has given us a great excuse to dust off the winter cobwebs and get practising.  

Lemon tulips seemed to scream out to be picked with tangerine rannunclus and lush green foliage like the scented geranium leaves  - creating a really fresh bouquet to welcome in the better weather.  

Enjoy x

 

The garden gate flower company - April bouquet. 

The garden gate flower company - April bouquet. 

Love the single white rannunclus at the moment - they remind me of cosmos purity!

 

Bouquet by the garden gate flower company  

Bouquet by the garden gate flower company  

When given just a colour preference by a client it means having the ability to pick the best in the garden on the day - today I loved being my own client!  

 

a stunning tree in blossom at Tregothan charity open garden

a stunning tree in blossom at Tregothan charity open garden

 

by the garden gate flower company

by the garden gate flower company

 

a stunning lemon magnolia at Tregothan charity open day - don't we all wish magnolia grew as fast as willow?! 

a stunning lemon magnolia at Tregothan charity open day - don't we all wish magnolia grew as fast as willow?! 

the garden gate flower company

the garden gate flower company

Our flowers are now available at The Duchy Nursery Lostwithiel on a weekly basis.  If you would like to order a bouquet for a present or perhaps to add a personal touch to a dinner table we would love to discuss your ideas - please do give us a ring or contact us via our enquiry form. 

We've forgotton what it looks like...

I'm talking about a tulip!

So often you go into a supermarket now and see a tight, small bud, short stem tulip and sadly we now think this is normal for this flower.   ITS NOT!!!! 

We happily support and use the early Lincolnshire tulips before our own crop kicks in and what they produce in their own way is lovely.  However nothing can compare to a tulip grown without heat and without the demand of mass production. 

But it seems we have forgotten what it is like to see tulips that are home grown.  Tulips grown without additional heat will develop large heads, have a strong stems and will open and close when cut and subjected to varying temperatures.  An open tulip does not equal death....   Have we all forgotten how beautiful it is to see the centre of a tulip?  Look at these...

The Garden Gate Flower Company - home grown organic tulips

The Garden Gate Flower Company - home grown organic tulips

These tulips didn't die straight after I snapped them!  If these were to be placed into the cold they would actually close up again just like their friend the Anemone.  These flowers will last easily 7 days with a three day water change and a small snip at the ends of the stems. 

Tulips should appear blousy, luxurious, bend and move to the light - not stand in straight jackets facing the ceiling! 

Enjoy x

 

The Garden Gate Flower Company - Libretto Parrot cream & pink

The Garden Gate Flower Company - Libretto Parrot cream & pink

 

 

The Garden Gate Flower Company - Belle Époque  

The Garden Gate Flower Company - Belle Époque  

 

The Garden Gate Flower Company - swan wings white

The Garden Gate Flower Company - swan wings white

The Garden Gate Flower Company - tulip patch

The Garden Gate Flower Company - tulip patch

Seasonal tulip bouquet by The Garden Gate Flower Company

Seasonal tulip bouquet by The Garden Gate Flower Company

 

The excitement then the wait...

By becca

I first visualised this bouquet when I walked into the tunnel on Mothering Sunday.  I'd gone in to pick a few flowers for the 'afternoon tea table' and was hit by the most beautiful coral orange rannunclus and peach toned tulips.  I did for a minute contemplate making this arrangement then and there....but I'm not sure being late for Mums lemon drizzle cake would have made me very popular! 

So this afternoon in the warm spring sunshine I boiled in the tunnel plucking these blooms and created this bouquet.  

all blooms home grown by The Garden Gate Flower Company.

all blooms home grown by The Garden Gate Flower Company.

 

With the addition of blossom and the hellebores which are now nicely hardened off these blooms made my knees wobble a bit.  It's days like today when I'm not caked in mud, cold, and aching that I realise how much I love my job! 

Enjoy... 

 

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If you would like to learn how to make a hand tied arrangement using our flowers take a look at our workshops page.  

Happy Spring x

more from the workshop

Paul at BJ Richards came up with some amazing hellebores for us from Highcroft Gardens, http://bjrichardsflowers.co.uk/highcroft-gardens, his father's own gardens over looking the beautiful Tamar Valley.  They open in the summer under the NGS, so look out for the yellow signs later in the year. I will be first in the queue.  

Paul also gave us a guided tour of the glass houses. It was so interesting to see how they do things on such a big scale, and I managed to grab the first bunch of Cornish Delphiniums too.  So lovely. So #britishflowers !!

The ranunculus was fabulously in flower and baby stocks and snaps all in ready for the coming season too.  

Amanda Taffinder brought some fantastic daffs. all home grown by her father-in-law for us to use. These rich yellows are so heartwarming at this time of year. Thanks Amanda (and Simon) xx 

There was lots of fun to be had in the barn, what larks!  I had to include this one of Charlotte from Rock n' Rosie, there is so much to be gained from pulling faces in photos, I have a growing collection of my own! I challenge you not to smile! (Sorry Charlotte, she really is very beautiful, honestly!!!).  

Top tip from the Blue Carrot: this is how to take really stunning photos of your work, every time. The secret is out! 

We are very much looking forward to doing this again, especially when we have more of our own flowers growing outside too. Penny made soup and cake, and the fire was lit in  the house, but outside was sunny and warm too.  It was great to make new friends and catch up with old ones. Outcome numero uno/this seasons challenge is how to use red in a really summery, nice way. Red. Red. Red... Thanks all for coming and being so interesting and fun, all at the same time! 

Our First Workshop of the Season with Fellow Florists & Flower Farmers....

So we spring cleaned the barn, painted up some MDF boards with gorgeous Nature Paint colours, ordered an abundance of British Flowers from BJ Richards and foraged till our hearts content all in great anticipation of our first workshop of the year!  

 

 

Ready for dressing our new 'workshop' barn....rustic is so now darling....!!!

Ready for dressing our new 'workshop' barn....rustic is so now darling....!!!

It really was quite a special day for TGGFC we have never had an industry meet up on the farm before - we were charged with great talent and energy that drove in on the farm that day we are sure this won't be the last one! 

A garden tour sharing planting plans, hopes and dreams....we all want the perfect growing conditions!!

A garden tour sharing planting plans, hopes and dreams....we all want the perfect growing conditions!!

 

Rock n Rosie Flowers, Amanda Taffinder & Escential Blooms hanging out in our tunnel

Rock n Rosie Flowers, Amanda Taffinder & Escential Blooms hanging out in our tunnel

Following our tea, cake, gossip, lunch and garden tour we headed up to the new 'workshop' barn to play with beautiful #britishflowers.  Maz created a stunning eucalyptus garland (the storm was good for some things!) which hugged a table laced with jugs of hellebores, rannunclus, narcissi, tulips, blossom, delicate snowflakes and more...!    

 

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Rock en Rosie Flowers creating her hand-tie and Susanne from The Blue Carrot - amazing to watch these guys work! 

Rock en Rosie Flowers creating her hand-tie and Susanne from The Blue Carrot - amazing to watch these guys work! 

And what I expect you all want to see....what was produced!....

 

The Garden Gate Flower Company

The Garden Gate Flower Company

 

Rock en Rosie Flowers 

Rock en Rosie Flowers 

 

sorry picture twice...for the love of god i can't delete the duplicate!!!! Arghhhhh.....

sorry picture twice...for the love of god i can't delete the duplicate!!!! Arghhhhh.....

The Blue Carrot

The Blue Carrot

Amanda Taffinder

Amanda Taffinder

 

 

Escential Blooms

Escential Blooms

Manor Farm Cottage

Manor Farm Cottage


Roswartha Farm

Roswartha Farm

Wild at Heart Country Flowers

Wild at Heart Country Flowers

There were others that escaped our camera - sorry.

It felt strange the day after clearing up the barn, a space that was filled with such energy the day before and the day after just felt like a quiet old barn again.  However we did play with some rather wonderful leftovers!....

 

 

The Garden Gate Flower Company

The Garden Gate Flower Company

 

If you are keen to join us at the farm for a workshop pop over to our 'workshops' page on our website.  If you are a fellow florist or grower and would be interested in a day like this do please email us for future dates.

Happy Spring everyone! 

 

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