Fashion and Flowers - Seasalt Clothing

We love a collaboration, especially a Cornish one and it seems like ages ago that we were watching the Seasalt team putting together a catalogue shoot in our flower garden!  Just before the season turned into Winter and with the hit of autumn colour in the garden, our flowers provided a wonderful back drop for their new Spring catalogue.  

Photography by Seasalt

Photography by Seasalt

If you would like to read the article from Seasalt which also features in their catalogue follow this link:

Photography by Seasalt

Photography by Seasalt

Photography by Seasalt

Photography by Seasalt

Photography by Seasalt

Photography by Seasalt

Thank you very much to the team at Seasalt we loved having you visit!

The return of the narcissi

At last it feels like spring has arrived in our cutting garden with the welcome return of the narcissi.  Maz makes a point of purchasing all the fancy looking  bulbs and avoids the common yellows ones (sorry to all the common yellow lovers!).  Seeking out the peachy tones and the elegant whites, these little flowers can really make a bouquet sing. 


We grew all our narcissi in one big bed this year.  Digging in the bulbs very close to maximise the amount we could get in.  With what seemed like a worrying stem length to begin with, we are delighted that these girls have suddenly put on a growth spurt and are fit for any bouquet.


We have combined these pretty narcissi with some ripe hellebores and the only dark tulip in the tunnel that survived the rat attack....oh and a couple of fritillaries that survived the vole attack (did we tell you that growing flowers is one long vermin battle?!).  This bouquet has a moody, yet spring-like feel fit for any bride with sophisticated taste! 

Our first wedding of the season

It feels like ages ago now but the first wedding of the season was actually only last month.  The garden seems to have leaped forward since the depths of winter and we now have array of spring flowers on the farm. 

Working on a winter wedding and using only British flowers really challenges you to look for what is out in the garden.  Foliage at this time of year is hard to come by but we have an amazing evergreen honeysuckle which got a rather big hair cut!  The incredible addition to this bridal bouquet was a stem of Autumn sown Ammi.....can you believe it.....February.....Ammi!!!! 

The saviour at this time of year is the elegant Hellebore.  In smoky claret and cream tones these ladies are the real deal. 

Plant Dyed Silk Bouquet Ribbon by Silk & Willow

Plant Dyed Silk Bouquet Ribbon by Silk & Willow

Bamboo Silk Ribbon by Lancaster & Cornish

Bamboo Silk Ribbon by Lancaster & Cornish

Helen was wonderful to work with; giving us a loose brief and agreeing to a non-wedding coloured silk ribbon we were in our element. 

A collaboration with Sail Handmade

We always love the opportunity to work with other creative folk and when we found Sail Handmade we just about fell in love with every product they made!

Like us Sail Handmade is a creative collaborative duo; Lisa and Leon.  They design and create handcrafted products using the finest of materials including natural vegetable tanned leather.  They create small timeless pieces which are then stitched by hand using Barbour Linen thread.  Their pieces really are a work of art!

Image via Sail Handmade Website

Image via Sail Handmade Website

Not that long ago we noticed that Erin from Floret had this amazing gardening belt which to be frank looked good and was functional...all boxes ticked as far as we were concerned. 

We spoke to Lisa from Sail Handmade about designing one specifically for us - we wanted a belt that would be slightly lighter in weight and in truth somewhere to keep a mobile phone dry.  All you flower growers will know that wet, mud and mobiles don't mix...right?!   

Image copyright Sail Handmade

Image copyright Sail Handmade

It was lovely working with Lisa on this project - thinking about what we need when we are out in the garden and how this translates to how the belt works.   The attention to detail is beautiful, the D-Ring for the keys (we now will never loose them!) and the wide pocket for the phone... I did tip Lisa off that Maz's mobile is enormous!

So here we have it - the finished product.  Beautifully captured by Fine Art Film Photographers, Taylor & Porter

Image Copyright Taylor & Porter Fine Art Film Photography Floral styling by The Garden Gate Flower Company

Image Copyright Taylor & Porter Fine Art Film Photography

Floral styling by The Garden Gate Flower Company

Finished with my present to Maz on her birthday a pair of Floral Scissors from Ernest Wright & Son.  They have been making scissors and shears by hand since 1902! 

So in all we are helping back other lovely British businesses who have a passion for craft and design and it feels good!

Image copyright Taylor & Porter Fine Art Film Photography Floral Styling by The Garden Gate Flower Company

Image copyright Taylor & Porter Fine Art Film Photography

Floral Styling by The Garden Gate Flower Company

*please note we received no revenue for this blog post we have written about these businesses because we love what they do and what they stand for.



Table Styling At Boconnoc House

Earlier this month we were delighted to have an opportunity to style some sample tables for Boconnoc House.  It's always lovely to have free reign on styling and in the setting of the Garden Room with winter light we were so excited. 

We teamed up with our Fine Art Film Photographer friends, Taylor & Porter to capture our creations and we are delighted with their images.

We created three different tables; which much to our surprise actually worked well all together in one room...  a new idea we may try and encourage more with our brides!  An elegant urn arrangement filled with scrumptious Hellebores, frilly rannunclus and flowing vines.  A table inspired by flowering branches and spring offerings, collected together with added height which in this table was filled with catkins, but once blossom season is upon us would be a beautiful feature.  Finally elegant white and green a firm favourite with our brides this year; clean and simple in cut glass vessels. 

Taylor&Porter_Garden Gate Tablescapes_Boconnoc_20.jpg

If you interested in talking to us about your wedding flowers please fill in our Wedding Enquiry Form on our website and we can arrange a consultation for you.

All images by Taylor & Porter

Venue Boconnoc House


A 1:1 Class at The Garden Gate Flower Company

We have been delighted and a little overwhelmed by the response to our one to one classes!  Maz and I have both enjoyed teaching these and having a more personal approach to the areas in which each individual strives to learn. 

Last month we welcomed Fenella on to a one to one course; she wanted us to help her create her daughter-in-law's bridal bouquet.  This bouquet had to travel in a box, on a train to London...something Fenella kept quiet until the morning she came to us but I'm pleased to say all went very smoothly!

Our dear friends, Fine Art Film Photographers, Taylor & Porter joined us to capture Fenella's journey.

Credit: all images by Fine Art Film Photographers Taylor & Porter

All our one to one courses are run at our farm and include a home made lunch by Penny.  We are now taking bookings for our autumn classes.

I will hand you over now to Fenella who has kindly offered to share with you her experience: -

When my stepson and his bride  announced their wedding I enthusiastically jumped in at the deep end and said, 'I will'!
Then the reality of making sure I exceeded a Bride and Grooms expectations on their most special of days set in.  Having previously attended the Dutch Masters Course at The Garden Gate Flower Company I called Becca and Maz. Lucky for me,  they were running a one on one Master Class.  To be able to create a bespoke bouquet with locally grown flowers, foliage and cuttings from my our garden with the guidance and support of two passionate designers was the reassurance I needed. 

The day was amazing, Becca and Maz are exceptionally talented and so very generous in sharing their techniques, expertise and sheer joy and passion for creating beautiful arrangements.  We enjoyed a wonderful lunch of fresh home baked bread and delicious soup and talked flowers and arranging.

Just blissful for me being in the company of such giving creative spirits.

Despite one near bag crushing incident on the London Train  I managed to deliver the florals safely to London and make my contribution to our lasting family memories at an incredible wedding!

All I need now is another excuse to call them again!

Tidal - a styled shoot

Let us take you back to late last summer when the roses were having their second flush and the dahlias were in abundance. 

Sarah Hannam, Fine Art Film Photographer approached us to create a soft toned bridal bouquet to feature in her 'Tidal' shoot.  Set amongst the Cornish sand dunes we were delighted with the results of this collaboration.


Seasonal buttonholes created with scabious and finished with jute twine.  To see how to create a button hole follow our tutorial.


Wedding stationary was beautifully finished with Lancaster & Cornish bamboo silk adding to the soft tonal colours.


We were all delighted that this collaboration featured on beautiful blog Magnolia Rouge - many thanks to the Magnolia Rouge team.

For the full feature and more images visit Magnolia Rouge.

A Buttonhole Tutorial

Even in the depths of winter it's amazing how teaming the limited number of British flowers we have available with elements from your garden can give you a wonderful seasonal buttonhole. 

Here we will show you a simple tutorial on how to construct a naturally inspired buttonhole in the style of The Garden Gate Flower Company.

Garden Gate 1-1 Class_06.jpg

Start by gathering together your flowers and foliage.  Its good to have a colour palette in mind and consider varying textures that work well together.  We have chosen some wonderfully scented Daphne to feature in this buttonhole. 

The leaves on a Daphne can be quite overpowering and hide the sweetly scented flowers so we recommend removing them carefully.

Think about what your focal flower is going to be in this case we have used rannunculas.

Cut all your ingredients to a similar lengths and strip down the stems so they are free of foliage.

For the foliage we have chosen abelia, which will pick up the pale pink in the rannunclus and mimosa which has the softest appearance and a wonderful texture.

Start by layering your main foliage and any woody items to the back of your buttonhole, this creates a good back drop for your focal flower and that little wild element which will be the abelia.

Add in your focal flower, in this case Rannunclus and any wild elements.  Bind the buttonhole with soft floral tape.  Ensure the tape is dry, stretch the tape as you bind and the paper becomes slightly sticky and will then hold together.

Using simple jute twine you can wrap a collar around the buttonhole covering the sticky floral tape.  Ensure your twine sits high up under the flowers giving them a little extra support.

Trim the jute twine and leave the stems long so you can store them in little jars of water until you need them.  Ensure none of the twine touches the water as it does act like a sponge drawing the water in.

We hope you have fun trying out some winter buttonhole combinations. 

A big thank you to  our dear friends Taylor & Porter, Fine Art Film Photographers  for capturing our work so beautifully.


All images copyright of Taylor & Porter Fine Art Film Photographers

British Rannunclus grown by B J Richards

Kelly & Ben Summer Wedding



Kelly's testimonial: -

''Our flowers were truly breathtaking.  I'm not ashamed to say that I burst into tears when I saw them on the wedding morning.  From our first meeting I felt completely confident that you understood exactly the look I wanted to achieve and I felt completely at ease throughout the entire planning process knowing we were in safe hands.  My bouquet was the most beautiful I've ever seen (and I'm not alone in that though).  With my favourite dahlias and the most beautiful heavily scented roses taking centre stage, finished off with flowing silk ribbons, I didn't want to put it down!  The scent from our bouquets was out of this world and the reception flowers were simply magical - everyone I spoke to commented on how beautiful they looked and smelt.  I couldn't recommend The Garden Gate Flower Company more highly to future brides and grooms.  Thank you Becca and Maz for making our day just perfect!''







Emma & William

It was such a pleasure working with Emma & William (Bill).  They are food lovers and own their own restaurant The Rose Garden in Didsbury, Manchester.... Penny didn't feel any pressure when it came to the tea and cake at the consultation!     


Their brief was to create arrangements that reflected their love of food.  It's an exciting brief for us as we love to use herbs, berries and fruit in our styling and they really just left us to it.  In Emma's bouquet we used beautiful raspberry cane foliage, mint and trailing tayberry fruit nestled amongst our large English roses and café au lait dahlia's.   The bouquet was topped off by two toning Silk & Willow ribbon.


Emma & Bill married at the beautiful Cornish Tipi Weddings - their big day was in late September and after a record sunny August with heat wave after heat wave September weather took a turn for the worst just before their big day.  Brides often stress about what the weather will be like but this wedding just shows, on even an overcast day, how beautiful it can be and adding a bit of stormy drama can be a fun...especially when you are in a tipi!


I will leave you with this quote from Emma... ''I can't express how much I loved my flowers Becca and Maz they blew me away!!!  I put them down to eat and dance and that was it!!!  My sister and the bridesmaids took all the flowers from the tables and surrounded the inside of our tipi with them so I even went to sleep with them!!!!'' 

Thank you Emma & Bill for letting us share your wedding with you - you really were so much fun to work with. 

We also would like to thank Lucy Little for her beautiful photography - Lucy will travel to Cornwall to shoot your wedding so she is certainly worth considering. 

All images provided by Lucy Little Photography

Lydia and Jack's spring wedding

Lydia and Jack got married at the beautiful church in St Minver, in North Cornwall last spring. They very kindly sent us some of their pictures.  We were so delighted, and so pleased that they were so pleased that we had to put them up on our blog.  

From Lydia - ".... Thank you so much again for doing such a brilliant job with the flowers for our wedding.  They were really the most beautiful I've ever seen."

This year we will make a point of sharing pictures of 'real weddings' here, as receiving wedding pictures is our absolute favourite thing.  We love being part of the preparations on the morning but always miss this bit! The talented Kieth Riley took these amazing pictures. 

 Bouquets finished with Lancaster and Cornish organic lace.


A voice for radio...

so it's been in the diary for a while but as I developed a cold from hell, which on chatting to many of our grower friends is the joy of the end of season, my illness then advanced into lose of voice....(my kids, husband and Maz were I'm sure loving this moment!!!)...the looming radio interview seemed suddenly upon us.  Fear not its true that an evening out on the mulled wine (thank you to our neighbours) does in fact cure a horsed throat!  

So Sunday saw us demonstrating how we make our Christmas wreaths at The Duchy of Cornwall Nursery.  The festivities included carol singing, mulled apple juice (another great option for sore throats!) and cookery demonstrations.  It was lovely to be part of this experience and I have to say I'm finally getting into the festive vibe.  

So the radio bit....  Well Radio Cornwall broadcast their garden programme from the Duchy and whilst making a wreath we were interviewed about the pressure.



the voice held up well and actually I'm kinda getting used to the husky tone - it feels right for radio!!!

if you want to listen to our interview this is the link: Duncan Warren BBC Radio Cornwall. 

The wreath we created was packed with a variety of foliage, viburnum, larch and drying ammi heads.  All finished with a high quality ribbon.   



if you would like to order a wreath we deliver by courier around the UK.  Our two delivery dates are Thursday 4 December and Thursday 18 December.  They cost £56 inc of delivery.  




Alternatively if you are local we will be selling our wreaths on Dickensian Night on Thursday 11 December in Lostwithiel. We will have lots of different sizes and each will be unique.  Oh and new for this Christmas are our festive decorations.  Each one individual and can be refilled with sweets or a candle - you can purchase these on Dickensian Night! 



so I hope that's got you all in the festive mood...only 24days to go!


Featured on the Natural Wedding Company blog - Ellie & Dean's Wedding


image by Fine Art Film Photographers Taylor & Porter

lace finishing by lancaster & Cornish  


we are delighted to be featured today on The Natural Wedding Company's Blog with a lovely write up from Ellie on her wedding.  

Ellie & Dean used our DIY option (rebranded now as Designers choice for 2015) which meant we created her bridal bouquet and buttonholes and then provided her with a collection of loose flowers for her to style her own venue with.  

If you are interested in working with us for your wedding please get in touch via our Wedding Enquiry form on our website. 

Thank you Charlie for featuring us on your lovely blog x



note in diary.... The first frost of the season was 24 November 2014.  Not bad really.  Our mild climate down here in Cornwall has resulted in a long growing season and whilst Maz enjoyed the last of what remained in the flower beds I was secretly hoping they would all hurry up and die so I could have some time off!!!! 



I celebrated the first frost by taking Mabel for a walk in the woods.  Remembering my childhood memories of the cruncy leaves (& noting quickly Maz's earlier reminder that dogs pooh in fallen leaves so careful when you kick!) and the glass like crystals of frost clinging to everything.



There is a magical calm when frost is present - I could hear every foot step, leaves dropping to the ground and thundering water running down the river.  



Now with a frost under our belts it feels like we can finally move on with the garden.  Dig up those dahlias, clear out the annual beds, plant the tulips... In having a frost it's given us the permission to remove without feeling bad that another plant may just produce one more flower and we should treasure it!!  

Thank you frost I'm so grateful for your timely appearance...x


spring weddings

Spring flowers in Cornwall come earlier than most.  Cornish fields full of glorious narcissi which follow the sun with their little cheerful upturned faces are common place here in March.  We love early spring flowers like hellebores, anemones and daffodils and then later, tulips, ranunculus, blossoming branches and fresh green leaves.  There are beautiful colours and textures, and a wealth of scented flowers to choose from.  Seasonal flowers picked in Cornwall, the first rays of warm sun, blossom and new green leaves on the trees, would make for a perfect spring wedding.  

lovely organic fabric in this napkin from Lancaster and Cornish

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.  



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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