As I sit and begin to write this on the Autumnal Equinox it is with equal measures that I mourn the end of summer and welcome the start of a new season. The best thing for me about using seasonal British flowers is that no two months, weeks, or even days are the same. There is always a new bloom, seed head, scent in the air to welcome or look forward to.
Although I will miss the exuberance of the summer blooms, the scent of the Sweet Peas, etc I know that if I experienced them all year round I would not appreciate their beauty and would not long for their arrival again next year.
For me, this time of year when I can see the end of the wedding season tunnel with the crunch of colourful leaves under foot gives me the chance to sit down for a few moments and contemplate my business, where it is going, where I want to be, what I will do differently next year (there are always lots of things to add to this list!). It looks like Victoria who writes our regular Newsletter feature has also been making some business decisions.....
September at The Flower Garden at Stokesay Court
It's been with a little sadness but a huge feeling of liberation that we've decided to give up our weekly Ludlow market now, in order to concentrate our energies on event flowers and regular local deliveries. The regret comes from giving up that weekly contact with our local customers which has been so much fun, and which has made us feel like a 'real' local business, with a proper place in the life of the town. There's always much chatting to be done, about flowers and everything else, and it's a great way of keeping a sense of proportion when the two of us spend most of our time stooped over a flower bed within our garden walls, listening to the dog run about barking at pheasants. On the other hand, takings for all the stallholders seem to have been going steadily down over the last year, and the energy that we were putting into the market was not always being repaid with profit. We found it very difficult to charge respectable, florist-level prices on a market stall, and low prices coupled with low footfall have eventually made us see that our energies can be better used elsewhere. Happily, the tailing off in market interest has coincided with a surge in wedding enquiries and bookings. While the relationships we build with wedding couples through email exchanges and a few short visits are different to those built up gradually week on week with our local customers, the quantities of flowers involved with decorating a wedding, the time and (we hope!) skill that go into making up the more fiddly bouquets and buttonholes, and the guarantee that the flowers will be wanted once picked and arranged – all these factors mean that party flowers are the way to go for us.
Last year's dahlias were good, but this year's are really stunning. Dahlias are one of the crops we have decided to focus extra activity on, having noticed how dramatically they respond to a bit of special fuss. Having planted them (eventually) in holes with bonemeal and garden compost, we then kept them weeded, mulched and fed throughout the summer, and now the big dahlia bed – a stolen third of what was the vegetable garden – is a veritable sea of spiky, pompommy, gregarious colour. Barney's unpatented sheep wire supports have worked a treat, and the dahlias grow up through the horizontal mesh with no need for tying in. Special favourites this year include spiky peachy Preference; pink ball-like Peter, the perfect cut flower with it's long stems and longlong lasting qualities; Kafka for its sweet compactness and cheeky purplish bonbon faces; and a mystery old variety, red-and-white bi-coloured in some blooms and blush white in others, which was given to us by a kind elderly neighbour who has since died, aged 96, and whose gift we will treasure – and protect from slugs. Thank you, Sybil!
The end of Summer also seems to be a time when most Brides start making enquires for their weddings next Summer. I am sure many of you have already watched thisvideo by Alison Ellis from Floral Artistry but if not I highly recommend having a look. I guarantee it will instil you with confidence when booking consultations and writing quotes not to undervalue yourself.
I am always casting my eye over our Members social media to keep up to date with the exciting things they are up and the gorgeous work they are creating. I was rather excited (and rather jealous) when I saw that Brittany Asch (BRRCHH) was in the country visiting our Members in the North and South.
Thank you to Susanne (The Blue Carrot) and Fiona (Pyrus) for sharing a little bit about Brittany's visit with us.......
Amanda (Taffinder) and I had a really great, relaxed afternoon with Brittany. We met at my garden and I let her loose with a pair of snips and a bucket to create something with my flowers. It was so great and inspiring to see someone else play with the fruits of my labour. After that we made a trip to the nearby lost gardens of Heligan. On the way back we popped by Amanda's workshop and walled garden and wondered amongst the roses with a nice glass of wine.
It was fantastic to chat with someone at the top of her game very open and honest about the ups and downs, ins and outs of running a floral design business. It gave me a much needed kick in the backside about self valuation, pricing and confidence.
Susanne - The Blue Carrot
Pyrus (Nataya and Fiona) with Brittany - images by Nic Rue
Earlier this year we were contacted by Brittany Asch of BRRCH; she was planning a UK trip and a mutual flowery contact in NY had suggested she got in touch. Of course we were delighted to host the Scottish leg of her trip, particularly as she was keen to come along and help with our events (the best assistant we've ever had!). Amazingly, she landed on the red eye from the US, jumped straight on the train to Edinburgh and within hours found herself on site at a wedding venue in Perthshire. What began as a loose plan to show her around ended as a week long stint with us with plans to return after she had visited the Highlands. We had been talking about collaborating on a public botanical installation so, while Brittany explored the rest of Scotland, we arranged for a photographer, film maker and poet to work with us for a day to create a site specific piece on Edinburgh's Royal Mile at the start of the Edinburgh festival. It was wonderful to work alongside another florist with similar ideas to our own and there was much talk of further collaborations, hopefully stateside next time. Watch this space!
Out of the mouth of the fountain
Which is your mouth
Out of the mouth of the flower
Which is your mouth
Out of the mouth of the child
Whose mouth is yours
One hundred words, one hundred colours,
One hundreds droplets, one hundred petals
If you missed the lovely video of their installation by altermotive films you can view it here on their Facebook page.
Fiona - Pyrus
News and links from our Members
We could not be more excited and proud to announce that Georgie fromCommon Farm Flowers has a book coming out next month.
The Flower Farmer's Year is released on the 23rd of October and will be available in all good book shops. You can read more about it, including rave reviews by clicking on the image.
Dreamy imagery of a day in the life or Pyrus and Wild Bunch from Nic Rue
Don't forget that as many of us are slowing down with cut flowers our lovely members on the Isle of Scily are just beginning to cut the first of the gloriousScented Narcissi
As I finish putting together this Newsletter I am fresh from a visit to that London where I had the pleasure of attending the Social Media for Florists course run by Flowerona and Fiona Humberstone. It was lovely to see fellow The British Flower Collective Members there; Toria (Flowers from the Plot) and Jo (Floral Circus). It was one of the most beautifully styled workshops I'd ever attended and the food was out of this world, not to mention all the useful tips I have picked up from the wonderful tutors. I think it is going to take a while for all the information to trickle into use, but I have no excuse now not to be using social media to its full potential. Look out for blog posts about the day from Rona and Fiona as well as all the other talented participants. It may have even given me a big enough push to start a blog.......
Chloe - BareBlooms