Autumn flowers for an autumn wedding

This time of the year is a colourful and vibrant time for flowers, berries and foliage with lots of choice for brides planning an autumn wedding.  It’s also a time when you can bring the harvest theme into your floral arrangements using vegetables like ornamental squashes as well as autumn fruits.

For your bouquet roses are available all year round but now nerines are at their peak.  They surprise me by

their beauty every year, they look so delicate.  Usually they come in shades of pink but there is a rarer red one which goes beautifully with the autumn colours.

This autumn bouquet has berries and autumn foliage with roses  and hydrangeas in faded soft colours showing its possible to have a country look at any time of year.

There’s a real opportunity to introduce some originality into your buttonholes as well now.   As well as flowers and foliage, fruit and berries can come into the design.   Here crab apples, rosehips, acorns and oak leaves make a truly seasonal design.  Or you could choose late summer

 dahlias for fun flamboyant buttonholes.
Right on trend at the moment are floral wreaths…a wreath is not just for Christmas!  And they really lend themselves to weddings at this time of year.   These beautiful circles of flowers and foliage, much of which was gathered from the gardens and hedgerows close to the venue for the reception, were used on all the tables and when the candles were lit the tables looked beautiful.

The venue itself was a tipi, warmed up for the chilly evening with a fire pit.   Inside the wooden framework offered the perfect framework for swags which were hung on the main horizontal support, and more flowers and ivy trails came down from the roof.

 And for the door of your venue….or anywhere else for that matter, a favourite decoration with me, a simple twig wreath decorated with seasonal bits and pieces….everything from horse chestnuts to seed heads.

I’m always happy to talk weddings with brides to be and their families and I make no charge for your consultation when we can talk though your ideas.


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Sign of the times

The other day I mentioned our handpainted signs on Twitter and caused a bit of a flutter.   Clearly I hadn’t said enough about them

They are rather lovely when I posted this picture of a sign for the menus at  The Mustard Pot in Chapel Allerton I immediately had people asking about them.

It began with a few bits of wood and some pots of paint and me needing a sign for something.  That one turned out so well that we had a bash a making a few for sale and they looked really good.   So we went to craft markets with some for sale off the peg as well as offering signs made to order and off we went from there.

The wood is all reclaimed and the signs are individually handpainted.   The lettering is in waterproof enamel and so they can be used outside.

Here’s a whole pile of them ready to go.

Well then it turned out that they were really a great hit with brides to be.  A lasting memento of their wedding day and personal to them.  A nice sign read “Mr & Mrs …….  21st September 2010” which could be hung at the reception as people come in and then taken home and hung in the house.

They make great presents – especially if its hard to find something a little bit different for someone.   Let’s face it we all have people who are hard to buy things for which is probably why we’ve named so many sheds!  What are these chap’s getting up to in there? Can’t tell you how many we’ve done – Dave’s Den, Kev’s Shed, Mike’s Shed, etc, etc…..  But the ladies get a look in too, Bev’s Kitchen, Jenny’s house, Mum’s allotment, and I’m still waiting for one for my garden but maybe I should just nab this one which seems to be to be just right for me.

If you’d like one just get in touch – or fill in my contact form and we can sort it out.   Prices are good I think when I look at others and start at about £12.50  plus postage.   Tell us what you’d like and we’ll be able to give you a price.


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Autumn Colour – Autumn Planters

About this time of year all the summer bedding is slowly shrinking back.  I look at my baskets and planters and although I know they’re getting well past it I resist the urge to empty them onto the compost heap on the off chance that they’ll just carry on a bit longer and that I can keep the autumn at bay.  It’s no good of course, it has to be done, and once I’ve bitten the bullet and cleared away the old exhausted plants so I can get on with some autumn planting actually it all starts to feel a whole lot better.

If you want to set about it yourself there’s plenty out there in the nurseries and creating a pretty or stylish display isn’t difficult.   The violas above are just massed into a small trough and they’ll carry on all winter long…they might come and go a bit if we have snow but they’ll soon spring back up once it clears away and they’ll carry on till the spring.

Variations on a theme here – above are white cyclamen with white heather and ivy in a trough topped with white gravel and below the same combination of plants but using pink cyclamen and pale lilac heather….the flowers on the cyclamen will be knocked down by a frost but they are one of the most stylish looks for this time of year and after flowering can be planted in the borders under hedges to come again another year.

and you can ring the changes by adding ornamental cabbages to your planting.   This is a teraccotta trough, just from the local DIY store with 3 ornamental cabbages and more ivy, with some little violas tucked in between.

If you’re thinking they’ll be a nuisance to look after planters at this time of the year don’t need as much attention or watering as in the summer but do still make sure they are damp because the weather can surprise us all and suddenly we have a hot sunny day.   Deadheading pansies and violas always helps to keep new flowers coming, and if we do get a frost and you want to keep your flowers for longer you can just chuck a piece of newspaper or horticultural fleece over the planters for the night to break the frost.

I love putting planters together – you can get really creative if you look at what’s available and put together some planting scheme based on colour and shape and over the next couple of weeks there’ll be much revamping of my clients troughs and boxes so they’re smartened up for the winter.

I called this last one the chocolate box because all the planting was chocolate coloured – and if you put it together as a gift it’s good to tuck a couple of wrapped chocolates in amongst the foliage – but make sure it’s clear or they may go unnoticed until it’s too late to eat them.

In this box is a red cordyline, heuchera, dark coloured pansies and black grass(ophiopogon  nigrescens) and everything should be readily available now.

All the plants should last the winter very well, the flowers on the pansies will come and go with the weather and the cordyline would appreciate a little shelter, especially from winds but otherwise they should be fine….and next spring you could reuse and revamp the planting because all the plants except the pansies are perennials.

Its a lovely morning this morning so a good day to have a go at a planter and cheer up your doorstep or patio….and if I can help with any questions you can always tweet them to me @MaggyAnne.

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…and the groom wore Converse trainers…..

I love weddings and I love that they come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes…..

This one was a real mix of the conventional and the unconventional…there was a vintage car and a beatiful wedding dress…and there was a bouncy castle, games on the lawn and a whole lot of fun.

My brief for the flowers was informal, country.   Nothing contrived but pretty.

The bride’s bouquet and the bridesmaids’ posies were made up of two types of roses, a soft grey mint, gypsophillia, erengium, poppy seed heads and clematis seed heads, lisianthus and rosemary giving a lovely soft vintage feel and there were a gorgeous scent as I bound them together with ribbon to match the colour scheme.

For the buttonholes the groom had a rather smart calla lilly and his bestman had a great big red dahlia. 

I love delivering the flowers myself to the wedding party.   Its always an occasion and everyone I so excited about the day….I catch the excitement myself and am delighted when I see people’s reaction to the flowers.

The venue was the Mustard Pot which lends itself to this kind of modern country look so well.   There were assorted jugs of mixed flowers on all the tables with lots of colour continuing the soft country theme.   And on the smaller tables I chose filled china cups and saucers.   With the fireplaces full of flowers and flowers on the bar and decorating the bay trees beside the front door the place looked lovely.

Congratulations to another happy couple……

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So many flowers

A few months ago I got a phone call asking me if I’d take part in the flower festival at Ledsham Church….oh yes no problem.  The theme’s What a Wonderful World.  OK, so my brain cranked into gear and yes I thought, a globe of flowers with a little daisy chain dancing round it in mid air to the people of the world connecting with one another.  Shouldn’t be too difficult….. Plenty of time to think about it.

However, I did know what I had to live up to.  I’d been to the flower festival last year and what lovely displays.   The ladies in the village were no amateurs for sure.So the months went by and I imagined this pole sprayed black with my globe perched on it.  So I ordered massive floral foam spheres – one to use and one to practice on and my son made me the the pole.  3 weeks before the event I soaked the globe and tried to sit it on the pole.  Ha!  the thing was so heavy it was like lifting a medicine ball and there was no way it was going to stay upright… so one clever idea down I had to revert to putting it onto a traditional pedestal…but that was OK…not quite the plan, but OK.The day arrived and just over a week ago I landed at the church clutching my pedestal and my flowers.   The place was full of chatter, flowers and buckets and there was lots of activity, and there were some amazing creations in place already.

I loved Singing in the Rain, it did just look as though the flowers were raining down the umbrella, and  the colours in Sunrise…

There really were so many and they were so lovely….but I persevered with my little globe and hoped for the best and every now and again I took a look at some of the others.   There was an afternoon tea called My Mother’s Baking, then there flowers showing the joys of family, this year’s royal wedding, sport and cricket, nature’s bounty, gardening.

There was a patriotic red white and blue one, and then there were the lovely trees, beautiful weeping birch trees, put together to form an archway into thechurch.   A lovely idea for a wedding, such an entrance for the

bride to come through….Anyway I finished my globe.  It wasn’t bad and the colours were good.  See what you think.   As usual I needed to look at it again.   I went home and when I got back on the Sunday I liked it a lot more!

One of my favourites was done for Marie Curie, lovely pink colours in the church doorway.   

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Mrs Postgate’s tomato chutney

Well I suspect that the weather is not going to ripen all my tomatoes….and that might well apply to lots of other people I think, so time to find Margaret Costa’s recipe book. Great book full of fab recipes and so if you can get hold of a copy I can recommend it.  My old one is so well thumbed its just about collapsing so its great that I was bought a fresh copy a couple of years ago.   When I got the new one I discovered that I wasn’t the only fan.   I was in great company, so much so that the blessed Dehlia has written the foreward.

Probably shouldn’t repeat her recipe here but I use it all the time when the season ends and I was asked for it so here goes:

2lbs/900g cooking apples

Half a pound/225g onions

1oz/25g garlic

1lb/450g sultanas

4lbs/1.8kg green tomatoes

2oz/50g bruised root ginger

2oz/55g crushed mustard seeds

half an oz/15g shredded chillies

2lb/900g demerera sugar

4oz/115g salt

l.5 pts/850 ml malt vinegar

Put the peeled and quartered apples through a mincer (or grate or use a foodprocessor) with the onions, garlic and sultanas.  Peel the tomatoes and chop roughly.  Tie the spices in a piece of muslin.

Put everything into a large heavy pan and cook gently for 3-4 hrs till soft, thick and well blended (stir frequently especially towards the end when chutney can burn).  There should be no ‘free liquid’ left but do remember that the mixture will thicken a lot when cool so don’t overcook.  Its ready when a spoon drawn through the mixgture cuts a clean channel with no vinegar left in it.

Remove the spices.  Pot in clean hot jars while still warm, cover with greaseproof paper and a plastic disc or a screw top.

So there you are. Enjoy.  Last year at about this time I made a whole load of stuff….chilli jam, crab apple jelly flavoured with all sorts of things like rosemary and ginger, and pots and pots of damson jam.  Stored them all and put them into Christmas hampers for friends with lots of other home made goodies I made nearer the time.

They went down really well – and probably the best of the lot was the home made advocaat…loved that myself!

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I think we’ve turned a corner…..

I’m sitting outside writing this….its been a long time coming but that’s what I had in mind when  I bought this little house with its derelict garden.   I can smell the roses from my garden bench and the air’s warm and the birds are singing.

Almost two years ago I sat out here just after I got the keys.   My plumber and I were eating sandwiches for lunch on the hard stony earth surrounded by the old bathroom fittings which were chucked out here and goodness only knows what else…carpet, radiators, bits of wood, you name it.  Not just that but the garden itself was indescribably awful.  Not a garden at all.  And he said to me what on earth made you move here (I had a perfectly nice garden at my house in Leeds) and I said just listen…. so we sat in silence.   There was practically no sound and sitting here now I can’t see another house.  I can see the tops of the chimneys at Ferrybridge Power Station over the greenery mind you but I can live with that!

When I look at the house pre French windows and pre decking I can’t believe it.  It looks so different.  And well done son….I knew it was a good idea for him to retrain as a joiner!

The view’s changed a bit as well, this is how it looks from the  bench now and last year I’d have been looking at this.

I think the biggest improvement though has to be the lawn.   I seeded it in April of this year and banned the hens from it.   They and the birds were having a fine time eating the seed.   And of course it was so dry.  So much for it being a perfect time to sow grass seed  the driest spring for how many years?   So goodness knows how much water went onto it.   Anyhow eventually it started to grow, and so we said goodbye to the grey earth and welcomed the green growth.  Such a difference.   Its not 100% weed free, but then considering what was here beforehand that’s OK.  Its less than 6 months old so a year of mowing and weeding and it’ll improve.

And the front of house is taking shape too.   I was desperate to get a front porch and some raised beds.   It looked so naked when I moved in.  Not a bit like the cottage that the locals called it.   When I told someone where I lived she said “Oh yes, the old potters cottages”  but this didn’t look a bit like a cottage and there was nowhere to plant a thing.   So I’d been looking here there and everywhere for something to change the look of the front door (which is actually the kitchen door….because the house is back to front, but let’s not go there!) when I came upon a reduced garden arch thingy.  Rang my son who said things like, “Is it tall enough?  Will it be wide enough?”and “OK get it”.

So I did.   Anyway without going into the huffing and puffing about it not being quite right after a good deal of adaptation it was eventually installed complete with raised beds on either side…..yet  to be filled I have to say, but it won’t be long.

There is still much to do.   My veg patch now extends way down behind the greenhouse, but it has further to go and it needs to have the little elder which overshadows it considerably reduced, if not removed.  Not made my mind up on that one yet.  Its producing a good yield as well this year for such a new project.   We’ve had onions, garlic, carrots, courgettes (well who hasn’t?), lettuce and other salad leaves, new potatoes and 2 types of beans and radishes.   Still to come are the maincrop potatoes, spring onions, chard, spinach, purple sprouting broccoli and pak choi.  And of course loads of tomatoes from the greenhouse as well as chillies and cucumbers.

I started on a fruit garden as well but that really hasn’t had the attention it deserves, but I have got some pears that look like they’ll be good to eat this season and I’ve had rhubarb and some strawberries.   The hens got to the last of them though and I think the gooseberries.  Well at least they disappeared.

Now that I’ve got this far I’m thinking about next year.   I’m sure gardeners are the most optimistic of creatures.   Always looking forward.

The focus has got to be on the fruit garden.   I might need a fruit cage to keep the birds off it, and not just the hens.   My garden birds are so well fed I seem to be constantly filling up the feeders but that doesn’t stop them for helping themselves to other things they fancy.

As well as that I’d like to clear a bit of land and turn it into a cutting garden.   English summer flowers are so lovely and although I suspect I shall always have to buy in flowers for my floristry work because I simply don’t have the space to grow commercially,  I’d love to be able to gather bunches from my own garden for the house.

Of course whilst I’ve been writing this I’ve had to move indoors.   Its been trying to rain and its got a bit chilly out there.  Oh English summers hey.  But with a bit of luck it might just brighten up into a lovely evening whilst I’m watering the hanging baskets.

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