This last couple of weeks I’ve been watching the weather as we all do at this time of year, and worrying myself silly. I need to grow fabulous dahlias for a friend’s garden. Her daughter is getting married in August and she wants a garden full of big showy colourful flowers. Dahlias are the answer but the tubers need to be started off anytime now. Of course in the cold greenhouse nothing will happen anytime soon so I’ve been getting a bit twitchy.
Anyhow I was looking back over the last couple of years and there was a post about the late spring. Just 2 years ago. Exactly the same thing, cold and wintry,but lo and behold it was the 9th of March and I was potting up my dahlia tubers indoors. So I guess I’m starting my own tradition. Tomorrow I’m off to pot up the dahlias and put them somewhere warm like the spare roo m till spring finally turns up.
I am horizontal after an exhausting but wonderfully flowery weekend. It’s been all hands on deck at St James’s church in Fairburn since Friday to fill our pretty little church with this……!!!
Our flower festival has been going on all weekend. There was a lot of work and a lot of fun and at the end of it all a fantastic result….then the cakes came (loads of them …..) and the kettle went on and the visitors came and no matter what the weather threw at us or our bunting we carried on and had a great weekend.
Here’s the cake and the first two catering volunteers:
One of the highlights was the miniature garden competition. You can see some of them bottom right of the main photo. The children at Fairburn School had really put their hearts and souls into designing and creating lovely little gardens and our Judge had trouble coming up with winners, but rosettes were awarded and one of the little boys was first into the church on Saturday morning to see if he’d won. His garden was 3rd so he took photos and was obviously delighted – so much so he was back again today with his Dad and brother to show them too.
I’m always amazed to see some of the creations and fascinated by the ideas for designs. This one, Farming Memories of our Parents comes from a farmer’ wife and daughter. All the elements were there, the wheat and the corn, wool from the sheep, willow hurdles and sunflowers with photos of both their fathers reminding us of another time. A beautiful composition and evocative of a golden age.
I couldn’t choose a favourite amongst the designs they were all so lovely, but I really liked the picnic created on a windowsill. It really did remind me of an idyll
ic lazy summer’s afternoon in the sun, chatting and eating and drinking and laughing….if only we could truly have a few days like that this summer….
We had a lot of fun as well. We worked pretty hard to make the church look this great and to get everything in place, but we chatted, we laughed and we enjoyed making it a success. It was the first flower festival in a while at St James’s but hopefully it won’t be the last.
Thanks everyone who worked so hard to make it a success, and thanks everyone who came and supported us – see you again next year? I hope so.
Today was the day….the ladies of the flower team rolled up their and did Christmas. It’s the carol service tomorrow and the church will be be beautifully decked out. A mountain of greenery had been clipped from gardens, hedgerows and in my case a pub (with permission of course) and the lovely holly in the churchyard gave us load of berries to play with. The only things we bought were the red carnations, some eucalyptus and a bunch of anastasia. Not bad to fill a church.
Enid set about the window by the door. She’d decided on a parallel arrangement before we started having won some gorgeous white amarylis at the flower club on Monday – very handy….and a very beautiful result. Even my son approved and believe me it isn’t easy to get the seal of
approval from him. In fact it isn’t easy to even get him to look.
Annette and Barbara’s windows were lovely too and with their allocation from the carnations they’d added their own little bits of gold and sparkle so that tomorrow evening when all the candles are lit for the carol service the whole church will twinkle in the glow.
And we have a new addition to the team – another Margaret. Which makes life really complicated. I’m a Margaret, we already had a Margaret and now we have a new Margaret…. in a room where there are only 7 women and 3 of them answer to Margaret I can tell you it gets tricky.
Here’s our latest Margaret’s window:
Our 1st Margaret did the altar today but she came along after we’d been there this morning – so pictures tomorrow, and with the candles lit. Should look wonderful.
I had the top of a disused fireplace above a window but way up – apparently I’m young (well that makes a change!) so able to scale the heights. It’s a fairly traditional arrangement and I used lots of sprakly glitter spray which hopefully will show up tomorrow night.
Here’s where we are at Fairburn near Castleford in West Yorkshire : http://www.achurchnearyou.com/fairburn/. If you know how to find the RSPB reserve at Fairburng Ings we are just up the road, and we’d love to see you – our churchwarden has been working like mad and the statues are ready to go into the nativity scene. The candles are ready to light and mince pies are being made in a dozen kitchens round about to go with the mulled wine. We start at 7.30 tomorrow evening (Thursday 15th December) and I know from only having been at this church for a little over a year that you’ll get a warm welcome.
I thought I’d take a pic or two of the winter planters I’d done….but then Gloria thought she’d take a swipe at the berries on the gaultheria…..see swiftly moving hen aiming for red berries.
OK so I shooed her off and tried again. No hens to be seen, great, point the camera at the planter and ……peck! Straight at the phone..Gloria and her friend this time. “Is it edible, no, well let’s have another peck anyhow”……..so I gave up till they were in bed…but of course then it was dark. You can’t win sometimes.
Hopefully you can see what we have here though. A full sized old fashioned zinc pail filled with a 2ft conifer, gaultheria which has lovely red berries flowing over the front, with trailing ivy and pansies or violas All should do beautifully well on your doorstep all winter.
Put a string of battery operated lights round the little tree and you’ll have a lovely Christmassy welcome on your doorstep later in the winter as well.
And if you want to you can plant everything in the garden when it gets too big for the bucket. Don’t panic though the thuja (confier) is slow growing so you’re not looking at a hugenormous monster like leylandii!
So here it is in the dark. Difficult to see I know but I hope you get the idea!
The buckets cost £30 delivered to Leeds postcodes and the Pontefract/Castleford areas. Please get in touch via the contact form on the site if you’d like one.
I deliver little planters as well but it’s way too dark to take any pictures now. Will have a go tomorrow.
You’ve seen the autumn wreath before but I’ve had requests to deliver them as well. Here it is again if you fancy one too:
The base is a wicker frame decorated with seed heads and berries from the garden and the hedgerow. The frame itself will last for several years so you can decorate it again every season if you want to, and the berries and greenery will last outside for many weeks….the colder it gets the longer they’ll last! There are some advantages to the cold weather.
Delivered to the same areas as the planter the wreath will cost £28.00.
I have no idea when I’ll be able to take orders on line (I’m sorry)…. technology and I fight daily. So if you’d like either the planter or the wreath drop me a note – just click on contact in the menu bar and drop me a line.
Generally when I take a brief for a wedding the bride and maybe her mother or chief bridesmaid and I will go over pictures, flower varieties and the colour scheme for the day. Sometimes they take away magazines or books for inspiration and we visit the venue, and then we get a list together. Once I know what’s wanted and everything’s confirmed I file away all the details until much much nearer to the wedding.
A couple of weeks before the event I always get out the list of flowers and send it off to the bride for her to double check. In the months in between there might be another buttonhole or two, or maybe gift bouquets to add, but that’ll be about it, and then off we go.
This time when I looked at the order I was looking forward to putting together the soft colours to create the bouquet. The bride was quite clear that she didn’t want anything that was too contrived.
I really enjoyed choosing flowers that would create the feel and go together well and once I’d chosen the right flowers the handtied bouquet almost put itself together. The bridesmaids’ posies incorporated the same flower choices and toned beautifully with the teal dresses.
Inside the venue the fireplaces lent themselves to decoration. Across the top of the mantlepiece an arrangement was fixed which tied in to the one in the fireplace itself and on the tables informal vases were put together and the table numbers sat in the vases as well. Neat little blackboards on sticks which the bride had found and which I loved. Must ask her where she got them from…..
The couple really did love their flowers – and I loved putting them together. So guys, many congratulations, and thanks for asking me to put them together….I enjoyed it enormously.
Odd expression that, but I think we get the idea. Things are looking a bit ropey out there when I stand at the French windows, and they’re going to look much worse unless I sort things out. It seems harder in the autumn though, it’s much less like fun dismantling the summer garden than getting it up to scratch in the spring, but in fact there’s so much to do and I know it’ll make a difference.
I always know it’s time when I have to clear the tomatoes out of the greenhouse. There’s still one plant left which has some fruit which might just ripen but the rest are on the compost heap.
Once I’ve done that it’s the ideal opportunity to give the greenhouse a clean inside. Brush down all the glass and then wash it with a mild disinfectant and clean the staging and shelving. Try to choose a dry mild day so that any tender plants will be OK outside until everything’s dried out.
Then I can look at what I need to bring into the greenhouse to save for next year. There are always loads of pelargoniums. I love them and try to save as many as I can. They’ll be happy in a dryish compost kept somewhere frost free. I generally take off the flowers and prune them back to about 4” or so…I could have taken cuttings a little bit earlier but I didn’t…so I’ll try to hang onto the plants. If it gets really cold in the greenhouse either it’ll need heating or they’ll have to come into the house.
There are plenty of other things I might like to keep. This year I don’t have any very nice dahlias. I lost some lovely ones by leaving them in the ground last year. In a mild winter they’ll be fine outside but we’ve had some very cold ones so it’s safer to lift the tubers, dust off the soil and store them in dry compost till the spring when you can bring them back into growth again.
I will take cuttings of my salvia ‘hot lips’. I love it and I have taken cuttings before to ensure I keep it year after year. I’ve lost the parent plant more than once so I know I need to get some cuttings. I’ll push them into a mixture of compost and sharp sand and cover them in a polythene bag and they’ll be in the greenhouse frost free till the spring.
As for the mixed border, I tend to stand back and take a view. There are things that need to be cut back and look a messy tangle of dead leaves, and they’d be better on the compost heap, but there are lots of other things looking great – the sedum and the grasses shine in the sun, lots of the cosmos and the marigolds are still flowering like mad, as is the nasturtium that’s climbing over the fence. So they can stay. On the other hand the cerinthe is black, some of the early perennials like the campanula and yellow loostrife look sad and need cutting back. But other perennials, which are over for the summer will stay to give some structure for the winter and for the bugs to feed from. Things like the echinacea and the eringyum. So don’t be too ready to clear everything away too soon.
I almost always plant bulbs. All kinds of bulbs…..it’s no too late for daffodils and you can plant tulips until December, and as well as them you can put in crocus, alliums, grape hyacinths…there really is such a choice, you only have to go into the garden centre or pick up a catalogue and the choice is vast. They’re great though because you need to do so little, just dig a hole and drop them in and you’ll have a lovely display next spring.
Finally if I have home made compost that’s ready I like to mulch at this time of year. Good well-rotted compost is the best and if you can put it down 3-4 inches deep so much the better. That’s the bit that does feel as though I’m tucking up the flower beds for winter. Let’s hope they sleep well and come back better than ever next year.
Next job – maybe in November – some autumn pruning!
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.