Category Archives: Uncategorized

Relaxed country look wedding

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.

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Time to put the garden to bed

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!

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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 – margaret@readyplanted.com 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.

Meanwhile…….

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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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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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Compost – I love it!

There’s always been a compost heap in the garden – right from the time I was very small so I’m amazed when I hear people saying “Oh I wouldn’t want a compost heap – they’re mucky or they attract rats and they’re ugly” – I really get quite agitated and find myself preaching the benefits of composting with almost evangelical zeal.

What you get from good compost is a really valuable nutritionally rich material to add to your garden. It adds structure to your soil and improves the pH balance. It’s a great way to recycle kitchen and garden waste and reduces the amount we send to landfill.  And it’s free….which has to be good, and it’s a darned sight easier than carting big bags of mulch and expensive compost from the garden centre.

So having said that how do you go about it? Well you can start with a heap – literally. That’s what we had at home and it was just a big pile in the corner. As more was added to the top we dug out the rotted material from bottom to use. It does work but that can get a bit messy and it’s certainly the slowest method. There are lots of ways of keeping the compost more tidy, and different kinds composting systems to speed up the process. For me it’s a 2 bay compost heap made up of old wooden pallets. If you take 7 pallets and make two squares of the pallets, securing them in the corners you end up with two ideal spaces to make and store the compost. If you have less space there are compost bins readily available to buy which work just as well. Or if you want something more cutting edge there are compost tumblers which you rotate and wormeries supplied with worms ready to get going, both of which speed up the process.

My dad would have been amazed at how much there is said about how you should make a compost heap and what you should put in it. I seem to remember he just chucked all the vegetable matter from house and garden on it and that was that. But if you’ve never made one before there are some key do’s and don’ts.

Don’t add:

  • Meat or meat products
  • Fish
  • Milk, cheese or any dairy related products
  • Cooked food whatever it is including vegetables
  • Really woody or thick prunings which would be hard to break down (although you could shred them)
  • Citrus peel
  • Perennial weeds
  • Cat litter

Do add:

  • Vegetable peelings and fruit peelings (ex citrus) etc from the kitchen
  • Tea bags/leaves and coffee grounds
  • Grass cuttings
  • Annual weeds – although best not to use those with ripe seed heads
  • Waste paper (preferably shredded)
  • Old bedding plants and your cut down herbaceous plants
  • Dead cut flowers from the house
  • Any other exhausted plants from the greenhouse or your garden
  • Egg shells
  • Autumn leaves
  • Old compost from pots either from the house or garden
  • Thinner prunings although best shredded

Be careful about adding diseased plant material to the heap. Some blight and club root affected plants should not go into the heap, but tomato blight (which I seem to get at the end of most seasons) will be gone by the time the old tomato plants have broken down, but if in doubt leave it out!

There are methods of adding material to your compost heap which can make the process quicker. I try not to add thick layers of grass clippings, leaves or shredded paper which can turn into a solid block in the composter. I fill up the first bay of my 2-bay pallet contraption. Then once it’s full you could empty it out, mix the contents really well and then put it back into the bay adding water between layers as you go. The heap will warm up as it composts. A couple of weeks later you can repeat this mixing step, watering again if the heap has become dry. The mixing action will introduce air which helps the composting process and can mean that you could have a finished product in a little as 6-8 weeks.

Whilst all that is going on in one bay I still have another bay to start all over again.

I must say I tend to just leave mine to compost naturally which can take up to 12 months, but I will check to see whether it’s too dry and if it is add some water. Cover the tops of the bays with a square of old carpet to keep the material in and keep the worst of the weather off.

When you have a rich brown crumbly material you’ve made really good compost, and once it goes brown and everything is well rotted you can assume the compost is ready. I have had compost which still has bits in it, which have rotted, but just not broken down finely. You could use that as it is or you could sieve it so that it is fine, or just put the bigger bits back into the compost to rot down further.

There are commercial accelerators available which you mix into the heap and which are made to speed up the whole thing. I haven’t seen the need to use one but you could give it a go.

And what to do with it after all that? Depending on where you’re putting it either you can use it as a mulch on established beds, or dig it into empty beds. You can also top dress pots and mulch around fruit trees and bushes or if you want to get really clever you can start mixing in other ingredients and make your own potting compost.

So if you can don’t put it in the bin, put it on the compost heap.

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Wittering and Twittering

I think I am developing an unhealthy Twitter habit!  I’ve been taking part in Reach Further’s #12dot (12 Days of Twitter) and have learnt all sort of stuff, but now, whatever I do I need to tweet it…  Not sure I can write anything that’s any longer than 140 characters but let’s have a go.

Lovely wedding on Friday – very pretty bride, beaming groom and the flowers weren’t bad eitherWeather was brilliant too which is remarkable since it’s done nothing but rain since.    I know we all pray for good weather but it isn’t the best for the flowers, you get them from the market in tip top shape and then you try to keep them that way….

As usual the Mustard Pot made a lovely venue and the couple had filled the garden with fun things to do – hoopla, 10 pin bowls, and amongst other things limbo.  Didn’t hang around to see the bride do that in her frock!  And inside they’d collected dozens of pretty china cups and saucers for coffee after dinner which went perfectly with the simple jugs and jars of pretty country flowers

The theme was vintage/country, so lots of seasonal flowers, nothing too stuffy.   The pew ends were simple bunches tied with raffia which we lifted with the pedestal and moved down to the pub for the reception.   Makes sense to get double the use from your flowers where you can.

Of course there had to be roses, in the bouquet were Avalance and Akito roses with gyp, white lisianthus and freesia, and variegated pittisorpum and the bridesmaids’ posies were simple but with blues and violets to match their dresses.

And after all that loveliness I had to find a way to get 19 half barrels from Knottingley to Leeds.   Man with Van was great, but we still had to stuff 3 of them into my car, talk about the sublime to the ridiculous.  But they got there and they look good as well.  I took a photo when they arrived, oozing the smell of booze over the garden but I failed to take one when I’d done.  I suspect I’d seen too much of them by then.

Quite glad of the rain today really – at least I can’t dig anything or plant anything, hooray I get to stay inside.   A little light plant ordering is on the cards I think.  Oh careful the sun’s coming out….

and if you want to know where all the wittering and twittering is find me @MaggyAnne, see you there maybe?

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