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“The world’s favourite season is the spring. All things seem possible in Spring.”
— Edwin Way Teale

So how did you celebrate May Day?

Did you dress up in white and dance around a maypole?

Did you bathe in the morning dew??

Folklore suggests anyone who ‘bathed’ in the May Day dew would have beautiful complexion for the following year. Rolling around in the dew would bring flawless skin and protect the person from freckles, sunburn, wrinkles, pimples and spots! 

“a maid who rises early on May morning and washed in the dew from the hawthorn tree, will ever be handsome be.”

Men who washed their hands in the dew were said to be gain skills in tying knots and operating locks"

 

With temperatures down at 3 degrees here this May Day morning there was absolutely no chance I was going to go rolling in the morning dew whatever the beauty benefits may be!!

Its been a really cold start to Spring. Well apart from two weeks ago when it was the hottest day in April for yonks!! Us British do seem to have a fascination with the weather, but is there any wonder when it is so unpredictable. Yes its sunny by day, and even warm if out of the wind but then the night comes and the temperature plummets. My greenhouse is seriously overcrowded. Seedlings are growing well in the heat and even having sometime playing outside to harden off, but with frosts still possible they have to wait before being planted out in the 'big patch'. They really are bursting at the seams and I'm not wasting more compost in putting them in bigger pots as there is no room for bigger pots in the greenhouse. Its like a little jungle in there and with plant labels long gone it is a bit like 'guess the seedling'!

Things aren't fairing much better in the polytunnel. Lots planted out and looking happy, but not exactly growing tall and bursting into flower. Plenty of buds with some things 'thinking' about flowering, but they cant seem to get past the thinking stage and move on to 'doing' Hard to believe I've been picking sweetpeas on previous May Days when this years efforts are still knee high to a grasshopper. I know it will all come right in the end and soon I'll be complaining I have more flowers than Chelsea, but for now its rather frustrating for an impatient flower grower like me.

So excuse me for keeping my clothes firmly on and foregoing pimple free skin as I'd be more at risk of getting chilblains this May.

 

The first day of May was once a great cause for celebration: people would gather to welcome the onset of summer and celebrate the abundance of the growing time. It has been celebrated since ancient times, and quite rightly so. May Day is traditionally a Pagan festival, Belthane, which says goodbye to winter and marks the beginning of summer.

A tradition which has fallen out of favour but I feel should be reinstated is the creation of “May baskets”. These were little gifts containing sweets or flowers and anonymously left on friends and neighbours doorsteps.

I knew nothing of this lovely tradition until I read an Instagram post by the stylist Hannah Bullivant. (You should follow her too!)  https://instagram.com/p/BiPmKunD0hP/  I then started to read more and really liked the idea.

So you pick and forage little posies of seasonal flowers then anonymously leave them on your neighbours doorsteps to wish them well for the start of the new season. How sweet!

 

As usual I’ve missed the boat for this year but let me assure you that this custom will be on my May to do list for next year. Hopefully these “forget me nots” will make sure I don’t forget.

 

So friends and neighbours - watch this space! Of course it's anonymous and you wouldn't recognise that wrinkle free flawless person anyway!

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“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours”
— Mark Twain

Who doesn’t love spring? After the dark, cold wetness of winter we all love the fist glimpse of the sun, the first feeling of warmth and the first sighting of roadside daffodils. 

Spring flowers. They are just so god-dam cheerful. Bright cheery daffodils, bobbing bright tulips, scented hyacinths and the delicate ranunculous. What’s not to love. Put them altogether and they really are everyone’s favourite flowers.  

So take a bouquet of spring flowers, a sunny day, a beautiful ‘bride’ and (best of all) a cute four day old lamb and you get the happiest photoshoot ever! Or actually as we had the brilliant Katie on board it was the “best day ever

 

Grace and Elegance supplied the bubbly smiling Katie with one of their beautiful bridal dresses. Wedding Belles and Isabella Grace worked their combined magic and produced pure gorgeousness. 

The Big Sheep were our hosts of the shoot and had built a brilliant straw and hay backdrop. The best.day.ever styling van turns up and like a Mary Poppins carpet bag, produces the most spot on props and styling. Add a good sprinkling of spring flowers and the result is the perfect setting for our star of the show: “Lottie the lamb”. He really was the most chilled out cuddly lamb ever. Stole the show with not a spot of lippy required.  

We were especially blessed to have Gavin Warland on board to capture all of this spring sensationalism.  

There's not a lot more I can say but just let these fabulous images do the talking.  










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“I say luck is when an opportunity comes along and you are prepared for it”
— Denzel Washington

I never enter competitions, I never buy lotto tickets - I always feel the odds are always too highly stacked against me for it to be worth the effort. So why I went against this habit for the Tallulah Rose competition must demonstrate the appeal of the prize. I mean, three days in an amazing location, being taught by one of the best in the business surrounded by beautiful flowers - that would be the jackpot for me! Sparkford Hall Wedding Flower Course Retreat?  This Cinderella was up for it! 

So 200 words or less on why it should be me? Let's see...........

I'm a flower grower and florist.

I spend time with dirt filled fingernails willing seedlings to grow, cursing slugs and rabbits and celebrating when I get the blooms. 

I spend time tweeting, facebooking, instagramming - spreading the word of British flowers.

I spend time talking 'jam-jar weddings' to brides and juggling quotes because they're on a 'budget'

I spend time studying Pinterest pictures, deciphering how to deliver bride's dream weddings

I spend silly-o'clock mornings in all weathers cutting and conditioning flowers

I spend time marketing my business - on my own tight budget

I spend time convincing my husband its a viable business

I spend time doing this with two preschool boys

I spend time doing all of this because I absolutely love flowers with a passion.

What I do not spend time doing, what I've never spent time doing, is learning how to arrange show-stopping flowers in a spectacular house by one of the best and having portfolio pictures to show for it.

For the experience, the confidence, the reassurance from fellow florists and, honestly, for the reward and touch of glamour the course would give me - I would love to 'spend time' at Sparkford Hall.

 

and guess what? I only went and won it!!!

Sparkford Hall here I come......

 

 

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“Sometimes you must let go of your pride and do what is asked of us”
— Anakin Skywalker, Episode 2: Attack of the Clones

So they are a Star Wars nerd. You've accepted that, you find it kind of endearing. Well it's better than being into fly fishing - right? But what happens when they want a Star Wars wedding? 

Not quite what you had in mind eh? But worry not as "fear is the path to the dark side" as Yoda once said. You can include the Star Wars world into your big day without dressing like Darth Vader or wearingbagels in your hair (remember that episode of Friends!) 

Some subtle inclusions of galactical fun could actually make your big day truly unique and be a real reflection of your personalities. I've put a little Pinterest board together of some ideas I came across that are actually quite sweet. But how far you go to include the trilogy and beyond is up to you - and your obsessed partner. With Hans and Leia, Luke and Mara and even R2-D2 and C-3PO showing us how it is done there is always room for love and romance what ever Galaxy you live in. 

Mind you if you have your eye on Mr Hamill himself you may have some competition from the obsessed Sara. Check out her hilarious Instagram feed or through her blog

Photo by Tim Lamerton

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“Marriage is a great institution”
— Elizabeth Taylor

The 1950's. The decade of the first organ transplant, colour TV, the credit card, the opening of Disneyland, trials of birth control pills and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth.

All these key events are still heavily influencing society today and have really shaped the culture of the world we are currently living in. 

And no one can forget the style and glamour of the brides of the 1950's. Grace Kelly, Marilyn  Monroe (twice!) Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor (twice!) ....and my mum..... 

I met a bride to be and her intended this week who are recreating a wedding from the 50's. A beautiful rural setting so think 'Darling Buds of May' with buckets and baskets full of frothy English flowers. They're paying such attention to detail so I wanted to look into the bridal party flowers of the day. What was en vogue and sought after of that era. 

The look is informal and country. The palette is pastels of blues, pinks, yellows. An English country garden transported into the wedding. For a sneak look at some visuals I have put together a Pinterest  board 
In the main, high street florists were the only vendors of flowers. Dutch imports didn't start until the 1970s and growers were mostly regional. Florists purchased flowers from growers and wholesalers within 25 miles of their stores, and, sometimes, there were florists who were selling their own flowers they had grown themselves! (Imagine that? It will never catch on.....!) Internet searches show that, generally, flowers were white with very little additional colour. They were also seasonal as the flower import market was yet to take off. Lily of the valley in spring, maybe roses in summer but lilies and carnations were common place as grown in hot houses across the country. 

Asparagus fern was the foliage of choice, more often than not cascading through a shower bouquet. Gardenias and orchids featured in the celebrity bouquets but my mums bridal shower was .... shhh dare I say it ..... artificial! 

At least Marilyn Monroe would have been proud of her footwear! 

“I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot”
— Marilyn Monroe
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“I’ll wait for you under the bluebells. I’ll be there always. ”
— Kim Harrison

Cornish Scillas: the cut flower growers Bluebell. With thicker and stronger stems than traditional bluebells, these beauties stand upright and behave themselves in vases and bouquets rather than flopping around everywhere. 

These vibrant blue blooms were grown at Clowance Wood Nurseries in Praze, Cornwall (Flowers by Clowance) And you too can enjoy these in your home as they are featured this week in Church Park Flowers at Johns of Appledore

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“If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself”
— Rollo May

I love Pinterest, I waste many an hour browsing through pictures of .... well just about anything. From gardens to kids crafts, campervans to wedding bouquets. It's an amazing source of images and articles in an easy accessible form that can be organised and kept for future instant recap

I also use it lots when I'm meeting and speaking with brides to be. It's a perfect way to get across pictorially the bouquets they like, their style, theme and thinking behind the wedding.  

But is it realistic? Is it achievable? And rather than giving ideas is it not just copying others ideas rather than encouraging original thought?

Images on Pinterest are the 'best of the best'. A majority of them are taken by professional photographers during photo shoots where the lighting is perfect, the models are beautiful, the budgets are astronomical and it all comes together to make an amazing 'wow' image that we fall in love with. But do we stop and think how that image captured in Southern California, in near perfect weather after hours of set up, make up artists and photo editing will look when recreated in wet windy north Devon?

We all want a fairytale wedding with towering cakes, 5ft high floral arrangements and designer gowns but unless we have a real 'prince' charming to finance it we have to be more realistic. Of course there are some great budget conscious ideas on Pinterest but are they your ideas or someone else's? 

I'm often sent the same images from brides to be of wannabe bouquets, centrepieces and arches. So how unique is your one special day going to be if you are merely copying ideas of others. 

Does your intended really love burlap and bunting? Yes it creates a beautiful rustic charm, but does it truly reflect what you and your partner are really about? Does it show your own individuality? Does it reflect your personality?

Of course use Pinterest to capture those great ideas and photos. But make sure they are reflecting what you truly love rather than poster pin ups of the best.  

Take inspiration from other things around you. That garden you pass everyday on the way to work that always catches your eye, your favourite dress at the back of the wardrobe that doesn't fit any more, but you can't throw away because the colour is delicious. That restaurant you went to with your fiancé last year on holiday that you still talk about. All these things are a true reflection of you and your fiancés personalities and loves and they should help shape the wedding of your dreams.

After all, do you want your guests to come to your wedding and look at your set up and say 'lovely - it looks just like that picture I saw on Pinterest' or do you want them to take one look and say 'wow' that is so 'you'!

 

Six ways to make the most of Pinterest when planning your wedding:

1 Manage your expectations
We can all be guilty of champagne taste with a sparkling water budget. Keep your budget in mind when your start pinning images. And don't forget seasonality - peonies may look beautiful but are very expensive out of season. 

2. Leave room for own style and ideas
Upload your own images rather than just repinning other people's images. You can add a Pinterest option to your uploads direct from your photo library


3. Use non wedding related Pinterest boards
Variety is key. Take inspiration from other streams such as travel, interior design or fashion. 

4. Include your offline life
You do have an offline life don't you?! Do you and your partner have a shared interest in theatre or 80's music or even rugby? Try and incorporate these shared interests into your wedding to make it truly unique. 

5. Narrow it down
It's very easy to get carried away and find you have hundreds of images. You need to get strict and delete, delete, delete. Hone the images down to less than, say, twenty and then you will have a clear vision of what you are wanting to achieve

6. Stick to it
Once you have your board - stop pinning! Move on to planning and physically doing else there won't be a real wedding to enjoy!

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“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation”
— Robert H Schuller

I like tidy. I border a little on OCD when it comes to my workspaces. But when there is a big job coming up my workshop seems to shrink and bursts at the seems with buckets, blooms and bouquets. 

This is the unorganised chaos of colour and scent that is currently filling my workshop ahead of a busy floral weekend. Check out the social media channels of Church Park Flowers over the next couple of weeks to see what "spectacular achievement" was created out of this "unspectacular preparation"

instagram / twitter / facebook

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“I hope everyone that is reading this is having a really good day. And if you are not, just know that in every new minute that passes you have an opportunity to change that. ”
— Gillian Anderson

So today is Good Friday, the day we gorge on hot cross buns knowing there is only another 48 hours until lent is over and we can go back to chocolate, gin, crisps - and all those other things that make us happy! It represents new beginnings and awakenings.  

Without getting too religious on you I did do a quick Google to find out why it was called 'Good' Friday when it's actual biblical roots are rather sorrowful. One school of thought is that it was actually a typo! Previously called 'Gods Friday' (Godos Fruday) a couple of letters got switched and howzat - Good Friday it was! Following this same school of thought maybe in several thousand years Church Park Flowers will become 'Chalk Perch Furrows' or 'Sprawl Chock Fuhrer'! (Visit wordsmith.org for an hilarious anagram generator)

But today is a very Good Friday for me for one key exciting reason. Church Park Flowers are now available to buy at Johns of Instow and Appledore! Two amazing, award winning delis who face each other across the Torridge estuary are now stocking posies and bouquets of locally grown British flowers. This week's selections are true Easter and Springtime tidings of scented narcissi, tulips, ranunculus and sprigs of contorted willow and birch. And as the seasons change then so will the selection of flowers. 

I'm pursuing the opportunity of a new beginning. Get yourself to a Johns deli, buy some flowers and join me in a Good Friday, Great Saturday, Amazing Sunday, Fab Monday........

Apes Therapy! 

(or Happy Easter!)

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“Who sees the human face correctly: the photographer, the mirror or the painter?”
— Pablo Picasso

This week's Friday Photograph has been triggered by a blogger that I follow; Me and Orla. Sara is a real whizz when it comes to anything Instagram or photography related, and when she posted a blog a couple of weeks ago about 'putting yourself in the picture' it struck a chord. 

I am always more comfortable about sharing pictures of my flowers and letting them 'sell' the story and speak for themselves. But of course there is much more to 'Church Park Flowers' than just the flowers and I must show my face occasionally to show that, obviously, there are people behind the scenes squirrelling away - planting, weeding, watering, picking, creating and delivering. So....... Here I am! 

'Modelling' a bouquet and flower crown that I made for a recent wedding fayre, you can just about make me out. The flowers still take centre stage, but firstly I am more comfortable with that and actually they should be the focus!

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