Georgie's Blog

  • Flowers for a cricket tea

    Flowers for a cricket tea

    Flowers for a cricket tea.

    It is the ultimate picture of the classic English summer's afternoon: the sight of people dressed in white, sloping over a beautifully-mown pitch, the clock of leather on willow, lazy applause from under the horse-chestnut trees, a club house with a veranda on which a glorious tea is laid. And posies of fresh-cut country flowers, popped in jugs and jars along that cricket-tea table.

    And just because a cricket match is to take place in London town, and the congregation (surely the right word?) will be sitting on raked stands rather than under trees, and the competition perhaps a little fierce, and the 'howzats!' loud, and the laziness of the country village version of the same may be missing, there's still the ceremony of the cricket tea.

    And the wise club captain knows that without really good English country flowers, cut fresh from an English country garden, there will be something fundamental missing from the proceedings.

    And so we make posies for the last word in smarty pants cricket teas. And we give them little reserv...

  • The art of the thank you

    The art of the thank you
    The art of the thankyou is one usually expressed in a letter. Do you remember the agony of thank you letter writing as a child? The need for ink pen, writing paper, writing enough that the letter went over the page... My mother used to bribe us with a box of chocolates, one of which was allowed each time a thank you letter was written. She had five brothers and sisters, all of whom sent us Christmas presents, and each of us had five godparents. And we were lucky to have two full sets of grandparents well into adulthood. Childhood thank you letter writing was an agony. And then we grew up, and the habit of the thank you letter had become so strong, that the guilt when one didn't post a little something, properly written, in ink, long enough to go over the page, thanking for the thing, asking after the giver's health, the health of their family, expressing hope that one would see the giver again soon... A cousin gave an incredibly generous family party last weekend. I still haven't written to her. And as I type Sharon is in the studio packing up today's flowers, so...
  • DIY Buckets of Fresh Cut Country Flowers

    DIY Buckets of Fresh Cut Country Flowers

    DIY Buckets of Fresh Cut Country Flowers.

    Today, amongst other things, we're cutting flowers for a lovely family party to be held later in the week.  We're just supplying buckets of mixed flowers, cut fresh from our gardens here at Common Farm between Bruton and Wincanton in Somerset.  I've had a chat with the client who rang to tell me what she plans to do with the flowers, so I've cut espeicially tall alliums, foxgloves and huge cardoon leaves for her, for a big arrangement on the hall table, and smaller goodies: sweet peas, aquilegia, buttercups and sweet william, for posies she plans on dotting down the table for the big dinner.  It's great if people tell me really quite exactly what they plan to do with our flowers when we supply them for DIY as I can then imagine what they're going to be turned into, and cut accordingly.  

    You don't have to be an expert florist to be a DIY bucket arranger.  As one client who rang yesterday said, 'Fresh cut garden flowers sort of arrange themselves.  They're so stunning I can let the flowers do th...

  • Surviving RHS Chelsea Flower Show

    Surviving RHS Chelsea Flower Show

    Surviving RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

    Doing Chelsea sucessfully requires a combination of determination, sharp elbows, careful editing of what there is to see, and good cashflow.

    This week promises to be HOT at Chelsea, and HOT London is pretty darned tropical for we country souls used at least for room for a breeze to keep our necks cool, even if our feet are hot.

    So how to survive The Chelsea Flower Show, and make sure you see everything?

    Get there early - like 8am.  Then it's just you, the photographers, the gardeners polishing their footpaths.  You'll be able to actually get close enough to see the gardens, and a lot of the stallholders won't have opened up yet, so you won't find yourself spending too much money.

    Take water.  A bottle of water bought at the Chelsea Flower Show will cost a breathtaking amount when you could take it along for free.

    Wear comfortable shoes. Those pavements are hard on the feet and it's only in the floral marquee that there's any give under foot.  

    Wear a hat.  This week ...

  • Take part in the RHS Chelsea Fringe

    Take part in the RHS Chelsea Fringe

    Take part in the RHS Chelsea Fringe.

    My gardening friend and colleague Michelle Chapman (@malvernmeet on twitter,) has had a brilliant idea.  She's accredited the hashtag #mygardenrightnow as an official RHS Chelsea Fringe event.  

    She wants all of us ordinary gardeners to celebrate our precious patches by taking and posting lots of photographs of our gardens during RHS Chelsea Flower Show week.

    After all, while the Chelsea Flower Show show gardens are works of perfection rivalled only in ephemeral beauty by the salt mandalas of Nepalese monks made painstakingly over a period of weeks only to be blown away to remind those monks that the beauty they can make is just transitory, so those show gardens also are works of ephemera, created at enormous cost, to be admired by us all over just a few days, and then, pouff! Gone - as though they were just fictions of our imaginations.

    Our own gardens though are real works: our backs know that we've made them, our hands know that we've sown the seed, potted on, planted out, frost-proofed and wind-prot...

  • Big thank you for plant sale support

    Big thank you for plant sale support

    Dear friends and neighbours,

    I just want to (better late than never!) thank all who came and supported our plant sale on 6th May in aid of mending the hole in the 13th century roof of St Stephen's church, Charlton Musgrove.  With our simple formula of all plants being £1 a pot, no matter how impressive or how dinky, we managed to raise £1,400+ in plant sales, cake sales, raffle ticket sales and extra kind donations.  

    It feels as though Charlton Musgrove is having a real living-the-dream moment.  We currently have a farm shop, a vicar, a fab village hall, and a really great new pub open - we're a proper-central casting village! Long may it last I say, with so many kind neighbours and friends about the whole place is buzzing with neighbourliness.

    So please note this date for your diary for next year, Sat 12th May, Charlton Musgrove Village Hall, for more plant sale action.  We're grateful for donated plants, cakes, and really fab raffle prizes, and hope to do it all again.

    This year we opened at 9.30 and about two thir...

  • The flower delivery day

    The flower delivery day

    We are what is known as artisan flower farmers, or sometimes farmer-florists.  This means we grow most of the stock we use in our floristry and so our days run slightly differently from that of your more traditional high street florist.  

    We start the day looking at the orders and making up a stem count of what we'll need to complete the orders.  And then we (we being me and Sharon) fill our little trolleys with clean buckets brimming with fresh water, and we set off into the garden to cut the flowers we'll need to fulfil our orders.

    A couple of hours later we meet back in the studio, and by then the main table in there is pretty much groaning with buckets of flowers.  We look at what we have, compare notes, maybe pop out ot get a few more stems of this or that to make sure the balance is right.  And then we have a coffee and sort a bit of admin for the rest of the morning.

    And then, after lunch, we make the bouquets and posies which our customers have ordered.  Generally I do most of the floristry and Sharon does the lables an...

  • Creating a perennial wildflower meadow workshop

    Creating a perennial wildflower meadow workshop

    Excited about our day courses coming up, teaching workshops on how to create a perennial wildflower meadow like the ones we have here at Common Farm Flowers, I nipped out today to collect a little ripening cowslip seed for our students to sow when they come in June.  

    Cowslips have a delicious, soft scent, like bergamot, or Earl Grey tea, and are one of my absolute favourite wildflowers, blooming early in the year and reminding me of the orchard of my French exchange's grandmother, who had a walled garden in the Loire, filled with apple trees, from one of which hung a swing, to reach which, in April, one had to walk, kneedeep, through a mass of cowslips.

    We've lost 90% of our wildflower meadows in the UK since the second world war.  If all my wildflower meadow students take home a tray of freshly sown fresh cowslip seed from their day here, they'll have lovely strong seedlings to plant out in the autumn, and the beginnings of their own carpet of cowslips flowering in their wild patches early in the spring next year.

  • Tips for keeping your bridal bouquet fresh on the day

    Tips for keeping your bridal bouquet fresh on the day

    We do English country flowers for fifty or sixty weddings a year here at Common Farm Flowers, always using British-grown flowers in our floristry, mostly grown here on the farm between Wicanton and Bruton in Somerset, and nearly always including a touch of wild flowers in the mix.  

    Wild flowers are beautiful in wedding bouquets, but they won't last forever out of water.  Traditional bouquets made with flowers full of chemical preservatives can be carried about for hours without showing any sign of fatigue, but fresh fresh fresh flowers, like ours, which have never been near any silver nitrate or other flower preservatives, will only do an hour or so out of water (plenty of time for the ceremony and the photographs.)  

    So our brides are advised to keep a vase of water ready to put their flowers in when they've had enough of carrying them around - which to be fair, brides quite quickly have.  After all, there are people to kiss, glasses of champagne to carry, people to dance with.  Brides (and bridesmaids) have quite quickly have had enough ...

  • White flowers for a spring wedding in London

    White flowers for a spring wedding in London

    Just because you're to be married in a smart, modern venue in London town, there's no reason you shouldn't have home-grown English country flowers at your wedding.  We often send flowers to London for weddings.  And our wildish, often woodlandy look makes a wonderful contrast with the strict, clean lines of a modern venue.  And that's what happened to these flowers.  A lovely bride had seven wild table centres in hurricane vase lamps for her guests, and on the mantlepiece in the reception room she had five large jam jar posies dotted either side three hurricane lamps with tall, high quality, church pillar candles inside them.  There were four buttonholes only.  It was a smart, very pretty, grown up wedding.  And this is the bride's bouquet: a mix of white lilac, white ranunculus, Solomon's seal, cow parsley, and other goodies, a lot of which would have been very difficult to find at a London florist.  We sent the flowers up by courier, had a long chat with the venue to make sure they knew how to look after them when they arrived, and this Lo...

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