It is the first of March and while I am writing this the snow is dancing through the air and kissing the window panes for fleeting moments. I love the snow, it revives a child-like excitement in me. The world looks better coated in an icing sugar white. It’s been a strange month for me, my boyfriend hasn't been well and had major surgery just a few weeks ago. Not many people know but we received this heart aching news at Christmas time. Although I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am usually an open person, it has been quite difficult to share in this journey. All I will say is that Ben is incredibly strong and we have been so lucky to have felt warmth and strength from friends and family reaching out to us from all over. So I haven't thought of much else, work has had to take a back seat and to make matters worse I caught a horrid sinus infection which left me useless and bed bound last week. Ben and I didn't know what to do with ourselves. That awful feeling you get when you’re ill and you don't leave the four walls of your bedroom for a few days, it often induces a dark cloud like feeling. But at least that has gone now, and I can carry on with my nursing duties, and start to think of warmer days ahead and flowers.
So this week I have been home, indoors caring for Ben, and lucky for me it appears to be the coldest week of the year with heavy snowfall drifting across the UK from the East. It has given me time to sleep, time to plan, paint, study, order in seeds and bulbs and truly get excited about the growing season ahead.
I have however suffered a frustrating set back, I hadn't mentioned that our greenhouse, the one that took us many hot summers evenings to build, of grumbling over which part where, has been obliterated. One of the January storms, that I cannot recall the name of swept it away. It lays in a rather sad crumbled heap, underneath it dahlia tubers, cuttings, pots and various collected items lay miserably under broken panes. At a time when I so needed its warmth and light to house all of my tender seedlings. So I am searching for another and also hoping I can afford a polytunnel as I have yearned for one for such a long time.
I must tell you before I forget about a recent weekend spent at Coombeshead Farm Cornwall. It was a late birthday present for Ben and just days before his surgery we felt we needed to escape further South West for some good food and blow-the-cobwebs-away walks. We arrived one Friday afternoon in the heart of the Cornish countryside. With 66 acres of meadows, woodland and oak lined streams, we knew we were where we wanted to be. Owned and run by Tom Adams and April Bloomfield, well known for their rare Mangalitza pigs. Coombeshead restaurant and bakery, was idealic, from the cluster of trees which forms their trademark to their woodlands and sloping fields home to sheep and a landrover which we had been informed had been stuck in the mud all week due to heavy rainfall. A polytunnel I could envy over for days with food grown for the restaurant by Lottie their gardener and Tom’s partner. We were first greeted by Tom and Louise, who made us instantly feel like we were home, Tom took us around the cottage we were staying in with other guests, the cosy living rooms with a welcome roaring log fire, a wine cellar of dreams with shelves of pickles and natural wines, an honesty bar set in a room full of books too and our room. I had Danish feelings of being in Copenhagen, yet in the Cornish countryside, a feeling that I haven’t felt in the UK before. He made us a tray of tea and coffee and warmed by the AGA scones with jam and cream by the fire, while we contemplated where we would walk to. We walked in the afternoon sunshine, along the river, and visited the curly, boar-like Mangalitza pigs, which even knees deep in mud looked charming. We then went to our cosy room to eat fudge and drink rhubarb gin which had been left for us, and then down to the cottage at 7 for snacks and drinks by the fire before dinner in the barn at 8. We met some other guests in the living room, including a corgi named Django, and we stumbled on a natural wine tasting, while warm snacks from the kitchen were brought to us. It was then time to move to the barn. As you walk in a large fire in the kitchen for cooking on, shelves of preserves and long tables under hop draped beams. The food was incredible, and what I love is that all guests eat at the same time, and all the food is prepared in watching distance. The bread made by Ben Glazer, their resident baker, was dreamy, the pickles and preserved starters were so good and Ben enjoyed plenty of Mangalitza cooked on the fire. My favourites were the Spider crab Congee and grilled Mackerel dish which tasted of the sea. They even cooked warm madeleines for us to eat at the end of the meal, served in linen. The chef Tim Spedding, along with Tom Adams gave us some of the best and most thoughtful cooking and all presented to us by Louise RØdkjaer who also gave Ben one the best natural red wines he’s ever tasted. One incredible moment was when we realised Ben’s friend Alan from his chefing days was working there for a period before returning to Denmark to the restaurant Henne Kirkeby Kro. I had heard many lovely stories from Ben in the past about Alan who has worked for Tom Kerridge at, The hand and Flowers and for Heston at, The Fat Duck. It was a lovely moment to meet Alan and such a surprise for Ben and him. After rolling back to our bed with full bellies, we woke the next day to breakfast in the cottage kitchen cooked over the Aga by the lovely Louise. Talk was still over the meal and wine from the previous night, and Django and his owners were at the table for chatter over an incredible breakfast. To name a few items, granola, bircher, Eucalyptus and Rose Kombucha tea, lardy buns (made in their bakery), eggs and Mangalitza all served with their sourdough and Rye bread from the bakery with homemade butter. Dreamy. We had a long drive to Essex to celebrate my Nan's 70th birthday so we filled our bags with Sourdough loves and reluctantly left this most dreamy of weekends. I cannot wait to return for more good food, walks and company in such a rural location. Thank you Coombeshead Farm.
This Valentines we were busy. I was asked by Urban Outfitters to create and style a floral window display and to hold a pop-up flower shop in their store, one busy Saturday, close to St Valentines. This was for their "Urban Market Place". It was pretty incredible to see my business name on posters and on decal in the window next to such a big brand, showcasing my flowers. I also contributed to their blog, giving some helpful floral and botanical suggestions to try at home. http://blog.urbanoutfitters.co.uk/?p=47485
We have also started selling our flowers in East Of Home. A stylish new concept store, by the talented curator and shop owner, Felicity Chuter. She thoughtfully and cleverly chooses work from sought after makers and brings them all together in her design lead shop on Walcot Street. We will be selling Mothers day flowers here too, so make sure that you do not miss out.
I am also very much looking forward to Mothering Sunday, March 11th as the You Magazine article comes out. I styled Paula Foulser's beautiful and very stylish Bath home with flowers for a piece in You Magazine. Paula is Marketing Manager at Petersham Nurseries and the face behind Sion Hill Supper Club. In addition to knowing her food, she has a great eye for style and interior design, so I cannot wait to see my flowers in her home.
Although Dickensian and icy outside at present, this month I will be busy in the garden. I know I am late to it but I am sewing sweet pea seeds in root trainers. I have picked some deliciously scented sweet pea varieties laced with the most romantic of colours. This month I need to pot up all of my harvested dahlia tubers that are resting in the barn and keeping frost free, so that they can start growing again under cover. Dahlias are one of my most favourite and reliable flowers to grow in the cutting garden. They never cease to wow me and are like a trustworthy friend, you know exactly what you shall get from them. I played it safely last year only picking varieties in bridal colours, but this year I have gone bright pink mad! I love the names of the varieties, and I look forward to sharing these with you.
I also have digging to do. We cover over the bare soil every winter and mulch with good compost to nourish the ground, encourage water retention and supress weeds. But there are areas that have escaped this cover and as a result need some solid, sweat-inducing digging.
I am eagerly awaiting my winter bulbs and corms to flower. Speciality Tulips, Narcissi, Anemones, Ranunculus and Fritillary, a pastel mix to enchant anyone. I think spring tends to be my most beloved time for flowers. To suddenly revel in these scented, colourful, flowers by the armful after such a bleak spell, nothing brings me more joy. Last year it was a mild winter and late March that I began cutting them, but as we have had a cold winter I cannot be sure when the day will come. Until then; wear all of your biggest, warmest jumpers, enjoy pink cheeks and noses and snowy walks, light all the candles, drink all of the tea and make sure you warm your lap with your fluffy, family members. Like I shall be with our puppy Ernest.
The start of a new year often brings reflection, promise and hope. Through these next few months of bleak, cold, grey days we are seeking light and warmth, with hope of Spring.
We search for the first glimpses of the next season. For light and longer days, for vivid, awakening, green bulb shoots emerging through frosted dappled cold earth, for silvery velvet coated magnolia buds, gilding bare twiggy brown branches. You may notice the heady sweet scent of delicate white Sarcococca flowers, Catkins playfully filling the skies above us, blankets of Snowdrops rising proudly and Hellebores brightening the darkest of corners .
It is a time for hunkering down, long misted days, walks in crisp air and afternoons warming our bones by crackling log fires. It is also a time for planning, seed sowing, clearing the way for new.
We are currently rose pruning, digging, mulching, and eagerly awaiting the first signs of the bulbs planted last Autumn. There are also repairs to be made to the glasshouse. Late winter work.
Valentines is just around the corner and we have an exciting month to come.
Christmas is my most favourite time of the year.
It starts with the seasons change from Summer to Autumn. The golden gentle light, the crisp change in the air and low morning mists that linger. Trees grace the air with their fluttering rust coloured leaves, and fall to our feet to kick and crunch. The garden suddenly slows down, and takes a new pace. Apples weigh down branches, and blackberries adorn hedgerows like jewels. Conkers are collected into gloved hands to fill pockets and wood smoke fills the air.
The twinkle of Christmas will soon be on the horizon.
I will be taking orders for hand made Christmas wreaths, and I am sure this will be a busy festive season, so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for an order form. I can deliver to the local area, please ask for details.
I can also make garlands and table displays for you this season, whether it be for the big day itself or for Christmas parties and festooning in the line up to Christmas. Or perhaps you want to give something as a gift.
Please see my workshop page for Wreath workshop details.
I look forward to hearing from you and as always thank you for supporting small and local, it means the world to me.