Christmas at Pipley

Ok it's not quite Christmas but I have arranged to have the last few days work free so I'm now planning for next year and reviewing the last few weeks.

It's been my first Christmas working full time at Pipley and I have loved it! I've hosted quite a few wreath making workshops, been making up orders for wreaths and eaten far too many mince pies and Lebekuchen. The mulled wine has been flowing and it's great to think how many doors now have a Pipley Flowers wreath decorating them.

I'm also thinking more about next year. Workshops are one of my favourite things about my job and I have had great feedback on them with many people returning a second, or even a third time which I am really pleased about seeing as I held my first one in February.

Next year there will be some new workshop subjects which I am super excited about including one aimed and brides who want to arrange their own flowers, and another in conjunction with a very talented lady who also runs a small business in the South West...details to be revealed soon! Of course there will also be a special Mothers day workshop and the popular hand tied bouquet experiences.

If you would like to be kept up to date with new workshop dates please join the mailing list below, and don't forget I can tailor an experience for your hen do, corporate event or just for a group of friends - please get in touch if that's something you'd like to chat about....and have an amazing Christmas! x

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Pipley Flowers on the Radio!

Yesterday was a little different... I normally do my very best to avoid the rush hour traffic in Bristol but I found myself driving up to Clifton armed with a bouquet of flowers and a Christmas wreath (yes I know it's way too early!)

The reason for this was an appearance on BBC Radio Bristol for their weekly Try it Tuesday feature on Laura Rawlings show (no relation to me by the way)

I was very nervous about it all but once I got to the studio Becky who produces the show was ever so friendly and totally put me at ease so by the time I went through to sit with Laura I felt much more confident about it all.

We discussed Pipley generally and how I came to do what I do now, and then I spoke for a little while about how to make a Christmas wreath. The whole thing went really well and I've had some lovely feedback from people who listened. I totally forgot to take any pictures but here are some of the bouquet and wreath I took in with me.

Vow Magazine Photoshoot

I've recently received images from this photoshoot I was involved with in April which is featured in the current edition of Vow Magazine.

Linda Thomas contacted me a few months ago after I worked with her last year and she was looking for flowers for this shoot focusing on some of her dresses. The brief was for an oversized bouquet with trail to the floor but she wanted the feel to be very natural and organic. The trail was to be loose and have lots of movement and colours to be green and white. 

This was quite different to any bouquet I had made before but I could tell it was my kind of thing and apparently Linda also felt I was the lady for the job.

The shoot took place in late April and I had a plan in mind of various flowers I wanted to use. Unfortunately things didn't quite go to plan as we were hit by a very late frost which destroyed many of the flowers and foliage I had planned to use a couple of days before the shoot.

What I was left with was a very limited selection and I normally like to have a few extra flowers as a fall back in case of breakages etc but in this case I ended up using pretty much everything. I was planning to use some lovely hops as part of the trail but this too was damaged by the frost and in this case I had to buy in some Jasmine plants to use in their place which also meant a bit more wiring than anticipated.

These are some of the struggles we have to get used to as growers but in the end I'm really happy with how the flowers turned out and I'm spoilt for choice with the images as there are so many gorgeous ones to choose from!


The TEAM (Instagram links provided)

Photography: @katy_mcdonnell_photography

Photography Assistant: @LindsayPerezPhotography

Dresses: @linda_eco_design

Hair and Make up: @ablemabeldesigns

Flowers: me! @pipleyflowers

Rings: @ecowoodrings

Shoes: @Po_zu

Models: @Tessa_gaukroger and @Damiewedemi

British Flowers Week

This week was British flowers week and it's been a busy one here at Pipley!

There has been lots of support from local florists on our three regular delivery days. On Tuesday I delivered 3 van loads of flowers which is an awful lot for us and something I would love to do more often. There are so many beautiful flowers to choose from at the moment and as you can see I'm not the only fan of British flowers in my household!

The first dahlias started flowering this week and I'm excited to see the new varieties I have chosen this year in the flesh.

On Wednesday it was a real scorcher and I had a group of career change students from the Tallulah Rose Flower School come to the flower farm. I gave them a tour round and we discussed all things British flowers, and afterwards went foraging for foliage for them to use back at school.

At Pipley there is roughly one and a half acres of flower beds but in total our land stretches to 19.5 acres and this is made up of a mixture of pastureland, wild hedgerows and woodland - perfect to forage for all sorts of beautiful, wild flowers, foliage, and other interesting bits and pieces on top of the flowers we are already growing.

The week rounded off with wedding flowers for a couple in a nearby village - more to come on this in a future blog!

 

Mothers Day Workshop

This month I was joined by a lovely group of ladies in my brand new workshop to celebrate mothers day by learning how to make their own hand tied bouquet of Spring flowers.

The mums were either brought along by their daughters or had been bought the workshop experience as a gift. It was a little early for most of my flowers so I provided foliage and a few flowers from the flower farm and these were supplemented with some other beauties including ranunculus, scented stocks and scabious.

We enjoyed home made bee sting cake and cream teas, and everyone seemed to really enjoy the day - roll on next year!

Mothers day workshop.jpg

Guest Blog: 5 things I learnt volunteering at Pipley Flower Farm

'Amy volunteered for me last year and has been kind enough to write a blog post about her experience. I hope you enjoy the read and if you're interested in volunteering yourself I would love to hear from you!'

Volunteering on a farm isn’t always about animals, vegetables or even fruit. I wanted to
get some experience in land-based organic agriculture so spent the last 10 months doing
something a bit different. Volunteering on a Flower Farm was one of the best things I’ve
ever done and here’s the top five things I learnt while volunteering at Pipley Flowers:
1. Nothing is more satisfying than uprooting a particularly stubborn nettle patch
Weeding the patch is an integral part of organic farming, and the size and nature of Pipley
Flowers means that the majority of weeding needs to be done by hand. Whilst a daunting
task at first - weeding soon becomes a small obsession, with Liz and myself breaking off
mid-sentence to pull up a … is that a thistle…?
2. How varied and beautiful British-grown flowers really are
The floristry industry is huge and the majority of bunches and bouquets you see in
supermarkets and florists are imported, sprayed and not grown organically. Have you
noticed that supermarket flowers don’t really have a scent? Why use pesticides and
aeroplanes when there’s so many beautiful seasonal flowers to choose from on our
doorsteps?
3. How to make a wildlife pond and introduce a frog population
It’s not all about flowers - Liz wanted to encourage frogs and toads to the farm as they are
the perfect organic pest control solution! So we dug and lined a pond and Liz brought some
pondweed and baby frogs from home - it was an interesting wildlife project. Liz and her
husband Simon are doing a lot more than farming on their land - they have planted trees,
conserved hedgerows and woodland, planted wildflower and native grass meadows, and are
using some areas as grazing for their herd of sheep. Spending time here taught me a lot
about land use and how to encourage a healthy balance of wildlife.
4. How much better a cup of tea tastes when you’ve boiled up the water on a
camping stove by the shed, overlooking Pipley’s stunning view
A day on the flower farm is incomplete without a few well-timed tea breaks and the ritual of
boiling the camping kettle on the Tranja stove became one of my favourite things to do.
Sitting on the bench or the step of the shed and looking out at the valley view with a hot cup
of tea while the resident robins hopped about was a real highlight for me!
5. How to rotovate beds, prune to encourage flowering, make a nettle-tea plant
fertiliser - and a myriad of other useful tips and tricks
There was plenty of opportunity to learn new skills and I found I was able to get a good
practical grounding in general horticultural techniques in addition to the specifics of
day-to-day organic flower farming.
And if those perks weren’t enough I was lucky enough to take home cut flowers every
time I volunteered!
I would highly recommend volunteering for Liz - she is an accommodating, friendly and
knowledgeable mentor with an infectious passion for what she does. If you are looking to
get more of an insight into the British-grown floristry industry, learn about growing
organic, or simply improve your wellbeing by getting your hands in the soil; Pipley
Flowers is a haven for flower enthusiasts everywhere!
Although I am moving to pastures new, there could never be a greener field than Pipley
Flower Farm. Thank you to Liz & Simon who have encouraged me over the last year,
helping me to realise my potential and to chase my dreams of working in nature.
Here’s to years of friendship and flowers!

Real Wedding

It's a relatively quiet time of year for me right now and a good time to share with you a wedding I provided flowers for earlier this year.

Laura got in touch with me in early 2016 looking for flowers for her wedding in July, having been following me on Facebook for a few months. We had a couple of phone conversations and she sent me some photographs before our initial consultation, and straight away I got excited about her wedding as she had great taste in flowers and I could tell this would be a lovely one to do.

The only issue that came up early on was that Laura's favourite flowers, and ones which featured strongly in images she liked, were ranunculus and peonies, both of which were out of season in July. With that in mind we looked at options for flowers with a similar look which we could use instead, and garden roses fitted the bill.

In our initial consultation we came up with a good idea of what flowers and colours we would use along with styles and types of arrangements required. We then met again a couple of weeks before the wedding so Laura could see the flowers growing and we wandered around the flower farm, picking a selection of the ones we had in mind in order to come up with the final chosen ones!

I absolutely loved the finished arrangements and had some great feedback from Laura after the event.

If you are planning a wedding and would like to see what I can do for you please get in touch.

Dahlia Love

Another Winter is upon us and although my growing season for the year is over the dahlias are still going strong. Whilst at the flower farm the other day this reminded me that last year I meant to write a blog post abut these fabulous flowers and I forgot....so I'm now going to make up for it.

Dahlias are one of my favourite flowers; I love them for their wide range of colour and beautiful, showy forms. There are single, open varieties such as the infamous Bishop of Llandaff to tiny delicate pompoms which may only be 3 or 4cm in size, to the huge Café au Lait and other decorative dinner plate varieties which can easily be 25cm in diameter. Of course you can't forget the spikey cactus forms and serenity of the water lily dahlia (and that's not an exhaustive list of the forms available).

In terms of colour again there is a huge choice and when you take into account the bi-coloured flowers I wonder if dahlias may have one of the biggest range of colours available in one family of flowers. The only colour which is still not seen in dahlias is the elusive blue - the reason why blue is so rare in flowers would be enough to fill another blog!

Phone pics 8.9.15 155.jpg

Dahlias have been in Europe for over 200 years now and originally came from Mexico. They are typically grown from tubers and can also be grown from seed but when grown from seed they can naturally hybridise, which explains the huge variety of colours and forms we see today.

If you love dahlias as much as I do then the time of year to get excited about is July as this is when they start to flower. They are a fantastic addition to any bouquet or flower arrangement and I use them regularly through the summer....in fact I now have over 400 dahlia plants so I am practically drowning in dahlias but I'm not complaining!

The Flower Show Experience!

I just can't believe how fast this year is going! I have to keep reminding myself to sit back and enjoy the sunshine before its Christmas!

The summer brings an abundance of work for a flower farmer. There are an array of flowers to cut and deadhead. Plants are working hard and need regular feeding to perform, and of course the dreaded weeds need curtailing to prevent them outperforming everything else in the cutting patch.

So I've been busily performing the above tasks and planning for next years expansion. When I saw a program advertising a local flower show I couldn't resist giving it a try. There were various categories to choose from and as I'm swimming in dahlias I decided to enter four dahlia categories, one rose category and I also entered a vase of flowers I had grown from seed.

I have never entered a flower show before but I do have experience of showing chickens and I know from this that showing brings with it a lot of rules and standards; you could spend an awful lot of time researching what's expected of a winning entry or you can just dive in head first and learn from your mistakes. 

So off I trotted with a boot full of flowers and vases. Preparation is everything but as I didn't really know how to display my flowers for best results I just chucked it all in the car and decided I would watch the old timers and try my best to copy them!

The rose was easy; one stem cut and displayed in a glass bottle. I realised straight away that my stem should have been much longer and later found out my rose should have been cut when it was less open.

Next to the dahlias. I thought my stems had to be clear of leaves (I don't know why I thought this!) therefore my stems again were too short. And my flowers weren't large enough -apparently I should be growing special show bench varieties to do well with dahlias!

The vase of flowers was more in my comfort zone. I enjoyed putting this together and added a stem of this and that so I could display lots of forms and colours while showing as many varieties as possible and capitalise on the fact I have grown lots from seed this year. This obviously paid off as I won first prize in that category!

I will definitely try my hand at showing again and would recommend it to anyone who has considered it but not yet had a go. It's a good excuse for a day out as there are often lots of activities and stalls going on at such shows so it can be an enjoyable trip for the whole family. I couldn't resist getting my toddler involved and he also won first prize in his decorated paper plate category, winning himself £1.50 which he enjoyed spending today! It was a good learning exercise particularly with the dahlias but I think in future I will concentrate on the rose and mixed flower or floral decoration classes.

#dahlias #flowershow #flowerfarm #flowers #blog

DIY Wedding Flowers – Things to consider

The costs of weddings have spiralled over the years and apparently the average spend is now a whopping £22,000! Recently more couples are looking at the option of buying buckets of flowers and arranging these themselves for their special day. Some will do this in an effort to reduce costs and others simply want to make their wedding more of a personal affair.

Arranging your own wedding flowers can be a hugely positive experience but there are potential pitfalls and things to consider before you embark on something that you might regret.

  • Arranging flowers is time consuming and takes practice

If you have arranged flowers before then you know it takes time to make something that looks really pretty. Even an experienced florist with the quickest fingers will want to give wedding flowers that extra bit of attention to make sure they look fantastic. It’s not something you can throw together in five minutes so make sure you think about how much time you need and then add some as a contingency. If you can enlist some help that’s great but be careful who you choose and if possible get some practice in with any helpers beforehand to make sure they cut the mustard!

If you’ve not arranged flowers before then have a go a few times before you decide whether this is for you. Many growers and florists will run workshops or one to one training if you ask.

  • Make lists and check your venues

This is obvious and should be done whether you use a florist or DIY but still worth mentioning. Make a list of all the flowers you need and think about your venues. If you are having flowers at the church can you reuse them at the reception? Ask the venues whether they will have anything already in place. You may find that you don’t need as much as you thought.

  • Plan your time

    I‘m touching on my first point here but this one is important!

    When will you be arranging your flowers? Find out if they are already conditioned and if not how much time will they need? Your arrangements don’t want to sit around for days before the wedding so make sure you plan your time and don’t leave other things to the last minute if at all possible. You don’t want to be up until the early hours fussing with flowers on the night before your special day!

  • Transport

    Will you arrange your flowers at the venue or will they need to be transported?  You might find it easier to make arrangements up on site. If this isn’t possible then plan who will deliver, when they will deliver, and ensure they have a vehicle large enough to move everything. I know someone who made up arrangements that would have fitted inside the car but didn’t go through the door as they were too wide – sounds like a silly thing to mention but these things happen!

  • Glassware

    Be organised with your glassware. The vases, jam jars and other vessels that you use will have a great effect on your arrangements so make sure you have what you need well in advance and get to practise with it.  If you are going to borrow glassware then make sure you’ve seen it beforehand so you can ensure it’s right for the area you want to use it in and the type and size of arrangement you want to create.

    If you need help with glassware then many florists and flower farmers who sell DIY flowers will have things you can hire.

     Bouquets, Corsages and Boutonnieres

  • Think carefully about the flowers you choose for these. Some flowers don’t cope well with being out of water all day and bear in mind that these arrangements get a lot of abuse so picking the right flowers will ensure that you don’t have droopy blooms in your wedding photos!

    Bouquets in need to be wrapped well to ensure they stay together, but not so well that the stems are snapped or crushed. If you’re not confident in this consider getting them done professionally and arranging the other flowers yourself. It’s a great compromise and will still give you the chance to add a personal touch and reduce costs.

If DIY wedding flowers are right for you there are lots of local growers like Pipley Flowers who can supply fresh British flowers. Whether we supply by the stem or arrange for you, your chosen florist or grower will want you to have something you love so get in touch with them and ask their advice if needed.

Whatever you decide to do I hope your flowers look fantastic and you have the wedding you dreamed of!

#weddingflowers #DIYweddingflowers

Looking back at British Flowers week

British Flowers week is the brainchild of New Covent Garden Market. It was started in 2013 with the aim of promoting British grown flowers in a goal to revive our once thriving cut flower industry. When I heard about this I really wanted to take part in some way but I wasn’t quite fully up and running yet. I also had some big personal commitments to deal with so I was time poor and thought it would be a good idea to find someone to work with.

Recently I had met Victoria of Peppermint Rose Flowers through Twitter. We got on well and had quite a lot in common – part of which being that we were both in the first year of our new businesses. I mentioned it to her and she was really excited about the idea.

We ran a lonely bouquet campaign with a twist. Rather than just leaving flowers abandoned to be found we hid a bouquet in a different location each day and worked with the chosen businesses to give clues over Facebook and Twitter which would lead people to the flowers. Every day there was a different password so we knew that only people engaged in our campaign could take the flowers away.

Victoria and I were really pleased with how it went. We had lots of late nights with all the clues having to be scheduled each evening in advance, giving us time to engage with the people who were involved in the treasure hunt as it took place.

It was great to see people who came back each day to have another go at winning the bouquets, and seeing pictures of them being so happy when they won was a bonus. I even had a lady today post a picture of her flowers a week later showing they still look really good.

British Flowers week has been an incredibly busy one! I have been completely exhausted but I’ve had lots of fun, learned loads about social media and had a chance to combine forces and work with someone I had never met before who I now class as a friend.

Next year the flower farm will be much more established, giving me extra opportunities to promote British flowers. Is there anything I could do that would entice you to buy British? If you have any good ideas I would love to hear them!

#FindTheFlowers #BritishFlowers #BritishFlowersWeek

British Flowers Week

Did you know it's ‪#‎britishflowersweek‬ from the 15th - 19th of June?

I'm very excited to be teaming up with Victoria from Peppermint Rose Flowers to promote ‪#‎britishflowers‬ in Bristol.

Over the next few days we will be giving more information on what we're planning. It's going to be good!

You can find Pipley Flowers on Facebook

http://facebook.co.uk/PipleyFlowers

and Twitter

https://twitter.com/PipleyFlowers

Toby Garden Festival

Had a great day out today at Toby Garden Festival which was held at Bowood House for the first time. There were lots of smaller independent nurseries like multiple Chelsea gold medal winners Hardy's Plants and it was a great opportunity to pick up some lovely perennials and other garden bits and bobs.

I was lucky enough to get a front row seat on Jonathan Moseley's cut flower arranging demonstration. Jonathan showed us how to put together 4 stunning displays. Alongside this we were treated to witty banter and I was pleased to see him strongly promoting British growers and‪#‎britishflowersweek‬.

I went home with some great props which I will use on my market stall and in my upcoming photos of flowers....and some very lovely bamboo socks! 

Updates from the flower farm

So what's been going on at the flower farm?

In brief all the beds are now prepared and rotavated. I have planted some new perennials and shrubs. The shrubs are strategically placed to act as windbreaks but obviously they will need to establish a bit before they work their magic.

This week the first flowers started to appear but I think I have 6 on the plot so not quite ready to start selling to florists yet! I do however have a well stocked garden that I am using to make arrangements in the meantime and there are too many flowers to mention right now.

So things are looking pretty good at the moment. The bare root roses planted last month are bushing out nicely and even some of the newer plants have put on good growth in just a week or so.

The dahlias and peonies are starting to appear so hopefully soon the empty looking beds in the background will start filling out.

On the negative side it appears I have a resident mole that has moved into my most recently planted flowerbed. He's undermined a lot of the plants I've just put in so yesterday I spent quite a lot of time stamping the soil back down. Hopefully if I annoy him enough he might get fed up and move on!

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