Bristol flower farm and florist. Pipley Flowers

Flower farmer and florist between Bristol and Bath. Wholesale flowers for florists, flower arranging workshops, growing workshops, weddings, funerals, events and sundry hire.

Upcoming workshop – Flower Farming for Beginners

I started my journey into flower farming four years ago after spending years feeling unhappy in my previous job.

After my second child was born I decided it was time to do something about my work life and through family members I found out that flower farming on a small scale existed in this country – it was not something I had ever previously heard of.

All my life I have loved gardening, being one of those people with lights in the greenhouse, enabling me to carry on working on my hobby during the night. Flower farming seemed like something I could do and would enjoy; with that in mind I booked myself onto a workshop for beginners and I haven’t looked back.

That workshop started the ball rolling for me and I now run a successful flower farm. I won’t lie this is hard work but I now love what I do and I feel proud to be showing my children that you can make a living out for doing something you love rather than just living for the weekends.

Pipley Flowers took off rather quickly; I run another business which I started in 2005,  and have a strong sales background - these experiences have helped me in my current venture and enabled me to help others on my previous Flower Farming workshops.

On my past workshops I have had people come along to find out how to start a flower farm and others have already started but wanted to see other ways of doing things. I have also helped trading florists who would like to supplement their bought in flowers with some they have grown themselves.

My next Flower Farming for beginners workshop is coming up on the 10th of February. There is still one place available for someone who would like to make a change or add value to what they do now….could that be you?

For full information click here

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Wise words and awards

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 10th Anniversary party for Tallulah Rose Flower school where I did my floristry training nearly three years ago.

We gathered at the Roman Baths in the centre of Bath for an evening of fun with canapes and plenty of bubbles. It was a lovely opportunity to celebrate with Rachel who set up Tallulah Rose, and catch up with florists from around the country, some of whom I trained with, some I have met at previous social gatherings organised the flower school, and others I have only spoken to via social media.



Rachel and the Tallulah team put on a fabulous, flower filled evening and Emma from Heart Full of Tea did a fantastic job of capturing the feel of the night (credit to her for the photo’s used on this blog).

I was particularly struck by something Rachel said on the night; she spoke about the way we often gloss over our achievements and don’t spend enough time recognising and celebrating them. I have been thinking about this quite a lot since…I am guilty of setting myself goals and once I achieve them I never celebrate my hard work, instead I set another goal and just move on. By the time I got home that night the house was quiet with everyone in bed but the next day I spoke to my husband about this and we agreed we will make more of an effort to celebrate things going forward.

My children have both earned certificates from school in the last month; although we congratulated them at the time we never marked their achievements so last night we went out to eat somewhere at the request of my eldest to celebrate his learner of the week award, and tonight we are going out again to celebrate my youngest winning the school star award – he has asked for a restaurant that does fish and chips 😊

I can’t finish up without mentioning my reason to celebrate! Before the event the past flower school students were asked to vote for our favourite Tallulah’s in the following categories – Best on social media, favourite brand and website, and favourite all round for help, advice and support. The social media category was won by Liberty Lane Flowers, best brand went to Ruby and the Wolf and I won the last one.

It was a massive shock for me (and I was quite emotional as you can see in the photo 😉) but I was really grateful and flattered to be thought of this way and it was a huge confidence boost. I have said it on social media already but I have to say a huge thanks to Rachel and the Tallaulah team for giving me the confidence and knowledge to be where I am now; I supply some amazing florists (including the other two award winners). I already had a strong background in terms of gardening and plant and flower knowledge but my time at flower school helped me to understand what florists of this standard need to create the best impact for their weddings and events.

We have plans this weekend so my celebration has to go on hold for a week or so but it’s in the pipeline.

Do you do enough to celebrate your achievements or is this something you can improve on?

Reflection on 2018

Many of us take the opportunity to reflect on the past year once Christmas is over and I think it’s just as important to do this for your business as it is to do so for your personal life.

Reflection helps us to look at what we are doing right, what we can do better, and what direction we want to follow in future.

In general 2018 was a great year at Pipley with most of the negative aspects being weather related (and therefore out of my control), but there are always things that can be done better.

One of my main goals this year is to re-organise certain areas so I can focus on being better at supplying larger quantities of some of my most popular flowers. Another decision I have made is to free up some of my weekends by reducing the amount of workshops I offer.

I really love running workshops so this has been a hard decision for me but I find they take up a lot of my time not just on the day but in the planning and marketing of them. On top of this they have given me less time with my family, taken me away from my core business, and increased my workload at already very busy times of the year.

In future I will continue to offer private bookings for 6 or more people throughout the year for things like corporate events and hen parties; On top of that I will only be offering workshops outside of the growing season for things like Christmas wreath making and Mother’s day bouquets.

I am so excited to see what this year has to offer and am planning more fun things to do with my family using the extra free time!

What changes will you be making in your work or private life this year?

After the Frosts

We had a hard frost on the 28th of October this year and when I checked the flowers the next morning, as suspected they were looking rather black and unhappy. Since then lots of people have asked what I do now - some realise that the work doesn’t stop just because the flowers are gone but others think I’m starting a 5 month holiday.

There are plenty of jobs that can be done over the Winter, many of which I don’t have the time to do during the peak season, but some have a certain urgency about them. At Pipley we have lots and lots of dahlias (far too many to lift!) so I choose to leave mine in place over Winter. One of my most important jobs now is to cut back all the dahlias and give them a good mulch to protect them from the cold - this has to be done before the temperature drops too low and it’s not a quick job.

Chopping down Dahlias to make compost

Chopping down Dahlias to make compost

One of the other jobs I have is planting any new bulbs and corms so I have lots of lovely flowers in Spring. I planted my anemone yesterday and I still have tulips and ranunculus to finish off. The quicker I get some of these in, the quicker my season will start next year….or that’s the plan unless I am thwarted in some way by the weather.

Once chopped back I mulch my dahlias to protect them from the cold

Once chopped back I mulch my dahlias to protect them from the cold

So as you read this I may be working out in the rain, chopping back, wheel-barrowing, or on my hands and knees in the mud trying to get these jobs done before I miss my window. Then comes the rest of the list but I can always breathe a sigh of relief when the dahlias and bulbs are all sorted.

If you have thought about flower farming and would like to learn more about what’s involved I run workshops for beginners or those thinking of a career change. The next one is on Sunday 10th of February and you can find the details on my workshops page.

Spring Wedding

In April I had the pleasure of flowering a wedding for a gorgeous couple at Homme House in Much Marcle, Herefordshire.

Roberta contacted me after seeing some work I had done in Vow Magazine and she was looking for a natural style of floristry, using lots of bright colour for her Spring wedding.

Roberta’s bridal bouquet with scented spring flowers

Roberta’s bridal bouquet with scented spring flowers

I really loved Robbie’s bouquet which included beautiful ranunculus, tulips, freesias and anemones. Rather than the traditional domed bouquet we went for something assymetric with some flowers doing their own thing and softening the edges, giving a very natural look.

The bridesmaids had smaller bouquets to match the bride and the youngest had a simple crown of foliage which looked absolutely adorable on her.

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The family had booked the house for the weekend and we delivered the flowers the day before the wedding as they asked for lots of DIY buckets, giving them time to do their own table displays in the marquee. Many people go down this route now and we even run DIY wedding flower courses to teach you the techniques which will help you when doing your own flowers.

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No-one was left out at this wedding - even the dogs at the entrance had their own special collars with ribbon trails, making a very smart entrance for guests.

I loved working with Robbie on this wedding - she was such a relaxed bride and had great taste so from the initial enquiry I knew this one would be good!

If you are looking for flowers for your wedding I still have spaces available for 2019 and I can do everything for you, provide buckets of DIY stems, or do a mix of both like I did for Robbie. Please contact me now for more details.

Photography was provided by Joanna Nicole Photography www.joannanicolephotography.com

British Weather

No two years are the same when it comes to flower farming but this year as been particularly difficult!

It's been so hot for so long now that it's easy to forget the terrible start to the year we had which was unseasonably cold, wet and snowy. This caused crops to fall behind by about 4 - 5 weeks and affected not just flower growers but many farmers across the UK.

Now we are a few weeks into the longest heatwave since 1976 (so it said on the radio the other day). Around 3 weeks ago I could have told you how long it was since we last had proper rain but it's been so long now I have forgotten. There are cracks in the ground in places at the flower farm that are nearly wide enough to get my foot into and although we had a 20 minute downpour last week and a bit of spitty rain for 15 mins yesterday it's not touching the sides. Light rain evaporates before it soaks into the ground and the downpour was great but when the ground is so dry, heavy rainfall runs off faster than it soaks in.

In most years we rarely have to water - maybe doing 3 or 4 times a year, but recently we are out most days watering. So whilst sunning yourself in your gardens think of all us who work the land for our income - support your farmers and growers as much as you can right now as we all have higher costs and more work to deal with.

In the meantime I will hope that as with most years the summer holidays brings prolonged rain! :)

Scented Foliage

Following on from my blog earlier in the year on scented flowers I was thinking why not mention scented foliage? There are some really beautifully scented foliages available and they aren't always given the credit they deserve.

I supply lots of foliage to florists - often with whole van loads going out at a time and I am just as guilty of focusing on the flowers in my social media posts and glossing over the foliage - so this is it's chance in the limelight for once!

Eucalyptus - I can't really describe the smell of Eucalyptus but it's beautiful and each variety has a slightly different scent. Eucalyptus oil has many uses including respiratory aid, pain relief, personal hygiene, mental stimulant and household cleaning uses - it's powerful stuff and you can't beat a bit of eucalyptus to add to your flowers.

Choysia ternata - This one is a love it or hate it. I think it smells like oranges but I have heard some people say it smells of cat wee... so maybe if you think the latter you may not want it in the house :)

Rosemary - Gorgeous scent and as a bonus you can nip bits out of the vase to add flavour to your cooking - or brush it against your skin for a natural perfume!

Bay - I love the smell of bay and again you can take off the odd leaf to enhance your cooking with this one. A bay wreath on your door will last for ages and welcomes you with a lovely scent when you get home

Mint - People always comment on the smell when I include mint in my foliage orders. This is definitely one of my favourites and some of my florists remove the lower leaves to make mint tea before using the rest of the stem in flower arrangements.

Lavender - the foliage is often overlooked on lavender as we concentrate on the flowers but it hold well out of water so it's great to use in flower crowns and buttnholes. Lavender scent is known for it's calming properties so I think this is nice to include in wedding flowers when some people can feel a little nervous.

 

There are lots of other scented foliages - these are just some of my favourites. Do you have a favourite one not listed here? How do you like to use it?

 

Scented Flowers for Spring

Following a recent Facebook post which touched on scented flowers I thought it would be nice to share some of my favourite spring scented flowers with you.

Lily of the Valley

These dainty little white bells have a fantastic scent! They are one of my earlier spring flowers and Mine tend to flower in early April. They have a strong scent for their size at only around 15cm in height and they are happiest grown in partial shade. You can also get Lily of the Valley in a light pink colour but these are more uncommon. As a cut flower they are great for little posies, buttonholes and bouquets.

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Narcissi

Narcissi just make me smile. I find them somewhat irresistible with their happy little faces and gorgeous scent. They are easy to grow from bulbs, and work well in the house as a cut flower or planted in a pot. If planted in pots indoor just plant them out somewhere in the garden after they have finished flowering and they will return year on year. Narcissi are great for naturalising in grass too so everyone should be able to find space for some. Although they smell delicious they do need a regular stem cut and water change if used as a cut flower or they can become a bit whiffy!

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Hyacinths

Love, love, love these! I don’t tend to use them much for cutting (hence no images) as the stems are quite short and with the flowers being so large they can be tricky to incorporate into displays, but bring planted bulbs into your house to make the place smell amazing! After they have flowered you can plant them out in pots or beds for them to return year on year.

Tulips

Did you know that tulips have scent? I must confess I didn’t really believe this until last year when I grew some amazing scented ones. I had head of scented tulips but had never smelt any that I actually liked or that had a string perfume. My favourite ones last year smelt of caramel - the variety escapes me for now but keep an eye on my social media because they will get a shout out when they are back this year!

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What are your favourite scented flowers for Spring?

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

Click here to view our current workshop dates

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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!

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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.

For all enquiries call us on  07722055702
© Pipley Flowers 2015