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.

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

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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.

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!

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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

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