A happy afternoon with eldestdaughter practicing bouquets, buttonholes and table posies.

She is off soon to Seattle USA to be a bridesmaid and be in charge of flowers for a friend’s wedding. (She is a journalist by trade, not a florist!).

The fashion is for natural flowers at weddings now. No more wired bouquets and stiff arrangements –  jam jars are in, Oasis is out. And bouquets are hand tied affairs usually with unbound stems. (The seamstress in me worries terribly about plant juices dripping onto silk dresses!)

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Country style hand tied bouquet

A raid on my little cottage garden provided all the flowers we needed for a dummy run. We picked roses, cornflowers, alchemilla, cat mint, ox-eye daisies, marjoram and sweet williams.

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Cottage border at Tin Bath House

MiniPitel  did of course learn flower arranging from an early age, at her mother’s knees.  ‘Alchemilla mollis’ was one of her first words. So she was really pretty good at it – how hard can it be to cram blooms into a jam jar?

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Jam jar posy

The secret is to have a variety of materials – nice foliage, some frothy flowers like gypsophilla, medium flowers and then some ‘star flowers’ such as roses – all to be placed together in a balanced distribution. And I explained the golden rule that everything needs to be stood overnight in deep water beforehand, otherwise it  simply can’t  last.

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I advise to do as much as possible the day before. Never let the bride help, as it will ruin  her hands.  Don’t forget to spray everything with water.  It’s not only the guests who are going to need a drink – have vases at the reception ready to place the bouquets in, so that they can be revived.  And do get the bride to practice holding her bouquet and looking in a mirror – pointing the flowers outwards, away from the body to avoid that ‘lollipop look’ in the photos.

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Creating table posies



‘The grass was June high and had come up with a rush, a massed entanglement of species, crested with flowers and spears of wild wheat, and coiled with clambering vetches, the whole of it humming with blundering bees and flickering with scarlet butterflies.’

This is Laurie Lee’s description of a Slad valley hay meadow in ‘Cider with Rosie’, and captures exactly the feeling of our meadow here at Church Gate. Slad is just the next valley over from here. I read the book when I was a teenager and  I loved the countryside that Laurie Lee painted a picture of.  I never imagined  I would come to live here or have my own hay meadow just like he described!

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The hay meadow in June