Hello Sunshine!

What a glorious day to wake up to this morning! It is such a relief to finally see the sunshine and as I opened my curtains the Spring flowers smiled back at me as they reached upwards to soak up the early morning rays.

The flower beds are starting to come to life and are full of the promise of the wonderful season to come. My diary has been full of wedding planning over the last few weeks and I have met lots of lovely couples that are planning their big day this year.

The rustic country wedding look is still proving very popular with brides and my head is buzzing with images of hand tied bouquets filled with favourite flowers such as peonies, roses, lavender and fresh herbs to evoke the sense of an English country garden. 

I have also been planning my Spring displays at Applegarth Farm Shop and Holybourne Shop and Post Office now that all the bulbs have come in to bloom.

I have a bumper crop of narcissi that are looking beautiful this year. I am mixing these with other seasonal blooms and herbs to create some beautiful table centrepieces in traditional terracotta pots alongside some smaller arrangements in jam jars. Combined on a mantlepiece or on a Spring dining table  these look absolutely stunning and are proving very popular as gifts this year. 

If your garden is starting to fill with flowers and you would like to know how to make the most of them and create beautiful bouquets of your own then why not join me for my Spring flower arranging workshop on 26th and 27th April. I will be running both workshops from my garden if the weather is kind to us and in the kitchen if it is not!

Come along from 10am to 12:30pm and learn how to cut, condition and arrange your flowers to make a unique display to take home with you. The cost is just £40 each and includes all of your materials and flowers as well as some delicious cakes and tea and coffee to keep you refreshed during your creative morning.

Bring some friends or just come along for some ‘me’ time after the busy Easter period, there is nothing more relaxing than a morning filled with flowers and the sounds and scent of Spring.

Send me an email at francesca@fsflowers.co.uk to secure your place.

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Spring has finally sprung!

After what has felt like a long and often bleak winter we finally have some sunshine in our garden and the spring bulbs are pushing their heads up through the frost hardened soil to hint at the bright things to come. Spring has always been a favourite season for me, the colours and scent of bluebells, narcissi and hyacinth as I prepare my traditional, homegrown arrangements is always welcome and it inspires my work for the lead up to Mothers Day. 

Save the date!

The year seems to be flashing past already and we suddenly find ourselves in Lent and the countdown to Easter has begun. Before you rush to get your eggs though we must not forget that Mothers Day is on the horizon; Sunday 11th March is the date for your diary. To ensure you don’t get caught out I will have a wonderful selection of homegrown and hand crafted British bouquets so you can be sure your Mum knows just how much she means to you this year. 

Locally these flower arrangements will be available to buy from Applegarth Farm Shop in Grayshott and the Holybourne Village Shop but you can also order direct if you want to ensure you don’t miss out. Simply email me at Francesca@fsflowers.co.uk or call me on 01252 790840 or 07710 914420 to arrange delivery. 

An alternative gift idea for Mothers Day is to book your Mum a place on one of my popular flower arranging workshops. You could come together for some quality time to catch up and create something beautiful or you could book a place for your Mum to have some quiet time to herself, I am sure that both would be equally appreciated by any Mummy or Grandmother. 

Spring Flower Arranging Workshops

This Spring I am excited to announce new dates for my flower arranging workshops, the first is to be held at my home in Wishanger near Farnham in Surrey on Thursday 26th April 2018. I always enjoy welcoming people in to my home and my cutting gardens and sharing the knowledge and techniques that I have gathered during my career.

We start in the garden to choose flowers, foliage and herbs that I have grown to make quintessentially english bouquets and arrangements. I teach guests how to cut and condition flowers from the garden so that they can continue to create new and exciting arrangements from the flowers found in their own gardens. If the weather is kind then we will sit outside to design and make the flower arrangements using traditional techniques but if April showers appear then we will retreat to the dry comfort of the kitchen to work and enjoy homemade cakes washed down with plenty of tea and coffee. Guests can choose to create a hand tied arrangement or a table decoration in a terracotta pot according to individual tastes and then take home what they have made to display proudly or often to give as a gift to a loved one. 

I am also very lucky to be able to host a second date in the beautiful surroundings of Applegarth Farm Shop on Friday 27th April 2018. I have been designing floral arrangements for Applegarth to sell amongst their organic farm produce and gifts for many years and so enjoy having the opportunity to make use of their craft cabin for my workshops. If you would like to sign up for a Spring flower arranging workshop then please contact me via email at francesca@fsflowers.co.uk to book your place. On both dates, the morning will run from 10:00am to 12:30pm and is priced at £40 per person to include all materials, flowers and homemade cake with teas and coffees. 

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Save your garden from the ‘Beast from the East’

Beast from the east

Instagram and Facebook are full of photos of snow laden scenes from across the country but whilst the aptly named ‘Beast from the East’ causes havoc on our roads and public transport, it needn’t cause you too many issues in your garden. Here, Francesca Sharp shares her top tips for protecting your new growth and what you can be doing in your garden this week…

Protect tender new growth

If you have tender new shoots poking out of the soil following our first taste of the Spring sunshine last week, then you can protect them from the harsh cold of this sudden turn in the weather by covering them with envirofleece at night. Alternatively if you have pots you could also fleece them or move them in to the potting shed temporarily or even in to the house!

The same applies to annuals that you have sown as seed ready to plant out when the weather brightens. If you have sown Sweet Peas or Antirrhinums in your potting shed then these may be just starting to peek out of the soil. You will need to protect these at night time with fleece or by sitting the pots on heated matting as even the potting shed will be too cold. This is particularly important for fussy tubers like Ranunculus who will find the potting shed unbearable in these sub zero temperatures. I currently have a row of  Ranunculus on my office windowsill and they are growing quite happily on there ready to be put out in the potting shed when the ‘Beast from the East’ has left us. 

Bulbs that are starting to appear should be hardy enough to withstand the cold and will ride out the storm ready to flower in all their glory when the Spring sunshine finally decides to stay. 

Finding beauty in the stormPerriwinkle border

There are some hardy little flowers that are already happily appearing and will be here to stay for the next few months. Periwinkle are particularly beautiful against the snow and you can use the shorter stems to add to lovely arrangements of spring flowers in jam jars to brighten up your kitchen table or a windowsill. I use the longer, trailing stems of the Periwinkle in garlands for early Spring weddings and they are a common feature in many of my Mothers Day arrangements. 

Another favourite for Mothers Day are Tete a Tete bulbs which are wonderful in pots in the garden or to bring inside to conjure up some sunshine on even the coldest, gloomiest day. These will feature in my newly expanded display of flowers for sale at Applegarth Farm Shop next week, in readiness for the Mothers Day rush. I am very excited to be taking on more space in this fantastic local farm shop that I have been supplying for many years, why not pop in and see the new display for yourself.

If you don’t want to risk missing out on a handcrafted, locally grown flower arrangement for your Mum then you can order in advance by emailing francesca@fsflowers.co.uk. I will deliver your unique arrangement to Applegarth for you to collect on Friday 9th March or Saturday 10th March so you are ready for the big day. You can also collect from Holybourne Shop near Alton if that is more convenient for you as I have a lovely selection of arrangements available to buy there. If your Mum has a favourite flower that you would like included or if you have a specific arrangement in mind then please email me and I will try my best to accommodate your wishes.

Make the most of the cold snap

This week it will be difficult to do anything outside in the garden other than build snowmen as the ground will be far too hard to plant anything new. Instead, make use of this time to plan your garden for the season ahead. I enjoy nothing more than sitting by the fire with a warm cup of tea and my seed catalogues, pouring over all of the beautiful cut flower seeds and planning what I will sow in April and May to prepare my borders for the summer wedding season. If you would like to grow some flowers for cutting and making in to your own unique flower arrangements this year, then here are some of my favourites:

Antirrhinums (Snapdragons), Cornflowers, Cosmos in all the colours, Calendula’s, Nigella (love-in-a-mist), Orlaya grandiflora, Larkspur, Salvia viridis ‘Blue’, Scabious and Sweet Peas. With annual foliages including Euphorbia oblongata, Bupleurum, Ammi visnaga & majus, Dill, Molucella laevis (Bells of Ireland) and Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’. I also love biennials and always sow additional Hesperis matronalis (sweet rocket), Lunar (honesty), Foxgloves, Anchusa’s and Wallflowers to top up the existing plants I have. Cutting garden

Whilst many of the gardening books and magazines encourage you to sow under cover in March and April, if you have limited potting space you can just sow direct in to flower beds in May. As long as there isn’t one of those late frosts that is good at catching us out and as long as the soil has warmed up sufficiently, you will still get a good crop of cut flowers. If you would like to sow under cover but don’t have a potting shed then simply use a windowsill to start your seeds off and then you can plant them out when the weather brightens. If a windowsill or a balcony is all you have then you can still produce some beautiful cut flowers for your home, don’t be discouraged if space is tight, simply make the most of what you have and you will be amazed at what you can grow.

If you dream of a cutting garden of your own but don’t have the time to dedicate to it then I offer a gardening service in my local area and have created a wide range of cutting gardens for my clients, each one unique to them and their tastes. Get in touch via francesca@fsflowers.co.uk to find out more.

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Christmas Workshops

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It is that time again, it sneaks up through the summer and as soon as the children go back to school and the garden starts to be put to bed the inevitable is on it’s way ! September flies along and all the plans to be more organised with setting dates and posting them during the summer have flown out of the window …. next year I will be more organised !

The dates are set for workshops at home, for the end of November (Thursday 26th & Friday 27th) and the first week of December (Thursday 3rd & Friday 4th), I have started looking out for foliage sources, there are huge amounts of red berries on the holly this year but there is enough time for the birds to beat me ! Lovely mistletoe and eucalyptus will be available from Cornwall along with scented narcissi to decorate fresh flower wreaths.

The workshops will involve creating a foliage base which can then be decorated  with different types of foliage – berries, mistletoe, eucalyptus, Rosemary, sage, headed ivy to name a few. To then be topped with dried fruit, chilli’s, fir cones, larch twigs or however you wish. I will have homemade mince pies, cakes and coffee/tea to keep you going. So call to book your place 07710 914420.

I will also be running wreath making workshops at Applegarth on Saturday 28th November and Tuesday 1st December, contact MakeUk 07887 381303. Plus workshops at the Packhouse on Saturday 5th and Wednesday 9th, contact Made in Farnham, 07721 770969.

 

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Weddings are go !

I have been very lucky to have the opportunity to arrange wedding flowers locally starting in the depths of winter when there was a frost on the ground at Old Thorns to compliment the winter sparkle theme of the wedding. Flowers included hyacinths, paperwhites, tulips and avalanche roses all with petals that shimmered and scented the air. The baby’s breath represented the snowflakes that threatened to fall !

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The latter part of January saw bright spring flowers in a wild and natural bouquets, narcissi, hyacinths, muscari with foliage of lavender, winter honeysuckle, sage and rosemary adding to the scent. The Bride left from Frensham for the wedding in Lower Bourne and reception at Farnham Castle which the Brides very creative Mum decorated !

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Other weddings in February and March but not so hot on the photography from point of view. Then the spring starts to spring and a lovely wedding towards the end of April with pale colours with a vibrant pink splashed through. All of the narcissi and tulips in the bouquets were from the garden and the small pots that decorated the reception at Applegarth were all garden flowers and smelt divine !

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Now looking forward to the late spring and summer weddings and using the beautiful flowers that grow here to make the weddings even more personal.

 

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Spring Workshops

I have at last got organised to put some dates in the diary to run some workshops from home kicking off with a Mother’s Day Flower arranging morning on Friday 13th March from 10.00 am – 12.30pm. The morning will involve a demonstration on how to make a hand tied bunch of flowers the natural way, which you then get to do yourself and take home to either give as a gift or to keep for yourself !

The cost is £40 and includes flowers, materials, coffee and treats and invaluable knowledge

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There will be more workshops on Flower Arranging, learning how to source, cut and condition flowers and foliage before creating your own arrangement. You will also learn how easy it is to grow your own flowers for cutting and how to create your own cutting area. Dates are Thursday 14th May, Thursday 18th June, Thursday 17th September. Cost £40 which includes all flower and materials along with coffee and cake.

DIY Wedding Flower workshop details to follow, dates will be Friday 8th May and Thursday 4th June. Watch this blog !!

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Autumn beckons

The time just flies, well over a year since I last updated the blog, but I am back in the thick of it now. Having left the area this time last year for seven months, returning in April this year, I am still trying to haul the garden back into some form of semblance ! There were  some advantages to being away as the garden had no chickens scraping up seedlings or geese munching their way through the climbers. So I have had stunning rose covered arches and an abundance of seedlings including – borage, red orache, burpleurum, anchusas, aquilegias, fennel, dill, feverfew, valerian and many more which are now being moved slowly but surely into the new or extended borders.

 

 

The chickens are now back in the garden, but the geese have been banished to the field and their favourite delicacy – my perennial sweet peas, have had a brilliant summer for once ! they are so strong and resilient, I have just sown a whole load more for next year, such a shame they have no scent. The “proper” summer has provided an abundance of berries and my arrangements at the moment include blackberries, elderberries, guelder rose berries and rose hips from the rugosas and the dog roses that I have running through the hornbeam hedge. Its funny how some plants fair better that others in the different weather conditions, my aconitums have really got going this year but my sedums have not liked the dry summer at all and are sulking on the back border !

 

 

Flowers are still going strong at Frensham Village Shop and I now supply arrangements at Applegarth Farmshop in Grayshott. I am in the process of setting some dates up for workshops at Applegarth through MakeUK, aiming at some Christmas door wreath days and then a bit later on Christmas arrangements. That time already ! lots of Christmas Fayres coming up too,  so the wiring and creating will begin soon, along with the bulb planting, mulching, seed sowing, potting shed painting (which I have probably left a bit too late ) and more borders being dug, it is a good job I don’t need much sleep – I have a cap fitted with a torch for the outside work, so I had better get cracking…….

 

 

 

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Jubilant June !

I write on dry day which  has been sandwiched between wet windy and very un June weather and it is still cold. I am hoping that the rain holds off on Saturday which is the Frensham Fayre, I am on the Village Shop stand promoting the arrangements that are sold through the shop. ( The picture below is of a medium bucket that sells for £10 at the shop, this one includes rosa mundii, alchemilla mollis and herbs.) I had a scorcher of a day at Churt Fete in May and even in the heat, managed to sell all but one arrangement, which was a lovely feeling on my home patch. Two Wedding enquiries at Churt and a sellout day the following day at Farnham Farmers Market and that one sunny weekend in May was a great success and what now seems like a very long time ago.

I spent the jubilee weekend (with my union jack windmill for company) digging out new borders to extend space for growing flowers and I also created a mini meadow for my children, to house  a tee pee and hammocks. What seems like hundreds of ox eye daisie have been planted in to the lawn and the autumn will see more camassias being added along with fritillaries and swathes of pheasant eye narcissi, more broken nails and very unattractive hands to come ! The geese and chickens have been banished until everything is established, at least now my climbers can regrow after being raised to the ground. The rain has been a great help from a watering point of view, but not with the wind, much time has been spent re-staking delphiniums, anchusas and peonies along with tying everything in for it’s own safety ! The anchusas have been superb this year but my photo does not show them with the stunning en masse effect they had in the cutting patch….

My ten year old son took some pictures for me to post. For at the moment he wants to be a photographer, he took the photo above of  the rosa mundii arrangement and the following shots are of  the borders where the flowers for cutting are grown…. and I have to say were taken in a force 10 gale with an iphone, I don’t think he did too badly though ! As I finish writing so the rain begins again…..

Hesperis, nepeta, allium and roses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Nepeta, roses and peonies

  Tellima, centranthus and aquilegia

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Marvellous May ?!

 

May has arrived not bringing much heat or sun, flowers in the cutting patch just needing the last vital ingredient to get going. The tulips are giving up, too wet for them ! Hesperis, alliums, borage, valerian, alchemilla mollis and others all on the verge of bursting forth. Euphorbias and solomons seal have come into their own along with the camassias and angelica (well worth the space it takes up !).

Flowers are selling brilliantly at Frensham Village Shop, small  to large arrangements set in enamel buckets make perfect gifts for friends or just to cheer up the home. Flowers can be ordered at the shop and collected from there. I have just put in buckets of herbs for sale set in vintage containers. The shop is well worth a visit, lovely fresh local vegetables and food, newspapers and loads more with a real community spirit.

Looking forward to seeing the cutting patch in full flow like this shot from last year …..

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April Showers

Well, the hose pipe ban started and so did the rain !! However, still a busy month in the cutting patch and garden, seed sowing by me and moving all of mother natures lovely self sown seeds of borage, lunaria, bupleurum, hesperis to mention a few. At least this way my potting shed shelves are not so full ! All the sweet peas are in and the rain has helped all of my foliage plants along, there are tulips galore and all of the alliums are elbowing their way in between the anchusas. A bit of sun will have everything romping off ! My star flower of the month has to be Narcissi Geranium, with its cheery faces and heady scent, it has really brightened up the arrangements it graces and the cutting patch too ( although I missed the sun for the photo above ). Silver chimes and cheerfulness are the runners up.

Back to digging new borders and redefining existing ones over the weekend – probably in the rain … but hey ho it will be worth it in June !

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