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November 2016
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January 2017

December 2016

Looking back over this year's DIY wedding flowers

During the Planning that i've been doing for 2017, I've had cause to look back at what I achieved during 2016.

There is a list of 26 Weddings that we provided flowers for directly this year. Either buckets of themed flowers and foliage, or made up bouquets, buttonholes, and table arrangements. We've picked and collated and the brides and their families have collected from the barn and whisked away to wedding venues all over Surrey. Including just down the road to Horsley Towers, To the fabulous Fetcham Park, Up the A3 to Pembroke Lodge in Richmond Park and to many other barns and marquees.

Bride and 4 bridesmaids-1

The photos, both snaps i've taken as they go out the door, and the pictures that Emma has captured on the lucky coincidence days when she's been shooting as i've been creating have been sitting in my dropbox yelling at me to show them off, so here's my opportunity.

I'd also like to mention at this point Vanessa and Seana, who have been my sanity check helping hands when the brief has been bigger than i've been capable of doing on my own. My work experience student Amy and her Mum Carol, who organise and tidy up after me when i've made a floristry mess. Plus of course Jennifer, my able assistant who helps me grow and pick the flowers, and then only gets to see the pics if i wave my phone in front of her, or post them on here.

So here are a selection of what's gone out of the barn door this year.

We started off in April 

Scented narsissus

It was a freezing start to the season, and If i hadn't kept referring to my records from previous years, i'd have been panicking that nothing would be ready, but for the 7th April, we provided.

Narcissus, Tulips, Anemone, Hellebores, Scilla, Cerinthe, Blossom, and a wide range of herbs and foliage.

In May the beginning of the month held colour schemes of Blue and Purple, but by the end of the month, the colours had softened, and for our first flowers to Grace Fetcham Park, we had a theme of soft creams and pinks.

End of May wedding bouquet

The Bride and 4 bridesmaid photo at the top of this post, was for this wedding and was shown on the BBC when i was featured on the Countryfile diaries program in the summer.

In June we had the first wedding i've ever managed to put my own Peonies AND Roses into, and we made a whole load of buttonholes (please note 17th June as the date if you wanted Roses and Peonies this year)

June wedding paeonies and roses

and another first for me as i attended a wedding reception i'd made flowers for, including the cake topper, buttonholes and table decorations 

June cake topper

In July, I provided flowers that went off the Grand Hotel in Brighton, and at the end of the month, DIY buckets that were to go with home grown sweet peas and Lavender

End of July DIY bucket

August was our busiest wedding month ever. But the field was producing bucket after bucket after bucket, so we managed themes of Yellow and Cream, Pale Blue, pinks and Pastels and White blue and Lilac. Plus my favourite ( as it doesn't happen very often) of bright colours.

August wedding montage

In September I loved the fact that my brides wanted white and peach, but by the time they'd visited the field, liked all the colours. Here we moved from peach to a bit of orange.

Touch of orange in September

although we found plenty of peach for the bridal bouquet

Peach September bridal bouquet

October was the last Wedding month of the year for me, but were 3 of the biggest weddings we'd produced. I almost worried that the Dahlias wouldn't produce enough, but there wasn't an issue.

here's the Pink theme

October pink wedding

and here's the ever popular peach

October peach wedding

and the year was rounded up with a DIY Dahliatastic bucket of Autumn colours.

October dark and orange

Thank you to all the couples and their families who put faith in me to provide them with Quality, Seasonal flowers. Every single one of the flowers was British Grown, and about 99% of them were grown at Hill Top Farm. I've been so pleased to get feedback from my couples after their big day, here's some of their lovely comments


" they looked and smelled great and were admired by everyone.  "
"Thank you so much for the truly gorgeous flowers, they were amazing and we loved them, and we had so many compliments about them during the day from guests."

"The flowers were beautiful and lasted such along time ! "
"I just wanted to say a massive thank you for the stunning flowers for our wedding. They looked absolutely gorgeous!"

"Just to say thank you for the flowers which were/are absolutely lovely."

I've already got 12 wedding dates booked for 2017, so there will be plenty more flowers disappearing from the barn over the coming season, please do come and see us on an open day if you like the idea of Seasonal, scented and sustainable flowers for your wedding or event.


Planning for the New Year

I always try and kid myself that i don't work in this "bit" between Christmas and the New Year. The fridge is still full, there are friends and family to see, walks in the Surrey countryside to do..... But actually who am i kidding, I may not have to go into an office each day (and for that i am eternally grateful) I may not have to be frantically finding childcare for those Extra days that school's still out, but I am still being a Flower farmer. 

Greenhouse erection

The hours at the farm are shorter. They consist of putting up a greenhouse, laying cardboard and plastic to stop weeds, and baiting Mouse traps, and i've got family help.  But the hours of planning for the coming season are plenty, although they often take place while something sporting is happening on TV that i'm ignoring.

So I thought i'd give you a quick idea of the planning that a Flower Farmer does. It's easy to apply to gardening or allotmenting, and if you'd prefer not to do the extra work, you can just buy the flowers from me that this planning provides all through the year.

First off I need to know what's been a success or a failure in the past season. I look through sales records, feedback from florists and event customers, Photos of the season, my diary - which often tells me the "should have had more" scenarios that the sales don't highlight. This year, the biggest successes were amaranthus, so there will be more of those grown, and the biggest failures were Sunflowers so these will be protected vigorously from the slugs this year.

Amaranthus montage

Then i work out who i want to work with in the coming year. Which means i'll know what kind of flowers to grow. I started by trying to grow for every customer - bouquets, weddings, florists, contracts, farmers markets. But i've found which ones i enjoy working with, and so i'm growing in particular the colours and varieties that those customers like. My main markets this year will be My florists, my DIY wedding flowers, and my bouquets for my local shop, so the planning is veering towards the successful varieties for those.

DIY wedding buckets

My next set of work is on productivity. I need to get more flowers out of my field for my customers. I need to work no harder than the year before, and produce flowers at even better quality. My field plans are a big part of this, making sure that crops that flower together are planted together, so that there are smaller walking distances when picking. This year we're also working on some irrigation, so that we don't have to drag hoses around, but the plants get water when they need it.

Last I work on the budget. I know that people don't like to talk about Money in relation to their self employed businesses, but although i love my job, it's hard work. I need to know that i'll make good money this year, and i have to plan where that money is coming from, and at what times of the year, so that i can spend next Christmas enjoying the slight break and pause, rather than worrying about how to pay the January bills.

So i'm all practically planned for next season. The seed catalogues that are falling through the door are actually being ignored (for now) as i know i already have what i need for the coming sowing sessions. There's a Dahlia planning session coming up in the New Year, and i've got my Chrysanthemum stocktake figures to take into account for plotting what i'll grow for next November, but for now i can enjoy a walk today, and a few more leftovers from the fridge.

If you planning ahead to next season, and would like some more information and knowledge of how to grow cut flowers, arrange them or pick them, then please do look at the workshop details here

if you're a florist or flower farmer that would like a day of planning to ensure you're confident for the coming season and have taken everything into account so you have the best year ever in 2017, there are still places on my January 30th Workshop