One of the joys of retirement is that I have time to do what I want. Some say I always did. Time to potter in my garden time with the godkids but also time to go off and do those workshops and courses that I have always wanted to do. But never had the time. Or sometimes the confidence. Ian I think,wanted to make sure I didn’t sit at home all day. Vegetating. Watching Jeremy Kyle. Eating junk food. So he bought me spaces on workshops. First a cookery workshop. In Ireland. Then gardening. Not any old workshops for the flowery ones. But Common Farm Flowers workshops.
I can’t deny that I am a fan of Georgie Newberry as most people know. I purchase her bouquets. A lot. For me. For presents. I buy her books. I go to her talks. So more a stalker than a fan I guess. But she is also a good friend and a neighbour ( well a mile or so away) – that’s close enough to call her a neighbour isn’t it? Though that didn’t stop her telling me off (in the nicest way of course ) when my stripping wasn’t up to scratch!! The stems. Not yr actually stripping. Not now. Not ever. Not even 3 stone ago or the half Monty.
So. Yesterday was the last of the three that Ian bought for me to keep me occupied in the first phase of my retirement. But first there was a girls night out with some great friends to be had and a talky catch up. Id say. They talked. I listened.
I had done the Chrostmas workshop. The wreath proudly put on our door for the festive season. I had made a table decoration which we used and I made another for our lunch visit to friends on Christams day.
Course two was grow your own cut flower patch. Informative. Friendly and bloody good fun. I’ve struggled to get the patch up and running this year but that’s down to builder/no builder on our new extension. Not me. Not the course. . But I have grown my own sweet peas for London and so far they are doing well. That’s a first as I have always struggled with sweet peas. Not physically. But I could never get them a suitable height before the slugs and the snails beat me.
Yesterday was Floristry and posy tying. Yes. Posy tying. Who would have thought that 6 months ago I was pushing a pen around a bit of paper. Looking at numbers. Endless tax returns. Daily commute. Health & safety. Today I would be looking at how to do the perfect hand tied flower arrangement. Go cutting in the common farm cut flower patches. Gaze adoringly at the simply stunning wildflower meadow that they have created. The one place on the farm that there is a stay on the path sign. So we did.
There are a number of constants with these workshops. Georgie – of course – who as those who know her know – boy can she talk.. But it’s a pleasure. I didn’t fall asleep once. Unlike my past life. Talking plants. Rather than talking pants.
Informative. Helpful and what every workshop course should be. Fun. The quality. The lunch. Ohh. And the apricot & Amaretti biscuits. I can’t forget those. So good I searched the World Wide Web to find a recipe. Which I did.
The day starts with introductions. I used to hate these in my past life. Talking about yourself and what you wanted out of the day used to fill me with dread. I wanted to retire. I couldn’t say that out loud. Well not until last year anyway.
15 of us. Happy to say who we were and where we came from. A bit blind date with flowers. “Hello my names Andrew and I’m from Pitcombe” It’s interesting to see what other people want to get out of the day. Some to be able to make and sell posies. Others to be able to create better arrangements for the church. Daughters there with their mothers for the experience. Some whose weddings Georgie has ‘done’ the flowers. All ages. One man. Me. Though I was sat next to a dear friend Sara and yes we giggled at times like we would have at school if we had sat next to each other then.
After the introductions and instructions it was a short walk to the poly tunnel. I love that poly tunnel. Armed with advice on when to cut. How to cut. Always cut and plunge the flowers straight into your bucket of water. The right shape of bucket. Clean water armed with scissors. Not secateurs.
The poly tunnel is a delight. Sweet peas. Cornflower. Calendula of the most gorgeous orangey red. Ammi. To name a few. Instructed to pick. We did. Not getting too over enthusiastic as there was plenty outside to pick. Like a child in a sweet shop. But flowers. Not sweets Colours. Smells. Laughter.
The beds outside were filled with allium. Purple. White. . Glorious clary sage. Californian poppy. A sweet creamy colour and bright orange. Foxgloves. Sweet rocket. Sweet Williiams. Smelling. Well sweet.
I didn’t giggle or guffaw either when someone said ‘ who wouldn’t want Nigella in the bed’. Honest. As I know they meant what my mother called Love in the mist. Beautiful Floaty-blue or white.
Encouraged to pick buttercups. Pineapple mint with its variegated foliage. Rosemary,Grasses. Things you would never think of putting in a posy or bouquet. Or a jam jar posy. Or a buttonhole. Unless of course you have already ordered from Georgie and been surprised.
The options for the flowers and what you can do were never ending. Armed with our buckets, with Georgie and Lorraine – who was helping at the studio we headed back for lunch. With a trolley full of buckets – right size. Right shape. Clean water. Flowers cleanly cut. Of course. But now full to the brim with gorgeous cut flowers.
Enticed indoors for an excellentlinch of local produce from At the Chapel and cheeses from Kimbers with the best salad leaves around -Charles Dowding – we sat surrounded by buckets of flowers ready to be created into some glorious bouquet. Yea right a few of us thought. I know that Sara and I were right up there with that.
After another Georgie presentation, where of course she made it look easy – this is a woman who cuts thousands of flowers a week to go into extraordinary arrangements – we wer told – hold your hand this way. Looosely. 45 degree angle. Quarter twist. Build up your bouquet. Of course it will look pants when you only have 5 stems in it – you need 25 -30.
Filled with instruction & a full stomach we all set about making our own arrangements. 15 people and -15 very different posies/ bouquets at the end of it. Calls of help filled the room. ‘Georgie’ ‘Lorraine’ were shouted when we got into difficulty. And we did. Finally all lined up along with the jam jar posies we were finished and the workshop over.
Did I enjoy it? Enormously. A fun day out. Not just the making the bouquets. The jam jar posies. But the encouragement of what to pick how to pick., how to condition. – Georgies answer “anything and everything. Unless it’s poisonous!
It Was great to meet new people. Some local. Some from as far afield as York. All leaving the workshop happy. Confident. Armed with a bouquet/posy and a jam jar posy and a head full of ideas to go picking in our own gardens.
Common farm flowers runs Workshops throughout the year and I’d be there like a shot again next week! But next on my list is a day course at Billingsgate .