A few hours ago, I received a message to say that the article and photos from the Bickleigh Castle shoot had just “gone live” on Bride Magazine Online. The next thing I knew Instagram and my Facebook page were pinging away with excited messages and links to the article. I am not sure I have ever been as ecstatic or so perplexed as I have been today thanks to my technological shortcomings, and I have needed a fair amount of help, but I think I now know what I am doing.
Hopefully, this is the link to the article – and it is a marvellous, illustrated read!
It means we are all now free to use the wonderful photography from the shoot – the models, the professionals who attended the shoot as well as the venue itself. I intend to open a new page on my website entitled photoshoots as I believe, since they tell a story, visitors may enjoy being able to make a coffee, take a break and just watch the slideshows depicting the crème de la crème of each one.
For the time being though I’d just love to post one shot – of the wild card crown on the lovely, smiley face of my friend Solo. It was she who put my name forward as the florist for this shoot. I’d also like to voice a massive thank you to the very talented Natasha who trusted Solo’s judgement and without whom the shoot would not have taken place, the models would not have looked so utterly gorgeous and the whole glorious day could not have featured in such a prestigious magazine.
Styling and make-up artist: Turquoise Bay Beauty, www.turquoisebaybeauty.co.uk
Photography: James A Photography, www.jamesaphotography.co.uk
Dresses: Abide Maids, www.abidemaids.co.uk
Floristry: Floralities, www.floralities.co.uk
Hair Devon Wedding Hair, www.devonweddinghair.co.uk
Venue: Bickleigh Castle, www.bickleighcastle.com
Big thanks also to the two lovely ladies, Jenny and Zanna respectively, who own the following businesses and allowed me to wander through their beautiful flower fields and pick some absolutely stunning flowers and foliage….utterly inspirational.
Last week’s meeting with textile artist, Jessica Geach of www.rubycubes.co.uk was awesome. We bounced ideas off each other and now all is in place. I first met Jessica and fell in love with her craft at the 2017 Exeter Cathedral’s Winter Fair. She was similarly impressed with my floristry and craft and we have kept in touch ever since. One of her unique pieces has pride of place in my much loved bathroom - my absolutely-best-ever-birthday-present-to-myself gift last year. When I suggested to her making something bespoke for my poinsettias, she was very enthusiastic and last week we had our first brain storming session. Something wonderful this way comes, uniting three homespun businesses, a family-owned one of almost a century growing plants and two freelance, self-employed artisans. But I am not going to let three cats out of their respective bags just yet …..
And about the two poinsettias taken under my and my friend’s wings last Christmas?
Well, my friend enjoyed her beauty – a white version – for more than seven months without losing a single leaf. A four day holiday away with her daughter during the worst of London’s heatwave, leaving her husband and son in charge of her poinsettia under strict orders saw its demise and no amount of coaxing and tlc has resurrected it.
I have followed a set of self-gathered rules and at one stage found myself hacking my Venus Hot Pink plant down. She has been nurtured ever since with careful watering during our Mediterranean summer and is currently going through a growth spurt and looking very healthy. I am now trying to decide whether to make a special “dark box” for my plant as all my googlings have dictated. I would need to keep her in this box for 14 hours a day in a couple of weeks’ time until December. Or, should I take a tip from Devon poinsettia-grower Kevin and just keep her in an unused room where my plant will never be exposed to artificial light after the Autumn equinox? Decisions, decisions …..
A part of Floralities which has always been important to me is creating planted designs as well as floral ones. One summer, a few years ago now, Ellie, Alfie and I visited various plant growers in a fairly small radius from Sidmouth to find the best sources of Devon grown plants. I now mainly buy from two of them, herbs, garden plants and, since last Christmas, the most fabulous Devon-grown poinsettias.
Last winter, I made the decision to learn as much as I could about poinsettias and to see if I could then persuade my customers away from the supermarkets’ imported plants in favour of these magnificent locally grown ones, available in 10, yes TEN, different colour varieties – and only two of them red!!
I was privileged to be shown a vast greenhouse where all the poinsettias, colour coded were being nurtured – it literally took my breath away and when manager, Kevin, saw a tear of wonderment rolling down my face I think he realised our mutual passion for a plant which is much maligned for its weakness but which he assured me had been raised in Devon to be robust and long lasting.
So, in early November I took possession of a set of mahoosive poinsettias which took up residence in my daughter’s now empty (she being at Uni in halls) rather large attic bedroom. Following Kevin’s instructions, I cared for the plants, trundling them off to various events and markets for sale or pre-order for Christmas and proudly displayed all ten varieties as a floral work of art in my apple crate table display at Kennaway House where they were auctioned off at the end of their Arts & Craft Christmas Fair.
By Christmas Eve, having completed my floristry orders, I had only two plants left - one from the original ten had a missing limb so became my “guinea pig” – the other I had saved as a gift for a friend in London who I would be visiting for a few days after Christmas.
In my next blog, I will tell you about the fate of those two plants. I also hope to be spilling the beans on my meeting with Jessica, owner of Ruby Cubes (all to be revealed), this coming Monday and the joint poinsettia-related-adventure we will be working on together over the next few months ………………. so exciting .
It was three years ago that I first visited Bickleigh Castle for a short break with my daughter, Ellie, and our family dog, Alfie Freckes, ostensibly to study - Ellie for her AS exams and I for my City & Guilds Floristry course, art and design unit.. Last week, Alfie and I returned, my car chock-full of foliage and flowers in every hue. The last few years have been an exciting period of my life; full of fabulous floral experiences, thanks to my floristry diploma, but this was to be my most magical to date.
I arrived, pinched myself, took a deep breath and was greeted warmly by a member of the Castle's staff and the team I would be working alongside for the duration. Whisked up to the Great Hall with vast bucketfuls of blooms, I glanced around at the minstrels’ gallery, the tapestries, the grand piano, the giant fireplace and the gloriously stunning vistas, framed masterfully by ancient leaded light windows, and I settled down to work.
I had been asked to design three flower crowns to complement the pastel ice cream colours of the exquisite dresses, hanging on a nearby rail and gently swaying in the hot summer breezes..
My fingers were itching to get started.......
With their hair coiffed, make up applied and flower crowns skillfully placed, three sylph-like models were being lead by their entourage through the Castle and out into the wondrous gardens below whilst I was left behind to work quietly, strains of their laughter and obvious camaraderie wafting up through the windows. Alone with my scented roses, vibrant dahlias and bevy of wild flowers, fruits, berries and foliage gathered during a foray, floristry scissors at the ready, through two flower fields and my own garden the previous day.
I had brought along the framework of a larger flower crown which had become affectionately nick-named my wild card crown over the morning and left to one side to be worked on later, time permitting.
Until the wedding magazines have seen the photographs of what followed, we are, none of us, allowed to show the results of our toil – so, for now, only this little “teaser” is permitted.
Watch this space for a beautiful, photographic journey through a very special, soporific day at Devon’s tiny but awe-inspiring Bickleigh Castle.