What do our floral workshops involve? Hopefully this post explains.
‘A real feast for the senses’ was a comment made by one of our first ever guests and that has become our mantra as we plan each workshop. Our aim is for our guests to smell that unrivalled fresh flower scent as they step on the bottom stair, to taste freshly brewed tea and coffee and homemade cakes within moments, to touch the petals of every bloom as they wander around the workshop and to gasp at the sight of each flower, branch, vine and piece of foliage in what literally is a room full of flowers. We love also to hear the sound of friendly chatter, the obligatory ten minutes silence as everyone thoughtfully chooses which flowers to use and the sound of constant laughter over lunch. More than anything, we love to see our guests leave us relaxed, amazed at the beauty of what they have created, and we know that they’ll drive away with the scent of flowers wafting around the car and their homes for days to come.
We plan each of our workshops in detail. Mrs B cooks everything from scratch and likes menus that reflect the seasons – slow-cooked lamb in Spring, lighter salads and fish in Summer, berried crumbles in Autumn and, as I may have mentioned before, melt in the mouth chicken or beef in Winter. She keeps a record of all her menus in the hope that our return guests always experience a new dish, and every new recipe is tried and taste tested – by me, what a chore. Two types of cake are made for the mornings, and two desserts for lunch. Freshly-made bread, canapés, starters, champagne, wine – to be honest, the lunch really is the best thing! Glasses sparkle, everything is polished and setting the dining table is done with precision. Mrs B shows she cares through food, and all of our guests leave very well cared for, and sometimes with a food parcel for the journey home.
Mrs B’s passion for food is rivalled by my passion for flowers. I fill every corner of the workshop with buckets, vases, urns (even old jam pans when I run out of containers) – every available vessel is stuffed full of flowers. Not forgetting ‘foliage corner’ which, in my view is the most important aspect of any floral arrangement. It’s no secret that we want to use as many locally-grown or British-grown flowers as we can. Often we’ll have driven to flower farms in Yorkshire or Cheshire to collect the previous day. In the depths of Winter we have deliveries from Cornwall and in the height of Summer we’ll have as many of our own grown flowers as we can gather. In my quest to fill the workshop I do also succumb to the lure of flowers so beautiful that I decide we must have them for our guests. I’ve yet to find a local grower of Majolica roses, or as many chocolate cosmos as we need, and so we also order in flowers from abroad – we want our guests to have the very best choice of flowers, but I do look forward to the day when we can source all our flowers from this country, as we might have been able to 50 years ago.
Tulips from the farm of Carol Siddorn and dahlias from Holme Flowers (above).
Themes for our workshops vary. Again we take our lead from the seasons. Hellebores in Winter, narcissi, tulips and fritillaries in Spring, garden roses galore in Summer and – the best of all – dahlias in Autumn. We might concentrate on a particular flower, such as tulips, and take this as a base for creating a stunning centrepiece along with other Spring flowers. Whilst exploring the beauty of each tulip and learning how to work with tulips as cut flowers, we will also talk about growing them, how to photograph them, how to make them last. All our centrepieces are done (usually with a nod to the great Constance Spry) in gorgeous vessels which our guests keep, and hopefully refill. Or, we might focus on wedding flowers and spend a day creating bouquets, headpieces, buttonholes and the like. In the winter months flowers for the home take centre stage – from wreaths to tables to mantles. In our shorter workshops (evenings and afternoons) we cover bouquets, wreaths, flower crowns. Currently, we are loving our new seasonal book group, in which we have proved that flowers, wine and cheese can all be managed alongside discussions both serious and frivolous. I suppose what our workshops really provide is an escape, a few hours to relax, and hopefully be inspired to do new things with flowers and really appreciate them for all their beauty.
From our smaller workshop in Yorkshire, last year we began bespoke courses and here we can cater for one or two guests who might like to learn, for example; the basics of floristry; how to make a perfect bridal bouquet; how to make large-scale installations. We are happy to share our knowledge of all things floral and have been lucky enough over the past few years to learn from some of the best growers and floral designers in the UK and USA. We intend to carry on learning from people we admire all around the world and we hope that in our small way we can pass this on to other flower lovers whenever they come to see us.
Spring compotes by Carol and Alison from our Yorkshire workshops
A list of our current courses can be found in the Workshop section, but sometimes we can accommodate other dates if you contact us. April sees us running a workshop at The Bronte Parsonage and no doubt Jane Eyre will feature in one of our book clubs sometime soon!
Our new smaller Yorkshire workshop at the end of a day…