Elizabeth Flower Design – my morning at Daylesford Farm – adding more depth to my own Designer Floristry business
The language of flowers….and why I love designing flowers. I think I might have been the last person in Oxfordshire, if not England to visit Daylesford Farm. When I lived in Chelsea I loved visiting the shop in Pimlico and indulging in their delicious coffee and organic goodies, but my visit to the farm near Kingham in Gloucestershire was on a whole new level.
Ok. Who am I kidding?
I signed up to one of Daylesford’s workshops just after Christmas. A little glimmer of Spring loveliness in the future. This one caught my eye because it was exploring the language of flowers and ‘Tussie Mussies’ – adorable garden posies full of love and meaning. I’m a sucker for tradition and old fashioned floristry and seasonal influences, so hell yeah! I was going on this course. Admittedly it was a little bit on the spenny side but justified because… hmmm, let’s think. A) it was my Mother’s Day treat to myself and B) because as I also run workshops; is always good to see how others organise theirs and to see great practice. I was investing in ‘further education’. Massive justification.
Flowers, Daylesford, a day out creating in a beautiful space. I needed no excuse and knew it was money well spent before I even pressed ‘buy’.
There were just the two of us attending this course which was great – plenty of space in the workshop with it’s exposed Cotswold Stone, vaulted ceilings and inspiring floral displays and fabulous lighting. We had all the ( tasteful, quality, photogenic) equipment and notes to hand. Sarah Butler was our teacher and guide; so very welcoming, warm and enthusiastic. What a delight and everything somebody working with flowers should be. Clearly full of experience, Sarah was happy to share her passion, to chat and to discuss sustainability and the Daylesford approach and brand. Ah, that word. Daysford is bang on brand. Tonal. Tasteful. Tempting. Everything in that place and I mean EVERYTHING, is Instagram worthy. I wanted to move in.
We began by quick intros, getting our boots on and heading out to the sunshine for a tour of the cutting gardens. Hello! THE dream. We took our trugs – (and if you know me, walking around a cutting garden with a trug and permission to pick is my idea of heaven) and snips and we pulled up anything that took our eye; pale narcissi, long stemmed tulips, some anemone, apple mint, wild rocket and blossom. I wrote on my Instagram that evening just how satisfying it was to actually unearth tulips with the bulb attached and then use them in my own work; to have the mud on their stems screaming “I’m organic! “ I had a deeper respect for the flowers; their journey, their survival and then the strength of character they bought to the party. Don’t get me wrong, I value and love Dutch flowers but on this occasion, it was more enjoyable to arrange fruits of a little bit of my labour.
We walked around the huge farming space, the work in action in the polytunnels – it’s still early in the year but lots had been picked already for the beautiful flower shop and there were more than enough for us. We shared experiences and business plans, aspirations, frustrations and inspirations. And then we returned with our muddy hands and pickings for coffee, croissant and a Tussie Mussie demonstration which Sarah made look effortless. Although both of us attending the workshop happened to be florists with many bouquets under our belt, it’s always great to see other florists at work – subtle differences and different approaches; both helpful and refreshing.
Before I digress further, a Tussie Mussie is a posy of flowers and/or aromatic herbs – informal, pretty as and in Victorian days a popular gift which often communicated a message or sentiment. Floriography was a secret language used to communicate true feelings on times when some subjects were taboo. For example, as well as owning a gorgeous scent, Apple Mint represents virtue and could be used to present to an honourable and honest character. And totally rocks as a filler in a posy. I say “Bring back the Tussie Mussie!” The fun/mischief to be had and SO much better than drunk texting…
It was our turn to start making and spiralling our own bouquets and just because and without pressures. Just for the love of flowers; gathering and creating. What a treat. The scent radiating from the mint was divine and mixed with the freshly cut blooms, simply delicious!
In order to get some more ‘business’ related tips and for my newest venture the flower shed. which runs alongside event floristry, I asked and learnt more about packaging and wrapping. I’m keen to limit use of cellophane – although sometimes impossible if we need to keep gift flowers and keep them hydrated – and we discussed eco friendly alternatives. I’m also desperate to have my own branded grosgrain ribbon for a finishing flourish ( rafia is such a messy devil ),but my acorns are waaay too small. At the moment.
There are always new ways to approach floristry and it’s good to discover them; I could spend my life attending courses and it would be fantastic…if financially disastrous and my family might miss me. This course was perfect for a morning and was accessible to anybody, with, or without a floristry background. Being two florists however, Sarah adapted the workshop to just the right amount of hands on and helpful chat. And of course, laughter.
Finally after preening, tying and cutting there was a mini photo shoot for our work. How these blooms love to pose; full of shape, colour and bounce. There are lots of aesthetically pleasing spaces and props of which to take advantage. Taking photographs of flowers is actually really tricky and in all the photos (and I took MANY!) I think I got one that was good enough to share here. Nevertheless, I was really happy with my work, how well it travelled and how long it lasted when it was chez moi. A really cheery number representing new life, beginnings and purity. I’m all over those sentiments.
In terms of value? Well, how do I put a price on a morning which left me feeling energised but relaxed, fulfilled and excited. I can’t. I loved every second and hope that I can, in my own workshops, ensure everybody who attends get a similar satisfaction on whatever level.
(And confession? Um. The 10% discount off homewares and 25% off food was excellent too. And used. Naturally. I’m only human. Don’t forget. I actually wanted to move in…)