As a cack-handed flower arranger who decided long ago to just buy a bunch or two of the same flower, stick them in a vase and hope for the best, I was really looking forward to my posy tying workshop with Georgie Newbery at Common Farm Flowers in Somerset.
It’s between Bruton and Wincanton so is handy for me, but such is the fame of Georgie’s flowers that people had come from London, the Home Counties and Shropshire.
No chance of pre-workshop nerves here. Georgie came out into the yard in her blue florist’s pinny to welcome me, and immediately offered coffee with homemade cake and squidgy brownies.
The studio, an airy converted barn, was fragrant with buckets of spring flowers and foliage from Cornwall and my home county of Lincolnshire – tulips, irises, narcissi, ranunculus, pussy willow and more. I’m now hooked on the smell of eucalyptus and that gorgeous, fresh ‘flower shop’ smell.
Common Farm Flowers only use British grown flowers, so their bouquets are seasonal, scented, and avoid the air miles, chemicals and dodgy employment practices of flowers flown in from around the world.
We started with some vital information about cutting and conditioning flowers (such as cut them direct into water, and only in the early morning or the evening when the sun’s gone down) and then watched Georgie demonstrate making a hand-tied bunch before trying it ourselves.
The technique is simple – add a new flower at 45 degrees, make a quarter turn and repeat – but it’s surprising how much your hand aches holding the bunch tight as you add more and more stems. You can see different views of the result in the two top photos.
‘I don’t want any of those flowers left,’ instructed Georgie and we were happy to oblige. We were all amazed and delighted with what we managed to create under her supervision, and once the bunches were all securely tied up with raffia we moved onto jam jar posies.
If the first thing that comes to mind is a jar of droopy wildflowers on a primary school nature table, think again. At Common Farm Flowers a jam jar posy is a fat fistful of gorgeous homegrown flowers and foliage.
I drove away feeling triumphant with my large posy propped in front of the passenger seat and two jam jar posies nestled on the floor behind me (that’s one of them above).
I’ve been to countless workshops, seminars, courses and classes and this one scored the highest on every single point – venue (with glossy mags in the loo!), refreshments, a friendly welcome and plenty of time for one-to-one tuition. And I say that as a genuine customer, this is not a sponsored post!
And I’m not the only appreciative one. I’ve been saying happy birthday, get well soon, thank you and welcome home with flowers ever since the workshop, as you can see from the two photos below, and the recipients seem pretty pleased as well. As was the friend who borrowed my workshop creations to beautify her new holiday cottages for a photo session.
A workshop to learn a new skill, for yourself or a loved one, is a gift that really does keep on giving. First there’s the enjoyment of the day itself and mastering something you haven’t done before, then there’s the thrill of taking home your carefully made item, followed by the repeated pleasure of practising (and with luck improving) at home.
Common Farm Flowers run workshops throughout the year on growing flowers for pleasure or profit and making seasonal decorations. 13 to 17 June is British Flowers Week, the ideal time to book yourself a place to learn how to make the most of our wonderful native flowers. Like me I bet you’ll surprise yourself with what you can achieve!