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I know I say this every month but this last one has been ridiculously busy and also really rather interesting too....

We opened for our second NGS day on the August Bank Holiday. Quite why we chose to open on one of Peter and Amanda's most busy days of the summer at The Toy Barn, I don't know. The Maize Maze was full of children, Doodles Cafe was busy serving all the happy families in the Orchard and then on the dot of one o'clock, 210 visitors appeared. People came from far and wide. We had a wonderful day in glorious sunshine. With a thousand questions. Most of them about one particular plant, Euphorbia marginata, which is planted on a far distant bed, at the very furthest edge of the garden. So our guests really did explore the gardens thoroughly!

Despite a previous week of orders and weddings, we'd had to have a major tidy up, filling innumerable vole holes, rehoming carelessly misplaced tools, hoses, metal stakes, baler twine, flower pots, dog bones and general detritus. Lawns were mowed, edges trimmed, sneaky bindweed was discovered escaping the hedgerow and infiltrating the beds under cover of the their bounteous growth and most accommodating landscape fabric. Naughty, naughty.

Then we had BBC Countryfile come and film on the Friday.

We'd said goodbye to a couple of lovely weddings by then, bouquets, buttonholes and dozens of buckets of blooms, supplied a van full of white flowers for the amazing Tattie Rose, who flowered the musician Ellie Goulding's wedding with them in York Minster, another glamorous wedding in Cornwall for the Dartmoor florist Joanna Game, a ravishing palette of flowers for Emma at Martha and the Meadow, more stunning blooms for Anna Langmead, home from her Kenyan flower farms for a summer of weddings in Dorset, a shop full of flowers for Sarah at Sprout and Flower in Mere, funeral flowers…

Quite a week. So by the time the countryfile team arrived, we were more than a little tired but nevertheless excited to see how the day would work out.

We'd had two pre-production meetings with the director, Erika and her assistants. They were genuinely interested in Black Shed and our rather unusual story. We had some sense of what to expect. Come the day, having been so busy, we had little time for nerves. So when the team arrived, we were eager to see how things would go. We hadn't met Ellie Harrison, the presenter but she was so relaxed and friendly, that any nerves soon dissipated. The team: camera man, sound man, director Erika and her lovely assistants, were funny and kind, putting Helen, Tabitha and I swiftly at our ease. They particularly wanted to film Tabitha, as she's been with us on every step of our journey and has a story of her own to tell.

It was fascinating to watch them at work, they must have visited so many wonderful, interesting places and had some fascinating stories to tell. They were quietly and humorously impressive. I couldn't help being slightly envious of their jobs and how efficiently they worked together to capture a story. We were gently guided and asked about the flower farm, how it came to be and how we fit into this lovely community in our home here at Blackmarsh Farm.

The light was gorgeous, the flowers were glowing, we were lucky.

Helen taught Ellie to make a bouquet, I tried to discuss the importance of the flourishing world of British Cut Flowers and Tabitha explained how mean we were, not giving her pocket money, forcing her to sell flowers on the streets…

And in a flash they were gone. We sat, slightly dazed, bemused and briefly in the tidiest flower farm you've ever seen. Before heading home to a large glass of wine or two, a pizza or three from Tamburinos and some much needed sleep.

All images and text © Paul Stickland First published in the Sherborne Times October 2019


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