Just as the flowers change week by week, providing us with an ever changing palette of sometimes unexpected combinations, so do our days. It's fair to say that no two days are the same at Black Shed. Last year was a little more predictable, we had a calendar full of weddings, our weeks would have a certain shape. Picking from dawn on Wednesday in preparation for that weekend's weddings, a flurry of florists visiting, picking for their brides and grooms, collecting buckets full of colour. Late nights on Thursdays and Fridays, preparing buttonholes and bridal bouquets. The gasps of excitement as our couples first see their flowers, giggles as we try to squeeze far too many exuberant stems into far too small a car.
We've missed that but weddings are returning slowly. We've just supplied flowers for our first Zoom wedding. Quite who was where in the world we're not sure but I am hoping that at least the bride and groom were in the same room! Next week we have a 'real' wedding, small and cautious but a proper wedding with all the trimmings for a lovely couple in their seventies, who planned to marry abroad but had got caught in the lockdown. The moment restrictions were lifted and accepting the first available date, they had little hope of being able to organise wedding flowers at such short notice. Turning up, quite unannounced, after a kind recommendation from their chosen venue, they couldn't believe their eyes when we guided them round the farm, completely covered in gorgeous flowers, choosing their favourites and simply loving the experience. Their joy was so infectious, holding hands like teenagers, there may have been a tear or two… Priceless.
Next year will be chock full of weddings I suspect and not just at the weekends either, so our weeks will change again. We'll have to try and plan for that somehow! Meantime, every day brings it's own surprises, a flurry of orders, a feature in a magazine, a newspaper article, a film crew, photographers, perhaps a famous florist, a phone call from a friend who can't believe that the guy who used to paint dinosaurs is now peddling Dahlias. Sometimes it can be a lovely natter with an old gardening friend, a kind gift of a cutting, the lovely lady who brought us a car full of Honesty, our friend, Japanese cloud pruning expert, Jake Hobson of Niwaki.com, bearing a sack full of foliage from his precious Cryptomerias, a thoughtful gift of freshly gathered Delphinium seed. Then of course there are the flowers. Getting up at first light, the first inspection of the field is always bound to reveal something new and exciting, someone new to the party and there's me and the bees waiting to greet them. Try as we may to plan for the future, in the midst of unusual times, living in these moments is a most extraordinary gift and joy.
All text and images ©Paul Stickland First published in The Sherborne Times August 2020