As the idea of creating a cut flower farm grew, we soon realised that weddings were going to be very important for us. Getting married never goes out of fashion and flowers are a very important part of that special day. Every couple has a vision of their day and it’s usually garlanded with flowers. Those visions can be very different and it’s great fun working with our range of flowers and foliage to come up with something fresh and full of life and colour!
Fashions change constantly and it pays to keep abreast of the latest trends, colours and styles. We grew a lot of whites and pastel colours but we soon found that today’s couples are drawing on a far wider colour palette. Last year our soft oranges and apricot dahlias were in huge demand, as were our gorgeous peach foxgloves. Rich deep reds and crimsons were very popular and at the other end of the spectrum, our creamy Dahlia, ‘Cafe au Lait’ had everyone’s hearts.
We’ve been delighted to supply some of the top wedding florists in the South West, whose amazing creations grace the incredible range of wedding venues that surround us. I love our florist clients, they’re truly passionate and knowledgeable about flowers, colour and design. Efficient and organised too, for each wedding, we’re given a list of numbers, colours and species needed. We post up to date photos of our range on social media and we can easily pop out into the field with a phone and quickly show them exactly what else we have. When they come to collect, they know that they’re getting field fresh flowers and are usually tempted by some of the other gems that we’re growing too!
Not everyone can afford the fantastic service that a top wedding florist can provide and we can help in many ways. We’re always happy to create something special in our own inimitable Black Shed style of course but a really popular option is to go the DIY route.
DIY wedding flowers can be great fun to do, with everyone getting involved, mucking in and lending a hand. We discuss and choose suitable species and then cut and condition buckets full of flowers and foliage, so that the families can decorate the wedding venue. Everyone seems to love the experience and it’s a great way to bring two families and their friends together I’m told!
Our very first wedding as Black Shed was in the beautiful surroundings of Burgh House in Hampstead. We were understandably nervous. We’d sought inspiration online, in books and we’d talked to florist friends. We were given a very open brief by the couple, which was just as well, as we weren’t even sure what flowers we’d have at that early stage. Our plants were growing really well at Blackmarsh Farm but as the date drew near, it was clear that we would have to use an eclectic mix, some grown and some ‘found’...
On the day before the wedding we picked all our new flower farm treasures and started to fill the kitchen with buckets full of flowers. It was all looking very colourful and exciting but we needed more fillers and foliage. We pinched some of the stunning architectural maize foliage from the Toy Barn’s Amazing Maize Maze but we needed more, so we took a trip up to our much loved but rather neglected allotments. We grow native plants and flowers on our plots to encourage wildlife, so we were pretty hopeful of finding something interesting and useful. We weren’t disappointed. Clouds of our small native lilac scabious and a sea of white campions would make perfect informal fillers. The neglect paid dividends too, tall grasses and wild oats would look great in the mix but the surprise for me were the rusty plumes of dock flowers. Docks are a terrible weed, even if useful for nettle stings but they are also tall and statuesque, they made a fabulous foil to our flowers and later just glowed in the evening sun amidst the wood panelling at Burgh House in London.
We’ve given two of our allotments back now so that someone else can enjoy them. We don’t have the time to maintain them in the way we’d like to but before we handed them back, we cleared a lot of our plants off, taking seedlings and offsets down to the flower farm. I even found myself doing something I doubt any gardener ever does, searching for and digging up a clump of those docks and transplanting them down to a new home down at the farm.
©Paul Stickland First published in The Sherborne Times, March 2018