After falling somewhat behind with the blog this year I have decided to catch up over these quieter winter months starting with the latest news and working backwards.
The reason for this retrospective is that it has been another incredibly productive and creative year in which I have experienced new flower varieties, projects and flowery people. All of this has been well documented with more breathtaking pictures by Clare West and I had pleasure of two other photographers capturing the farm with Eric McVey visiting for the Creative Process Workshop in August and Mark Lord in September.
So starting with Autumn which is usually my ‘burnt out’ season when I am not as productive and inspired as I would like to be. Always a shame as it is probably the best time to create the really wild and ‘grown in’ arrangements that I love. So, this year I decided to prolong the marathon of growing and arranging all the way through October and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. It felt like I had a whole new palette of plants to play with.
Our bountiful orchard and the native hedgerows surrounding the plot provided plenty of fruiting branches of sloe, hawthorn, damson, crap apple and pear to give scale to the larger arrangements. Dahlias in colour-coordinated patches made any bride’s preference possible although everyone seemed to be drawn to the coppers, creams and peach varieties.
Texture and variety is easily achieved by the end of season with a good selection of berries in every colour provided by a large purchase chez Kolster a couple of years ago and lots of half hardy annuals looking pristine undercover in our tunnels.
There will be more on what we were growing, picking and arranging in my next post which will include a beautiful early morning shoot of the G&G team on a busy Friday in September, photographed by Mark Lord.
The end of the season was rounded off by a trip to Japan to enjoy the ‘fall’ colour in the strolling, tea and dry gardens of Kyoto, Kanazawa and Okayama and whilst hiking a bit along the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route.
I would love to add Japanese maple to my long wish list of things to grow but my alkaline soil and exposed site would not be to their liking.
We saw a wholly different world of Chrysanthemum varieties carefully pruned and trained, in some cases even bonsaied. I have had a couple of years off from growing them but I will definitely be back on board in 2016.
Of course a lot of our time was spent exploring gardens and seeking out flowers but we did still find plenty of time to enjoy discovering the food, textiles, pottery, hot springs and overall otherness of Japan.
The warm weather and refreshingly polite and friendly people was an added bonus. I am now smitten and am already thinking about returning next year to learn more about this fascinating country and it’s appreciation of natural beauty.
I have had Japan on my wish list for a long time after researching Japanese garden design whilst working on a hospital courtyard garden. The principles of design I learned then are reflected in their approach to floristry. The Japanese aesthetic of asymmetry and ’empty’ space are essential to composition, creating a ‘wildness of nature’. The sense of harmony between the plant materials, container and setting and the emphasis on greens are all principles I would like to incorporate into my work.
So I signed up to a class at the Ohara School of Ikebana in Tokyo. It was an amazing coincidence to find myself sitting next to Chickae of Okishima and Simmonds! Her Japanese heritage coupled with a few classes already under her belt got me thinking about an Ikebana themed collaboration next year….
The lesson was based on Basic Hana-isho, which is a beginners form of Ikebana. We worked with an impressively large pinholder, called a kenzan in a shallow container and just five stems of shooting hydrangea and bouvardia which we used to create two compositions – the rising and inclining form. Stems are always positioned in a line as I think it is intended to be viewed from one angle.
So Japan has left me with a yearning to return, a lot of large Kenzan, a long plant list and a strong desire to make my own vases….looks like I am going to be busy.