Trick or treat

Trick - teaching an old dog new ones

Treat - pink peppercorn and viburnum tinus berries



I didn't carve any pumpkins last year, and decided against doing them again this year.

Instead we are going "Woodland Kitsch"

It is making people giggle, or making them think i have finally lost my marbles. Whichever.

A marvellous thank you to Dixon, who patiently sifted through the enormous log pile as I examined each one for it's artistic merits. A gentleman indeed.

I want a tilt shift lens now.

If this was Twitter i would add #princess after that statement.

Happy halloween and all that jazz.



Flower school with cameras

What happens when a photographer with a passion for flowers meets a florist with a passion for photography? If truth be told a lot of squealing and chatter, but Emily Quinton and I are instead combining our expertise and passions to bring you the ultimate course.

Flower school and botanical photography

May 10th 2011

at Miss Pickering 7 St. Paul's Street, Stamford, PE9 2BE

Cost £385.00*

*The price includes all flowers, lunch, wine and tuition, flowers in the morning, photography in the afternoon.

You don't need to have a fandangly camera to attend. Emily will be teaching the fundamentals of light and composition, which apply whether you are using a digital SLR or a Polaroid camera from the 1970's. I have a Polaroid camera from the 1970's, I am bringing it.

Obviously there will be flowers, lily of the valley, ranunculus, locally grown stocks, the first of the peonies, and a few surprises.

To book your space please email either Emily on hello@emilyquinton.com or myself on flowers@misspickering.com

Gift vouchers for this course are available if you would like to present it to somebody on Christmas Day.

Stamford is a beautiful stone built town, picture postcard in fact. Anyone wishing to make a mini break of it, will find plenty to photograph. Details of accommodation and other sights worth a picture will be included with your booking confirmation.

Yes, Emily is the photographer from the television


Sundries so loathsome they should be banned.

I thought we might start on sundries, having looked at flowers and foliage. We are coming into the festive season, which is bound to supply us with some real chestnuts. Red glitter pine cone picks anyone?

Weddings are the subject of todays's post, and the oasis bouquet holder is our star.

I don't understand their role in life, they serve only to make things look stiff, and seriously dodgy in the saggital plane. Evidently you still need to wire and glue, so they seem not to elivate any work? and that handle?

Am i wrong? do you find them useful, do you insert flowers into them and think they are heaven sent? Do you? Please share.


Romanesco and Romona

Romanesco, the freak vegetable.

Add a spoonful of plain flour to
a spoonful of butter.
Heat and stir until you get a paste.
Remove from the heat and add about a pint of milk
Whisk until you get a glossy sauce.
Add a big teaspoon of English Mustard and season.
Remove from the heat and throw in 2 handfuls of strong cheese.

Floret the Romanesco and steam or boil until al dente - i used 2 heads.
Arrange in a suitably precious oven dish.
Pour over the sauce.
Sprinkle with brown breadcrumbs, and more cheese of you are not on a diet.
Bake in a hot oven for 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven and drizzle with truffle oil.
Serve with crusty bread, roast chicken or other such delights.

Leftovers make a perfect pasta sauce, chop the florets into smaller pieces, and stir into a pan of penne with butter and nutmeg.

Re:Romona - The Hound isn't sure there is room on the sofa. We are in "consultation"


Garden rosemary

Making it's way into wedding bouquets, and just about every type of bouquet. The scent is beguiling, and like the pied piper, or the Bisto advert, has brought customers to our door.

I think some of it may also work it's way into the kitchen.
Other plans for the weekend include: Christmas, and restyling the house on a budget of £0.
Wish us luck, and for Mr Hamilton in Korea.
Do i need matching pair? - please say yes.


Don't fence me in

Another day another escapade.

The Hound was on the end of his lead one minute, and running free the next.

The lead had snapped.

It was so very dark, and he was so very determined to make me pay for having gone out for dinner and left him in the shop.

I can laugh about it now, but there were a lot of tears last night.

A tearful phone call to The Mother Hen, who came out into a cold night to search for The Boy Wonder. He was never far away, but just far enough to avoid capture. Laughing at us.

This time it's personal.


Now those days are gone

The Hound and I are mourning the loss of long light evenings, and warmth. The thermals have been unearthed, scarves, even gloves. The Boy Wonder has demanded the heater be plugged in and moved to his bedchamber.

The colours of summer, have gone, it is all about orange and blue at the moment. I quite like orange and blue so i don't mind, but it seems forever ago that we were being bowled over by peonies.

A lady came all the way from Durham today to see the shop. That is a long way. I always worry people will be terribly disappointed with the reality.

It's Bucks Fizz.

Also does anybody know of any stylists? As in fashion, not fiddling about with interiors.



Currently loving....

stamps. Postal ones. From America.

Mini works of art.

I don't think buying a packet of them makes me a philatelist.


Flower school

Yesterday was the last full day flower school of the year.

Dates are being finalised for the 2011.

It was a joy, people travelled from as far as London, Cheshire and Birmingham. I was very impressed as people took to hand tied and buttonholing with great enthusiasm and aptitude.

We had lunch and drank wine, The Hound was adored and flowers taken away in baskets.

Polly Alexandre came, I adore her work, and tried play it cool and not gush. She brought a camera. I died.

Christmas courses are being organised as we speak, details at the end of the week.

Such fun.

This post was brought to you after 6 hours of being patronised by BT Broadband customer service.


Another flower shop

Yesterday, whilst whizzing across the streets of London in a cab, I spotted Cave.
A flower shop that sells wine, really good wine, and chocolate and a shop I would be happy to call my own, and certainly a far lovelier shop than a lot of the big names.

I wanted to steal the occasional table.

It is on the achingly cool Bermondsey Street. An area never before explored, but i fully intend to return. It seems you don't actually need a lopsided haircut or a passport to get in.

I might make this an occasional series. I like meeting other florists.


Have flowers. Will travel.

To London. SE1. Train cancelled. Spill coffee down top. Second train running at reduced power. No seats. Men in suits staring at girl with flowers in basket. Saved by a black cab, that was pea green. Arrive flustered.

That's the highlights of an early morning journey up to London.

The flowers were for a shoot for Wedding Flowers magazine. A hand tied bouquet and a table centre if you will. I ditched the pot et fleur, as pretty as it was it was too stiff, so i went to my large cupboard of jam jars and filled one of those instead. At first it was to be just foliage, but we were saved by the appearance of some locally grown purple anemones.

I panicked when i got there, as the London florists designs had been shot yesterday, and not a scrap of foliage in sight, and they had all been sent in smart boxes, and not vintage baskets. Why didn't i think of a box?

The photographer Andy at RGB digital was a star, and showed me how everything worked. It was fascinating, it has inspired me to try some photo editing, or at least to try a little more than saturation levels.

Then i popped into an amazing florist a few doors up, more on that tomorrow. Now we must prepare for a shoot with the Wall Street Journal.....Wall Street off of New York City.


In the shop today

Old Liberty fabric of Venetian gondoliers, out of season but oh so beautiful Webber tulips. Local dahlias, Dartmouth swans, pumpkins, copper beech, jam jars.


Pot et Fleur - part 1

We are doing some flowers for a wedding magazine.

Brief: Purple

Not the easiest colour to work with at this time of year. Unless i am missing something there aren't many mindblowing purple blooms around. Yesterday I bought the violas, just the most perfect colour.

Could ye olde fashioned pot et fleur of mixing cut flowers and plants make a comeback?

Hopefully the roses will blow overnight.


Toad in the hole

Start with the Yorkshire pudding batter. Everybody has their own variation, most are closely guarded secrets. how to get the perfect crisp puddings with a soft and enveloping centre.

125g plain flour
2 pinchs of salt
2 eggs and an extra yolk
a grind or 2 of black pepper
125ml of milk
125ml of water.

Whisk together and leave to stand.
Heat a tablespoon of fat in a chichi enamel tin a la Jamie Oliver.
Heat in a hot oven for 10 minutes.
Add some sausages and return to the oven until browned.
Flip the sausages over and pour over the batter.
Cook until risen and golden brown.

You can also make chop in the hole, or dispense with the meat all together and pour into muffin tins. My Grandmother used to make them with onion, sometimes we had them for pudding with jam, the plain ones, not the ones with onion. That would be weird.

Whilst the oven is on, empty the fruit basket of slightly soft peaches. Destone and place in a dish with butter and sugar. Roast. Cool. Serve with yoghurt for breakfast.

In the garden, things have perked up, new buds, there is actually colour, and the newly purchased dark violet and white violas patiently await their turn in the pots.


Ham hock 2 - the sequel

Despite the previous attempt being a complete turkey. A sequel was made.
This time pearls of barley did not feature. It was destined straight for a sandwich with double barrel Lincolnshire Poacher, and panfried in butter. Served with a cup of roast tomato soup, made from another batch of those sticky syrupy tomatoes, a red onion, whizzed up with some stock and a dollop of creme fraiche. Comfort food. The shot glass? Last season sloe gin. For medicinal purposes.

Anyone expecting a report back from the Designer Wedding Show, sorry. I woke with my throat on fire and the inability to move. Did you go? Let us know who blew you away, who inspired you? Did you find a dress? A headpiece? A venue? A honeymoon?

The cupcake made by The Other Miss Pickering, she is turning into quite the baker.

I did get a chance to catch up on some reading.

There was plenty of meat on the hock, headed for a pasta dish. Left out to cool on the worktop, then a loud crash, a hound, the hock is no more.