Blessed are the wreathmakers

I think i may have used that post title before.

We are preparing for the first of out Christmas extravaganzas at the Garage Deli. I have made Mr Woodfiredoven a wreath for his door.

Before the day is out i shall make several more, and tablecentres and all manner of Christmas things.

The jury is still out on the Martha inspired moss one, she suggests hot glue gunning moss into the cracks, and i think she may be right.

I'm just not really a hot glue gun kinda gal.


2 and 4

The dresser has had a makeover, a declutter.

It is now the perfect showcase for flowers, gold ilex. Proof that I drink vodka as well as gin, and don't always do things in 3's and 5's. I will probably be drummed out of the floral industry for that.

This Christmas card shoot had to be postponed, The Hound is refusing to frolic in the snow until all the requests on his rider have been met. We just don't have the space in the garden for a hot tub.

We did however meet up with gardener Laetitia Maklouf, the author of the book we all got excited over. We met at The Pub, she signed my book, she is lovely, and witty. We drank tea. She is writing book 2, brilliant.

How was your weekend? Do you have snow at your door? Did you meet up with a celebrity gardener? Do you have a dog willing to go out in the snow?


This morning

we have

1. Wondered how long into the conversation you should interject and tell them my name isn't Sarah? I didn't. Too awkward for all parties concerned. This customer has been flowers from me for 2 years.

2. Filled the window with ilex, the gold is my favourite, more understated, less brash.

3. Worn nail polish in colour number 13 - Dangerous Affair, a red. Lipstick to match.

4. Watched a man steal the care label from one of baby Christmas trees outside. People are weird.

5. Made The Hound get out of his bed and perform some tricks for customers. Twice.

6. Topics of conversation have been nuclear waste, Paris, thermals and bread sauce.

I feel like the little girl who played shop with her Fisher Price till.


Blue Spruce Christmas wreaths - a retrospective

The white cable that links la camera to le laptop is missing again.

So instead some wreaths vintage 2008.

All made with a traditional moss base, because that's the way we roll.

This year our designs are very different, but I will still recreate some from the back catalogue.

We also sell the brass rings and wires, moss and spruce for those wanting to make their own.

On Tuesday we received a parcel of homemade Christmas cakes from Cityboy1, yesterday a bowl of "mine strone" from The Stamford Hen.

The way to a girls' heart and all that.


Guest blogger Small but Charming

I adore Jane's blog, she is a florist from Virgina, USA. A real life American on this blog - we are international now. I asked her to blog about Thanksgiving, what's not to love about eating turkey with loved ones? Do you have questions about this American tradition? Leave a comment and ask away, I'll start. As I write this I can hear crashing and banging coming from upstairs.The Hound is busy chasing our resident butterfly. It has been living in the bedroom for about 3 months, it seems quite happy.

Big thanks to Miss Pickering for inviting me to tell all about Thanksgiving, every American's favorite holiday. No gifts are required, the day revolves around food. Cooking food, serving food, eating food and cleaning up after ingesting copious amounts of food. With a few football games thrown in for good measure, the inevitable family squabble and some tears.

We prepare turkeys, big birds, often stuffed with savory bread concoctions, and basted with butter. There are mashed potatoes (more butter), sweet potatoes often served candied and topped with miniature marshmallows, perhaps a casserole of canned green beans mixed with cream of mushroom soup and topped with a can of fried onion rings.

I wish I was making this all up just to amuse Miss P., but alas, tis the truth.

But this is blogland and we cook beautifully on these posts and entertain effortlessly. So let me tell you how it's done at our house.

We buy our bird at our local farmers market, from a breeder with impeccable credentials. On Wednesday morning, before a mad day in the flower shop we place the bird in a very large container and submerge it in a brine. After 100 hours of work we come home and painstakingly wash the bird salt free. Then we cut it in half ( not as easy as I make it sound) and place in in a marinade of olive oil, lemon juice, finely chopped shallots, red peppers, handfuls of parsley, salt and pepper and finely diced celery.

The bird goes into the refrigerator and we go to bed. Next morning I down several lattes, wake up my partner, take dog for walk and start cooking. We peel 5 to 10 pounds of little Yukon gold potatoes for mashed potatoes, cut up 2 heads of red cabbage for said partner's family dish of braised red cabbage. This is cooked with onions, bacon, apples, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, caraway seed, allspice and bay leaves and sugar.

The turkey halves are placed in oven and cooked for about 3 to 4 hours, the house smells heavenly. And yes, one half is draped in bacon, a la Germany.

An aside, dogs like turkey too, even, or especially, ones from Labrador.

One friend brings brussel sprouts roasted with bacon and onions and sweetened with a touch of raisins. She also brings a cranberry bread pudding that makes grown men cry. Another brings a traditional cranberry sauce. If you can't cook you bring wine. Everyone helps with the clean up.

Then we bring out a pie or two, pumpkin and pecan being favorites, the bread pudding, many pots of coffee and tea and reflect on why the table is called the groaning board. We don't reflect too deeply.

What makes this dinner truly American is the melting pot of guests at the table and background of the dishes we serve. The turkey is a recipe gleaned from my Bolivian coworkers. The cabbage dish is from my partner's German family. The cranberry is a uniquely American fruit. And potatoes, well they're global.

The guests are also global, German, Indian, American, Ethiopian and who knows what other countries will represent. All are welcome. Just please don't stay till midnight this year. It's a holiday meal, not a house party.

Miss Pickering has an open invitation, is not required to do dishes and may stay up as late as she likes.


1. Flowers for a funeral, rambling rose, and the turning foliage of viburnum opulus

2. Mercury glass baubles against flickering candlelight - arty

3. The tiniest of cyclamen in an assortment of vintage pots. These cyclamen would fit in an egg cup. Small but perfectly formed.

4. The Boy Wonder, who went to the pet shop, turned his nose up at the 5 different types of gourmet dog treats, and ate the owners lunch instead. Also he is not a Labrador, which seems to me to be perfectly obvious, seemingly not.

Christmas lights are being unravelled, and i have just purchased some more, they are coloured. I am over tasteful Farrow and Ball style white lights, for this week anyway.

In America it is Thanksgiving tomorrow, we have a guest blogger later who will be along to explain a bit about this phenomena. She is Small but Charming. Can you guess who it is yet?


The Winter blues

The last few days have been blue.

1.A wild bridal bouquet that included muscari and a lot of other things. Much much more on this wedding later.

2. A new scarf in the prettiest of blues, from H&M. I went shopping for warm weather clothes, apparently the snow is coming. One scarf and a sparkly headband later....not exactly toasty warm. Do you remember when H&M was called Hennes?

3. Baked apples or emergency pudding. Combine sultanas, flaked almonds, nutmeg, sugar butter and anything else you have a bit left in the bottom of a packet. Core the apples, insert mixture, bake. I think you are supposed to use cookers, but these were Granny Smiths. I am sure i have seen a recipe for them stuffed with marzipan, and a bit of cardamon would be nice.

Later there is a guest blogger, talking of turkeys and marshmallows, she must be American.


How to wear flowers in your hair - a cheat's guide. Autumn

Do you remember in the summer when we all wore flowers in our hair? Here is how to do it in the Autumn. The blogs are awash with floral masterpieces and diamante wonders. We'll stick to the floral variety, you'll need a whole other blog for the diamante, or maybe Kirstie will cover it next week?

1. Start with a headband, some wire, and autumn fancies, rosehips, hydrangea, dried lavender, eucalyptus, that sort of thing, nothing too stiff.

2. Bundle together a couple of bunches of these bits, and wrap wire around them, leaving a bit spare on either end. cut to about an inch in length
3. Wrap the wire around the headband, and cover the first sets stems with the heads of the second set. You could cover the whole band if you like. Whatever.

4. Apply to head. You can tie a bit of ribbon over the loose ends as before, but just fluff your hair over it. Labour saving.

Thankfully i will not be taking up a career as a portrait photographer, self or otherwise. Nice use of negative space....

Enjoy, make whole crowns, wear them across your forehead in a boho style, or tuck a bit of hydrangea behind your ear.

The Christmas version is going to be "to die for"


On the street where you live

St. Paul's Street is the quirky street in Stamford. We aren't the big brands High Street, or the designer street of St. Mary's, we are the oddballs.

We sit betwixt a thai and an antique bookshop, opposite a dog grooming parlour and a vintage furniture shop, and just along from 2 hairdressers a beauticians, the pub, a tattoo parlour, the hand car wash, and a vintage clothing shop.

The vintage furniture shop The Missing Curtain is relatively new. It has some amazing things, and some not so amazing. That's what makes it.

I want the deer.

Also please note contrary to popular belief The Hound and I don't live at the shop. We have a life, and everything.


The Festive table

I have just eaten a "Christmas" sandwich from M&S. It wasn't bad, too cold, but i couldn't wait for it to come up to room temperature, and besides the temperature of this room is lower than that of a fridge.

My mind has wandered to table centres, and samples are being made up. This one is a candle arrangement in a terracotta pot, filled with scented foliage and berries. Here is how to make something similar. Excuse the photography. Cringeworthy. A lot has changed in a year.

I love flowers on a table, but i think I love the food more, and any floral decoration should never interfere with access to the roast potatoes or bread sauce. Think small and more of. Much better to have 5 little arrangements that can slot in between the brussels, that a large central one, that let's face it can sometimes resemble a coffin top.

Oh and a pair of robins Ray and Roxanne popped by, to further enhance our kitsch Christmas collection.

News Flash: Congratulations to Prince William and Kate, engaged, a Royal Wedding in 2011. I can't wait for the souvenir mug.


My kitchen through the viewfinder

About 84 years ago i discovered a photography technique called TTV - through the viewfinder.

It involves shooting with a digital camera through the viewfinder of a twin lens reflex.

I found 2 TLR cameras in charity shops soon after, and they have sat looking pretty on my bookcase, until today.

I need a lot more practice, but i love the results.

The top 2 are with a Brownie twin reflex (£6) , and the second two with the cross hair are with Halina AI (£15)


In the shop today

1. and 2. Flowers for a party at The Olive Branch, actually they are going to 3 parties there, i think everybody should have 3 parties per birthday. They will be brought back next Friday to have their dancing shoes polished, and then sent off to dance one last tango, next Saturday

3. Christmas Wreath of blue spruce, rosemary, copper beech, kew green skimmia, myrtle, senecio, mimosa, larch cone, mushrooms, hydrangea, and viburnum tinus. Why use 1 foliage when you can use 11?

4. Amnesia roses for next Saturdays wedding. Yes, next Saturday. These roses need a full week to burst open and stop looking so stiff. With a little know how and care a rose can easily last 2 weeks if not longer. Knowing exactly when to get things in for a wedding is an art form, I like things to look as though they are almost about to fall apart.



from a bigger arrangement.

Simple pleasures.


Currently loving.....White cyclamen

I love them quite a lot.

Fill dressers with them, plant them in slate, tin, or vintage.

Or you could put them in pots outside, but then you would miss out on their delicate lily of the valley scent

Dresser painted in blackboard paint, slate vases are fibreglass, vintage pots from antique, useful information for those that like to copy my posts and pass it off as their own.

We'll say no more, but seriously if you are going to go to all that effort to copy the flowers and the books, why not do something of your own design? Weird.

Rant over.

Can somebody come in and buy some white cyclamen please?
Merci beaucoup.


A Quirky Christmas

Plastic trees, Ilex in old bottles, mushrooms for wreaths and coloured toadstools.

Some years we scour the magazines for what is going to be on trend for Christmas. This year we are abandoning all hope of being en vogue and doing our own thing.
Snow tipped plastic trees it is.
Are you excited?
It is all I can do to stop myself from bursting into Good King Wenceslas.
A lady from Russia came into the shop asking if she could take a picture, I tidied the shop, applied another slick of lipstick, and readied myself for the chat about the flowers i choose, and the like.
But no, she wanted a picture of The Hound.