Friday, 25 September 2015

Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers........Georgie Newbery's latest flower farming book is here!!

Being sent a copy of Georgie Newbery's new book, which, by the way will be published in early November, was a complete treat and made my day on Saturday when it arrived. It is a thing of beauty. A coffee table tome. The kind of book you would be proud to display when you wanted to show off a bit perhaps. It's cover is a beautiful bouquet that could only have come from Common Farm Flowers, full of exquisitely conditioned roses and sweet peas, fennel and poppy seed heads. It is a quintessentially English bouquet that any bride would be thrilled to have as part of her special day.

Now to actually review a book by a friend is hard, and so, frankly, I'm not even going to pretend that is what this is. However, I do have one issue and that is the name of the book, Grow Your Own Wedding Flowers, ought to be Find A Wedding To Grow Flowers For, because this book is not just how to grow flowers for your wedding. It goes far beyond that. From cutting and conditioning, to quantities of stems needed and advice on how best to manage the floristry as well as tips on scheduling and how to manage the flowers and floristry at the same time as everything else, what this book gives the reader is an insight into how Common Farm Flowers grow, manage and cut for weddings every season of every year. But you could change the word wedding and add any event that flowers might be appropriate at and this book is for you. In fact you could decide you wanted to grow a great bouquet for yourself, a friend or relative and this book is for you. And even if you decide not to grow your own flowers, this book is full of inspiration to help you decide what you want from your event flowers.

What I found really wonderful are the four chapters that help the reader to decide what it is they are going to grow for the appropriate season that their special day falls in. It doesn't just concentrate on what you can grow, although it covers that comprehensively with sections on annuals, perennials, bulbs and shrubs, but it also looks at how wild flowers, the plants already growing in the garden, including plants for foliage, can be added into the palette of plants being produced, as well as separate sections on how to cut and condition these. Alongside these are sections about the symbolism and meaning of individual flowers; daisies for loyal love, sunflowers for loyalty and longevity and on each page are the most startlingly beautiful photographs of weddings that Common Farm Flowers have created both flowers and floristry for.

What is particularly special about this book though, more than the words and the photos, is the insight into the work that Georgie and her amazing team put into not only each and every wedding they create such wonderful floristry for, but in fact the work and effort behind running such a hugely successful business as Common Farm Flowers is. She speaks lovingly of slow flowers, allying the way she and Fabrizio work the land with the Slow Food movement, one at which love and care for the land and the other species that inhabit it is constantly at the centre of everything they do. She speaks of organic practises, compost teas and the gentle ways in which they steward the land from which these magnificent flowers are cut and with this knowledge it is no wonder that the quality of both the flowers and the floristry sing through.

At Common Farm Flowers a successful business has been made growing flowers for cutting and creating floristry with those flowers in a way that is kind to the earth, wildlife and people. This book proves that you can have an ecologically sound and principled business, producing a really extraordinary product that is also sustainable and principled. Take this book and apply the principles to your garden and you won't go far wrong, in both growing and ecological practises. And you will have some magnificent flowers that you could, if you wanted to, use for a wedding.

I forgot to mention that Sarah Raven wrote the foreword. I also forgot to mention that if you can get through the acknowledgements without a tear, then you are a less sentimental soul than I!

As a little addendum I have to mention the Common Farm Meadows. Teaming with butterflies, pollinators and full of orchids and native wild flowers, they are a complete marvel and speak of Fabrizio's understanding and love of the land for which he cares. Whilst Georgie is the force behind the floristry and the commercial business, Fabrizio manages the land, always with an eye on the natural turning of the seasons and the vast amount of other species who inhabit the land alongside the family and the team. Once upon a time I commented that these meadows are on a par with those at Great Dixter, and those who know me also know I would never say such a thing unless I truly meant it. This summer they were stunning and could only have been brought into being by a man who knows the land. I doff my cap to Fabrizio, steward of the extraordinary land at Common Farm.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely piece Sara, Like you I am lucky enough to count all at Common Farm as friends and visiting is the most wonderful experience. I have been lucky enough to be allowed to help out in a very minor way when they have huge weddings and the fun laughter and damned hard work that goes on is inspiring. I hope that lots more people are inspired by this book to start growing their own wedding flowers . It is a wonderful way to make what is already a special day even better.