Stourhead & Starting Up

The first of my courses at National Trust's Stourhead is filled with a mix of ladies from far and wide. Some know me personally, some know me because of my books and some have come across me via the blog I write about Pythouse Walled Garden. But where ever they are from there is no doubt they are all most welcome.
We are making hand-tied bouquets and posies (and drinking coffee, talking and eating cake).
I am showing some of the easiest ways to make your flowers go a long way, including what I consider are the essential vases - that is, the ones that make your flowers and you look good!
We have lisianthus, dahlias, stock and phlox to play with - and one of my favourite roses 'sweet avalanche'.
If this sounds like your cup of tea (or coffee) my next workshop is on October 1st. Have a look at my website for more details www.sallypage.com
Just down the road from Stourhead is the village of Mere and the work going on there is a far cry from my Stourhead workshop.
My friend Sarah, who used to work with me at Ted Martin Flowers, has bought herself a business. It is a fruit, vegetable and flower shop. But before she opens the doors, she is making just a few changes!
There is an interior to gut and a garden to clear, and in amongst it all there are still her children to feed!
I leave Sarah to it but I shall back soon to see how she is getting on.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

All I can say is that Kate's staff must really love her - I don't think there are many people they would dress up as Umpa Lumpas for!
The competition is on. It is Carnival week in Sturminster Newton.
In recent years traders have become despondent as the same two shops have tended to win the shop window competition year after year.
This year Kate at Rustic Rose has other ideas - so she has gone to town and is fighting back.
Kate and her staff have turned her flower shop into The Chocolate Factory complete with huge swirly lollipops and multicoloured roses.
They are running a competition to find a golden ticket and have got local school children to take part in an art competition.
Children can win prizes of sweets or brightly coloured watering cans planted with cheery kalanchoe.
Well they certainly get my vote!

The Academy

I am walking past the end of St Martin's Courtyard in Covent Garden, when I catch a glimpse of sunshine yellow and a splash of scarlet.
Time for a quick detour.
It turns out this elegant and pretty flower shop is also a flower school - I guess the name is a bit of a give-away!
It is run by a team who used to teach floral design at the London University of Arts. I imagine the thought of cuts and a desire to go it on their own spurred them on to start their own flower school.
Looking on their website there are a huge array of courses. The focus is on floral design rather than floristry and inevitably you will find they charge London prices (Day course 10am -4pm £190) However I imagine the tuition is going to be of a very high standard and it looks like you will get to play with some wonderful flowers.
If you are watching the pennies you might want to try an evening course, starting at 6pm, some of which I saw for £95.00.
Even if you are not inclined to attend the school I think the shop is well worth a browse. Apart from the flowers there are all sorts of gifts including a range of scented candles, with names and fragrances inspired by the ballets of nearby Covent Garden.

Falling for Frome

Well, as it always does, it starts with flowers. But soon I find myself falling in love with Frome.
This small Somerset town has a mixed reputation; some good, some bad. On the plus side it has a thriving art's scene, interesting places to eat and a number of pretty cobbled streets that meander up from the centre of town. But Frome also has much poorer areas of social deprivation.
However it seems, despite the recession, Frome is on the up. And I am also on the up. Up the top of St Catherine's Hill visiting Grace Haskin's new shop, Bramble & Wild.
Who could fail to fall in love with Grace's shop, with it's pale blue door and its cool stone coloured interior?
Grace has been open for two weeks and is starting to feel settled in.
As I chat to her about her new venture several customers call in looking for small gifts and posies.
When Grace started Bramble & Wild she decided to move into Frome so she would be close by for the early morning starts and late night flower emergencies..."I have forgotten our anniversary...!"
It turns out Grace is a fan of Frome and she says more and more people are discovering its delights and relocating here.
"It is a lot cheaper than Bath, yet some parts have much the same architecture."
Grace finds it interesting that many of the business that are opening up on St Catherine's Hill have come from London. "It seems that in Somerset people still look down a bit on Frome, but that elsewhere people are beginning to realise how much it has to offer."
Grace has me convinced, as does the experience of wandering down St Catherine's Hill.
I do love a good haberdashers!
I can't really sew or quilt but there is something incredibly soothing about bundles of fabric and bowls of buttons.
And what a great name for a shop ... Millie Moon.
I may even have to make some bunting!
As I loiter trying to think of something easy to make that I would actually use, the staff are having great fun helping a customer put together a mask of ribbons and feathers for a forthcoming dance.
One last covetous glance at the buttons and it is on down the hill,
past inspiring clothes shops,
vintage emporiums
and shops that now make me want to take up knitting!
I can see I am going to have to come back to Frome.


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