WildFolk’s First Wedding of 2019 (or The Complexity of Sustainable Wedding Flowers Out of Peak Season – less catchy)

This weekend – March 9th 2019 - saw the first wedding of WildFolk’s season – a vibrant and quirky affair at new venue Flint Rooms on Finklegate and reception at Namaste Indian restaurant.

 

The bride’s flowers were big and colourful. She had a large wild bouquet and flower crown, six bridesmaid posies in similar style with splashes of colour and 11 vibrant buttonholes.

 

The wedding was a challenge on the sustainability front and I’m writing up my reflections now before I romanticise the experience – this post is as much for you as it is for me! I have learnt so much about planning a wedding out of season and what I’d do next time, starting with managing expectations….

 

The bride and I met over a haircut. We starting chatting flowers as I tend to do with anyone who is up for it. She was a bubbly, curvy brunette and wanted to wear a black leather jacket on her wedding day. I wanted to make her wedding flowers and before long, that’s exactly what we agreed I’d do.

Her wedding was going to be in March. I looked back at my photos from the previous year. I could see tulips, which I’d forced indoors over pebbles on water. I immediately matched the bride with black tulips. She jumped at the idea and we went from there.

 

In September I bought loads of black tulips and white peony daffodils and potted them up outside. My thinking was that I’d start them off outside and the daffs would bloom in time and the tulips would have a boost at the end. Then I found out the wedding was early March (I was hoping late March) and factored more hellebores into the arrangement (the most stunning of flowers in pale Spring tones) and planted some white anemones in a little poly tunnel.

 

However, by this point the bride had begun planning the table flowers and décor for the reception. It was all vibrant colours and her mood board looked very different visually to winter flowers. I started to feel quite sick. I saw that some other growers sometimes achieved ranunculus so I got some pink and orange corms to match the black tulips. I’d read online that these were easy to grow and as I’m an optimistic person, I hoped for the best. For the record, they are not easy to grow and I take my hat off to the array of experienced growers on Flowers From the Farm.

 

I’d potted some up to bring inside if needed but couldn’t get the right amount of light, cold air and water consistently right. I moved all 20 pots to the front windowsills, then the cellar, then the side of the house, then the back garden. Pot after pot of sprouting corms got yellow leaves and rotted away and each time some of my optimism melted away. I realised my dream of being a totally sustainable plastic free florist out of season wasn't going to happen. I know now that it was ridiculous to promise a particular flower or colour particularly one that doesn’t grow out of season!

 

Luckily the bride and I could discuss what to do next. She would be able to source lots of her desired foliage from family gardens and would deliver three buckets to me to bump up bouquets. She was also dying teasels black and I would work some of these into bouquets.

 

Luckily I had just completed an incredible chapter on being sustainable within an online course called The Business of Growing Flowers. This chapter reassured me – if you aim for the best, most sustainable practices and work down through a list of next best options, you are the best you possibly can.

 

My list for sustainable wedding flowers looked like this:

1 – grow the flowers myself

2 – buy from other local field-grown flower farmers

3 – buy from other British growers further afield (no pun intended)

4 – buy imported flowers.

 

Option 1 worked for my yellow, orange and purple wallflowers, pink, purple and green hellebores, white and yellow daffodils, hyacinths, lots of dried flowers, berries and rosehips. Option 2 wasn’t looking great as other farmers started their season at the end of March. I had to go with Option 3 for ranunculus, tulips and a few more daffodils.

 

Although I was so pleased that I could meet the bride’s expectations I was truly saddened by the huge lorry that arrived to deliver the flowers and the plastic sleeves that went in the bin. At least they didn’t come in an airplane and at least I only had to order one box to top up what I had. I can only imagine how much plastic waste there is from weddings when all the flowers and foliage don’t come from a farm and when they are stuck into floral foam.

 

From next year, WildFolk weddings in February and March will feature hellebores, catkins, berries, dried goodies, eucalyptus, daffodils, wallflowers, anemones and primroses. I now know that just because you can grown something one year it doesn’t mean it will happen again the next - our climate is going through some crazy times. March last year we were three feet under snow and this year February was the hottest on record. So I will work flexibility into my T&Cs.

Oh and on the forcing… I brought the pots indoors three weeks before the wedding. The tulips already had three inches of growth. That should have been more than enough time based on my water and pebble experiment the year before. But I’ve concluded that forcing in soil takes longer. I also poured water on those pots every few days but I think it wasn’t enough and I should’ve watered every day to account for the affects of central heating. If they were on pebbles I’d be able to tell if they were thirsty as the water would be going down rapidly.

 

I put a pot of tulips under a grow light at night for a week and they came on much more quickly than the others but still three days late to the party - what princesses! The others will be ready in two weeks. The daffodils hated being inside with a passion and their buds turned to papery crisps. This might have been the heat but it might have also been the drought. In future I will stick to forcing on pebbles and water, as it is much easier to tell how thirsty the bulbs are.

To use daffodils in bouquets I trimmed the stems shorter than the other flowers and conditioned them on their own to let the sap stream out. The if I had to resnip at all after bouquets were made I put the stems in their own reusable vials within a bucket of water so they didn’t re-sap the other blooms.

Anyhow, those are my thoughts and musings on sustainability out of season – hope they are as useful to you as they are to me.

Best of WildFolk Dried on Etsy

You can now find my dried flower wedding accessories on Etsy - WildFolkUK. I’ve listed several recent hair slides and crowns. You can also get in touch directly if you have specific colours in my mind. I’m also trying some little hand tied dried bunches to see how these get on.

In order to make my workshop more efficient I had a massive clear out and am feeling super duper organised! So insanely satisfying. You can watch my little video tour below!

Valentine's Day

I’ve always been a fan of grand gestures and red roses on Valentine’s Day. I’ve become aware of how harmful my expectations are - to me (I usually end up disappointed) and to the planet. I didn’t imagine that the red roses I craved were chemically grown in Kenya, wrapped in plastic, flown to Holland, shipped to the UK, re-wrapped in plastic and sent to the florist who rewrapped them in plastic.

So what does one do in February (chokes my husband as he sees a mounting drama) if you can’t buy your loved one flowers? My hints about hellebores in the garden centre might have sunk in and I will NOT be disappointed if they haven’t.

For him, I had the good fortune of finding some flowers from our wedding bouquet still in the press. I framed a bunch of them soon after we married. They are pretty faded so this is a colourful update. I also found a pack of trivia cards in a charity shop. I hate trivia and he loves it so if that doesn’t say ‘I’d sacrifice myself for you’ I don’t know what does.

In case you are still reading (well done you) you might be curious to see our wedding pics. I LOVE weddings so I would be! We got married four years ago in a field with 70 people, loads of Aldi champagne and lots of sunshine. I had blue, pink and white cornflowers in my hair. We made our ribbon garlands out of recycled fabric, which now hang in our children’s rooms, and paper heart garlands. I grew all the flowers in my garden and this is what inspired me to change career.

Yes I regret buying my dress from Oxfam and not going for my dream wedding dress but we did love our wedding and did it exactly as we wanted to.

Little WildFolk DIY Botanical Dye

This was a really rewarding an interesting project BUT it was a slow burner. If you are prepared to have stuff sitting on the side for a week or two and just get the kids involved for mixing, stirring and timing then go for it!

Check out the full instructions on the Little WildFolk Winter page.

Dry January

As a seasonal florist, dried flowers are an absolute must for January. I went a bit crazy trying not to dig (ah hem) at the paddock and hurt my back so spent a working day faffing with dried bits. I made some ethereal wall clouds, a bridal wreath and some little dried pots with the leftovers. I must make sure when I start sowing in earnest that I factor in dry January. On my list are definitely more poppies, nigella seed cases and strawflowers.

No-dig Paddock

The Paddock has incredibly fertile soil with plenty of free horse manure. However, nettles and docks have made it their home. I have tried ploughing, I have tried digging and now I am trying not digging! I read about this method of the Flowers From the Farm website. You cover the ground in black material to shut out the light and stifle the weeds. This also keeps the soil ecosystem in place (no more dug-through worms). I’m trying this on the more grassy bits of the paddock and on some of the dock ground. I’m hoping that the soil will be workable in the Spring…

Flowers From the Farm

I’m proud to be a member of Flowers From the Farm, a community of artisan flower growers. Each week a flower grower takes over the instagram feed to profile their flower farm. I was inspired to join after reading all the amazing advice. I’m so excited to see where my flowers take me in 2019.

It’s bloomin’ 2019!!!

It’s bloomin’ 2019!!!

Wedding Accessories

I’m loving working with dried flowers as wedding accessories - click through the image carousel. The palette I have to work with is very autumnal. Next year I’ll pick and dry some lighter colours to make spring and summer accessories. It would be an honour to make bespoke dried flower accessories for your wedding - please get in touch to discuss colour ideas.

Dried Flowers

I dried a few flowers as an experiment this year. I’ve learnt that you need:

a proper place to hang them (the hall coat pegs won’t do as they get flattened)

strong colours (white flowers come out brown)

flowers cant be too dense to begin with (dahlias went mouldy in the middle).

They’re also really fiddly to work and break easily.

The best poppies to grow for their seed heads are in the Somniferum family - they produce lovely big pods that look great in autumnal arrangements.

Availability for 2019 Brides

My first wedding of 2019 is in early March. It’s an unpredictable time of year - last year we were buried under a foot of snow - so I’m growing all the bulbs in pots to bring indoors if needed. The couple’s ranunculus and anemone bulbs are safe over winter in a mini polytunnel.

It’s wonderful to have the privilege of looking after a bride’s flowers from seed. One of the best parts of my job is advising what’s in season and choosing flowers to fit a colour scheme.

I have availability for 2019 - please get in touch for a quote. As a guide, a Wildfolk bouquet starts at £60. I can also cut and condition buckets of flowers and foliage for the DIY bride.