Chiltern Chase Wildflowers

Tufted Vetch
Dog Rose
Scarlet Pimpernel


One of my other passions, apart from my love of flowers, is cross country running. I joined Abingdon Athletics Club this year and am enjoying taking part in races. The Chiltern Chase this month has been one of my favourite events so far.

It was a beautiful sunny day and I was amazed by the number of pretty wild flowers I saw as I walked from the car to the start-line at Cow Common in Ewelme.



Wild Flowers, Cow Common, Ewelme

Scarlet PimpernelScarlet Pimpernel 

 Scarlet Pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis

Primrose Family.

Hairless annual plant to 10cm with straggling stems. Leaves opposite, up to 2cm long, oval to lanceolate, pointed and stalkless. Flowers in the leaf axils, solitary on slender stalks. 5 petals, usually scarlet.  Sepals 4 – 5 mm long.Corolla 5 – 7mm long, usually red, sometimes blue and rarely pink.

Flowering Season: June to October

Habitat: Cultivated land, waste ground


Hedgerow CranesbillHedgerow Cranesbill
Hedgerow Crane’s-bill, Geranium pyrenaicum

Crane’s-bill Family

Very hairy 5-9 lobed leaves. Flowers have 5 oval, purple-red petals 7 -10 mm with darker veins and notched. 10 stamens

Flowering season: June to August

Habitat: Meadows and roadsides, rough ground


Lesser StitchwortLesser StitchwortLesser Stitchwort
Lesser Stitchwort, Stellaria graminea

Campion Family

White flowers on slender stalks. Petals notched and longer than the green sepals. Narrow leaves.

Flowering Season: Apr – Jun

Habitat: Hedges, banks and wood margins

Lesser Trefoil, Trifolium dubium

Pea Family

Flower heads 5-7 mm across of mostly yellow flowers, each 3-4 mm long. Stem branched, straggling or creeping.

Flowering Season: Summer

Habitat: Dry grassland, roadsides and bare ground

Germander Speedwell, Veronica chamaedrys

Figwort Family

Creeping and ascending hairy stems up to 20cm tall. Leaves are opposite, toothed and hairy. Flowers are bright blue with a white eye. The stigma points down and the stamens to the side. The flowers are pollinated by hover-flies.

Flowering Season: May – August

Habitat: Open Woodland, grassland, meadows, scrub

Chiltern Chase 10K Route 

The Chiltern Chase comprises 5.4km,10km and15.4km  multi-terrain runs, in and around the beautiful South Oxford village of Ewelme. Being situated in the Chiltern Hills the courses take in the Chiltern Way, bridleways and off-road sections with numerous red kites flying overhead. 

Chiltern Chase 10k Route

Chiltern Chase Route

 Start of the 10K 

There were 299 runners competing in the 10K race this year and the start involves a hill. I kept a steady pace at the back of the pack.

Chiltern Chase Start


Chiltern Chase Start

As I set off up that first hill I knew it wasn’t going to be my fastest 10K time ever. It was hot and my legs were aching from a fair bit of running the previous week. My aim was to get round in a reasonable time for me, but to enjoy the countryside at the same time.

Someone had mentioned that a tactic to keep going when the run gets tough is to mentally count down from 100 and then repeat. The aim is to take your mind off being out of breath and to stop thinking about how much your legs ache. I tried this tactic and it kept me going. However I found it took away some of the enjoyment out of focusing on the view. I therefore devised my own tactic. I am passionate about flowers and I love spotting wildflowers. I made the run into a memory game. I actively looked about trying to spot a new wildflower. I then added the name of the flower to a list in my mind and kept repeating until I saw a new one. Then this new wildflower was added to my list and so it went on. So instead of repeating 100, 99, 98, 97 etc in time to my stride I was repeating Scarlet Pimpernel, Cranesbill, Stitchwort, Trefoil, Speedwell etc etc. It was quite fun, making me look closely at the hedgerows and field margins and kept me going up and down the hills.

Cow Parsley

Cow Parsley,  Anthriscus sylvestris 

Carrot Family

Almost hairless branched plant to 1.5m tall. Leaves 2 to 3 pinnate, dark green, with divided lobes. Flowers arranged  in a double umbel.Petals to 2mm.

Flowering Season: May to August

Habitat: Roadsides, meadows, woodland margins

Common PoppyCommon PoppyCommon Poppy
Common Poppy, Papaver rhoeas

Poppy Family

Hairy plant grows up to 70cm tall. Feathery leaves and toothed leaflets. Droops in bud, becomes upright in flower. Sepals fall away during flowering.. Four red petals, about 4cm long, often with black spots towards the base. Numerous stamens. The fruit are hairless round capsules with 8-18 ridges with many openings beneath.

Flowering Season: May to July

Habitat: Arable fields, waste ground, edges of footpaths

Ox Eye DaisyOx Eye DaisyOx Eye Daisy
Oxeye Daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare

Daisy Family

Erect slightly hairy plant, 20 – 70 cm tall. Lower leaves are spoon shaped, notched  or pinnately lobed. Stem leaves are long, entire or pinnate.  Daisy like flowers, 2.5-6 cm across. Ray-florets white, disc-florets yellow.

Flowering Season: May – Sept

Habitat: Grassland, roadsides, Meadows

Buttercup Ranunculus

Stems tall and erect. Lobed leaves. Golden yellow flowers.

Flowering Season: May to June

Habitat: Meadows, scrub, farmland, footpaths, wasteland

Elder, Sambucus nigra

Honeysuckle Family

Shrub or small tree. Creamy white flowers are umbel like, flat topped

Flowering Season: Summer

Habitat: Woodland, scrub

Dog RoseDog RoseDog rose
Dog-rose, Rosa canina

Strong arching stems to 3m. Leaves with 2-3 pairs of toothed leaflets. Flowers are 4-5 cm, pink or white.

Flowering Season:June to September

Habitat: Hedges, scrub and woodland margins



These photos were taken by Barry Cornelius and at this stage I look quite cheerful on my quest to find Wildflowers on my run. I even got my feet off the ground at one point!

Barry Cornelius PhotosBarry Cornelius Photos

Barry Cornelius Photos

Herb RobertHerb Robert
Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum

Geranium Family

Spreading plant to 10 – 50 cm tall, with hairy stems and leaves. Stalked leaves opposite with 3-5 lobes. Lobes deeply separated. Petals pink 8 – 14 mm, unnotched. Anthers orange or purple.

Flowering Season: May – Dec

Habitat: Woods, scrub, clearings, walls, shingle and rocks near sea

White Campion
White Campion, Silene latifolia

Campion Family

Leaves are oval or lanceolate. Flowers white, 25 – 30mm. The 5 white petals are lobed. Where this species grows close to Red-Campion hybridised pink flowers are found.

Flowering Season: May to October

Habitat: Waste ground, , rough field margins, hedgerows

Common Bird's Foot Trefoil
Common Bird’s Foot Trefoil, Lotus corniculatus

Sprawling or creeping perennial. Leaflets ovate to lanceolote. Flowers yellow about 15 mm long. Pods long, dark brown, spreading out like a bird’s foot.

Flowering Season: May to October

Habitat: Dry Grassland, pastures, edges of footpaths and heathland

Bugloss, Anchusa arvensis

Borage Family

Erect, very bristly plant. Bright blue, flowers.

Flowering Season: June to September

Habitat: Sandy and light soils, grassland,dunes and wasteground.

Wood AvensWood Avens
Wood Avens, Geum rivale

Rose Family

Also known as Herb Bennet. A rather straggly plant to 60 cm tall. Hairy stems and pinnate leaves. Open, erect flowers turn into slightly prickly fruitheads.

Flowering Season: Jun – Aug

Habitat: Scrub, hedges

Lesser Periwinkle-1Periwinkle
Periwinkle, Vinca

Creeping woody shrub with evergreen untoothed leaves. Blue/violet flowers.

Flowering Season: Apr- Jun

Habitat: Deciduous woods, scrub, calcareous soils

My Wildflower spotting kept me going. Icknield Bank Plantation was pretty, but also pretty hilly through the woodland. Just round the corner of an incline I spotted Barry Cornelius with his camera at the moment when I was about to be overtaken by a speedy 15K runner. I gave it my best shot and sped up for the camera as I knew I’d look like I was competing in the 15K!  That’s a lesson learnt in the past. Keep your eyes out for a man with a camera and perfect your smile and posture for the photographic evidence.

Barry Cornelius PhotosBarry Cornelius PhotosBarry Cornelius Photos

Photo credit Barry Cornelius

I was now over half way and the sun was shining brightly. The water stops were a welcome relief and it was nice to be cheered on by the friendly volunteers. The second half included fields of rape and pretty cottages.


Rape, Brassica napus

Cabbage Family

Tall annual to 2m. Pale yellow flowers.

Flowering Season: May – July

Habitat: Field margins

White Dead Nettle

White Dead-nettle, Lamium album

Leaves ovate, heart shaped at the base. Common nettle shape, but not stinging. Flowers white, 20-25 mm.

Flowering Season: Apr – Dec

Habitat: Grassy, disturbed and semi-shaded habitats

Tufted VetchTufted Vetch

Tufted Vetch, Vicia cracca

Downy perennial. Leaves pinnate, with 6 -12 pairs of narrow-oblong leaflets. Bluish/violet Flowers in long raceme to 10 cm.

Flowering Season: Jun – Aug

Habitat:Grassy and bushy places

I must admit it was hard work crossing the open fields in the sun nearer the finish. Particularly as the faster 15k runners were passing me thick and fast. However they were very encouraging calling out `Well done Abingdon!’ I stuck to my course and let the faster runners go round me to overtake. I’ve learnt that it doesn’t work trying to get out of the way. I fall over and the other runner gets confused and delayed.

As I came back into Ewelme village the marshalls and villagers cheered me on. Then I rounded the corner to the finish and was met with a roar of applause as my name was called out towards the finish line. I gave it my best sprint finish and was ecstatic to make it over the line.


Photo credit Andrew Casey

Just behind me was the chairman of Didcot Runners hand in hand with two of the Abingdon Athletics Club Ladies. Lovely to see the sense of positivity and camaraderie as they crossed the line together.

Chiltern Chase Finish

I found the running difficult on a hot June day. However my wildflower spotting got me through and I must admit it was a lovely jaunt out into the countryside. I will be back next year!

Chiltern Chase Certificate

Chiltern Chase Finish

I’d also highly recommend the tea and cakes provided by the Local school and the Hog- roast. The Chiltern Chase really does have a sense of community and a village fete atmosphere. Lovely!



Coral Sunset

Peony Coral Sunset Timeline

Over the last fortnight I have watched my beautiful Coral Sunset Peony bloom and fade. The plant only had one bloom this year,  however it was worth the wait. I first saw this wonderful flower at Chelsea Flower Show on the Kelways stand a couple of years ago and was hooked.




When I was working on my brand identity for Patsy Smiles Flowers with Becky Lord Design coral peonies inspired my vision. I was looking to create a brand which was cheerful, full of vibrant Spring colours and reflected my love of vintage treasures.

Coral Sunset and Coral Charm peonies provided the springboard.They both have very feminine and pretty flowers and the coral colour is very striking. I love vibrant, warm, cheerful colours.

PS Floral Asset (Full)

Coral Charm


Patsy Smiles Floral 2


Coral Charm

Coral Charm

Arcade Flowers

Patsy Smiles Floral 3

The other flower I absolutely adore is the rose. I have 20 different varieties in my garden and I know most of them by name. The specific hues found in a coral peony inspired my brand identity colours. The rose inspired my logo in the sense that I wanted an identity which was pretty, feminine and floral.

Strawberry Hill

Strawberry Hill

Tea Clipper

Patsy Smiles Greens 2

I was very clear about the Spring colours I wanted in my Logo and lime green was a definate favourite.


Alchemilla mollis
Euphorbia Green

I love working with zingy lime green foliage whether it be Euphorbia, Bupleurum, Thlasbi or frothy Alchemilla mollis. There is something about the colour lime which works well in lots of colour schemes from simple white to pale pinks and deep purples. Whilst training with the Sussex Flower School I was known for my love of bright, lime green foliage. No sophisticated, muted colours for me!

Coral Charm

Alchemilla Mollis Bouquet

Coral Charm


PS Floral Asset (Full)

My third brand colour was inspired by the coast. I do love to be beside the seaside! It seemed only natural to include a bright turquoise colour in my branding to represent  relaxed seaside holidays. I knew that turquoise blue would provide a wonderful contrast to the coral I’d already chosen as they are complementary colours found opposite on the colour wheel.

Twelve Colour Wheel

Brand Palette

I have enjoyed using blue Nigella and Delphiniums with coral coloured flowers.


Coral Charm

Flowers used in designs by Arcade Flowers

Coral Charm

My Urn design on the 3 Weddings in 3 Days Course with Sabine Darrell Flower School.

Flapper Head-band
1920s style Bouquet Picture by Jim Holden
1920s bride

In order to reflect my love of all things vintage Becky Lord created an image which I felt represented a pretty 1920s flapper head-dress. I provided a quick watercolour sketch and the design was worked into a usable Logo.

Patsy Smiles Flowers Prototype


Patsy Smiles Flowers Brand

Patsy Smiles Flowers Brand

I absolutely love my branding as I feel it represents who I am. – cheerful and optimistic, passionate about flowers and a lover of pretty vintage treasures. I am so pleased that I chose to include Coral Sunset as the main focal flower. What a beautiful bloom.




Coral Sunset Peony




Coral Charm





Peony Coral Sunset





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May Posy

May Posy

When I started to look for the ingredients for this month’s posy I thought the garden looked a bit bare! The month of May is a transition period in our garden, marking the end of tulip season and the beginning of the roses. At times I looked out and all I could see was greenery. However I did deliberately plant ferns last year to enjoy the texture and green colour. I’ve written a whole Blog Post about the use of ferns in Floral Design so decided I ought to plant some!


Fern tablecentre

Another new addition was Solomon’s Seal. I loved using this beautiful arching perennial last year in a fabulous table runner on a course with Sabine Darrall so thought it would work wonderfully with the ferns in the garden. I was right. However my new stems were too precious to cut for this month’s posy!

May Garden

Solomon Seal

One of my followers has asked to see more images of the whole of our garden and not just the detail. This meant I did have a jolly good go at the weeding and tidying up this month! When I moved into our present house I introduced Mr Smiles to flowers. He was familiar with dandelions, tomatoes, rhubarb and swiss chard but that was about it.

Virginia Way-2
Virginia Way-3

Over the next 6 years I dug borders and planted whatever caught my eye when I had finished digging and whenever I went on an outing to a garden centre. I’ve learnt a lot in the process. I didn’t make a plan. I just started digging. This means that there has not been much thought to a seasonal plan and there isn’t really a grand garden design with little cosy corners as I would like. When we move I shall have more of a long term garden plan.

May Garden
May GardenMay Garden
May Garden
May Garden

May Blooms Small-129

I roped in my father in law to build me a trellis as I wanted to grow climbing roses, clematis and honeysuckle. The good thing about the trellis is it hides the bins. However the flowers do tend to put on the best show on the opposite side by the bins as they obviously like to sunbathe! I used some clematis in this month’s posy.

I’m really pleased that we have great tits nesting in the blue birdbox again this month. I provided a choice of homes. However the middle blue residence seems to be the property of the month.

Bird Hut
May Blooms

Last weekend we spent a lovely afternoon trying to capture the great tits going back and forth feeding their young. My photography skills with moving birds need a bit more practise as the images are a bit too dark for my liking.

Feeding Time

Ready to fly

Feeding time

It’s actually been quite a month for wildlife. I spotted quite a few white and greenfly on my roses which I wasn’t amused with. However there are also ladybirds about. Hopefully they will attack the aphids. That’s when they’ve finished mating!

LadybirdLady Love

We have had quite a few of my cottage garden favourite blooms out this month including Aquilegia and Love-in-a-mist.

I chose to use these flowers in my posy as they seemed to be representative of the month.

May Blooms
May Blooms


Purple AquilegiaAqilegia

Pink Aquilegia
Pink Aquilegia


NigellaPersian Jewel

Centaurea montana is a great plant as it just keeps flowering. Not very showy, but a very useful filler.

Centaurea montana

One of my favourite flowers is Dicentra , now re-named as Lamprocapnos spectabilis. The arching stems have pink flowers which resemble pretty pink hearts. This is another shrub which I deemed too precious to be picked this month!  My peony with just one fantastic bloom was also a no go area for picking!

Pink Hearts

May Blooms

Coral Peony

Our front garden has undergone a similar transformation as the back. In fact the front garden really comes into it’s own next month when the roses get going. Again there were no flowers. I dug a small border and also planted a seaside area. Under our bay window we have stones. The area is quite damp in the Winter, but dry in the Summer. I’ve gradually been planting coastal loving plants. This is planting in the loosest terms. I’ve literally just shoved plants in among the stones and told them to get on with it. I have collected shells and drift wood from trips to the coast and added them in.

Virginia Way-5

Virginia Way-1

This was the border five years ago. Now I think I might need to make the border bigger…! I am so chuffed with my oriental poppy. In this image there is only one flower. This month I have poppy flowers galore!

Oriental Poppy

Oriental Poppy

May Blooms

As I had lots of poppy flowers I decided I could spare one for my May Posy to be star of the show.

May Posy


In addition to the poppy the front garden has a lot of allium flowers in shades of white, pink and purple. I planted the front up after the back so there is more of a deliberate plan. I have chosen to use a colour palette of soft pinks, whites and lilacs.


Nectaroscordum siculum


Allium roseum

As I have quite a few of the pretty blush coloured Allium roseum I was happy to pick some for my creation.

May Posy

The other flowers I am very fond of are my stately foxgloves as they remind me of walks in the countryside.





By the front door we still have little viola in pots. I managed to include a couple of these in my posy as I love their cheerful little faces.



So there we have it this month’s posy is a bit of this and a bit of that, which represents our garden rather well!

May PosyMay PosyMay PosyMay Posy


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Bluebell Time

Badbury Clump Bluebell Wood

Bluebells at Badbury Clump

The highlight of May for me has been seeing the fleeting beauty of carpets of Spring bluebells.  I went for a lovely run starting at Badbury Clump at the beginning of the month.  The Clump forms the remains of an Iron Age hill fort from about 600 BC and is famous for its beech trees and bluebells. They really were spectacular.

English BluebellsBluebells

I also enjoyed a lovely evening with my local running group,  Abingdon Athletics Club, running through the woods at Cothill.

A couple of years ago Mr Smiles and I had a holiday near Sissinghurst in May and the carpet of blue flowers in the woods was equally lovely.

Bluebells Sissinghurst

Bluebells Sissinghurst

We have also had quite a display of bluebells in the garden this year. This got me thinking about the difference between native English bluebells and Garden bluebells as they clearly aren’t the same.

Spanish Bluebells

My Garden Bluebells

Spanish bluebells

English Bluebells

Woodland Bluebells



Bluebell Watercolour

I really enjoyed the process of painting two types of bluebell in watercolour. I found the process helped me see the differences botanically.

Bluebell Identification

Bluebell Watercolour

Native Bluebell, Hyacinthoides non-scripta

Leaf Width: 7-10mm

Stem: Droops to one side.

Flowers: Scented. Deep Violet Blue or white. Longer petals forming a straighter tube shape, curled back at tips. Flowers on one side of the stem.

Anthers: Pale Cream

Bluebell - cream anthers

Spanish Bluebell Watercolour

Spanish Bluebell Hyacinthoides hispanica

Leaf Width: 20 – 35 mm (broader)

Stem: Upright and chunkier appearance. Less dainty.

Flowers: No scent. Dark blue/pink/white. Petals are shorter and form a wider open bell-shape.The tips flare outwards rather than curl. The flowers are spiralled around the stem.

Anthers: Blue

Our Native Bluebell woods are threatened by the more vigorous Spanish bluebells.  Hybrid Bluebells result from cross pollination. The Hybrid is somewhere in between the two with broader leaves, little scent and flowers all around the stem which droop slightly. The petals are shorter and more open like the Spanish. The tips sometimes roll back.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my trips through the bluebells this month.

The Woodland Trust would like to know where and when bluebells have been seen across the country. Why not join the Big Bluebell Watch and help map bluebells across the country?

Bluebell Watercolour

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April Posy

April Posy

`From Sultans of the Ottoman Empire and Dutch Merchants of the Golden Age, to gardeners today, the tulip has captivated people around the world for centuries. This fascinating flower has inspired artists and brought great wealth and even economic ruin to people who have fallen under its spell.’ The Tulip Museum, Amsterdam.

There are at least 16 different divisions of tulips. My favourite are the more flamboyant, frilly double ones and those that are bi-coloured, rather than the simple single tulips. However single tulips do look great when planted in groups. I had several sumptuous red tulips in bloom in April and they inspired the creation of my Posy of the Month.

Double Late Red Tulip

Red Tulip


Double Late Tulip

Single Early Tulips

Single Early Tulips bloom early in the season (compared to other tulips). They are known for having very strong stems. This means that they will stand up extremely well to wind and rain, unlike some other types of tulips (for example, Parrot Tulips).

April tulips

April tulips

April tulips

Apricot Beauty – Single Early Tulip


Viridiflora Tulips

I have both `Groenland’ and `Spring Green’ Viridiflora tulip varieties. The term Viridiflora is derived from two Latin words: viridis meaning green and flos meaning flower.  All Viridiflora Tulips have a streak of green somewhere on each petal. This contrasts dramatically with the basic flower colour (white, pink, gold, etc.). In addition to this beautiful colour contrast, Viridiflora Tulips are also known for their exceptionally long flowering capability. Some of mine have been known to flower in June!

April tulips

April tulips

Tulipa `Groenland’

April tulips
April tulipTulipa `Spring Green’


Fringed Tulips

Other tulip divisions include the Fringed Tulips. These tulips have petals which are topped with fringes that look like the frayed edge of a piece of satin fabric.

Fringed Tulip
Lily Flowered Tulip
Lily-flowered Tulips

Then there are Lily-Flowered Tulips. These tulips have long single flowers with pointed petals, often curving out at the tips. They flower in late spring.


One of my favourite colour schemes this April has been these jolly orange tulips against the blue of Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ and the bluebells.

April orange tulips

April tulips


Double Late Tulips

I have had quite a few double varieties in bloom this year. The blooms of Double Late Tulips have so many petals that they are also known as Peony-flowered Tulips. They flower in late spring.  The blossoms are extremely large; when fully open they can be as much as 4 inches (10 cm) across. The large showy flowers, resemble peonies. They often have weak stems which will not support the large flowers in wind and rain.

April Tulip

Lilac Perfection Tulip

Double Tulip

Double Tulip

Double Late Tulip

Parrot Tulips

Parrot tulips have large, often bi-colored, flowers with frilled and/or twisted petals. They flower in mid and late spring. Their stems are often too weak to support the large flowers so staking is sometimes necessary.

April Posy

April tulip

Rembrandt Tulips

Another variety are Rembrandt Tulips. These tulips are named after the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt  (1606 – 1669), who lived and worked in Holland at about the same time that tulips first became enormously popular. Actually Rembrandt himself is not known for painting flowers! Many other Dutch Masters of the time did include tulips in their paintings.

Jacob Marrel 1640

Jacob Marrel Tulips 1640

Jacob Marrel was a German still life painter active in Utrecht during the Dutch Golden Age. Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

During this time, tulips became all the rage in Holland, particularly the ones with streaks and stripes of colour. These types of tulips were bought for huge sums during the so-called Tulip mania that occurred between 1593 and 1637.

We now know that these unusual markings were actually caused by a virus, which eventually caused damage to the tulip bulbs. Because of this, the original Rembrandt Tulips are no longer sold commercially. However, there are quite a few modern, virus-free, Rembrandt “look-alike” tulips available.

 History of the Tulip

Tulips are often considered a Dutch flower. However the tulip was originally a wild flower growing in Central Asia. They were first cultivated in the Ottoman Empire (Turkey). The botanical name for tulip is tulipa and is derived from the Turkish word tulbend or turban which the flower resembles. Tulips abound in the design of Iznik ceramics. The elegant tulips of Iznik tiles are far removed from bulbous modern-day tulips.  They most resemble contemporary lily form varieties.

Iznik Tulips
Iznik Tiles


The tulip was introduced to Holland in 1593 by a botanist Carolus Clusius, who bought it from Constantinople. He planted a small garden with the aim of researching the plant for medicinal purposes. His neighbours broke into the garden and stole the tulips to make some quick money. This started the Dutch Bulb Trade. Tulip Mania followed. People bought up bulbs to the extent that they became so prized and expensive that the bulbs themselves were used as money until the market finally crashed. As the Dutch Golden Age grew tulips became popular in paintings and festivals. When I visited art galleries in Amsterdam I saw lots of tulips in paintings by the Dutch Masters.

Ambrosio Bosschaert GLASS WITH FOUR TULIPS c.1615 19 x 13 cm. Bredius Museum, The Hague
Ambrosio Bosschaert GLASS WITH FOUR TULIPS c.1615 19 x 13 cm. Bredius Museum, The Hague
Ambrosio Bosschaert – Tulips in a Wan-Li Vase c. 1619
Ambrosio Bosschaert – Tulips in a Wan-Li Vase c. 1619
Jan van den Hecke – Flowers in a Vase 1652
Jan van den Hecke – Flowers in a Vase 1652
Ambrosius Bosschaert Tulips
Ambrosius Bosschaert – Still Life with a Bouquet of Tulips

Ambrosius Bosschaert – Still Life with a Bouquet of Tulips

Beyond the Dutch Golden Age tulips remained a popular design motif in the Art Nouveau Period.

Art Nouveau Tulips

Nouveau Tulips

William Morris also included a lot of tulips in his wall hangings in the Arts and Crafts Movement.

William Morris Tulips
William Morris Tulips
William Morris Tulip Design
April Posy

My April Posy was inspired by looking at the work of the Dutch Masters. I don’t normally take photographs which are low-key as I prefer lighter high-key images. However I’m pleased with my images. I felt that a darker backdrop would show off my vibrant red tulips well. I have arranged them in two different vintage jugs. One is a traditional copper Guernsey milk can. The other was a jug which my Grandmother inherited. I don’t know it’s date or history. However I do know my Gran referred to it as `The Never Forgive Jug’. She felt it had some value and had been given to her grandfather by the lady of a big house where he was a gardener in Kent. It was called this name as no-one would be forgiven if it was ever broken! 

April Posy

April Posy


April PosyApril Posy

April Posy


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Flower Shows and Village Fetes

Spring Show 2016

I spent a wonderful time recently exhibiting at the Abingdon Horticultural Society Spring Show. The Abingdon Horticultural Society is a friendly club for gardeners, cooking enthusiasts and handicraft lovers. It holds two shows a year where flowers, fruit and vegetables, preserves, baking and handicrafts are all exhibited and judged.  Exhibiting brought back so many memories. In the 1980’s Mum and I used to enter the Harnham Flower Show in Wiltshire. I even won the Children’s Cup twice!

1980 Cup Winner
1980 Cup Winner


It really is my cup of tea – baking, jam making and growing flowers, fruit and vegetables!  I was keen to enter the floral arrangement class as I was a proven winner even in the 1980s!


1982 Harnham Flower Show

Harnham Flower Show 1982

Abingdon Horticultural Society Spring Show 2016

Spring Show 2016

The Spring Show celebrates the arrival of Spring with flowers and Easter Cakes in abundance.

In Section A – Flowers and Plants there are 25 classes to enter and 10 of them are for Narcissus including trumpet daffodils, miniature narcissi and double narcissi. There is a strict clause that for the trumpet daffodils the trumpet must be longer than the outer petals. I was keen to enter the blooms from my garden this year. However I discovered there is quite a skill in getting your daffodils in peak condition for show day. I knew I would have some in flower, but hadn’t got a clue as to whether my daffs would have big enough trumpets and whether they would be more than 7.5cm across.  I just knew they always look cheerful! I can see that this is serious stuff. How do you get your trumpet to grow bigger I ask myself?! I entered a class for multi-bloom narcissi naively thinking this was just a vase of 5 stems of one or more varieties. At the last minute I realised it actually meant narcissi with more than one bloom to a stem. I swiftly changed my entry and entered 1 stem more than 7.5cm across.

Spring Show 2016 - Trumpet Daffodils
1. Vase of Trumpet Daffodils

The trumpet must be longer than the outer petals.

5 stems – one or more varieties

Spring Show 2016 Minature Narcissi
Spring Show 2016 - vase of minature narcissi2. Vase of Miniature Narcissi

5 stems – one or more varieties with flowers less than 5cm across

I loved the frilly Rip Van Winkle Narcissi. The judge gave first prize to the Tete a Tete miniature daffs.

Spring Show 2016 - bicoloured narcissiSpring Show 2016 - bicoloured narcissi
5. Vase of Narcissi

5 stems- any one bi-coloured variety with flowers more than 5.5cm across

Spring Show 2016 - multi-bloom narcissi
7. Vase of multi-bloom Narcissi

5 stems – one or more varieties

I have some beautiful multi-bloom narcissi planted in my garden called Bridal Crown and Winston Churchill. However they are slightly later blooming and failed to make an appearance in time for the show.  

Multi-bloom Narcissi
Multi-bloom Narcissi


9. Narcissus 1 stem – flower more than 7.5cm across

I entered one Narcissus bloom in Class 9. However I agreed that my dainty Pheasant’s Eye variety didn’t really meet the grade compared to the others. I did pick up a nifty tip though. If you put moss round the stem you can support the bloom so it stands up and can be more easily seen by the judge. I was a bit forceful and ended up with moss floating in the water and not supporting the bloom! I’ll know for next time.

Pheasant's Eye


There were only 2 classes for tulips. One being a single tulip and the other being a vase of 3 tulips of one or more varieties. This surprised me at first. A couple of years ago there was a fabulous display of tulips at the Spring Show. However in early April tulips are only just starting to bloom so it’s always a bit of a gamble.

 Abingdon Spring Show tulips 2014

Tulips at Spring Show 2014


Tulips at Spring Show 2014
Spring Show 2014

I didn’t have much choice in the garden. There were a few small pink tulips, but some had been nibbled by garden predators. My best tulips were rather nondescript white varieties. However the size was more of a competitive standard I felt. I learnt that the hall where the show takes place gets quite warm on show day. It’s best to choose a well formed, but in tight bud bloom. My tulips started out in bud and were wide open within an hour of setting up. You can be in danger of dropping the petals before the judging!

Spring Show 2016 - 1 tulip
10. Tulip

1 stem

I received a Third Prize for my pink tulip. Janet Moreton I felt deserved the First Prize with her red and gold tulip.

Spring Show 2016 - single tulip

Spring Show 2016 - 3 tulipsSpring Show 2016 - Vase of Tulips 3 stemsSpring Show 2016 - vase of tulips 3 stems
11. Vase of Tulips

3 stems – one or more varieties

I was awarded a second prize for my white tulips which I was chuffed with. Particularly as I thought they were a bit boring and had wanted to exhibit more flamboyant, frilly blooms. The red tulips won the First Class Award. I find it interesting that red tulips seem to do well. In 2014 my favourite tulip was the deep pinky, purple tulip in a matching stone grey pink vase. However the judges favoured the yellow and red tulips giving the first prize to them. I guess it all comes down to personal taste if the blooms are perfect. However I might grow more red tulips next year as a tactical move.  

12. Vase of Hellebores

My Narcissi had let me down as I only had a few blooms in the garden. However I had plenty of Hellebore flowers to choose from. Hellebores can be tricky to arrange in water as they flop easily. There are a few handy tricks.

Cut the flowers directly into a bucket of water. Take them inside to condition them. Strip the leaves from below the likely water line. Sear the hellebores as soon as you can by lowering the stem ends (about 2cms) into boiling water for 30 seconds. The flowers should then be placed in clean, cold water.

I was pleased that having followed this procedure my flowers still looked perky in the afternoon of the Show. Flowers which have set seed are also easier to use and less likely to flop. I decided to try to exhibit blooms at several stages of development.

Spring Show 2016 - Vase of Hellebores

Spring Show 2016 - Vase of Hellebores

I received a Third Prize for  my efforts.

Other floral exhibits included wallflowers, auriculas and primulas.

Spring Show 2016 - primula

Spring Show 2016 - blossom or shrub flowers
16. Vase with up to 3 stems

Blossom or shrub flowers

I must admit I was disappointed to find I had no shrubs in flower in the garden and have now rectified this for next year! I do think some of the exhibits were lacking in flowers though.

Spring Show 2016 - Spring FlowersSpring Show 2016 - Spring FlowersSpring Show 2016 - 5 stems of Spring FlowersSpring Show 2016 - 5 stems of Spring Flowers
17. Vase of 5 stems of Spring flowers

One or more varieties not included elsewhere in the Schedule (no shrub flowers)

I exhibited the Snakeshead Fritillary and pink Ranunculus. My Fritillary flowers were awarded a Third Prize, however my Ranunculus failed to win any prizes. I thought they were rather marvellous! However maybe the judges thought they were bought for the event. They weren’t! They have been giving me much joy in pots in front of our front door for weeks. There was a lovely selection and I rather liked the cowslips in a turquoise vase.Ranunculus

There were also categories for various pottted flowering plants and vases of Spring flowers not included elsewhere in the Schedule.


18. Container of Hyacinths

Spring Show 2016 - container of hyacinths

19. Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

Spring Show 2016



Spring Show 2016

23. 1 pot, cactus or succulent

Spring Show 2016 - cactus


24. 1 pot for the patio

Spring Show 2016 - pot for the patio

25. Spring flower arrangement in a vase.

May include purchased flowers or foliage. NO ACCESSORIES.To be staged in a niche 60cm wide and 76cm high.

Spring Show 2016 - Spring flower arrangement in a vase
Spring Show 2016 - Spring flower arrangement in a vase
Spring Show 2016 - Spring flower arrangement in a vase

This was the one class I really enjoyed entering and went to town on the Spring theme. I wasn’t quite sure how big to go and how to construct my entry. I was therefore found with a car boot full of flowers and foliage in the car park constructing and arranging my flower arrangement to great amusement from other entrants.

Spring Show 2016
Spring Show 2016
Spring Show 2016
Spring Show 2016

Spring Show 2016 - Spring flower arrangement in a vase


I was awarded a Third Prize. There was no indication as to what the judge was looking for and why the First and Second Prizes were awarded. I am sure that I was marked down for the size of my exhibit as my pussy willow was escaping from the designated niche! I had a good look at the others and saw that they had been constructed in advance with floral foam. One of them had placed the floral foam in a dish on top of the vase. Strictly speaking I feel that this was against the criteria as it was stated that the flower arrangement was to be in a vase. Not that I’m a sore loser! I can see that the other arrangements fulfilled sound design principles and mine was much wilder and ecologically friendly with the use of water and no foam.

I enjoyed the challenge and have loved having the house full of Spring flowers. I was amazed at the yellow tulips I purchased from Fabulous Flowers. They lasted a whole week and became more beautiful as they opened out.

Sunshine Flowers

Sunshine Flowers

Sunshine Flowers


Section D was the Photography Section. 

A Photograph on a Spring theme (Taken in 2016) mounted on white card.

Spring Show 2016 - Spring themed photograph

I had so many photographs to choose from I didn’t know where to start! In the end I selected a couple of images of Spring garden flowers which I felt were the most technically proficient. I did have some cheery daffodil images I could have used, but felt my focus wasn’t pin sharp. I opted for primroses and Anemone blanda. I was disappointed not to be recognised with any award as I really did feel my images were well photographed and it was a photography competition! Personally I felt some of the other images were over exposed and out of focus. However in this case maybe the judge was looking for an image which conveyed `a sense of Spring’, rather than technical expertise. This was in contrast to the judging for the Spring Flower Arrangement where the judge seemed to favour technical proficiency rather than my arrangement which was designed to convey a sense of exuberant Spring.

Section B was the Cooking Section with a wonderful display of preserves, decorated Easter Cakes, Hot Cross Buns and tea bread made to a given recipe.

Spring Show 2016 - Spring Cake

Spring Show 2016 - Spring Cake

The Spring Cakes were judged purely for creative decoration and not on the taste of the cake. The Fruit and Marzipan Teabread  was made to a specific given recipe.

33. Fruit and Marzipan Teabread

It proved quite a challenge to make. I made three attempts. One sunk in the middle, one didn’t rise much and the other was rather stodgy! I settled for the slightly sunken one as it looked the right colour and hadn’t got any cracks. Although the Judge felt my teabread had `a good texture’ I didn’t win any prizes for my efforts. Maureen Cook was awarded a well deserved First Prize as her teabread looked appetizing and hadn’t sunk in the middle.

Spring Show 2016 - Fruit and Marzipan Teabread
Spring Show 2016 - Fruit and Marzipan Teabread

I had done better as a child as my rockcakes were `just the right size and shape’ and came First in 1982.

1982 First Prize Rock Cakes
1982 Rock Cakes



32. Spiced Fruit Buns

Spring Show 2016 - Spiced Fruit Buns

I was pleased to see that it wasn’t just women who won prizes in the Domestic Classes. David Bingley was awarded a First for his spiced fruit buns made with a yeast recipe.

There was a fine display of marmalades, lemon curd and chutney.
In the schedule there was a useful instruction for exhibiting preserves. `Use either wax disks and cellophane tops, or new screw lids without wax disks. Labels on preservatives must include the day, month and year they were made.’

Spring Show 2016- Marmalade

30. Lemon Curd.  Home Made 2016. One 8 – 16 oz jar.

Spring Show 2016 - Lemon Curd

I entered a jar of Lemon Curd which won no awards, but was noted to be a `good flavour’ by the judge. We enjoyed a dollop with yoghurt and fruit for dessert.

 Harnham Flower Show 1980

1980 Harnham Show-1


I regularly exhibited at the Harnham Flower Show Spring and Summer Shows during the 1980s, together with my mum. The Summer Show was a grand affair held on the fields near The Old Mill with big marquees to show the exhibits. The event was officially opened by the Mayor and the Wilton British Legion Band was there to entertain everyone. I remember these Shows as real community events with tombolas and games in addition to the actual judged exhibits. Home-Made Teas were organised by the Women’s Institute.

1980 was a good year for me as I won the Children’s Silver Cup and even got my picture in the paper! I won 1st Prize for my `Animal Made out of Vegetables’ which was the Loch Ness Monster with a cucumber body and a jaunty tartan hat.

1980 Cup Winner

I chose to use a crab shell for the Flower Arrangement in a Shell. Some of the flowers I had grown myself in my little patch in the garden.

We always had a photo of our Prize Winning Entries when we got home.

1980 Exhibits
1981 Exhibits

I failed to keep the Children’s Cup in 1981, hence the frown on my face! However it looks like a good effort was made. Mum made a quiche, red wine, biscuits, cakes and marmalade. I remember cycling off to Britford Lock for the afternoon and her painting the picture of the Lock in watercolour.

I got 3rd Prize for my rock cakes, 2nd Prize for my Minature Garden, a 1st for 6 Fancy Cakes and a 1st for Mr Rubbish which I am holding up for the camera.

Harnham Flower Show 1982

1982 Flower Arrangement

1982 Flower Arrangement in a Basket
1982 Third Prize Flower Arrangement

Ah back on form and won the Children’s Cup again! I got my picture in the paper with my Flower Arrangement in a Basket. The judge commented that I should have made the handle visible so the basket could be picked up. I remembered this when I constructed my Posy of the Month recently!

The judge noted that my four Rock Cakes were just the right size and shape and awarded me a 1st Prize. An improvement on the year before when I only got a 3rd Prize! Mum had a very good year winning 1st Prize for both her sweet white wine and her dry red wine. She also won 1st for a Machine-Made garment, which was a pair of green knickerbockers made for me. I HATED them! I really had my eye on a new pair of pedal pushers in Dorothy Perkins and these were not the same. I had to wear them to a birthday party and felt very self-conscious. In the picture I am modelling a new Rah-rah skirt which I loved!

1982 Harnham Flower Show Exhibits

The Dorset County Show

The Dorset County Show is run on similar lines to the Harnham and Abingdon Shows, but on a much grander scale with animals. I regularly enjoyed a day out at the Dorset Show with my Uncle as a birthday treat. As this is a large County Show farmers also exhibit their Prize animals and there are sheep shearing competitions and rural crafts.

Dorset County Show-9
Dorset County Show-7
Dorset County Show-1
Dorset County Show-6
Dorset County Show-2

I love Flower Shows and Village Fetes. They have been going on for generations and connect us to our heritage. I found some interesting articles showing my ancestors competed in very similar events. William Jackson, my 3rd Great Grandfather, farmed 31 acres in Throrpe Salvin, Yorkshire. Farming was a way of life for him as he came from a long line of farmers. In 1881 William entered the Kiveton Park Flower Show Agricultural Produce Section. He won 1st prize for his potatoes, red wheat and barley. I’ve got a lot to live up to with my potatoes then!

Kiveton Park Flower Show

Kiveton Park Flower Show 1881

W Jackson 1881I also found another interesting article. My 5th Great Grandfather Robert Hills was awarded a prize at the Northallerton Cattle Show in 1844 for `the Labourer in Husbandry who brought up the greatest number of children without seeking parochial relief.’ Well done Robert!

Newcastle Journal Sat 25 Sep 1841 - Robert Hills

Robert Hills, Northallerton Cattle Show 1844

I hope you have enjoyed my jottings about Flower Shows and Village Fetes. I loved the moment in Downton Abbey where Mr Molesley’s roses finally were awarded Best in Show on merit rather than the Dowager Countess’s blooms.

Downton Abbey Flower Show 2

In keeping with family tradition my entries were duly photographed for posterity when we got home after a wonderful day at the Show.

1980 Cup Winner
Spring Show 2016


Spring Show 2016 - Vase of tulips 3 stems


Spring Show 2016

Abingdon Spring Show 2016 Exhibits

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The Colour Yellow

Natural Yellow Hues

Yellow is a marmite colour – you either love it or hate it and I love it! Yellow is my favourite colour as I feel it represents Spring sunshine and happiness. There are two seasons with an abundance of yellow flowers –  Early Spring with delicate creamy yellow primroses and bold lemon yellow daffodils and Late Summer with rich golden sunflowers and Rudbeckia blooms. Spring colours tend to be light, bright, warm and clear whilst Autumnal colours are warmer, intense and muted.  I personally prefer the more delicate pastel shades of yellow and am not so keen on rich, intense colours.   As I observed drifts of brightly coloured yellow daffodils recently I began to ponder why yellow can often be perceived as difficult to work with in a colour scheme.

Drayton Blooms

Yellow Flower-1 - Copy

The Twelve Colour Wheel

Twelve Colour Wheel

As an artist and  flower photographer I am absolutely passionate about colour and how different hues can be combined together to create beautiful colour palettes. A  Colour Wheel is a simple tool to work out how to combine different hues. It is an invaluable aid as an artist and can be used when planning colour schemes for interior design, for weddings and when planning a new border in the garden.

A Colour Wheel is created with the 3 Primary Colours  – Red, Blue and Yellow – equally spaced. The primary colours cannot be made by mixing other colours. The Secondary Colours of purple, green and orange are created by mixing the primaries together. Tertiary Colours are made by mixing primary and secondaries together. Tertiary colours are the neutrals.


Tints, shades and tones. 

Colours can be classified even further with tints, shades, and tones. These are key because when you are creating a colour scheme, you may want to use a family of hues not just one. I found an invaluable Blog Post by Sara of Burnett’s Boards which explains Colour Theory wonderfully and is a really useful resource when planning colour schemes.

Primrose Tints Tones and Shades

Daffodil Tints Tones and Shades

Crocus Tints Tones and Shades


Tints are acquired by adding white to a hue. Another name for a tint is a pastel colour. For example, lemon and cream are tints of yellow.

March Colours
Yellow Tint


Tones and Shades

Shades are acquired by adding black. Khaki and gold can be considered as shades of yellow and mustard is a yellow tone. Tones are created by adding greys or neutrals.

Yellow -13 - Copy - Copy
Crocus Yellows


Monochromatic Colour Schemes 

Monochromatic Colour Scheme


Mono means `one’ so a monochomatic colour scheme is a one colour harmony in which tints, tones and shades are taken from one segment of the colour wheel. A monochromatic yellow colour scheme incorporates a variety of different yellows together. In flower arranging green is considered a `neutral’ colour. I find using lime-green flowers such as Alchemilla mollis and Viburnum opulus always creates a fresh Spring colour scheme. Other neutrals that work well with yellow are white, grey, beige and navy.


Viburnum opulus

I love this fresh Maytime bouquet by Kathryn Hurst of Shelsley Herbs & Flowers   which incorporates various tints of yellow with neutral greens and whites. Katherine uses seasonal, locally grown flowers and herbs from the beautiful Teme Valley in Worcestershire.  The wonderfully scented bouquet contained cowslips, tulips, heuchara, snowflakes, primula, buttercups, alchemilla, viburnam, syringa, sweet cicely & clematis.

Shelsley Herbs & Flowers

Primrose HuesPrimrose Hues

yellow & white wreath - Copy - Copy

Photos by Michelle Morris Photography.

Kathryn also grew and designed this beautiful September wreath where the lemon yellow dahlias were offset by frilly white blooms and an abundance of scented herbs and foliage grown on her plot. The wreath included heather, fennel flowers, old man’s beard, variegated sage, Bells of Ireland and cyperus in addition to the dahlias. Kathryn is a member of Flowers from the Farm and prides herself on using scented flowers and herbs.

I was delighted to be able to use these photos showing how vibrant daffodil yellow can be used to great effect. Neil from Neil Pollock Photography has captured Emily‘s yellow daffodil themed Spring wedding beautifully. The flowers were by Rachel of The Rose Shed.

Emily & Tom Small-331

Emily & Tom Small-309

Emily & Tom small-19

Emily & Tom Small-101

Emily & Tom Small-99

On closer inspection I can see that daffodil leaves are a grey-green colour. I am always amazed by how beautiful nature’s colour schemes are. If you take inspiration from the colours found in nature you won’t go far wrong. I find the bright yellow colour found in daffodils difficult to work with as it is such a vibrant, strong hue. However I’ve learnt from Rachel’s floral designs at Emily’s wedding that it’s best to allow this intense, bright yellow to shine out as nature intended and choose neutral greys, greens and whites as a backdrop.

Drayton Blooms Small-4 - Copy - Copy

Daffodil Hues - Copy - Copy

Emily & Tom Small-331



March Colours

Daffodil Wedding Green

Daffodil Wedding Grey

Analogous Colour Schemes

This colour harmony is made up of three or four colours adjacent to each other on the colour wheel and not including more than one primary.

Analogous Colours

Commercial Floristry: Designs and Techniques by Sandra Adcock

My wedding bouquet included yellow, peach and cream roses.  The table decorations also incorporated yellow forsythia and orange hypericum berries in an analagous scheme of yellow, yellow-orange and orange hues.

Analogous Colours

Spring Sunshine Bouquet

Just Picked

Anakogous Colour Scheme

Suzanne from Beamsley Blooms  has chosen to include pale yellow narcissi in her Spring arrangement. Peach, Orange and Yellow are hues found adjacent on the colour wheel and are therefore considered analogous. The green of the hellebores provides nature’s neutrals. The common ingredient in all of the colours is yellow.




Complementary Colour Schemes

Complementary Colours

A more dynamic way of using yellow is to introduce it’s complementary colour of purple. Complementary colours are opposite to each other on the colour wheel and when used together these hues stand out and create beautiful contrasts. A complementary colour scheme includes any tints, shades and tones that appear directly opposite on the colour wheel.  It’s best to avoid using equal amounts of the two colours and also one flower of a different colour will be too dominant.

Clarey Wrightson has provided me with some wonderful examples of yellow used in complementary colour schemes.  The designs use flowers and foliage cultivated by her husband Barney in their cutting garden at Manor Garden, near Darlington.

Barney is obviously a talented chap as he also took the photo of this dreamy bouquet full of lilac flowers including scabious and sweetpeas which provide a wonderful contrast to the yellow roses.

File 10-03-2016, 09 05 21

Purples and Yellows

Clarey has combined bright yellow narcissi with purple flowers in this rustic button-hole to contrast with the purple ties worn by the groomsmen. Such a different look to the previous grey and yellow colour scheme, but equally beautiful..

File 10-03-2016, 09 04 50

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Chris Parkinson Photography at

I met Sally Oates, Artisan Grower and Florist at a National Garden Scheme Open Day last year when I had the opportunity of a guided tour of her cutting garden, Dillycot.

‘Colour is my starting point, I love working with many different combinations, pretty white, cream and green, or pastel shades, charming harmonising mid tones, or exciting rich full colours. Of course mixed colours look fabulous too’.

These photos were taken in the Autumn when Sally ran a market stall with a yellow and lilac theme.

Dillycot Flowers

File 10-03-2016, 09 07 25

File 10-03-2016, 09 07 41

Lisa Carey of Most Curious Rose included small accents of purple in her arrangement of British Blooms which really make the yellows sing.

Most Curious Rose Yellows

Contrasting Color Schemes 

Contrasting Colour Scheme


This colour harmony is obtained from the colour wheel by using a colour with another four segments away. E.g. Yellow and Blue or Yellow and Red. If bold, vibrant colours are used this scheme can be quite harsh so it’s best to use a tint or tone of one of the hues if the other is at full spectrum strength.

Rachel Slater of Owl House Flowers has worked this contrasting colour scheme wonderfully with her choice of yellow and blue flowers. The delicate blue highlights of the forget-me-not flowers really complement the creamy yellow tulips.

Contrasting Colour Scheme


Rachel Slater Yellow and Blue Wreath

Rachel Slater Yellows

I love the pop of blue highlighting the golden tulips too. If bold, vibrant colours are used this scheme can be harsh, so it’s best to use a tint or tone of one of the hues if the other is at full spectrum strength. That’s why Rachel’s paler blue forget me not flowers complement the full blown yellow tulips. The pale blue brings the yellow alive.

Yellow and Blue

March Posy

Yellow and Blue

Blue and Yellow Hues - Copy - Copy

I must admit I thought my deep blue vintage poison bottles and Booths Real Old Willow china would make a pleasing contrast with bright yellow daffodils. I don’t like the effect. The yellow and blue are both dominant colours and for me the images are very stark and clashy. My eyes don’t know whether to look at the blue or the yellow. I find that using more than one full strength primary colour isn’t very restful on the eye.  I also experimented with pale yellow primroses and a deep shade of blue and gold tea-set. I much prefer the softer yellow against the deep blue. Now my eyes are drawn to the primroses and the navy-blue saucer has become an effective neutral backdrop.

A Cup of Primroses

Another effective Contrasting Colour Scheme is the use of pink with yellow. Pink is a tint of red so is more pleasing on the eye than bold, saturated red.

Contrasting Colour Scheme


Contrasting Colour Scheme


Pink and Yellow Church Flowers

Pink and Yellow Church Flowers

I have chosen to use my favourite lime green foliage. The yellow-green colour of Bupleurum, Kermit Chrysanthemum and Alchemilla enhances the yellow of the Craspedia globosa.

Triadic Colour Scheme

Triadic Colour Scheme


By adding blue into the mix and combining with the yellow and pink I created a Triadic Colour Scheme. This scheme is made up of 3 colours evenly spaced around the colour wheel. The best way to create this colour harmony is to choose one colour to dominate with less of a second and a touch of the third or a mix of tints, tones and shades.

Triadic Colour Scheme


Miss Piggy Rose Wedding

I hope I’ve shown that there are so many ways to include yellow in a colour scheme. Thank you so much to everybody that has shared these beautiful images with me.

Rachel Slater Yellows
Emily & Tom Small-331
File 10-03-2016, 09 05 21
yellow & white wreath - Copy - Copy
Most Curious Rose Yellows
P&D (245)
P&D (190)
P&D (170)


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March Posy

March Posy Small-14

For this month’s Posy I wanted to create an image that represented the start of Spring and Easter.

March’s flowers in our garden have been a beautiful Spring colour palette of yellow, violet and fresh Spring Greens.

Spring Hues


I have chosen to grow a lot of native wild flowers. This month we have had a good show of native primroses – primula vulgaris. These are a beautiful pale cream yellow. Primroses always symbolise to me that Spring is on it’s way. My Uncle picked a small bunch of primroses from the woods for my mum when she was born in March. Now whenever I see primroses I think of mum!

Church House, Pitton near Salisbury


Primrose Hues

March Small-39

I have another variety of primrose in bloom in the garden called `Emily’ which is a slightly darker yellow colour. There are also creamy primula flowers.

Primula vulgaris



As a child I dreamt of creamy yellow primroses in a posy as a wedding bouquet.  I am a very romantic soul!  I imagined myself picking woodland flowers and flouncing about in a Jane Austin inspired Regency Wedding dress. I hadn’t even read any Jane Austin aged 8! When we walked in Grovelly Woods to see the primroses as a child I remember a derelict cottage I dreamt of renovating and restoring. That’s where I would have flounced off to the church in my Empire Line Dress with my Spring bouquet of primroses and violets!

I did enjoy the grounds of The Baytree Hotel in my Empire Line Dress on my wedding day. In reality primroses were too small for my bouquet so I opted for yellow roses instead. The idea of something picked straight out of the garden arranged in an informal way stayed with me. I opted for informal jugs of Spring flowers on the tables including Spring Green Viburnum opulus and yellow Forsithia.

Spring Sunshine Bouquet
P&D (055)
Just Picked

Our March garden has also had a good display of vibrant yellow daffodils with dainty, minature Tete-a-Tete being my favourite.

Tete a Tete

The other flowers in bloom have been violet, mauve and blue in colour. We have clumps of the native woodland violet. The front garden has a beautiful carpet of Anemone blanda in shades of violet-blue and white and in the back we have purple crocus blooms and blue muscari.

Anemone blanda
Anemone blanda
Purple Crocus
Drayton Blooms

Anemone blanda

Purple Crocus

March Primula
March Primula

I’m also rather proud of my pink ranunculus flower. However this bloom was too precious to cut for my Posy of the month project.


March Posy

March PosyMarch Posy Small-14

The vintage buttercup design fluted cup and saucer was manufactured by Henry M Williamson & Sons, based at the Bridge Pottery Works, Heathcote Road in Longton, Stoke on Trent. Williamson traded from 1879 – 1947. The name was changed to Heathcote China in 1928. H M Williamson & Sons

March PosyEaster Biscuits

I  enjoyed making Easter biscuits to photograph my Easter posy and they seemed to be enjoyed by my running club after a recent cross country run.

Spiced Easter Biscuits

Originating from the West Country, these lightly spiced biscuits were traditionally given as a gift on Easter Day. My mum always used to make them at Easter time.

300g plain flour

50g icing sugar

1 tsp mixed spice

175g cold butter, diced

1 medium egg, beaten with 1 tbsp cold water

125g currants

1 egg white

Caster sugar for dredging

Mix the flour, icing sugar, spice and butter together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Gradually add the beaten egg until the mixture clumps together.

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead in the currants. Flatten the dough into a disc and wrap in clingfilm. Chill for 30 minutes until it is firm.

Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan oven), gas mark 4.

LIghtly flour the worksurface again and roll out the dough until it is 4mm thick. Stamp out circles with a 6 – 7 cm fluted citter and arrange spaced apart on lightly greased baking sheets.

Whisk the egg whit e until frothy and brush over the biscuits. Sprinkle with the caster sugar.

Bake for 12 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on a wired rack.

They will keep for up to a week in an airtight tin.

March Posy

Easter Posy

For some reason primroses are the blooms I think of when I think of an Easter Posy. I always remember being read the Alison Uttley stories as a child and have never forgotten the second tale in which sensible Little Grey Rabbit makes primrose wine to cure Hare’s cold.

Little Grey Rabbit

March Posy

A Cup of Primroses

I tried another Spring arrangement of primroses in my H & R Daniel Etruscan shape teacup and saucer for a completely different effect. I thought the creamy primroses went well with the gilt details and the navy and lemon pattern. (Pattern 3860). Henry and Richard Daniel were manufacturers of high-grade decorative porcelain and earthenwares at Stoke and Shelton from c.1822-46. All Daniel porcelains are of very fine quality but are seldom stamped with a maker’s mark.

March would not be complete without an arrangement of cheerful Spring daffodils.

March Flower Arrangement

Do let me know which is your favourite – zingy yellow daffodils or softer creamy primroses?  I can’t decide!


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Drayton Delights

Drayton Blooms

Apart from being passionate about flowers and social history I enjoy cross country running.  I’d never dreamt I’d ever use the phrase `I’m a runner’, let alone say that I enjoy cross country running, but I do!

Drayton Run
Drayton Mud
Drayton Run


I had admired a wonderful host of golden daffodils on my way to work and decided to plan a run around the daffs. I don’t run to be competitive. Running helps me keep a certain level of fitness  and being out and about in the sunshine or showers lifts my spirits. I also treat my runs like treasure hunts actively looking out for beauty. I don’t mind if I’m out for an extra hour when I’ve got distracted taking a few snaps of flowers that catch my eye along the way.

Drayton Daffodils
DRayton Daffodils
Drayton Run

I stopped for quite a while to admire the drifts of golden daffodils and was trying to get the best shots I could of the blooms with my camera phone. At that moment a lovely gentleman came out of his house and offered to take my picture. We had quite a chat. I discovered that he had planted the bulbs as a neighbourhood community project over 10 years ago.

Drayton Blooms

Drayton Daffodils

Drayton Blooms

After that I continued with my 6 mile route and found a few other gems to photograph along the way.

Drayton Blossom
Drayton Primroses
Drayton Blossom


I had been so struck by the beauty of the flowers in Drayton that I went back on St David’s Day to photograph the daffodils with my `proper’ camera.

Drayton Blooms

Drayton BloomsDrayton BloomsDrayton BloomsDrayton BloomsDrayton Blooms

At the base of the trees there were also some very pretty clumps of violet-blue grape hyacinths in flower. There is something about this colour combination that works so well together.

Purples and Yellows

Drayton Blooms

Drayton BloomsDrayton BloomsDrayton Blooms

Anemone Blanda Hues


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Downton Abbey Style Wedding Flowers

1925 Lady EdithI am a big fan of the period drama Downton Abbey and was delighted that Edith Crawley finally found happiness with her marriage to Bertie Pelham.

1925 Lady Edith

As I have been researching social history and 1920s wedding flowers I was particularly interested in Edith’s bouquet and wedding attire. The overall effect was charming. However I am not convinced that the flowers were typically 1920s in style. Edith is carrying a shower bouquet and newspaper articles from the 1920s do refer to `Shower Bouquets’ of roses, lilies and carnations. However over time fashions have produced numerous variations on the traditional shower bouquet.  I feel Edith is carrying a bouquet which is more typical of a late 1980s style shower bouquet, wired into a floral foam plastic holder, than a 1920s Shower Bouquet.

Shower bouquet
1992 Wedding Mandy Homer

Cascading bouquets were originally referred to as shower bouquets in the Edwardian period and replaced the fashion of neat Victorian posies.

1900 Robert & Sarah - Uncle Harry -bridesmaid -Groom Austin & Bride Rosina - bridesmaid & brides parents Mr & Mrs Robinson
Edwardian Wedding Group 5

Victorian Style Posies

Edwardian Shower Bouquets

This style became exaggerated by 1920, with much larger bouquets, so large they almost concealed the bride. They reached their peak from 1920 – 1930’s until WWII.

1929 Wedding of John Asquith and Doris Harrison

1929 Wedding of William Hathaway Jerrett and Theresa Shurrock

1926 Wedding of Edith Amelia Polglass and Charles Arthur Furley

1920s Shower Bouquets

In shape a wired shower bouquet is softly roundish at the top but pointy at the bottom and is designed to spill over the brides hands in a cascade. The shower bouquet also became known as the Princess in honour of the late Princess Diana and her impressive 1980s bridal bouquet.

1981 Lady Di Shower Bouquet

1980s Shower Bouquet

Lady Edith’s bouquet is much neater in shape than any of the shower bouquets I have seen in  original 1920s photographs. The wired shower bouquet was originally made on a moss ball. Sphagnum moss was made into a ball about the size of a golf ball and into this was poked a long hairpin-like wire. Every flower or piece of foliage was then mounted onto a suitable wire and the wires were then made into a handle. The shape was large and loose with trails of foliage.  The trails were bound together with binding wire. Some florists used green silk-covered wire. Gutta tape wasn’t used. Most of the photos I have seen show 1920s shower bouquets to be big, loose round shapes with cascading foliage.

1929 Wedding

1929 wedding of Minnie Ratcliff and Leslie East

1929 Wedding

1929 Leslie and Minnie East

1921 Wedding-1

1921 wedding of Dorothy Greaves and William Shaw

These two 1920’s shower bouquets are reminiscent of my Grandma’s wired 1930’s bouquet with white carnations and Asparagus setaceus fern trails. The whole effect is much more round in shape and sparse, being less tightly packed then Edith’s bouquet.

Asparagus setaceus

White Carnation wired shower bouquet

1920s fashion

Flowers and Foliage used in a 1920’s Bouquet

My research has shown me that the vast majority of 1920’s shower bouquets were made with either carnations or roses. The blooms were usually white or pale pink in colour and mixed blooms didn’t tend to be used in the same bouquet. I have found only one reference to red flowers and newspaper reports suggest that most bouquets were just one colour. I think it is very unlikely that a 1920’s bouquet would contain red, white and pink roses as depicted in Edith’s bouquet.  Apart from the ubiquitous carnations and roses I was surprised to be able to compile quite a long list of flowers mentioned in 1920s bridal bouquets – orange blossom, lily of the valley, white heather, pink tulips, white sweet peas, chrysanthemum, white lilac, orchids, gladiola, aster, belladonna delphinium together with both longiflorum and arum lilies.

1929 People's Home Journal


Bridal roses tended to be white or pink. From my research I was amazed at the number of references to named varieties of garden roses. When I got married I was advised that `garden roses shouldn’t be used in a bridal bouquet as they are not bred for the cut flower trade.’ I thought this was such a shame. Roses grown for bridal bouquets are now often bred on a large scale to maximise stem length and longevity, but they often lack the beautiful fragrance of garden blooms. Named varieties included Niphetos, a white `bridal rose’, pink Dorothy Perkins and Catherine Mermet.

Blush pink rosesNephetos RoseCatherine Mermet

1929 roses and fern1922 roses and smilax1920s rose bouquet

Grantham JournalSaturday 03 September 1927

1927 Ophelia Rose Bouquet

CornishmanWednesday 07 September 1927

1927 sheaf of white roses


Carnations have gone out of favour largely due to the wide availability in supermarkets at competitive prices. However they were viewed completely differently in the 1920s. Malmaison Carnations date back to the 1850s.  They were originally bred in France in 1857, and because of their quartered flowers looking similar to the bourbon rose, Souvenir de la Malmaison, they were named Malmaison Carnations. Malmaison Carnations (Dianthus) were richly clove scented and were prized for cutting. There were 40 cultivars in the carnation’s heyday and sadly now only five remain.

Carnation 1888Duchess of Westminster pre 1902

1929 carnations1920s carnation bouquet1921 carnations

Burnley ExpressSaturday 02 June 1928

1928 shower bouquet of pink carnations

Orange Blossom

In the 1920s orange blossom was used extensively. However at that time a lot of big gardens had an orangery and great care was taken in the care and cultivation of orange trees. Scented English orange blossom was therefore much more widely available.

Orange Blossom
1922 Orange Blossom Corsage1922 Orange Blossom1924 Orange Blossom
Dundee Evening TelegraphFriday 08 July 1927

1927 sprigs of orange blossom

White Heather

White Heather
Western TimesFriday 19 September 1924

1924 shower bouquet of lilies and white roses


Sweet Peas
1920 sweet pea bouquet
Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish AdvertiserFriday 22 July 1927

1927 sweet pea bouquets


1929 Chrysanthemum bouquet1927 Chrysanthemum Bouquet1920 chrysanthemum bouquet
Western Morning NewsMonday 10 December 1928

1928 shower bouquet of white chrysanthemum


Gloucester JournalSaturday 19 September 1925

1925 Asters and Gladioli

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the ValleyLily of the Valley Vintage Print
1920s Lily of the Valley
Bath Chronicle and Weekly GazetteSaturday 07 August 1926

1926 pink roses and lilies of the valley shower bouquet



1925 lilac and orchid bouquet



Pink Tulips


1923 Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

1928 Tulip bouquet, pink dress


1922 Delphinium Sheaves1920 delphinium overarm bouquet
Sheffield IndependentThursday 20 June 1929

1929 bridesmaid bouquets of delphiniums



Western Morning NewsThursday 11 August 1927

1927 sheaves of gladioli

Orchid PrintOrchid PrintOrchid
1922 Edwina Ashley and Lord Louis Mountbatten1922 Orchid Sheaf Bouquet
Dundee Evening TelegraphFriday 08 July 1927

1927 American style bouquet of orchids

Compact 1920s bridal bouquets were more often seen in the USA.  In the UK  a 1920s shower bouquet tended to be larger with masses of foliage, yet relatively few flowers. British bouquets looked more disorganised and had long trails of green foliage compared to those seen in photos from the USA. American bridal bouquets had some greenery, but were more likely to be bulked up with an abundance of trailing ribbons, bows and attached sprays of flowers.

Longiflorum Lily

Lily longiflorumLily longiflorumLily longiflorum
1922 lily sheath bouquet21922 lily sheath bouquet1920s Arum Lily bouquet

Dundee CourierTuesday 05 January 1926

1926 sheaf of longiflorum lilies


Madonna Lily

Fragrant, trumpet-shaped pure white flowers 6-8cm in length. Flowers in the Summer.

Not to be confused with the Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum), the Madonna lily (Lilium candidum) is believed to be the flower given to Mary, the mother of Jesus, by the Angel Gabriel when Mary found out she was pregnant. Paintings from the time of the Middle Ages often feature the flower in depictions of the encounter.

Lilium candidumMadonna LilyThe Annunciation


1925 sheaf of Madonna lilies

Exeter and Plymouth GazetteTuesday 25 August 1925
 Lily Auratum

1929 lily sheaf bouquet

1920s sheaf bouquets

This old variety is white with a gold band in the centre of the petals, with brown speckles.

Calla lily

Arum lily
1920s Calla lily bouquet1924 Calla lily bouquet
Buckingham Advertiser and Free PressSaturday 25 May 1929

1929 Sheaf of arum lilies

In 1920s photographs I have seen several varieties of fern used as foliage including Asparagus setaceus, Asparagus asparagoides and maidenhair fern. Do check out my guide to ferns as there are a surprising number of different types. Myrtle was often used as an aromatic foliage.  It has became a royal tradition to carry a sprig of myrtle in the wedding bouquet. Kate Middleton’s bouquet contained a sprig of myrtle from Queen Victoria’s garden. In fact, every royal bride since Queen Victoria has incorporated myrtle into their bouquet. Edith’s bouquet does contain maidenhair fern. However I can’t decide if myrtle has been used or whether it is Eucalyptus foliage I can see. Either way I feel the foliage should have cascaded a bit more and we should have seen some trailing feathery plumes of Asparagus foliage.

Asparagus setaceusMaidenhair fern



Nottingham Evening PostThursday 22 April 1926

1926 myrtle


1920s Over Arm Sheaf Bouquets

1922 Double Wedding

The other style of bouquet that was popular in the 1920s was the arm sheaf bouquet. They first became popular in the early 1900’s under the name of Bernhardt bouquets; inspired by the presentation bouquets given to the actress of the day, Sarah Bernhardt. They were long stemmed flowers and foliages carried by the bride cradled in her arm. They could be single-ended, with stems showing at one end, or double-ended with no stems showing. Most typically they were made using longiflorum lilies, but any long stemmed flowers could be used. Popular floral choices for arm bouquets were calla lilies, gladiolus, orchids, long-stemmed roses, delphiniums, and larkspur.  Ribbons were sometimes woven into the design.

Dundee Evening TelegraphFriday 08 July 1927

1927 Huge sheaves of country flowers


1920s sheaf bouquets

Some of the photos I have seen show the bride carrying a different style bouquet compared to her bridesmaids.

Bath Chronicle and Weekly GazetteSaturday 11 September 1926

1926 sheaf of lilies and Victorian posies of roses

There were two important royal weddings in the 1920s – the marriage of King George V and Queen Mary’s daughter, Princess Mary in 1922 and that of their second son, Prince Albert, Duke of York to Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon in 1923. Elizabeth was also a bridesmaid at Princess Mary’s wedding.

1923 Royal Wedding

1923 Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon

1922 Wedding of Princess Mary

Lord Louis Mountbatten married The Hon. Edwina Ashley on 18th July 1922 at St Margaret’s Church, Westminster, London in a glittering social event, with all the Royal Family in attendance. The wedding was the social event of the decade and attended by a vast gathering of Royalty which included King George V.

1922 Mountbatten Wedding1922 Lord Louis Mountbatten

Edwina’s bouquet was a simple, elegant over-arm sheaf of orchids and her bridesmaids carried delphiniums. There is no foliage to be seen! Edwina’s bouquet is in stark contrast to the enormous fern filled bouquets I have seen in middle-class photographs.

What flowers do I think Edith would have chosen for her wedding in 1925? It was customary for the groom to provide the flowers. Constance Spry stated in 1934 `The bride’s flowers are the gift of the bridegroom – although, nowadays she often chooses them herself, and decides on the price. The old idea of the gift of flowers coming as a delightful surprise on the wedding morning unfortunately is dead. The bridesmaids flowers are also his gift.’

1926 Brown velvet wedding dress

As Edith Crawley mixed in High Society I presume she would have been influenced by the recent Royal Weddings and the Mountbatten wedding. When Edith was jilted at the altar earlier in the 1920s she was portrayed carrying a small pretty posy of roses. Edith’s sister Lady Mary opted for a much more elegant sheaf of calla lillies when she married Matthew in 1920. Edith’s earlier bridal bouquet also seems a bit modern to me. I haven’t found any images of simple hand-tied posies in the 1920s. Mary’s bouquet is similar in style to the 1922 Mountbatten wedding.

1920s Downton Abbey Weddings

Edith is portrayed in the costume drama as a modern 1920s woman who kept up to date with the latest trends and fashions. Mary tends to wear clothes which are elegantly cut and less girly than Edith. I personally think Edith would have included some foliage to soften her bouquet and a different style to her rival sister.

One high class florist warned that elegant, simple sheaves of lilies `connoted a dignity, an austerity even, which is a personal characteristic to begin with. Brides who have other charms but lack this, should leave Madonna lilies alone.’

I actually rather like the sound of the `golden bouquet’ described in this article for Edith as I think it would suit her colouring. I may well have a go at making my own `golden bouquet’ based on this description.

Hartlepool Northern Daily MailTuesday 26 April 1927

1927 Wedding Flower Guide

Yorkshire Post and Leeds IntelligencerFriday 12 November 1926 

1926 Bouquet Fashion

Lincolnshire EchoSaturday 08 August 1925

1925 fashion for sheaf bouquets replacing round bouquets

These last two articles seem to imply that a fashionable lady such as Edith Crawley with her social status would have had a sheaf of flowers rather than a rounder shower bouquet.

This my version of an Elegant 1920s inspired overarm bouquet which in the light of my research would have been a good choice for Edith even if I do say so myself!

1920s inspired Calla Lily bouquet

1920s style Bouquet Picture by Jim Holden



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