I have never found the real time or inclination to create an amazing garden, something she did several times over, and a skill now in use by both my sister and brother. However, I wholeheartedly admit to being a fully fledged frustrated flower arranger!
Mum was trained as a ‘proper’ florist, back in the days when every flower in a bouquet was carefully wired and taped, then joined together, usually in a pretty formal geometric shape. She never really did get to grips with informal hand-tied bunches – just entirely out of her ‘comfort zone’. In her early days, she had florist shops firstly in Barnham in West Sussex and then in Bristol. She would catch the train to London to make her choices from the flower markets in Covent Garden, or order them usually to arrive on the train. She often told the story of when she was doing the flowers for one of her great friends weddings. She had ordered some gardenias for the bridal bouquet, and a mad panic ensued when the train was delayed. She just managed to get the flowers to the brides home before she set off for the church, and certainly had no time to freshen up herself before arriving distinctly dishevelled as a guest at the wedding!
I have certainly never had any floristry training, but something must have rubbed off, as I love nothing more than spending time with a pretty unprepossessing pile of bits and pieces of greenery and creating some sort of arrangement. As you can see, that’s what I’ve been up to today, making the most of all the stunning colours at this time of year. I simply gathered together bits from the garden, meadow and hedgerow and combined them with a few flowers from the supermarket (which in hindsight, were completely unnecessary!), apples from the orchard, and some fabulous pumpkins and squashes from our local farm shop at Cheriton Fitzpaine – Thornes. We are lucky enough to have a few appropriate ‘props’ and what fun I had!
We are so lucky in this country to have distinct seasons, and even if it warns of the onset of winter, Autumn has to be one of my favourites. The colours and bounty are so wonderful to display that I can’t understand why more people don’t choose it for their wedding. One of my favourites from the marriages I conducted, back in the days when I was a Registrar, was an Autumn one at the Corn Barn near Cullompton. If my memory serves me correctly, the bride was a drama teacher, and she danced down the aisle surrounded by an abundance of apples, pumpkins and berries with garlands of autumn leaves overhead; just beautiful!
I also married my dear, long-suffering husband in the Autumn – in fact on All Hallows Eve, or Halloween! Back then, however, (it was a VERY long time ago!), Halloween was very low key, and a completely different event. ‘Trick or Treating’ was a strange American habit that hadn’t caught on, and if you had suggested then that the first two aisles of the supermarket would be stuffed with costumes, sweets and other halloween related things, no-one would have believed you! The nearest we would have got to Halloween activities would have been to bob for apples, or carve out a pumpkin and make it into a lantern.
I look forward to the day when a couple choose to book Harefield Barn for their marriage on All Hallows Eve. Whether they choose to celebrate with costumes and scariness or traditional decorations – it sounds like a whole lot of fun!
Having Harefield Barn gives me the perfect opportunity to ‘play’ with foliage and flowers, and today’s creation will be there to welcome my old friends from the Registration Service this weekend as I’ve invited them all to tea!