Pretty Things, Some little thoughts

A tour of Columbia Road Flower Market

A two minute tour of Columbia Road Flower Market

Believe me when I say I could have easily spent the whole of Sunday filming and snapping the toing and froing of London’s second most famous flower market. I’m used to heading off in the small wee hours to Covent Garden Flower Market, but haven’t ventured up on a Sunday jaunt to Columbia Road Flower Market for some time. Its not that I haven’t wanted to, its just time runs away!

For me Columbia Road has a lot more soul than Covent Garden, and although its not geared up towards florists, it really captures everything that I think a flower market should be about.

When I first visited Covent Garden, goodness, about 16 years ago I was expecting this mecca of creative hustle and bustle, bright lights, bright colours, independent retailers and amazing sights and sounds. A vibrant barter atmosphere! And it was in some respect like that, but it just felt a bit ‘grey’. The building was old. It felt unloved. Whilst the produce you could buy and the traders are amazing, it didn’t have the amazing mecca buzz I was expecting. Covent Garden have made huge improvements over the years and next month the new flower market opens. I cannot wait to visit, I hope the new building does all the amazing produce and retailers that they sell there justice.

Columbia Road on the other hand, had that buzz I was expecting. Perhaps its because its not the middle of the night when its open. Its amazing what a difference daylight makes to the whole experience! Columbia Road feels like a true market experience – the shouting, the crowds, the smells. The scattering of independent shops seling all manner of things lined on either side of the road.

 

If you love to buy flowers and don’t fancy the early alarm clock of Covent Garden, I would totally urge you to take a Sunday out and head up to Columbia Road Flower Market.

Watch our 2 minute tour of Columbia Road Flower Market below

See more of our videos on our Green Parlour YouTube channel

DIY inspiration, Pinterest inspiration, Some little thoughts

DIY Spring flower tutorial

online-flower-tutorial-spring-flowers-reading

 

online-flower-diy-tutorial-for-table-centres

 

Something I noticed since we filmed our very first flower tutorial for YouTube was just how much I say ‘so’

Its funny how been put in-front of a camera and having to sit there and edit it makes you pick up on all those little quirks. Anyway, that’s very much by the by … we’ve been wanting to do some online flower tutorials for a while, and this is our very first proper attempt. we are learning as we go along, so please bare with bare with!

In our first DIY flower tutorial we’re teaching you how to create a spring garden design for your table. I cannot tell you how amazing this looked (and smelt) when it was finished. There was a plethora of spring flowers – lilac, english narcissi, anemones, moss and some rather beautiful seasonal foliage.

In total this project took around 30 minutes, so its more than achievable to re-create at home and can be made a few days in advance of your gathering, so really there is no excuse not to have a go.

Despite the tweaks that we need to make to our filming (I know the lighting is more than rubbish) we really hope to inspire you to create your very own spring garden at home. If you attempt this DIY please show us your wares on our Facebook or Instagram accounts by tagging Green Parlour

Some little thoughts

February – journal

Florist Tilehurst

 

Spring flowers (well almost)

Today is the first day I’ve really walked outside and thought ‘SPRING!’ There’s a warmth in the air and that feeling that the days are once again getting longer. Today the shop feels like a euphony of spring with the most wonderful of scents and colours, so much so that I couldn’t help but down tools and take some snaps of what we’ve got going on.

The anemones are totally stealing my heart at the moment, the brighter the better! The power of colour at this time of year is crucial – I think it sees us through the last few weeks of winter and makes us realise that spring really is on the horizon! Joy!

 

Reading florist

 

How darling are these pink ranunculus – the most perfet shade of baby pink and I’m always reminded of marshmallows when I look at them. They have the appearance of been such a delicate flower, but never before have I met such a fighter. These guys go on for weeks and can survive quite a time without water too. They are perfect for a spring flower crown at this time of year.

 

Pangbourne florist

 

The English grown narcissi are now out and about. Intoxicating aromas and hundereds of different varieties. I have to say that there is something lovely about a daffodil, but if you really want to ramp up the flowers in your home, I’d urge you to ditch your daff bunches and just once in a while indulge in these wonderful narcissi. You wont regret it.

 

Pangbourne florist flower delivery

 

The stalwart of spring and one that never gets tiresome. Hyacinths are the most wonderful thing to grown on your windowsills and are a perfect cut flower as well as a plant. If you’re into your heady scents, this is the chap for you.

 

Flower school Reading Berkshire

 

My all time favourite tulip, and that’s quite something as there are SO many different varieties. This parrot has just the right amount of green speckled through its petals to keep things oh so fresh

Flower trends, Pretty Things, Some little thoughts

Flower club – what flowers do you sell

purple and white flowers florist reading

Whether you go to market or buy your flowers online, how on earth do you decide what flowers you want to sell. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of varieties available and tons of different colours.

Some florists go for the scatter gun approach – a little bit of this and a little bit of that until they have every colour under the rainbow in their arms or virtual trolley. Sure this is the way you can work, and indeed this is the way loads of florists shops around the country have run for decades, but we like to think of ourselves as a fine artists picking our paints very carefully so we can blend and get depth.

I call it a ‘currated’ colour palette which sums up whats happening not only in the floral world but also in fashion and lifestyle. We’re constantly looking around, gathering inspiration and then transporting it to our flower stand in tints and tones that blend together beautifully.

peach and purple flowers green parlour

Read more

Some little thoughts

Welcome to our club

 

flower blog Reading florist

Sometimes after a really busy, stressful time you need a few weeks to fully relax, take stock of everything and evaluate where you want to go in life. With Valentines and Mothering Sunday well out of the way, and our new approach to weddings giving us more time to be creative and bespoke with our work, it also means we get to share all that gorgeousness with you. I’ve been thinking about what we want our blog to achieve, not just the whole get more comments, have more likes mentality, but more the ‘what does this blog represent’ mentality. What do I want this to be about. When I read blogs, the bits I like best are the personal post entries, or a real look behind the scenes. I feel I can so connect with that person and more importantly I want to find out about their life – I want to be part of their club! I want to make our blog more of a personal journal, where we can freely share our flowery world with you, and hopefully you’ll join us and peep at what we’re getting up to. Its not going to be about presenting the perfect image to the world, but its going to be about capturing a feeling and trying to convey the smells, the colour and ambiance of the shop.

So welcome to OUR CLUB, the place where you can find out what real florists get up to behind all the perfect Instagram shots. I’ll be posting weekly on a variety of different topics about flower life and up next week will be a blog about how we choose what flowers to sell on our stand. Its going to be a good one!

 

Here’s a picture of me making you a virtual ‘welcome to our club’ flower crown. Wear it with pride!

Flower crown course florist oxfordshire

TTFN x

Some little thoughts

10 fun facts about our head florist Emma

florist-reading-green-parlour

A huge hello to all our new readers and followers! To celebrate you joining our flowery crew I thought a little introduction about myself might be in order.

 

No one wants to read a huge blow-by-blow account of how much I adore flowers (heck you probably already guessed that they are the greatest thing on the planet!) Instead this is 10 fun facts about me. A chance for your to get behind the florist, so to speak!

 

Now I must hold my hands up here and completely admit that I’m also indebted to Karen over at Smashing The Glass for this. I loved her 10 facts and have totally borrowed her format. If you’re planning a Jewish Wedding or celebration you totally have to visit her blog Smashing The Glass – its packed full of wedding gorgeousness and inspiration overload.

 

1. I’ve worked with flowers since I was 16 and we always talked about owning a shop over the dinner table with my family. We opened Green Parlour in 2008, when I was 25.

 

2. A chicken once escaped in the shop and hid behind the toilet. It took over an hour to free the bird and a total re-build of the facilities. I bonded with one of the most amazing women, Debs, during this ordeal and I’m so grateful to have her as a lifelong friend (thanks chicken!)

 

3. I may be a tiny bit obsessed with Kate Bush. And I cried when she sang Hounds of Love live in 2014.

 

4. I happened to be involved in the flowers for the royal wedding in 2011. It was the most amazing experience and something that not everybody knows about me. I took the call from Catherine in the lavatory so no one would hear!

 

5. I can play the piano, recorder, violin and oboe and I’m currently teaching myself the ukulele.

 

6. If I hadn’t become a florist my other vocations I had pinpointed were an astronaut and a pool shark/hustler

 

7. I do have a favourite flower … sweet pea’s! I cannot help but stick my nose in them and breathing in heavily.

 

8. I LOVE the smell of play-doh.

 

9. I drink far too much tea – around 8 cups a day. I know I should cut back, but floristry is a cold job and the tea is required for warmth.

 

10. I talk about flowers a lot in my sleep. My latest musing went a little like this “I’ve almost run out of mistletoe” …. uttered in February.

We’d love to hear your 10 fun facts – pop over to our Facebook page to introduce yourself!

Some little thoughts

Learning to say no

florist reading florist berkshireThe past few weeks and months have been a total roller-coaster of emotion. There have been tears of overwhealming joy and moments of self-doubt. Its kind of given that running a business isn’t all sweet smelling roses, there are a few rotten apples you have to deal with along the path. The hardest thing to do as a superwoman business owner to take time and step away from everything to take stock of these extreme emotions. Your in this crazy to do list mode that never gets any smaller and then suddenly a year goes by in the blink of an eye and you haven’t given yourself time to reflect on the great achievements but equally the low ebbs. Over the past few weeks I’ve realised this is so so important. In fact I only took the time to reflect when running 26.2 miles … a clear head with nothing to focus on but putting one foot in front of the other. There was no phones, no emails … just me and a very long road.

So with 5 hours of running ahead of me my business/self evaluation began. When your so bogged down in doing the same thing year after year its so very hard to think about doing things differently. My epiphany moment came when I realised I had to start saying NO!

Its sounds so harsh … especially in business. Are you crazy for turning down that last minute bouquet order which means you have to stay late at work and miss putting your child to bed? Are you crazy for turning down the opportunity to provide florals for a wedding when you’ve alreayd got something else booked in? We kind of got in the habit of saying YES to everything that came in the door – dont get me wrong we managed it all with gusto and enthusiasum, but the price has been overwhealming tiredness, no family time, little time to do some of the things we love doing and an out of control inbox (if you have one of these you’ll know it feels like a huge noose around your neck constantly!)

When you start off thinking about all the stuff, it almost forces you to write a manifesto … what do I want from my business, how do I want it to fit with my life, how do I want my staff to feel. Its like the most gigantic can of worms opens up before you and suddenly you have to think about doing something different.

2016 is already looking like a bumper year for beautiful weddings, we’re already fully booked for June and July – and with what I’m about to type I don’t want any of our existing brides to worry. One of the things we always used to sell ourselves on is not becoming a wedding factory – we really want to get to know our couples, form friendships, we’re in this crazy creative wedding rollercoaster together, but with a whopping 56 weddings undertaken in 2015, I think we’ve reached burnout. We’ve lost sight of our goals. The bits we love most about weddings just haven’t been so enjoyable undertaking so many. Don’t get me wrong I cannot tell you how much I adore weddings but with around 40 – 60 hours worth of work per couple (read about what goes into your wedding flowers post here), taking on 56 has stretched us to our limits both physically and mentally.

So we feel super confident that by limiting ourselves to a smaller number of amazing weddings per year we’re going to be putting all of our love and attention into our couples, which is exactly what they deserve! So it’s with a huge smile on our face that we can shout from the rooftops we are now fully booked for 2016. We cannot wait to floral up our 2016 brides big days, I can tell you now there are some absolute corkers in the pipeline!

Watch this space for our awesome 2016 manifesto

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over the last few weeks I

Flower trends, Pinterest inspiration, Some little thoughts, Wedding Flowers

A confession – I dislike Pinterest!

Pinterest bridal bouquet

Wow, already I feel better just writing the title of this post. Perhaps saying I dislike the whole of Pinterest is a little steep, there are some really great things about it, but equally there are some things I really hate. I figure the great things plus the hating overall balance out to a dislike.

 

Been in the wedding business, I should probably be raving about this crazy online pin board system. Its like a whole load of inspiration without having to buy a load of wedding magazines which publish the same stuff month after month. You’ve always got this fresh stream of updates and on demand inspiration at your finger tips. This is the great part about Pinterest – you search for something and sure enough there will be an image capturing what your brain is thinking about. I think its a great starting point tool of wedding planning – but when I say starting point tool that’s exactly what I mean!

Combining Pinterest and floristry has its ups and downs. After a rather negative start in the title, let me redeem myself slightly by sharing some of the ups! The main thing I think Pinterest is great for with floristry is allowing us flowery folk to  share a whole load of images of specific flowers we are trying in vain to describe in writing (incidentally have you ever tried to explain in writing the true beauty of a flower and the blend of colours in a bridal bouquet … you do need pictures and a face to face consultation!)

Flowers are so visual, looking at pictures and getting to know our gorgeous couples brief is exactly what I love to do. Looking at loads of images in our consultations, finding out exactly what they want from their wedding and how we can make it different! Pre Pinterest we’d sit down, cut up loads of images, get colour charts, sit down and create a touchy feely mood board. I know your thinking … yeah but we can do this with Pinterest now at the touch of a button. And your right, you can buuuut … and this feels quite scary saying this, and I definitely don’t want to offend any of our Pinterest obsessed brides buuuut … there is a tendency with Pinterest that you get quite similar looking weddings. The “I want that exact bouquet whether its in season or not” approach, rather than the more hands on “what can this florist create for me that’s completely bespoke” approach.

 

Before Pinterest, I can honestly say we never made a similar looking wedding. Each one was totally unique, from the first consultation it was a creative journey for me and the couple I was working with. Pinterest has taken a part of this process away. There is a very definite Pinterest wedding look, We often see the same pins on multiple boards, and I don’t know, I just feel its making some wedding floristry less exciting both for the florist and the couple.

Everyone says they want something unique, that reflects there big day – we want to create this too! But having an image you’ve fallen in love with (that’s often designed for a 5 minute photo shoot and not always arranged to a high standard) and all a couple want to do is exactly recreate said bouquet takes that uniqueness away.

bridal bouquets wedding flowers Reading

Some of my favourite bridal bouquets we’ve lovingly made are when we’ve had the creative freedom to combine the flowers that work together. I call it carte blanche arranging – the bride talks to us about all the different decor, we get a feel for the vibe, we talk about flowers and we often look at some images whilst I babble on about particular favourites which I think we should include because they will just look super stunning. The bride trusts us to arrange something gorgeous, and when we go to collect the flowers and see something utterly beautiful at market – we don’t hesitate to buy the latest flower to steal our hearts because it will enhance the bouquet and we think “gosh that’s so Anna … shes going to love that” not “oh gosh that would look stunning, but its not in the image we’ve been asked to recreate”

We live, breathe, eat and sleep flowers – we know what works and what doesn’t, and with a little guidance on colour schemes from our couples we can create the most stunning wedding flowers for you. Having that freedom to create is magical, the most amazing things happen when you let a creative do what they adore and I can whole-heartely say you will love the results. Having your heart set on that bouquet in the image, when no 2 bouquets ever look the same, makes us worry, we’re constantly assessing the bouquet, looking back at the image, back to the bouquet.

“is it like the image? Oh goodness, its not perfectly like the image.  Argh! that would look amazing, but I’m not sure because its not in the original picture”

Its hard because all we want to do is make the bride beam the biggest of smiles on her wedding day, but sometimes those added extras when your making the bouquet just lift it, they make you smile, make you think, enhance a tone or texture. Sometimes a touch of the unexpected or unplanned can be marvellous and subtle. They don’t have to smack you round the chops but they should make whatever is there SHINE!

Pinterest is a great guidance tool, but please use it as that. Let us use every inch of our floral obsession creating bespoke wedding  flowers – with a touch of Pinterest guidance.

DIY inspiration, Flower trends, Some little thoughts

DIY Floristry courses – table centres

We’re so pleased you dropped by for our bright spring inspired table centre DIY. I don’t know about you, but spring is the time that our house seems to come alive again. We start entertaining, people drop in and there is a whole host of blooming beautiful flowers available.

This easy peasy table centre tutorial is the perfect way to spruce up your home ready for Easter celebrations and lets face it who doesn’t love a bit of flower DIY, especially with us there to hold your hand every step of the way. If you’ve got any questions, just leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you pronto!

First things first you want to choose your container. We opted for this rather vibrant orange number, mainly because I’ve become a little obsessed with everything orange. I also think its perfect for spring. Who doesn’t want a little (or bold and large) injection of colour after those dull winter months. If you wanted something a little more pastel you could recreate this whole tutorial in a teracotta pot or maybe even a soup terrine dish.

The flowers and tools

So we’re firm believers in the less is more approach, our finished table centre will appear filled with flowers, but actually your floral shopping list isn’t that huge. Most of the flowers should be available in any lovely local florist, so give them a tinkle and see what gorgeous fresh flowers they have in stock.

1/2 a bunch of eucalyptus (you could also use garden foliage here)

3 Pearl Avalanche roses

2 Romantic Pepita spray roses

5 tulips

3 alsclepia

3 veronica

5 narcissi

1/3 block oasis

1 pair of sharp scissors

 Step 1

Soak your oasis in a deep sink and let it absorb for around 5-10 minutes. We used 1/3 of a block for this container, use as little or as much as required to fill your chosen vessel. There are a few top oasis tips I’d always try to follow – the main one is, no mater how tempting, don’t run the tap onto the foam or push it into the water. Just fill a deep bucket and place it onto the surface and let it absorb naturally, a little like a sponge. You should also onto try to use your floral foam just once, all flowers give off bacteria, so by reusing it, your placing your lovely fresh flowers into dirty water, a definite no no if you want them to last!

 Step 2

Always start with your foliage, this gives a base for your flowers to sit into. You could use all sorts of things from the garden including herbs for this step but we’re eucalyptus fiends so have opted for this steely green foliage to take centre stage. You want to create a dome, as in the image above and less if definitely more otherwise you won’t have room for all your flowers!

 Step 3

The first flower I use is always a little bit of a filler flower, for this tutorial we’ve gone for alscepia (love this stuff!) and inserted it in 3 places. Working in odd numbers is a great way to encourage your eye to travel around the whole arrangement. Using evens makes everything look a little wonky. You want your filler to be the same kind of height as your foliage.

 Step 4

Start arranging your other flowers, next I put in the 3 Pearl Avalanche roses as they are such a feature to the arrangement you want them to be in prime position. Next I added in the 2 Romantic Pepita spray roses these started to fill in the gaps in the arrangement. The Veronica added a looseness to the arrangement, narcissi followed, adding in the true scent of spring. Place these fellow in delicately as they have a tendancy to snap. The tulips finished the design perfectly, adding in another flash of that stronger orange tone.

Water daily, enjoy with a chocolate easter nest cake.

This is just a taster of what you could learn about in our floristry courses. Log on to www.greenparlour.com to see our latest flower school timetable

Some little thoughts

Oh here cometh the spring!

Well we may have told a small fib – Spring isn’t quite on its way, but we’re doing our best to jolly things up a little in the shop with tons of spring bulbs. If you’re after your Spring hit, well we may just be the place to poke your nose in and have a look around.

January is a funny old month. All the decorations are down, the house is looking bare. For some that’s the joy of January, a fresh start, but secretly I’m yearning for the glitz and glamour of all the twinkle lights and beautiful jewel toned decorations (or maybe a toned down version of the mentioned anyway)

This yearning for decoration inevitably ends up with an influx of bulbs, all shapes and sizes, all colours, and our mantlepieces and windowsills at home and in the shop are suddenly filled to the brim with the hope and expectation of Spring.

How can one fail to love bulbs. They are completely magical, that one small bulbous thing, holding the power to create such beauty and scent. And self sufficient too, all the nutrients required hauled up in the shell, until they are required.

There is nothing quite like breathing in the scent of narcissi when the Winter still seems long, and the threat of snow is still present. In fact I would go as far to say it is quite heavenly!

Go forth and fill your home with narcissi, don’t try to resist the powers of new beginnings and the magic that comes along with them!