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Festive Inspirations With Figa & Co.

Last week I spent a fabulous day with the inspirational Kim Beedie who runs Figa & Co.  Kim has a background in interior design and now specialises in floral styling for events. Every season she holds a series of courses in beautiful locations in Suffolk where she shares her floral styling expertise. Last week I was very lucky to attend one of her festive styling days at the stunning location of Glemham Hall. Imagine the delight in spending a flower filled day in a genuine ancestral home complete with family portraits, heirloom silver and crystal and an enormous dining table that you can almost hear groaning with Dickensian Christmas treats!

Kim had designed a whole host of ideas to inspire us. The enormous table looked fantastic and quite daunting, but it was surprising how easy Kim’s ideas would be to recreate on a smaller scale at home. Do remember as you browse through these photos that this table is huge and Kim had left plenty of room for the diners.

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Feast your eyes on these beautiful old silver candleabra and  crystal bowls that belong to Glemham Hall. Kim added the greenery, evergreen wreaths, pink peppercorns, metal house lanterns and tiny birds to create a visual feast with a contemporary edge.

Figa-and-Co

Look closely at the photo above and you will see how Kim has placed a large box ball at the end of the table and then placed birch branches into the box ball to add height to the table arrangements. Imagining a box ball at each end of each table will give you some idea of the scale of this dining table – a garland was suspended between the birch twigs to carry the theme above the guests heads – you can see the greenery hanging down in the top off the photo.

Figa-and-Co

Simple green wreaths decorated with pink peppercorns were used to top crystal bowls illuminated with tea lights and to add drama to the already stunning candelabra.

Figa-and-Co

I have never seen a crystal bowl as large as this one!

Figa-and-Co

Kim taught us that it is not just the grand gesture that is important when designing a festive table. Her attention to the little details was stunning – just look at that tiny hellebore in a liqueur glass with a touch of supporting moss. The plain white napkin was decorated with a sprig of rosemary and a bunch of pink peppercorns tied around with ribbon. Both the hellebore and the napkin were arranged on a dinner plate to delight the guests (that was us!!).

Figa-and-Co

Figa-and-Co

I really loved these tin house lanterns – I have been very tempted to buy one or two this year but refrained as I was not quite sure how to incorporate them in my decorations – here they were magical adding low level candlelight to the table.

Figa-and-Co

These little birds were used to decorate the table at all levels. Everywhere you looked there was something new to surprise!

Figa-and-Co

Figa-and-Co

The back of each chair was decorated with a fake moss wreath and ribbon.

Figa-and-Co

Even ornaments had been commissioned into use as table decorations. The beauty of this styling is that so much of what we already have at home could be used to add an unusual festive touch to our Christmas table. I would never have thought to use wine glasses as tea light holders, liqueur glasses as mini flower pots, unused decanters and crystal bowls as containers for greenery or animal ornaments to add a touch of whimsy and yet I have all of these things at home.

Figa-and-Co

Figa-and-Co

After Kim talked us though the details on the table, explaining how she planned in layers starting with the large scale box balls, garland and chair wreaths and then working out the smaller details at eye level, she showed us how even a small room could use this styling technique by just making up a tray of unusual details.

Figa-and-Co

Kim used a standard myrtle bush, one of the hellebore liqueur glasses, a wine glass with a tea light in it and some smaller tea light holders and a large christmas tree decoration – with a bit of imagination the concept from the large table scene was reduced to the size of a brass tray.

After Kim had finished talking us through the details and given us time to appreciate all the many items on the table, we were taken outside for a walk around the grounds. The gardens at Glemham Hall were breath taxingly beautiful, even in December and I am saving the photos for a separate post. On our return inside this delicious lunch awaited us!

Figa-and-Co

Figa-and-Co

Figa-and-Co

A beautiful cheese and onion tart, focaccia, new potatoes, coleslaw and a salmon salad,

Figa-and-Co

Followed by this stunning Italian christmas cake topped with pistachios and pomegranate seeds. The cake was based on a Nigella Lawson recipe for a panettone christmas pudding cake.

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After lunch the flowers awaited and we spent the final part of our day making our festive wreaths with Kim’s guidance and inspiration. Sadly the afternoon light was too poor to take good photographs, but I will show you my finished wreath next week.

We had a fabulous day and came away buzzing with ideas and, of course, our completed Christmas wreaths all thanks to Kim who was such an inspiration!!

I wish you a very happy and relaxing weekend (although I am sure that many of you, like me, will be tearing around finishing last minute preparations) and I will be back on Monday with some festive greenery.

 

 

 

 

In A Vase On Monday – Just Loving The Peonies!

Welcome to the my first Monday vase of June!! As usual on a Monday I am linking up with the lovely Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to join in with her challenge to find something from the garden to put in a vase for the house every week of the year.

I have loved May for all the beauty in the countryside – lanes billowing with cow parsley and hedgerows laced with hawthorn blossom. In May the garden almost plays second fiddle to the beauty I find outside my gates, but in June the garden takes centre stage. Peonies, roses and foxgloves fill my borders and the Cutting Garden sees the first of my favourite hardy annuals. Today I took my snips to the Cutting Garden in the lovely early evening light and found the first of the peonies popping open in the warm sunshine of the last couple of days. Only a few are ready so I could not be picky about colour, but there were enough to fill a jug with the addition of a few nigella blooms and a handful of sweet peas.

Peony-Jug

Peony-Jug

Below you can see my first bloom of peony Coral Sunset. In the early spring I planted 3 Coral Charm and 3 Coral Sunset peonies not expecting any flowers this year. Two of the Coral Sunset peonies have produced one bloom each and I am so excited to see how these peonies perform in future years! The colour and form of this peony is stunning – I just want more of them so that I can fill a whole jug with just this sumptuous colour.

Peony-Jug

Peony-Jug

This is the first bloom of the Sarah Bernhardt peonies and there will be plenty more to come. Sarah Bernhardt is probably my favourite peony – large double flowers of palest pink that are beautifully scented and last well in a vase.

Peony-Jug

The sweet pea I have used today is from my greenhouse batch – the outdoor sweet peas are slow to get going this year – probably because of the cold night time temperatures. This sweet pea is from the Spring Sunshine range sold by Owls Acre Seeds – the colour is Champagne. This is new to me this year and will certainly be a permanent feature on my list in years to come. The colour is deceptive – it looks decided apricot on its own but appears more a delicate pink when put with pink flowers – a very amiable flower!

Peony-Jug

The blue nigella is from a self seeded batch that have been growing slowly through the winter. Nigella is just such a versatile flowers – I use it in arrangements as a bud, in flower and as a seed head and it looks stunning every way.

Peony-Jug

Finally for today I had to share this photo I took of Ruby. She was very interested in what I was doing with the flowers, but not so interested that she could bring herself to get up!

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Things are hotting up now with the wedding I am preparing for in July, so with six weeks to go I have decided to introduce a weekly Wedding Wednesday post to encourage myself to practice my arrangements in preparation for a very busy few days of cutting and arranging on the week of the wedding. This weekend I was fortunate to arrange the flowers for a lovely friend’s 60th birthday celebrations and I will share these flowers with you on Wednesday. The party needed 6 bowls of flowers for the tables, which was great practice for the wedding where I will be making a mixture of flower bowls and oasis wreaths to surround hurricane lamps for the reception tables.

Also this week I am attending another inspirational day with Kim Beedie of Figa & Co at Glenham Hall, so I will be sharing the photos over the weekend. This time Kim is concentrating on roses and if anyone remembers my post about the Glemham Hall Garden in Winter you will know that I am very excited about seeing how that amazing rose garden will look this week!

I am looking forward to being back here on Wednesday and in the meantime please do pop over to Cathy’s blog to see what she and the others have made this week.

Glemham Hall Gardens In Winter

You may remember the post I wrote before Christmas about the lovely day I spent at Glemham Hall in Suffolk on a FIGA christmas styling course. One of the highlights was a walk around the beautiful gardens before lunch. The day was cold and crisp and I was blown away by the unexpected delights to be found in the Glemham Hall gardens in winter, so do come and join me on a beautiful winter walk …

Leaving this grand old house by the back door I loved the avenue of clipped yews tempting the visitor out into the depths of the garden.

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Walking as far as the sundial and turning left will lead us into the perennial and grass borders. The beautiful old greenhouse is a highlight of this section of the garden.

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In contrast to the old greenhouse, this piece of modern art makes sure that the garden sits well in 2016.

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Leaving the grass borders we turn back through the yew hedge and across  into the Rose Garden.

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Although this was December I was enthralled by the beauty of this space – the winter to date had been mild and there were still plenty of leaves and even a few roses to enjoy.

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At the centre of the Rose Garden was this lovely pond – one day I hope to have a little pond like this in my own garden – imagine the daily joy to be found from sitting on a bench listening to the water falling from the fountain whilst immersed in a space literally dripping with roses.

 

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This use of lavender was inspirational – lavender is usually clipped into round hummocks – how much easier and more effective to cut it with a flat top.

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It was so lovely to see roses in December – this one is, I think, a David Austin rose that I grow called The Pilgrim.

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Stone containers had been filled with brightly coloured cyclamen and pansies – I wonder if they are underplanted with tulips for the spring?

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Before heading out of the Rose Garden, looking back towards the house will give you a feel for the scale of this private home.

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Moving out of the Rose Garden we will find this lovely lawn dotted with lollipops of box. Beyond this lawned space are the meadows and woodlands that surround the formal gardens.

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Quickly glance back up the yew corridor towards the house before turning into the orchard.

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The orchard is another beautiful space occupied by gnarled old apple trees.

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There were still plenty of apples that had missed harvest time which were now providing a feast for hungry wildlife. Perhaps one day my recently planted orchard will produce a bounty like this!

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I loved this unusual but effective use of old cold frames.

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After a brisk walk around the gardens it is time to head through that back door and  inside to the delights of a yummy lunch and the warmth of the woodturner!

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I hope you have enjoyed our very quick tour of this imposing garden. The highlights for me are the clipped topiary, immaculate lawns, statues, stone pots and urns filled with colourful winter flowers and that beautiful pond in the heart of the Rose Garden. I will certainly be planning a trip back to enjoy those roses in June!

For anyone who lives within driving distance of Glemham Hall Art For Cure will once again be holding a spectacular art exhibition from Saturday April 30th to Monday May 2nd. This years event is being held for the first time at Glemham Hall, so is a great opportunity to see both the inside and outside of the house as well as an opportunity to snap up some art or sculpture for your own house or garden. The last event made in excess of £100,000 for the Breakthrough For Breast Cancer fund, so hopes are high for this second event.

I hope you have had a lovely weekend and are enjoying your Sunday evening – I am off now to watch War & Peace and will be back tomorrow with my Monday vase.

Monday Flowers – Playing With Greenery

Welcome to my ‘In A Vase On Monday’ post for this week, when I am once again linking up with Cathy from Rambling In The Garden to join in her challenge to find something from the garden to bring into the house every week. Things are a little calmer here this week and I am gradually working out how this new site works.

When planning my vase I had a few options today – the first camellia flower, quite a few hellebores that out already and white chrysanthemums in the greenhouse were all possibilities. As I want to make sure that any flowers in the house will last over the Christmas weekend though, I decided to stick with greenery for a few more days. I almost missed posting today as I nearly lost the light – it is such a relief to reach the shortest day and know that my afternoons will start to feel a bit longer soon. I did have to cut my greenery in a heavy downpour and whirling wind though.

Festive-Greenery

After Saturdays post on the lovely Christmas course I attended at Glemham Hall, I decided to start working on my scaled down version of Kim’s designs. My festive table will be full with guests and food, so I cannot be too extravagant with decorations.

Festive-Greenery

I started by collecting a big bunch of rosemary – I love the scent of rosemary at Christmas and this is the first year that I have had a bush large enough to make a generous picking. I am planning on planting more rosemary bushes this spring so that in future years there will be enough for a whole wreath to hang in the dining room.

Festive-Greenery

I cut the long stalks down to about 8 inch lengths and filled 3 silvered vases.

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I love the way these vases catch the light.

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Whilst I do not have room for full scale box balls on my table, I decided to make use of the 3 small standard myrtle bushes that I bought at the workshop. Although not strictly from my garden, the plants have been stood outside by the front door for the last week, so I am sure they must just about count. I found the moss that I have used to cover the pots in a shady flower bed.

Festive-Greenery

On top of the myrtle I have placed a small bird and I am collecting up bird decorations from around the house to use on the table on Christmas day. You can see the other 2 bushes in the blurry background.

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I then moved on to make a trial swag. Kim had showed us how to make a swag for the centre of a table using garden greenery, a length of twine and floristry wire to wrap around the stems. It was a bit fiddly, but I am sure it will be easier next time and I liked my practice run enough to hang it in the kitchen window. When I make the table swag I will try and photograph the mechanics for you.

Festive-Greenery

Festive-Greenery

Finally the light was very poor so the next photos are not very good, but I wanted you to see how the rosemary pots have fitted in with my other decorations.

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Festive-Styling

It is certainly feeling a lot like Christmas in our house now – the tree is finally up, Christmas baking starts tomorrow and our first guests arrive in the afternoon.  I am planning to be back with photos of my wreath and the table swag and a few other festive decorations before the big day, so I hope you will check back later this week. Also do have a look at my last post for lots more festive inspirations.

Thank you to Cathy for hosting this lovely meme – taking part certainly made me prioritise putting together some festive  greenery today!! Do pop over to her blog to see what she and the others have made this week.

In A Vase On Monday – In A Seasonal Mood

Welcome to this weeks ‘In A Vase On Monday’ when I am linking up with Cathy at Rambling In The Garden to join in with her challenge to find something from the garden to put in a vase every week of the year.

This week I am starting to feel in a slightly festive mood. I like to take the build up to Christmas slowly, starting with a few bits from the garden, an odd string of fairy lights and a bowl or two of baubles and gradually building up to the putting up of the tree the weekend before the big day. The final touches will be the table arrangements, which I make at the last minute so that they will last over the Christmas week and hopefully not need refreshing before the New Year.

This week I will be concentrating on making dried arrangements that will last the whole of the month. I already have a large vase of dried hydrangeas and a vase of beautiful honesty seed cases which I showed you a couple of weeks ago. Today I added this collection of cones and pussy willow to the kitchen as a first hint of the festive season.

Pussy-Willow-&-Pine-Cones
Pine Cones & Pussy Willow

I collected these pine cones in the garden when the dogs and I were having an amble around on Saturday.

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The pussy willow was left over from last year! I used it back in March to surround a jar of hellebores and have had it stored in a cupboard since then.

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I added the candle as I love the combination of candles and twinkly fairy lights on these long dark evenings.

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Whilst taking these photos I also snapped a pile of cookbooks I had sitting on the kitchen counter. Inspired by the time we spend in the Alps during the winter, I could not resist ordering Winter Cabin Cooking and Winter In The Alps last week – both books are full of lovely alpine style food that I would like to bring into my own winter repertoire.

Winter-Cook-Books

Long Nights and Log Fires is a cookery book I have been using for a few years now – it is full of delicious but substantial soups, plenty of casseroles and pies and some very tempting wintery desserts. These are the books which will be inspiring my cooking over the next few weeks.

Winter-Cook-Books

I am looking forward to a very flowery day on Wednesday, when I am attending a wreath making course at the beautiful Glemham Hall near to Woodbridge in Suffolk. The course is run by Figa & Co. I have attended days organised by Figa & Co before and they are always stunning – lots of examples of beautiful floral styling and you come away with your own door wreath and table arrangement – I know I could do my own at home, but it is so much more fun to spend a day in good company and beautiful surroundings! I believe there are a couple of spaces left, so if any of my readers are interested it would be lovely to meet you there – click over to the website for full details.

I will be taking lots of photographs, so hopefully will have some beautiful images to share with you over the weekend. I am also planning to have a final look at my greenhouse for 2015 on Friday, so I hope you will pop back then to have a look at my last flowers of this year!

In the meantime thank you to Cathy for hosting and do pop over to her blog to have a look at what she and the others have made from their gardens this week.

 

The Twelve Days of Christmas – Day 3 – March

Welcome to Day 3 of my review of my first year of writing Peonies & Posies.

Looking back I can see that I was beginning to gain more confidence with the mechanics of blogging which meant I was able to post more regularly. I was still using my iPad mini to take all my photographs, but I was beginning to be frustrated by its limitations and had started thinking that I should learn to use a DSLR.

This was also the month when I started my first online blogging course called Blogging Your Way, run by Holly Becker of Decor8. Although this was a great course much of it went over my head as I was so new to the world of blogging. Next year I need to dig out all my notes and re-read them – I am sure I would get much more from them now. Whilst doing this course I came across another blogger who had taken a digital photography course through the Open University and I hatched a plan to ask for the course for my birthday present in April.

From the other bloggers taking part in Blogging Your Way I can recommend 3 beautiful floral blogs that you should take a look at: Flowerona, The Gilded Bloom and Of Spring and Summer. I still read these blogs regularly and pick up lots of lovely ideas from them.

Looking back over my March posts highlights from the month included:

Easter FlowersEaster flowers from the garden. Re-reading this post has reminded me that I must put mini eggs on my shopping list well before Easter!

Transplanting SnowdropsTransplanting snowdrops.

A Full GreenhouseA very full greenhouse.

Buff OrpingtonsEarly spring sunshine.

Single RoseMy first attempt at flower photography.

Here are some other photos I have found from my March archives:

Easter Collage

This cake makes an appearance every Easter. It is a simple Victoria sandwich cake decorated with an annually changing variety of Easter goodies. The other pictures were taken at an easter flower arranging course that I did at Figa & Co. The Figa website is very beautiful and well worth a look at.

Thank you for reading and I hope you will be back here tomorrow for a look back at April.