I have to warn you before you read on, this is going to be one long blog post. It may be too long for you to stay interested but if you are feeling a little bit of wanderlust, it may be just the right dose for you. I thought about cutting things short but I cannot help but share all of the beauty that England holds. I guess I should start at the beginning… One cold winter night I was sitting at the bar next to the shop having a nice glass of cider and some greasy french fries. Stuck in a loophole of Instagram stories, I noticed Hart Floral and Jo Flowers would be teaching alongside for the first time ever. Jo is the OG when it comes to moody lighting and the garden inspired design style. I have followed her for most of my career, well before Instagram was a thing. Madison from Hart Floral is the queen of this new wave or minimalist garden inspired design. Together, I knew this was not an opportunity to pass up. Maybe it was the cider, or the bartender telling me to just go for it because I deserved it, but within 5 minutes, I had booked a trip to England and I was finally going to meet two lady bosses that I have been looking up to for years.
The workshop itself took place in a historic hall (Bylaugh Hall) which has faced years of neglect but is finally in the hands of a magical couple who are in the process of restoring it to its original beauty. Although I know one day, she will be sparkly and new again, Bylaugh in it’s state of restoration was truly magical. The layers of old paint and brick walls told so much history and made for the most serene backdrop.
Upon arriving, we were greeted with the most beautiful welcome dinner. Truthfully, I have never eaten so well in my life. Each dinner was like going to a new fully styled event with a different theme each night thanks to Susie from Knot and Pop .
The next day we began with bouquet making 101 with Jo. I don’t know quite how to explain this but sometimes you see your style going in a direction but don’t quite know how to get there. I truly feel like something just clicked. If someone were to ask what I learnt I wouldn’t quite know what to tell you but I do know that I had a little bit of a design revelation.
Later that day we received our first ceramic pieces from Paige Mitchell to begin centrepiece design.
Madison taught us a lot about a minimalist garden inspired design style which is something that comes as a challenge to me. It is so important to never stop learning. I truly believe that as an artist and designer, the sky is the limit and you will never stop evolving. I have been trained in a design style that mimics a full English garden with lots of varieties and foliage. Madison has a strong background in fine art and hearing her talk about florals really broadened my mind with a different way of thinking and approaching floral design.
Our pieces were then used to complete the fully styled tablescape for that evening’s dinner.
The next day we took to foraging in a field to create a golden-meadow-like installation taught by Madison. It was so incredible to collaborate with such a large team and achieve a truly cohesive installation.
Finally, we took to making larger scale centrepieces with Jo and Madison. Seeing both designers create something with the same flowers/vessel and achieve completely different looks while using such similar design philosophies was pretty incredible.
And then… I was off on a road trip solo across England to see as many gardens as humanly possible.
First off was Rousham and let me say it was a great place to start. It felt like entering the Secret Garden as you enter through a hedge and come across one of the most remarkable English Gardens.
Next on the way from Norfolk to Oxford was Hidcote. Let me just say I have never in my life seen such incredible roses and delphinium. Words just cannot describe this kind of beauty.
Finally I arrived in Oxford and nothing quite describes Oxford like “real life Harry Potter”. Nonetheless, Christ’s Church was definitely on the docket (seeing as that is where it was filmed) along with a prison tour of Oxford Castle.
The next city was Bath, which is hands down my favourite place. There is nothing quite like it. Every city in England makes you almost feel like you are in a new country given the diverse architecture. There is just something about this place that I cannot get out of my head.
I also stopped at Special Plants along the way. This is just a flower nerd’s dream. So many rare and incredible varieties to geek out on, I was in heaven!
The end goal was always to make it down to The Eden Project which consists of two biomes mimicking different climates including the largest indoor rainforest in the world. It was built on an old quarry and the change in the landscape is nothing short of a miracle.
Hestercombe (as seen above) and the Lost Gardens of Helligan were also some “must sees”.
And finally, last on the list was Cotehele which hands down had the most incredible tapestry collection I could have ever dreamed of.