All posts by clairecoard

Home Grown

shallow focus photography of purple flowers
Photo by Anastasiya Lobanovskaya on

Early Sunshine..

The beautiful weather in April and May have made gardening an absolute pleasure. Nigella, pictured in the featured image is one of my favourite cottage garden flowers.  Otherwise known as ‘love in a mist’ is an annual garden flowering plant belonging to the buttercup family Ranunculaceae.  It is native to southern Europe, north Africa and southwest Asia, where it can be found on neglected damp patches of land.  That’s why it does so well in my garden. The picture of the Lavender, sadly not taken by myself reminds me of another patch in the garden where the bees are having a field day.  I’ve even purchased a bug hotel.  No visitors yet!


Having only had two years here at the cottage I’m pleased with the progress.  There were no flowers or shrubs in this part of the garden, and yes a few mistakes have been made with the planting, however I think next year the space should be full of bee and butterfly loving scented plants and hopefully weeding will be a thing of the past! There should even be enough to cut from which will make life so much easier.  Supply of flowers has been spasmodic of late, to say the least!  Things are not back to normal yet since the pandemic so I feel the need to diversify.  Planting and gardening will be my next project and I look forward to posting the pictures next time.


Natural Beauty…

These beautiful poppies were to be found on one of the glorious walks nearby.  There is a whole field of corn with a strip of uniformed poppy flowers growing alongside.  I’m reliably informed that poppies are triggered into germination when the soil is disturbed and they are exposed to light – which is why they typically found in cornfields ploughed in Spring, like the one pictured here. They also grew with a poignant presence in the shell-churned fields of World War 1.


The Gin Garden…

I know we all know that herbs can be used for so many things but I was intrigued to read in the RHS magazine just how many could be used to flavour gin. Some of these are obvious but others not so.  If you’re a gin lover its well worth a try. Cheers everyone and lets hope the sunshine soon returns.

  1. Lavender. Gives a floral flavour but use sparingly as very strong.
  2.  Juniper.  An obvious one but it does boost the classic gin flavour
  3. Lemon Balm.  Add sparingly for extra freshness.
  4.  Rosemary.  Herbal taste and good as a garnish
  5.  Damask Rose.  Adds a delicate floral element.
  6.  Cornflower.  Once again adds delicate floral notes.
  7.  Lemon Thyme.  Adds a tangy citrus tone.
  8.  Chamomile.  Floral notes
  9. Lemon Verbena.  Mediterranean citrus flavour.

    clear wine glass with liquid in focus photography
    Photo by Peter Fazekas on


We Are Still Here..

VE Day Celebrations…

What a beautiful day?  The sun was shining and although the celebrations were somewhat quieter than we had all expected it was lovely to see the efforts of our little village. Bunting galore!  A lot of improvisation, mine included. There was a sense of togetherness even though we couldn’t really be with loved ones and family.  There will be a lot of missed birthdays and celebrations to make up for as soon as we are set free!

Gardening Galore…

Does anyone else have the tidiest garden ever?  With lockdown continuing I feel we  will all be able to boast “Best Year Ever”.  It doesn’t matter how many hours you spend in it there is always something still to do. It’s gradually taking shape now and after 3 years I can see the hard work paying off. Next year there should be enough flower and foliage to use for work. That was always the plan. Will really miss the RHS flower shows this year for inspiration.

My Little Helper…

Never far away!  Last year she was a little too helpful, always digging.  This year Chloe is just happy to clear up after the birds. Forever hopeful that they will drop the suet when the visit the garden. We have had a lot of new visitors this year but my favourite is the yellow wagtails

Our Tribute..

Our regular Thursday evening applause for our NHS and Key Workers is followed by our neighbour playing a few beautiful pieces of music  We are all appreciating the simpler things in life.

To Make You Smile..

I’m hoping that my customers will be this pleased to see me!  Stay safe.

Mothering Sunday

3ED74BF3-F428-46C9-93CA-2AB330C51B63“A mothers hug lasts long after she lets go”….

Hand Tied Bouquets

E947AD3B-E891-4F03-9BF5-499F101B98ECHand selected fresh flower bouquets from £40.00. Beautifully gift wrapped and delivered to local addresses free of charge.

A2DD89EB-76A4-45BB-B1D0-BF4BE94F8930Please call or email to place your order.  Deliveries will be made on Saturday 21st, and Sunday 22nd March.857E61A4-121E-46C2-B120-23BE50ECEFDDYou only get one Mum, so spoil her.EC640D49-A5C2-4E60-B9C4-2F29F204C821

Bring On The Sunshine

Beautiful Bouquets!


After a week of red roses it was an absolute pleasure to see a wonderful new colour collection at Flower Vision. Peach and Cream Roses, Clematis and an abundance of  grasses and greenery. Wanted to keep this one myself!



I nearly threw these tulips away but the older they got the more beautiful they became, wouldn’t that be nice if that was the case for humans? Whilst looking up some trivia about these flowers I found out that their petals are edible and can be used in place of onions. They also continue to grow in a vase once cut for at least another inch.



Play time!  Really enjoyed making this. Rich vibrant colours with a contemporary feel.


An early morning stroll with my little helper foraging for foliage. It was the only dry and bright day of the whole week and Chloe welcomed the break in the weather. The river is running really fast and is extremely high at the moment so no swimming today!  In one morning we saw a beautiful barn owl, numerous ducks, the resident swan and a woodpecker. How lucky?

#wildlife.   #tulips.  #Spring

Happy New Year

Is It Nearly Spring Yet?…


Forgive me for asking but it’s been so wet and dull!  However new life is emerging in the garden, snowdrops and primroses.  Don’t you just love them? I have even noticed the evenings getting a little lighter.  God, I might even come out of hibernation. Primroses were my Nan and my Mums favourite flower and in recent years the weather has been mild enough for them to be out in time to celebrate my Mums birthday in January.

New Beginnings..


It has been a wonderful 2 years in Great Shefford. The villagers have made me feel very welcome, thank you. At the end of the year Tulipana held a wreath making evening at the primary school, it was so lovely to see all of the different creations, all, I hasten to add, beautiful!  I am looking forward to 2020.  There will be opportunities to attend further workshops so keep an eye out on my Facebook page, and please let me know if there is anything in particular you would like to learn.  I have already had a request for Easter wreaths. What do you think?

My Little Helper…


Those of you that have followed any of my blogs know how much help I’ve been given by Chloe.  As a puppy she chewed just about anything that wasn’t securely fixed, she now has no real interest in floristry, just food and the warmth of the fire. As you can tell from the photo she loves the sun. I thought labradors liked water?  Not this one.


Celebration Of Life…



I feel privileged to have been asked to arrange the flowers for many families last year.  Every tribute is special because every person is special.  I hope the flowers have been just one of the special memories on the day.


A Date To Look Forward To…


Who’s  been to the RHS flower show in Cardiff?  The most amazing location, so well organised and a little quieter than Chelsea.  Well worth a visit and it’s the first in the year.  # inspirational. See you there?

It’s All About The Flowers!




What a beautiful day we had. Well worth a visit.  The setting was absolutely magical, and the flaura and fauna first class.  Could have spent an absolute fortune, oh yes, I did. All in a good cause though.  Most of my purchases are now settling nicely into the garden, hopefully to be used next year in my quest to cut my own flowers for the business.


IMG_3077Whilst waiting for the above to grow though this weeks install at the hotel was inspired by the garden, as it is at the moment.  Beautiful copper beech, poppy heads and alliums.  The hotel give me a briefing and the botanical displays are to be seasonal, minimal and local.  Can’t get more local than this weeks.  Sometimes hard to make twigs, sticks and rocks look artistic.  January is a challenging month..


IMG_3047Inspired by my neighbours, Roger and Jackie’s show garden gave me the colour theme for my church arrangement.  The church was decorated with floral displays from local groups and many villagers opened their gardens for the day. The weather played a huge part in making this a resounding success and proceeds raised went to the church fund. Hope they do it next year.  My garden might be ready. Here’s hoping.






IMG_5379Well where did that year go? Our feet have not touched the floor.  The rural garden is beginning to take shape and with a little bit of luck we will be picking flowers and foliage and being very resourceful next year. To date I have managed to use my own astrantias and panicum grass pictured above in a bridal bouquet. We have had a little help from a new family member.  Meet Chloe, she is now 9 months old and just loves digging. Oh and eating  just about everything.

IMG_5542Chloe helps on most deliveries and kept the Christmas wreath workshop team amused. A complete time waster!

DOUBLE TREES HOTEL.  At the beginning of the year we completed a fantastic project at the Double Trees Hotel, Kingston Upon Thames.  It’s remarkable what a difference a little bit of planting can make.  Now with a great outdoor space they are praying for a hot summer to make full use of it.  A great location for shopping, Wimbledon and The Hampton Court Flower Show. Check out the gin bar too!

THE WI LAMBOURN.  In December I was asked to give a flower arranging demo at The Lambourn WI.  No pressure!  Great evening though and made to feel very welcome.  Seems so long ago but we raised enough money on the raffle for two places at Crisis for the Christmas period. So thank you for asking me and thank you for letting me hold the raffle.


Finally just like to say a big thank you to all my clients for their continued support this year.

Summer time at Tulipana

Our blog this time could not be more different from the last. With scenes of snow a distant memory and fellow gardeners and florists trying their hardest to preserve their flowers and plants. Some flowers have been spectacular but for others? Just too hot!!  We have however been kept busy with the arrival of the ducklings.  Our family, 11 in total hatched one very hot day a few weeks ago right by the riverbank in our new garden.  Very exciting and so cute.  But watching them does make you lose an awful lot of time.

Ducklings sitting together
Eleven summer ducklings

The RHS flower shows were spectacular this year, all exhibitors saying the same.  “Didn’t think we were going to make it, it’s been a tough year with the weather”. And so it has continued.  Team Tulipana went to Cardiff, Chelsea and The Gardeners World at the NEC.  My personal favourite, Cardiff.  Set in the castle grounds it was beautiful. Very accessible and very reasonably priced.

Chelsea as always never ceases to amaze.  This year Mrs. S won some tickets via Twitter and donated by David Austen Roses.  Thank you so much, we had a fabulous day, even if we were a little  stressed navigating around London. Not an awful lot of directional skills between the pair of us but we did it!

Our new rural garden outside the workshop is taking shape.  We have been able to source most of our materials for the Swindon Marriott each week.  Their specification is botanical, natural and seasonal. This week the lobby arrangement entitled FOUND was exactly that.  All either found or grown locally, and long may it continue – it’s so rewarding creating and recycling.

On a final note,  The Summer Floristry Workshop has been moved to Great Shefford Village Hall due to increasing numbers.  There are still places available and a percentage of the proceeds are going local charities. I am sure the evening will be lots of fun so if you are free give either Nicola  (07766050175), or myself (07525711170) a call.  The cost for this is £30.00.  Full details are on the Facebook page.  Our other workshops are available as usual at


This month’s blog comes from our very own Claire S:

Easter is already here and I’m cautiously watching the daffodils literally springing to life. The crocuses are out and buds are starting to appear on the hydrangeas – it’s all very exciting. That blast of snow earlier in the year has killed off some of my seedlings that were just starting to make an appearance. I thought they were safe but obviously not. Thankfully, I have more and can sow extras.

What a difference a year makes – the snowy run up to Easter 2018 and the sunshine of 2017

I’m hoping for an epic crop of sunflowers, sweet peas, cerinthe, clary and borage, as long as Barbara – our resident chicken – doesn’t find them first! I’ve discovered that Barbara doesn’t like mint but ADORES chives; she won’t touch the feverfew but will rampage through my ferns as if she’s a chicken possessed.

I suppose the most logical thing to do is to put her in a pen, but I just love watching her mooch through the garden, scratching at the soil, making little holes to snuggle into if there’s any warm sunshine. My husband’s away for the week over Easter and I’m wondering if he’ll notice if I get some new friends to keep Barbara company? Margot, our other chicken, was savaged by a Labrador last summer. A very sad day indeed.

I fear for Barbara’s sanity, she’s alone mainly, with only the odd pigeon to keep her company. I introduced two bantams last summer and she hated them. She took pleasure in chasing them around the pen telling them off… I think I have realised she’s quite grumpy. She’d much rather spend her time following me around the kitchen (don’t tell my husband!), clucking at my feet for me to feed her grapes. We listen to the radio together, dancing around the house, enjoying ‘Pop master’ on the Ken Bruce show.

I’d like another five or six really, then possibly a pygmy goat and a rescue donkey….

Oh God, I’ve just realised something…maybe it’s not the Chickens sanity I should be worried about!

The Rural Florists: Part II

For the love of all things holy, ‘PLEASE STOP RAINING!!!!!!!’

When we had grand thoughts of planning & planting the cutting garden we had this romantic idea of being out in the garden, turning over the soil, leaning on the gate whilst sipping our coffee, deciding what seeds are going where, what would grow in the best position… Well, since the gorgeous seeds arrived (the packet was opened with lots of ohh’s and ahhh’s) it has done nothing but rain… And when it hasn’t rained, we’ve had snow or frosts so hard we can’t stick a fork in the ground. The soil is ready, the fertiliser has been spread, it is waiting in anticipation of being filled with delights such as: lupins, eryingium, sweet peas, Veronica, Cerinthe… the list goes on. We want to get out there and plant but we can’t, they’d be washed away and we’d end up on our behinds, thigh deep in chicken poo.

The only saving grace is the arrival of spring. Hidden away in the garden, all those bulbs have started to appear. Snowdrops have arrived, cowslips around the base of the tree, daffodils breaking through the soil… It’s truly a delight to see these delicate flowers poking through. Despite everything they still come up and give us gardeners hope.

So to cheer ourselves up (and stop us drinking our body weight in caffeine) we visited a secret plant nursery. It’s in the back of beyond. Honestly, if you put a gun to my head and demanded the directions, I couldn’t tell you. At one point, I thought Claire was taking me to a secluded spot to hit me across the head with a spade! Maybe she thought about it but realised the ground was too hard to dig a grave. Thankfully, I’m still alive to tell you about the plants. Oh my goodness, I wanted to buy EVERYTHING!!! Pittisporum, Viburnum, Clematis, Jasmine… it goes on and on and on and on. Oh, I could have filled my car twenty times over. Honestly, in my head the sun was shining and the sky was blue. The endless joy that plants give me – to imagine what they’ll grow into over the coming months – fills me with utter happiness. I’m desperate for the days to get warmer and longer; I’m excited to watch things grow and evolve. No matter how much you plan, you can’t guarantee it’s going to work out the way you want it. You have to adapt, to work with the plants and the weather. Get out there in between the rain clouds, prepare for those better days, so you can utilise the time. Just imagine sitting in the sunshine, breathing in the heady scent of those sweet peas that you know you grew from a tiny seed. Total smug zone moment.

This was contributed by Claire S.