Category Archives: The Rural Florists

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.

Happy New Year

New Year, New Beginnings! We are really excited to be moving forward into 2018 with new ideas and the very Best of British (some even home grown, we hope).

We could not be doing this at Tulipana without the help of our hardworking and talented florist Mrs. S.

And in her own words, this is how it began, along with a word on the special new ideas to come…

“So… here we are, two florists that met over a job ad on line. Who’d have thought it possible that two creative people could work together so well without throwing scissors at each other?! (There is still time!)

We have together over 45 years of floristry experience (we were mere babes when we started) – fashion and styles have changed and so, I like to think, have we.

Sometimes it takes a bit of a crisis to force you to change, often it doesn’t feel like it’s a great idea at the time but looking back you can usually see the path you’ve taken has made you a stronger and better person. Over the last few years the two of us have had to adapt and make our lives different, for our families, for our sanity, for our bank managers. But the one thing that has been consistent (and able to keep us mainly off the gin at lunchtime) is the steady flow of flower work and the love we have for it. As a very sensible person once said, ” Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work another day in your life.”  It’s so true (apart from when our fingers are blue from cold and cut to ribbons from holly, then we might fancy a job elsewhere).

Over that last 25 years we have had the fortunate task of listening to your requests and creating something that can speak louder than words. Sometimes it’s to say ‘Sorry’, sometimes ‘I love you’; sometimes it’s to say ‘Thank you’ or ‘Forgive me’, – and honestly we do occasionally get told the most amazing confessions. More often than not it works, people are forgiven, life continues – and if it doesn’t, please don’t shoot the messenger!

We have had the honor of working with brides to make the most amazing arrangements for a wedding, from Westminster Abbey to floating marquees on swimming pools to yachts. We have been very lucky.

We’ve also been there when people have been at their very lowest, the grief of losing that other person that makes you whole. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t say it affects us, it really does – but we can at least be a part of the journey that helps you say goodbye in the best possible way. We are, as we say very lucky.

But now, for 2018, we want to continue to create something very special, but at the same time, unique. So, our new direction is to be more natural, more hands on… to grow more of our own flowers & fauna – be at one with the soil, as it were! We’re starting small but we’re starting and that in itself is something. Join us on our journey. We’re absolutely sure it’ll be a blast. We’ll be fueled by good coffee and wine gums -how on earth can we fail?!”

The Rural Florists