Online Hand Tie Posy Course with Georgie Newbery

Flowers for my Mum.

Finally, after four months, I can take flowers to my Mum. It’s been the hardest part of Covid, being separated from our families. It’s the first time in my life, I haven’t had her by my side. She’s usually there in everything I do, supporting me, encouraging me, passing on her knowledge. My setbacks and sorrows are hers. My successes and triumphs are hers. We are linked by invisible ties. If I stumble she is there to catch me. We are a team.

And we share a love of flowers. Mum has always helped me in the garden, bringing seedlings, divisions and cuttings from her plot. I grow them on, and take them back to her in simple bunches of flowers each week. It’s something I have really missed these past few months.

Luckily restrictions are easing and we can meet up again in the garden. And my little bunches of flowers are going with me.

And to add to my joy, I was invited to take part in a zoom lesson by flower farmer Georgie Newbery -just in time to make my first flower posy for mum.

I sat in my summerhouse with my i-pad on my knee- and just for an hour, forgot all about the desperate worries of the last few months. I’m sure I’m not alone in having fears for frail elderly relatives – and for youngsters. My youngest daughter is a newly qualified nurse, and my eldest works at a children’s hospice. No one is safe. The danger has been on my mind day and night. It’s been unrelenting worry. And yet, I’ve got through, concentrating on all the good people are doing- the inventiveness, finding ways to cope, the kindness.

Georgie is one such kind soul. I’m grateful for the invitation to join her first zoom session. She is launching online courses this summer, and asked me to be on a trial panel for the first lesson. I can’t tell you how excited I was to have something to put on my calendar, something to look forward to. It meant a lot.

Georgie, who runs Common Farm in Somerset, started the course by talking about the flowers chosen for the day’s arrangement. There’s the most sumptuous coral – pink Boscobel rose partnered with pink penstemon and a pretty mixed ‘ripple’ sweet pea. Purple fennel was added for scent. I could almost smell them from here! A dark chocolate-coloured Physocarpus Diabolo provided complementary foliage.

Georgie gave tips on harvesting flowers. They are cut early in the morning and plunged straight into cold fresh water while still out in the field. Leaves are stripped as flowers are picked. That’s a tip I’ll use to save time in future. And there’s a bucket of fresh water alongside which Georgie uses to plunge her hands and arms into. Sap from plants such as Alchemilla mollis and Ammi majus can cause an allergic reaction. Washing them straight away helps prevent painful sores.

There’s a special way to hold the flowers between thumb and finger, and something called a ‘florists twist’ which essentially means adding stems at 45 degrees and making a quarter turn with each additional new stem. The result is a posy that has flowers all the way round. And with a bit of practice your creation will stand up on its own, with all the flowers spiralling out like a beautiful layered ball gown. Georgie describes it as being a bit like “Painting with flowers.”

And here’s what I made with my own cut flowers after one session with Georgie on zoom:

The posy was swiftly popped into a glass vase of water. But I was so pleased to see my creation passed the ‘stand-up-alone’ test. The first time I’ve managed to do this.

In my posy, I have Cosmos Apricot Lemonade, a new variety I’m trying this year. The colour is a delicate pale lemon, with purple shades on the back of the petals. A perfect partner to Verbena Bonariensis.

I’m using pot marigold Calendula Snow Princess, a new variety launched three years ago. It has delicate pale overlapping petals that look as if they have been cut with pinking shears. I love the tiny stars in the centre of the flower. Beautiful in bud and at all stages of flowering.

I’m growing calendula down the centre of my sweet pea ‘A-frame.’ This creates weed-suppressing ground cover, and encourages the flower stems to grow tall, making them more suitable for floristry. I’m also growing butterfly gladioli down the middle. I tried this last year and it worked well. It saves time as there’s no need to mess about with canes and bits of string. The frame keeps them upright. They all seem to work well with sweet peas. Cosmos grows at the front of the border, tied in to the hazel frame to stop them flopping over the path.

It’s a jumble of flowers and vegetables. Not posh, or tidy, but I love meandering around the little paths, weaving in and out of the herbs, flowers billowing out of the borders.

One bed is full of wild flowers. You don’t have to have a meadow to enjoy them. My bed is 3.5m long by 1.3m wide. There’s pink campion, oxeye daisies and quaking grass.

Oxeye daisies make a lovely addition to any flower arrangements. They are good for bees and butterflies too. I like to attract pollinators to the plot.

There’s blue Campanula poscharskyana, Phlox Blue Paradise, Nigella love-in-a-mist, and yellow Verbascum in my posy.

Tomorrow, I’m attempting a much larger posy with 30 stems. Georgie advises to take flowers straight from the bucket, and not set them out on a table in a row -which is how I’ve been doing it until now. I’ve always wondered why my flowers look flat on one side. It takes some practice, but the results are amazing.

My hour or so was packed with information on growing the best cut flower varieties, how to condition stems, what materials to use, how to create everything from kitchen table flowers, to ‘all of the garden’ huge bouquets. There’s a chance to ask questions, and Georgie provides a fact sheet to accompany courses.

Georgie has new online courses on 10th and 17th July. Here’s the link to the website for more information: https://www.commonfarmflowers.com/workshops.html.

David Austin Boscobel Rose: https://www.davidaustinroses.co.uk/boscobel

Calendula Snow Princess : https://www.mr-fothergills.co.uk/Flower-Seed/Calendula-Seed/Calendula-Snow-Princess-Seeds.html#.Xvz8kxB4WfA

Phlox Blue Paradise: https://www.claireaustin-hardyplants.co.uk/products/phlox-paniculata-blue-paradise

How are you finding ways to cope with Covid and social distancing? I’d love to know if gardening has been a saving for you, as it has for me. I don’t know what I would have done without my garden to keep me busy. Thanks for reading my blog.

26 thoughts on “Online Hand Tie Posy Course with Georgie Newbery

  1. Pingback: Six on Saturday – photos from my garden 1st August 2020 | Bramble Garden

  2. So glad that you have been able to see your mum again Karen after such a long spell. The online course sounds brilliant but being rather clumsy think that I would find it too challenging 😄 My garden has got me through the last few months too.

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    • I’m glad to hear you’ve been enjoying your garden too, Anna. I don’t know what I would have done without something to get on with up the veg plot. My cut flower and veg plot is a ‘covid-free’ zone. When I’m there, for a while I can just forget there’s a crisis. But when I come back to the house, it’s back on my mind again. There’s a sort of mental demarcation between the two, and when I’m out there, I give my head a break for all the worry. Thanks again for reading. The lovely thing about the course is that I can hear Georgie’s voice when I’m creating my flower arrangements. You do get the hang of it after a while. And following Georgie’s instructions, my posies look much fuller with all-around flowers. and I used to put all the foliage at the edges, but I’ve learned to place it throughout the arrangement now. Big improvement. All the best. Karen

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  3. So pleased to know you have been able to visit your Mum again, Karen, especially as you are so close. And what a nice treat to take part in Georgie’s online course – you have a great choice of blooms for your own posies and it is always interesting to to see what you are growing. Oh, and please don’t write off 2020 – there is still time for events and adventures…

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  4. Karen, what a great joy you see your dear Mother again, bringing her the most wonderful bouquet with the most special flowers full of love for her !!! I love it!!! The team that you and your mother form is like the one that my mother and I form. How we look alike Karen! How wonderful to be invited to a zoom lesson by Georgie Newberry. Karen thank you very much for telling us everything you learned in the lesson: it is as if we had attended it, I love it! Your bouquet has passed the “stand-alone” test, hooray! Cosmos Apricot Lemonade is divine. I love Snow Princess marigold. I love your “frame A”, its flowers are spectacular. I love your hazelnut frames and their surroundings combining flowers and vegetables, I would very much like to walk among them and stop at each flower to admire it. I love the wildflower bed with its daisies. Make a bouquet with 30 stems: it works out for you the first time. My dear mother is operated on, if there are no more problems, on July 6 of the right eye of glaucoma and cataracts. Perhaps it is absent, because I have to drop it every few hours and take care of it because it has to rest. Karen, don’t worry so much about your daughters: they know how to take care of themselves in their profession, but I understand you. Karen thank you very much for writing your blogs. Health, strength, encouragement, positive thinking, hope and a lot of love for all your family, Mr. B and for yourself. I hope the kitten arrives soon and encourages you a lot. With the love of a good friend, Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx

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    • Thank you Margarita. I always look forward to your cheerful replies! I am so pleased your mother has a date for her eye operation. My mother has had both operated now, without any problems, thankfully. We had to be very careful not to get any dust in the eye for a few weeks. And she was not allowed to bend down as this puts pressure on the eye. And she had to be very careful at night with a special covering over her eye as she slept. We had no infection and I stayed over to help with the drops etc. She could soon manage herself, and has had no further problems. Good luck on Monday. I shall be thinking of you both. Lots of love from us all ( kitten coming in 3 weeks when she is properly weaned and socialised. It is good to stay with the mother cat as long as possible. Very excited! ) loving greetings. Karen xxx 😘

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      • I am very glad that your dear Mother has done very well the eye operation and has recovered very well and has left her the perfect eye. Give your dear Mother many memories and love from me. I’m glad the kitty is with its mother for a few more weeks. Please ask me to let me know when you have the kitten with you. I thank you from the heart for the words of encouragement for my dear Mother and for me for the operation of her right eye for cataracts and malignant glaucoma. Thanks Karen. Too bad it did not go well and see double with the eye, you have a headache, eye pain, dizziness and discomfort all day: and that I put drops in the eye every x hours. I hope it gets better (I cross my fingers). Much love from me for everyone. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita xxx 😘

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  5. Lovely blog, Karen, and a beautiful posy. Really liked the tip about flowers in the middle of your sweet pea frame – I think I’ll pop a few under my runner beans to save some weeding.

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    • Thank you Janice. Good idea. They’ll be good ground cover. I’ve put morning glory with my beans as well. Brings in the pollinators – and looks pretty. Good luck. Thanks for reading my blog.

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    • Thank you. I really loved making that posy. I’m in the middle of making the 30 stem bouquet. I can hear Georgie’s voice while I’m making it! Very clear advice anyone can follow. Thanks for reading. Have a great day 👍😊🙏

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  6. A beautiful posy Karen. Yes, flowers and gardening have kept me going too. But more importantly they have kept my parents going, isolated as they were from friends and family. It has been a joy to get a Facetime tour of their garden with my Dad becoming increasingly knowledgable about the plants too! Glad you could finally visit your Mum. Take care Karen. xx

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    • Thank you Cathy. That’s such good news about your parents. Do give them my very best wishes next time you speak to them. Yes gardening has been something to focus on and keep things in balance. I’ve opened the top field gates today to let people from the village pick their own cherries. sharing and helping one another is another way to get through this crisis. I’ve absolutely stuck to the rules with my Mum and not risked anything. It’s been quite heartbreaking for me not to see her. We talk two times at least on the phone every day. I’m trying not to worry too much about the leicester lockdown. Mum is just a few miles outside of the lockdown zone. It could easily be moved her way as new cases are still rising. Thanks for reading. Have a good day. xx

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  7. That Cosmos is stunning! Another really engaging post Karen, and great to see your ‘mom’ visits are back on the go – I know I’ve missed my mom visits… Best, Gary

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    • Thank you Gary. Life will seem much more normal when our ‘mom visits’ are back in track. We’ve got a slight setback with with leicester lockdown. mum is just a few miles outside the boundary, so for now, I’m allowed to go. Thanks for reading. All the best. Karen x

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  8. I sort of volunteered one day at a florist shop I used to frequent. I began sweeping up to help out since the owner was bogged down, then over a few weeks began restocking the cooler cases, then later arranging bouquets. The owner was happy to have the help and company, and I was rewarded with a daily fresh arrangement to take home, plus valuable personal arranging pointers the owner was able to provide. My time at that flower shop turned into several months and I loved every minute.

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    • Lovely to hear your story Kate. Flowers really are a joy, aren’t they. Well done for volunteering, and for making the best of the opportunity by learning new skills. We all of us try to learn something new every day. Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Karen

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    • Loads of grand ideas here Karen. And a lovely honour to participate in the trial. You’ve given me some really interesting ideas. Hopefully I can implement them, if not now next year for sure.

      I hear you about missing your mother. Especially as you were so close. So the posy for her was just the right thing to help soothe your aching heart.
      Sending love,
      Suella

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      • Thank you Suella. I forgot to mention the tall gladioli down the middle of the A- frame too. That was an experiment last year that worked a treat. You don’t need to mess about with string and canes, which always puts me off growing anything tall. I must say, I was so absolutely thrilled to be asked to participate in the trial lesson! I’d actually thrown my 2020 calendar in the bin, as every week there was some lovely family party, or trip out- with a line crossed through it. So to have to something to look forward to was a real treat. My trip to my mum was much needed. A heart-ache time indeed. Much love. Karen xx

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