Review: Julie Davies Flowerstart

Last month I completed Julie’s four week course: Flower Arranging for Busy Mums and today I have put my skills to the test by making a floral tribute for my Auntie Eileen who passed away recently.  I know it’s not a patch on a floral arrangement you would buy from a florist, but the important thing is that it has been made with love and with Eileen’s favourite colours.  I’ve included some bought British flowers, some flowers and greenery from my own garden, a couple of silk hydrangeas that were in Eileen’s front room, and tucked in amongst them, is a tissue, as Eileen never went anywhere without one.


I’ve also made my own little arrangement at home using flowers from Eileen’s garden, in her 1930s Sylvac vase.  It’s displayed on her Queen Anne table which, as you can see, now has pride of place in my hall.


Thanks Julie for getting me to this level of confidence!

This is a perfect course for people who are time strapped and cannot attend a weekly class.  I can’t believe how much I was able to learn online and with Julie’s support.

The great thing for me was the video step by step guides, followed up by one to one tuition to know how to improve for next time.

I am a keen gardener, so plants are in my blood anyway, but this has really reignited my passion for flowers and encouraged me to bring them indoors!  I find myself going round the garden and thinking ‘that would look good in a vase’.  Also, my vase collection has expanded massively as I cannot pass a charity shop without picking up another!

I recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in flowers as it will change the way you look at them forever.



Autumn Flower Arrangement

This week’s homework for my Julie Davies Flower Workshop course was to create an arrangement in a jug.  All the flowers and foliage this week have come from my garden: hebe (two types), Russian vine, pyracantha berries, euonymus, yellow daisy, rose, hypericum and nicotiana.  I’m finding it tricker as each week goes by but feel that I am definitely improving and I am loving the challenge!  I’m looking forward to making some more seasonal arrangements now that I have some basic knowledge.


A Tea Cup Flower Arrangement

Last week I wrote about the flower arranging course I was doing with Julie Davies Flower Workshops.  Well, it’s time for week two homework: a tea cup arrangement.


I bought the tea cup and saucer for £2 in an antique shop in Chester and my first thought was to try and mirror the colours in the china.


I chose a yellow daisy, euonymus,  ivy and hebe foliage, all from the garden and set about following Julie’s online instructions on putting it all together.

First I cut the flower foam to size and soaked it, while I conditioned my flowers and foliage in a jug of water.


Next (and this is where it goes a bit wrong) I tried to arrange them artfully as directed by Julie.  Somehow I don’t think the balance is right, but practice makes perfect and Julie will give me feedback so that I can do better next time.


If you fancy a go yourself, Julie’s next online course starts on 26 September.


My Flower Journey With #Flowerstart

For anyone wondering why my Twitter and Instagram feeds are suddenly full of flowers, let me explain:
I was invited to take part in a four week online course with Julie Davies Flower Workshops and review it on my blog.   You might wonder how you can learn to arrange flowers via online tutorials, but time will tell, as they say, and you can follow my progress if you like, to see if I am improving.
You can read more about Julie’s workshops below, but for starters, let’s have a look at my week one effort.
Firstly we were asked to arrange a jug of flowers in our own way (scruffy and plonked in a vase in my case).  This is my first attempt with flowers from my own garden.  Please ignore the sultanas, we put them out for the blackbirds!
In this arrangement we have Japanese anemone, lavender, verbena bonariensis, sweet pea and climbing rose.
Next, we were given instructions on how to make an arrangement in a tank vase, which I did this afternoon.  I bought a bunch of eryngium from our local florist in Hoole, and added a few sprigs of lavender from the garden.  I didn’t have a tank vase but I found this in the Claire House Hospice shop for £4.  Comparing the two I can see a definite improvement already.
I’ve put it on the coffee table in the lounge for now, and anticipate that the house will be full of flowers by the end of the month.
If you fancy having a go yourself, have a read of Julie’s introduction…..

Are you too busy to commit to a regular flower arranging class?  If so, this 4-week online flower arranging class is for you.  Take the lessons in the comfort of your own home anywhere in the world, whenever you have some free time.  There’s no real time commitment.

Via three emails a week we’ll talk about finding the “happy” place for your flowers, whether flower food works, the visual value of your flowers and choosing flowers for different events. Each week will end with a practical task – using a mix of written instructions, photo tutorials and video. We’ll make a contemporary arrangement in a class vase, an arrangement in a vintage tea cup and saucer, an informal arrangement in a jug and a tied posy.

You can take the lessons at a time to suit you – join in week by week, or stagger them out to suit you. I’ll be on-hand throughout to give you support and feedback through a dedicated private Facebook group.

The tips and tricks you’ll pick up will give you ideas to wow your friends and family with for years to come!

About Me:

Julie Davies is The Florist. That Teaches. After many years in an office-based career, Julie retrained as a florist in 2004, but wasn’t happy with just providing displays for funerals and weddings.

Her real passion is teaching, watching her students bring flowers to life, and seeing their joy as the stresses and strains of everyday life melt away in the therapy of arranging flowers.

Julie teaches a variety of flower arranging classes, for women looking for an alternative book club or girls’ night in, to clients with mental health issues as a part of their therapy, and even pop-up workshops at beautiful locations in Kent.

She’s grown her flower arranging business from the kitchen table to deliver online flower arranging classes to kitchen tables all around the country.

Technology now means you can take your first steps on your flower adventure snuggled up on the sofa with your tablet, during your lunch break, or at the kitchen table after the children are in bed. I’ve been there. And I’m still here with you – taking in floral images on Pinterest and cutting out pages from my favourite magazines for inspiration.

My next paid 4-week online class starts on 26 September and is priced at £99.

Ness Gardens

I visited Ness Gardens for the first time this summer. Ness is on the Wirral and the gardens offer fantastic views over the Dee Estuary.


My interest though, lies in the planting. I love to visit gardens to get inspiration and to earmark more plants to squeeze into my tiny plot.  Here are some of the gems I found.


This eryngium is one of my favourite coastal plants – I saw it growing wild in Mallorca, but don’t think it looks out of place in a summer border.  I have mine at home planted next to verbena bonariensis as both are architecturally interesting and work well together.


I don’t have an echinops in my garden, but I think it’s time to acquire one as the bees love them and to be wildlife friendly is one of my main garden objectives.


I don’t actually know what this plant is, but it certainly makes an impact.  Wouldn’t work in my small space though.


Finally, the scent of this philadephus was amazing and is a definite must buy.  I already have a jasmine which is flowering beautifully, but I could squeeze this in somewhere higher up the garden so that the two plants don’t steal each other’s limelight.

I must go back to Ness in the spring and see what pops up in the way of bulbs!




RHS Tatton 2016

Some gardening inspiration from this year’s RHS Tatton.  I loved this little water feature – so simple but very effective.


Another water feature that caught my eye


This caused some serious greenhouse envy!


Love the way the shape of the globe thistle mirrors the golden orb


Our own bit of Tatton in the shopping trolley ready to roll home.  The salvia Hot Lips scented our journey!


Lots of tall planting this year (including my favourite verbena bonariensis)


I’m inspired to replicate this pretty little garden bench in my own garden.


Another fab year for the show!



May Favourites

Just a few things that I enjoyed in May.


I’m a sucker for a luxury scented product and these three fit the bill beautifully.


I read this on holiday.  It’s a gentle and thought provoking read, all the more interesting because it’s based on a true story.


I also enjoyed this book.  It’s a page turner and kept me guessing (and getting it wrong) right to the end.  Some of it makes for uncomfortable reading, so not for the squeamish.


This fallen horse chestnut blossom looks just like confetti left behind after a wedding.  So pretty, it had to be included in my favourites.


The hawthorn is out all along the cycle path from Hoole to Guilden Sutton.  We’ve enjoyed walking up there and stopping for tea and cake at the farm shop.


Cow parsley is popping up everywhere.  It reminds me of a line in a poem I heard somewhere ‘where the cow parsley skirts the hawthorn hedge’.  Very appropriate for this month.


Chives are popping up in the kitchen garden.


The ceonothus has been a glorious blue.


I visited the gardens at Bridgemere on a rainy bank holiday, but despite getting wet we had a good time and came home with a few plants.


I was inspired by this super organised veg plot at Bridgemere.


Finally, I was left in charge of a friend’s chickens for a few days so enlisted a little helper and his nana to round them up!  Not easy I can tell you!


The Garden Project


I’ve been admiring circular lawns on pinterest for a while so this weekend I thought I’d have a go.  After measuring eight foot across, Steve and I dug out the circle and patched up the holes made by treading on the lawn over the winter, while it was still a quagmire.

I’m thinking I may have a runner bean wigwam in the front left corner, but I’m not sure yet what else to plant.  Definitely medicinal plants and herbs and maybe some other veg.

It’s not shown in the photo, but we also laid a connecting path leading to the bottom garden.  The effect I’m trying to achieve is a working kitchen garden at the top and a quiet place for reflection at the bottom where I have planted roses and jasmine.

First and foremost though, this is a nature garden, so it will never be over manicured, things will be allowed to set seed, and there are lots of trees and shrubs for our resident birds.

Christine x

The Garden in August

Not much to write about this month as August seems to be the time when the garden looks tatty, waiting for a new lease of life in September.  This is the bottom lawn and pretty much the only things in flower are the Japanese anemone, the hebe and the tradescantia.


The buddleia is almost finished too.


The tomatoes are looking OK and we’ve had plenty of beans, but the cucumbers have done nothing.  This year was my first attempt at cucumbers and I guess it’s just not warm enough if you don’t have a greenhouse.


I’m currently working on the border near the kitchen as I’ve seem some fab  gardens on my travels this summer and would like to try and recreate something like this which we saw at Paignton Zoo.


So it’s out with the low growing herbs to make room for some stars like this blue globe thistle.  Haven’t figured out quite how I’m going to make it look good for a whole season yet – needs more research.  The cat likes to lie on the top border and tends to flatten whatever is there – he especially likes to lie on the oregano.  I’m sure I’ll think of something!

RHS Tatton 2015

Some garden inspiration from today’s visit to Tatton.


I was quite taken with this water feature – not too fussy.


Loved the dense planting in this one.

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Quite a few blue sheds – this looks good against the crocosmia Lucifer and white agapanthus.


This is a bit like my shed, so I bought some of these white agapanthus to set it off – I will have to find some old crates to stencil and pile up outside.

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This fuchsia looks so good spilling out of an old metal bin – definitely an idea I could use.


There were lots of grasses this year – I love the way the drumstick alliums are planted through here.

I’ve come away with lots of ideas, some fig compote and a few plants, including some lavenders, an echinacea, some agapanthus and an osteospermum – so guess what I’ll be doing tomorrow.   I was very tempted to buy a fig tree but thought better of it!

Anyone else been? What did you think?