To find a florist who can create a garden scene within a bouquet is a rare and wonderful thing. It shows a great deal of artistry and a greater understanding of the flowers used. That is exactly what Caroline Oleron of Cherfold Cottage Flowers does. She creates a wonderful blend of ‘wild’ floristry where the seasons and the personality of the flowers shine through.
The imperfect are celebrated, a ‘wonky’ stem is seen as an asset rather than a failure of the plant. Caroline declares that she’s a ‘forager’ not only of material from her garden, but also from her visual awareness of what’s around her in nature. The reason she understands the flowers so well is that she’s also a talented gardener. Six years ago Caroline undertook the challenge of developing her half acre garden into a ‘living florist’s shop’ home grown and hand picked. Caroline believes this gives her greater flexibility with her stock, growing flowers that you just can’t buy. Very occasionally she will have to buy in certain flowers for a wedding or party that have been requested but this is a rare event now and when this does happen she’ll source flowers as locally as possible. It’s clear to see Caroline comes from an artistic background. Using that eye to create moments and memories with her work, she describes her buttonholes as a ‘snap shot of a wedding’. Caroline feels that she is at her best when trust and understanding with her client occurs and they agree a vague outline to the look and feel of the project. This gives her the flexibility to be creative with the flowers that are looking their very best on that particular week, creating something unique and very special. She must be doing something right with 30 weddings planned this year alone! As the business has grown Caroline has been fortunate in meeting Jenny Howard, a talented gardener and business woman in her own right. ‘We complement each other beautifully. Jenny is so organised and a detail person and will remember things like taking the seeds I’d collected last year out of the freezer and planting them, when I’d hidden them behind the sausages!
The wedding flowers created do have a timeless feel to them and clients are encouraged to talk about any personal memories and associations that they may have with certain flowers. ‘The smell of sweet peas is always so evocative, we have a large wedding planned and the bride particularly wanted sweet peas as they reminded her of her grandfather, so we planned and were able to grow them especially for her’. It’s the personal touches that people clearly love and that Caroline can offer.
This has been recognised by the Royal Horticultural Society by making her one of their preferred suppliers at Wisley Garden, an accolade worthy of her work. You clearly see favourites in her garden and Caroline says there are good reasons for this. ‘It’s the flower that evolves beautifully, it’s stages of progression that I love. From bud, to flower, to finally seed head’, this will always be invaluable in her work . Nigella ‘ African Bride’ or ‘love in the mist’ tops the favourites with its creamy flower petals and chocolate shaded stamens. Annual Oriental Poppies are grown for the decorative seed heads.
Sweet peas are so characterful and scented and herbs are a great foliage to have with Mint, Sage and Rosemary being firm favourites and so aromatic.
In spring time a succession of tulips of all shades are grown followed by dahlias for a late summer flurry providing an array of colours until the first frosts appear.
After spending the afternoon with Caroline and leaving her beautiful studio and garden behind , I found myself thinking, ‘Well another wedding is out of the question for me but a party’ …….and I know exactly who I’d ask to do the flowers!
For further information www.cherfoldcottageflowers.com