For my Florist Friday blog post series this week, I’m delighted to feature an interview with Caroline Oleron of Cherfold Cottage Flowers.
When did you start your ‘living’ florist shop and where are you based?
Cherfold Cottage Flowers was created by happy coincidence. I have an artistic background and have always enjoyed growing flowers.
Faced by an enormous glut of my sweet peas two years ago, I put a few bunches on the roadside outside my house in Chiddingfold in Surrey, where they were quickly snapped up by passers-by.
Word spread and friends and several local shops started asking me to create small posies and bouquets for them.
From there, things really took off and today, Cherfold Cottage Flowers has an ever-increasing, loyal following of customers who enjoy the wide variety of flowers that I grow and sell from my half acre plot.
Could you tell us briefly about your horticulture background?
I’m a self-taught gardener with a mountain of gardening books by my bed!
I looked into full-time floristry courses but I didn’t find any at the time that I felt suited what I was after…I guess they were more traditional in approach than what I was looking for.
I did however complete a ten week module in hand-tied designs at Merrist Wood College in Surrey.
What’s great about courses today is that you can really focus in on the skills that you want to acquire.
I attended a couple of day courses at Sarah Raven‘s school in East Sussex. And Georgia Miles from The Sussex Flower School‘s one-to-one days have been invaluable. I will, no doubt, be calling upon her again soon!
What types of floristry services do you offer?
In these days of easy transportation, flowers can be flown into the UK from the furthest reaches of the world, but I really value the seasons throughout the year.
The Cherfold Cottage Flowers garden is multi-productive and I use my own flowers, interspersed with home-grown herbs and greenery.
As well as seasonal bouquets all year round, there is also high demand for all those important occasions where flowers play such a pivotal part like parties, christenings, weddings and funerals.
What types of flowers and foliage do you grow?
In the depths of the winter, whilst my own cutting garden sleeps, I try to use Cornish growers to provide me with British grown flowers.
Winter is also the time when greenery can really come into its own and I love to use foliage such as berried ivy to give arrangements an additional sprinkling of relaxed, but chic, romantic style.
I do buy in when I need to in order to fulfil customer requirements. My cutting garden is not huge, so I have to make it work really hard…if isn’t earning its keep, then it’s out! I grow mostly annuals and perennials, but shrubs are great too.
I bought in twenty Annabelle Hydrangea and they have been superb this summer…either in that soft green when they first come into flower or later when they turn a lovely milky white colour.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2013 & next year?
Cherfold Cottage Flowers has recently started one day courses in flower arranging in the potting shed and these have been a great success.
Coffee and cakes and a wonderful lunch, plus locally grown just picked produce, are provided.
Look out on my website for information about Christmas workshops. But be aware that they book up quickly!
I’m really excited about the future. 2014 will be the best year yet in the cutting garden.
Brides-to-be will be able to visit and really become part of the process of choosing seasonal, home-grown flowers for their special day.
What is your favourite flower?
I love to see people’s faces when presented with a lovely bunch of seasonal scented flowers, and that pleasure can come with any flower.
But if you really want me to choose, it would have to be the tulip. They start flowering in early spring and give such a wide range of shapes, colours and textures.
Angelique, almost peony like, and Menton, with its beautiful pink-orange hues, are my absolute favourites.
Thank you so much to Caroline for all her help in compiling today’s blog post.
To see more of her beautiful floral designs, do pop over to her website.
Social Media Links
To keep up-to-date with Caroline’s news, here’s where you can find her on social media:
(Images : Caroline Oleron/Cherfold Cottage Flowers)