'The Scent of Autumn' Masterclass (2016)...

It's only now, that I'm actually about to list this year's Scent of Autumn Workshop, do I realise that I didn't get around to sharing some of the images from this wonderful day spent last fall with some incredible ladies...

One of the best things about using locally grown blooms, is you don't know exactly what you're going to find until you get to the farms, or out to forage. Incredible surprises await, be it a fruited branch, heavy with plums or apples, a stunning new Dahlia that gets you REALLY in to burnt orange for the first time, or a group of dancing chocolate cosmos... tall, spindly, and bringing a deep chocolatey note to the air, joining the herbs, the fruited branches, the herby, grassy scent of the flower stalks. So much of the (actual) scent of autumn is fresh air, combined with leaves and twigs under foot, a little smoke in the air perhaps from the first fires being lit... a woody scent, combined with the very last of the summer's bounty, just going over and sun-crisped, which has a whole, wonderfully mossy, dry, rich scent of it's own.

It's a wonderfully healing, and spiritual practice to slow down and dig into the seasons - holding, and creating with, plants, herbs and flowers that are all around us *right now*. They give us exactly what we need, not only in an uplifting way with their scent, and their beauty, but through the ritual of creating, and actually slowing down to do so. Furthermore, our "Scent of" Workshops really encourage you to get out in nature, explore foraging (and how to do so legally & safely), and open your eyes to all the wonderful natural elements that can be gathered, brought in to your homes, and even used as medicine, or foodstuffs during the coming months...

More and more, we see these classes as a meditation... an exchange of information that enriches lives in a real day to day way... that allows us to stop and smell a bunch of lavender, notice the colour of the changing leaves is exactly the same shade as the centre of a flower growing in our yard (destined to be brought together), and how plucking a few little wildflowers, weeds, seed heads or branches, and bringing them home, can help us connect with nature, the seasons, and most importantly, ourselves.

Hope you enjoy browsing some shots from the day, if you would like to attend the 2017 Class with Mike from the Bearded Candle Makers, and ourselves, you can reserve your space right here.

Hope you'll join us! And thank you to all who attended this wonderful day.




'The Scent of Summer' Workshop 2016...

'The Scent of Summer' workshop was held at PETAL studio on the 20th of August, hosted by myself and my husband Ryan, and the lovely Mike from the Bearded Candle Makers. It was a day billed as a 'Celebration of heady Summer Florals, and an exploration of the entwined relationship between Flowers & Scent'... and I think we certainly achieved that!

Kicking off the day at 10am with mimosas and pastries, we opened with designing a scented floral centre-piece, using oasis free techniques... We discussed all the most scented blooms of summer, and how best to incorporate them in to a design, and I demonstrated an arrangement before letting the ladies loose on the incredible blooms we had sourced for them. Heavenly Scent(ed) David Austin Roses, flowering mint, mint from our garden, Tuberose, Sweet Pea, Wild foraged Honeysuckle, Lavender, Plox, Stock, Wax Flower, (and although not scented, I couldn't resist) incredible local Dahlia's, and so many more! We spent the day before the workshop foraging in the rain in the Northern Irish countryside, and our spoils added so much to the end results, which were just gorgeous! Ever single one of the arrangements the ladies created was stunning - and each was incredibly unique. I will never stop being fascinated by that process, we all start with the same materials, and all impart our own take on the end result. Just gorgeous, I think you'll agree!

We broke for lunch - a lovely antipasti spread - and forged on to the afternoon's activity, Scent Blending and Wax Pouring with Mike! All the essential oils Mike works with added to the already incredible scent that filled the studio - and the hallway - and it was just the most dreamy, intoxicating experience. The ladies all worked to blend a scent for their candles, based on some of the flowers we had worked with during the first part of the day, and memories that smelling the oils evoked in them. I loved how different all the scents were at the end - infinite possibilites!

We finished our busy day off with more deliciousness... fresh mint tea, coffee and rose & elderflower cordial to wash down some delicious cupcakes from our wonderful cupcake partner, The Lily Pink Bakery. Claire kindly baked me delicious red velvet cupcakes, left bare so I could decorate them with edible flowers, which has been used throughout the day in what we served. We had the best time!

Huge thank you to all the ladies who attended the class and kicked off our Seasonal series of workshops in spectacular fashion. It was a wonderful group, and the day was filled with laughter, fun and lots of talent.

We are VERY much looking forward to our Autumn workshop event already. Please get in touch if you would like to be added to the mailing list for it's launch!

XO abigail

The Meadow (aka 'the garden')...


We've had a pretty busy year so far in the garden, and beyond... lots of planting, growing, tending and fighting plenty of rain damage! One thing we haven't tended much is the grass! We decided to let the back garden go to wild meadow this year, and I have to say, we love it. The neighbours, less-so, but then, it is suburbia! Our chickens and dogs also have a field day, and it's turned up the most fantastic perks such as heaps of wild flowers which function incredibly well as cut flowers, amazing grasses & foliages, less hay-fever attacks while I cut it, and it's rather gorgeous to stare out at, too...

The bees and other pollinators seem to love it as well. We have a huge patch of Spotted Palmate Orchis at the back of the garden, under the trees, and I'm just in love with it... honey bees are equally obsessed, and quite a few stems of it make it in to my garden style posies most weeks! It's so beautiful. I have a sketch of it coming soon!

We also have an enormous spread of this gorgeous pink flowering Spirea Douglasii, which has pretty much taken over our left hand side of the garden boundary. But again, when it looks this good and lasts as well in the vase as this does, I'm not complaining!

This all really goes to show that there is beauty everywhere you look - that weeds are only weeds if you don't want them, and that sometimes nature is the very best design. I love these wild additions just as much as my prized David Austin roses, dahlias or poppies, and it's these little touches and additions to an arrangement that really get my imagination fired up! Have a little look in an untended corner of you garden, or in a wild suburban space. What can you find to take home and pop in a vase?!


Ballyrobert Gardens...

At the May-Day weekend, there, we headed to the beautiful Ballyrobert Gardens for the first time! I had followed them on facebook for a good while, but just hadn't gotten around to nipping up - but nothing like a flurry of incredible weather to make you feel like heading out and appreciating some floral beauty (not that I ever need much encouragement!)...

We spent a lovely few hours walking around the incredible gardens the family at Ballyrobert have designed and cultivated over the years. They also have a nursery selling a fantastic selection of plants, bred especially for the Northern Irish climate and soils... very much looking forward to diving in to that next Spring when we are planning our plant buy! 

We started off in the Poly-tunnels, and there was so much growing and ready to go wild with all the amazing warm weather we've been having... I was really taken with the pink Campanula (above) with their beautiful pink-paint-splattered patterning. 

There were lots of beautiful Lupins (a bloom I love!) and the flowering chives were so pretty and wild, it was great to see the honey bees out in full force, too ... I really fell for the gorgeous Candelabra Primula (below),  and there were so many beautiful colours and shades to look at. I love their cheery, hopeful little forms!

The variety of plants they have at Ballyrobert is incredible... and the planting design is both beautifully coherent - pulling the same plants and varieties through the gardens as you wind through them, punctuating your walk and making everything feel a part of the whole - and surprising, in parts, too! I loved stumbling across an amazing patch of wild cow parsley after some manicured areas, then finding a wonderful 'selfie' hedge (you would think it was made just for this purpose!) or an incredible Rhododendron bush or Azalea adding a splash of colour and perfectly framing a view for you. Just gorgeous.

I really did take an obscene number of photos, and have certainly gotten a lot of lovely material for my daily petal illustrations... I'll leave you with a few more, and thoroughly encourage anyone who is nearby to make a trip to this beautiful Garden & Nursery. There is a tea-room, too (though we didn't have any this time) so you can make a day of it!


Belfast in Springtime...

When I first started dating my lovely husband, and began visiting Belfast (we were dating long distance between Glasgow and N.I.), one of the first things he did was take me to the Botanic Gardens. So I often find myself pouring over that set of photos, from April 2009, loving on the magnificent Magnolia's and beautiful hyacinth beds. Last week we decided to take the morning and have a stroll around the Botanic Gardens and see what was growing... everything is ever so slightly later this year, so it will be another few days until the blossom is in fullest bloom and the big fat pink Magnolia's are out... though I was lucky and caught an epic display from the white ones, against this *stunning* blue sky...

Double Daffodils and Narcissus galore... pom poms of yellow, and feathery whites... so gorgeous!

The Camellia were pretty spectacular, and the Rhododendron were on form, too... I even loved the dried and unkempt edges from Winters touch - contrasting so beautifully with all the new Spring greens.

Visit soon, if you can.