'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

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!