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A week at Sarah Hill Flowers

Sarah Hill gives us an insight into how busy the last month of the year can be for florists and flower growers – not quite time to put our feet up yet!

December is always nonstop with workshops and wreaths, so I try to start the week with an admin hour – checking the weekend’s emails, taking stock of wreath-making materials, and making sure I know who’s coming to which workshop. This week I spent the rest of Monday mossing wreath rings – it’s hard to get sustainable moss from British sources so we harvest it from our lawn in November and I use it to prep all the bases for the workshops and wreath kits. There’s just enough time in the afternoon to make a handful of wreaths to give to the local people who kindly let us harvest foliage from their gardens. I don’t have space to grow everything I’d like to for Christmas so it’s amazing to be able to source it all locally.

Locally grown evergreen foliage to adorn festive wreaths made by Sarah Hill Flowers

Mixed foliage – all from within 5 miles of us.

Tuesday is wreath kit packing time! These have been hugely popular for the last couple of years, so to get everything packed up I set up an assembly line and fill each box with bundles of foliage and decorations. It’s amazing to hear the feedback and see photos of the wreaths on doors up and down the country. This year I’m adding some sprigs of dried cress – it’s the first time I’ve dried it and it looks so beautiful mixed with orange slices and pinecones.

Wednesday is the first of my wreath workshops – a small private group this time. I pack the car full of everything we need and take it to the client’s house to set up in the kitchen. 3 hours of creativity follows, with tea, mince pies and carols in the background. It’s the perfect way to start off two weeks of teaching! There’s a brief gap in the weather in the afternoon so I head out into the cutting garden to try and catch up with some jobs. We finally had our first frost a couple of weeks ago so it’s time to lift the dahlias. I cut them down and gently dig them up before leaving them out in the rain to rinse off. Normally I’d use the pressure washer but there’s no need when the weather is like this! Tomorrow I’ll move them to the greenhouse to dry before packing them away in cardboard boxes of vermiculite for the winter. There are still bulbs to be planted too, and I’ve been filling pots with daffodils whenever I have a spare 20 minutes. They’ll bloom a little later, but it’ll give a nice succession to the planting.

A traditional selection of ingredients ready for wreath-making at Sarah Hill Flowers

Wreath decorations laid out for the workshops – attendees often bring back the trimmings year after year.

Thursday is workshop prep day at my friend Penny’s smallholding. We harvest extra foliage from her field and set it all out in buckets for the attendees to pick from. The barn is decorated with a beautiful real tree and there are fairy lights up. Penny’s grown and dried all sorts of beautiful flowers and I bring my stash of pinecones gathered after last month’s storms. Yesterday I noticed lots of garden jobs that need doing so when I get home, I walk around and make a list of things to be cut back, perennials that need moving while they’re dormant and gaps that need filling. January is a quiet month and I’ll take every chance I get when the ground isn’t frozen to get these jobs done. After all that time outside in the rain I light the fire, park myself on the sofa for the rest of the day and clear my inbox. I’ve got a wedding booked on New Year’s Eve, so I do a bit of planning work for that before the school run.

It’s Friday and the three-day run of wreath workshops begins! We have 10 people at each and have been in the open-sided barn for the last couple of years to reduce the covid risk. It’s chilly but with lots of cups of tea and Penny’s delicious mince pies we don’t really feel the cold and each 3-hour session flies by. Everyone makes such beautiful wreaths, and the barn is full of happy chatter. Still, by Sunday afternoon I’m exhausted and by the time I get home I’m ready to collapse into a heap with a glass of mulled wine and a good book. My six- and two-year-old girls have other ideas, however, as they’ve hardly seen me all week. So, cuddles on the sofa and the 54,865th showing of Frozen it is! It’s an early night for me so we can do it all again next week.

Smiles all round at a festive wreath workshop run by Sarah Hill

Some of our brilliant wreath makers.