July 10, 2014

The farm, the garden.



Our little cottage sits nestled into the side of a hill, facing westward towards the distant city - invisible behind the ridge of the Mt Lofty Ranges - and eventually, still further west, the sea.  West, where the sun sets, is also the place from which most of our weather blows in, battered across from Perth 3000 km away.

There are two places at the farm that I creep away to in the evening to watch night descend on the gardens.  In the Summer, when the sun is too hot and easy access is required to the clinking ice of cold drinks, we lounge on the verandah, drenched in a deep golden light. Lethargic from heatwaves and a heavy workload, we sit in  dreamy silence as the sun melts into the horizon. Friends come round and we eat salty olives and spit the pips out across the grass.  Summer is the season for working, for weddings and events, long hours in the studio and early starts leading up to wedding weekends.  The flowers in our gardens are at their peak and our main focus is watering and fretting that the plants are ok in the blazing sun.



In Winter though, I wrap myself in vast woolly jumpers and, invigorated by the frosty wind, trudge up the hillside to a bench that sits at the top of the garden.  From here there is an eagle-like view of the valley below.  The crooked roofline of the house and most of the gardens unfold down the valley to end in a series of ponds that reflect the sky and so twinkle in shades of silver and gold at the end of the day.  It's a good spot for taking stock, thinking about what needs to be done on the farm, like looking down on an aerial plan of the property.  As darkness thickens, bats flit about catching moths, and woodsmoke from the cottage chimney carries on the wind.  For just a moment life feels good and simple, as the noise of all the other stuff that fills our lives is quietened.  I do some of my best thinking here.  Winter is a good season for thinking, while Summer is all about doing.



When we found this place, advertised in the sale section of the local paper, Justin and I drove out here late one winter evening, stealing along the potholed driveway and into the garden.  No-one was living here and the cottage was locked up in its semi-dilapidated state. I wasn't that interested in the house, aside from it being a suitably crumbling stone backdrop to my future garden ( in fact, I never stepped foot inside it until we had signed the papers that would officially make it ours).  What intoxicated me was the overgrown wildness of it all - waist-high mallow and thistle, grass in the gutters, a hawthorn in the garden covered in gnarly golden lichen.  It was all about the garden really, not that there was much of one left,  just a collection of fading pickets and thickets of weeds - 5 acres in all.   It was about the possibility of what could be.

I remember feeling like I had stumbled across something important in my life, something needed at a soul level, and just the idea that it could be bought by someone else broke my heart before we had even begun.  Love at first sight.  At that stage I was not yet working with flowers, but had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to grow things. The process feels deeply romantic, and at risk of sounding much too earnest, I really do believe that it is in a garden that the secret to true happiness lies.

In any case, we made an offer to the real estate agent, and it was declined.  Somebody else had bought our little house and I was stricken, disappointed beyond words.  We moved on.  It wasn't until some weeks later that the phone rang unexpectedly one afternoon; the sale had fallen through and we were next in line.  Our cottage nestled on the hill had come back to us.



Tonight, five years on, as I sat up on my bench,  listening to blackbirds chortling about in the photinias, I was thinking about all of this, and about how it related back to the flowers.  About how sometimes in life a path is made for you before you even know it is there.


These pictures of the farm and some of our wedding florals from last season remind me that Spring and Summer will soon be upon us, and keep me motivated as we slosh about in the rain and mud...

July 3, 2014

Where did Summer and Autumn disappear to?



I've been hoarding images for our new website - coming soon- and using that as an excuse for not writing anything here.  The real reason I haven't been blogging is simply that I haven't had the time or energy.  Its been rush rush rush: over the past 10 months we have opened a shop, closed it again (I didn't want a shop, just thought that I did), worked on over 40 beautiful weddings, planted our first large flower fields, made a lot of mistakes, had some exciting creative moments, collaborated with some fabulous people, and learned a lot about where we want this little flower business of ours to go.

We can't all do everything all the time, which is a hard lesson to learn if you are like me and doing everything (and doing it perfectly) seems like the only path to self acceptance.  I think a lot of women feel this way and perhaps it is time to give ourselves a break.  This year we plan to take on less events and make them as insanely beautiful as we can.  We plan to focus more energy on our flower gardens, to incorporate more of our own clean seasonal blooms into the arrangements we provide.  The most exciting development for us is our moving the  flower studio out of the city and back up to the farm, to be nearer our own flower beds and other Adelaide Hills suppliers.  Which is where this finds me now: working on a combination of wedding proposals, packing moving boxes, and barrowing loads of compost across the gardens.

For those of you planning your wedding, our floral consultations will still be held in our city shop-space near Chinatown.  And we travel!  -we've had a few enquiries recently about whether we work outside of South Australia, and the answer of course is yes we do.

Follow us on Instagram : Tenthmeadow  if you want to see more images.



November 19, 2013

Dreamy Whites.

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A bouquet in five frames.
A study in white, cream and green. Gosh I miss dogwood already.

There lies the poetry about working seasonally I suppose, whether it is with food, flowers, gardening, painting, walking...one aspect quietly ends just as the next is unraveling before you. Fleeting moments, flash storms, falling petals. But capturing them in a photo is like taking a little piece of the season and placing it in your pocket, a little souvenir of time and place. I alternate between being exasperated by our need to photograph everything all the time, leading an Instagram Life (why does everything have to be recorded, why can't we just be in it!?), and also loving it (yes, addicted to Instagram). Alain de Botton touches on this in his "The Art of Travel" - that idea that as tourists we travel across the globe in search of new places, new experiences, and we are so hell-bent on preserving that experience on film that we forget to just live in the moment, really breathe in that place, really see it. But perhaps it's also about the desire to share our experiences with others, and the desire to re-visit those moments without them fading, an attempt by us to slow time and have it loop around again. In any case, for me these photos are also a kind of homage and thankyou to all the flowers, now long-faded, that have lent their beauty along the way.
Oh, and also, I'm SO damn busy at the moment bustling around with flowers, that if I stopped photographing stuff I'd be like those people that came out of the acid haze of the 60s and didn't remember a thing. 

November 13, 2013

Updates.

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Thank you to everyone for supporting the Tenth Meadow flower shop! After much consideration, we have decided that the Compton Street shop will now be open by appointment only, as our hectic event schedule is taking priority over the summer, much of it involving travel.

Since taking on this additional space in July, response to our bespoke event florals has been overwhelming - more than we ever would have anticipated - which is wonderful and exciting.  We look forward to bringing you special floral events in the little secret garden room over the coming months.  Keep in touch for upcoming projects and workshops in the space. Art, design and flowers...

Our signature gift arrangements are still available by pre-order (24hours notice), please email us for details.  Delivery or pick-up from our warehouse studio.

New website and online menu coming soon!
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October 28, 2013

The journey continues.

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The past few weeks have been some of the most exciting, exhausting, creative, terrifying, reflective, soul-searching, and inspiring of my 31-year life so far.  Will that do? Enough said. Now look at some pictures.

No, just kidding, I have much to say, so much to ponder, both here and inside my own thoughts.

Much has happened at The Tenth Meadow since my last post 5 weeks ago.  We have been flat-out with some amazing events, part of the ebb and flow of our business: weddings, special dinners, floral installations. The season has started with a bang, we have been blessed with some incredible projects and clients (many of which I will share with you).

All the florals on this post are pics I took while preparing for an event at The Adelaide Town Hall, working alongside Georgeous and their formidably top-notch event styling. The brief: Romantic moody florals with an antique still-life theme. A palette of clarets and burgundies for a night that was all about the wines.

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A lot of the past few weeks has been about The Search. You know the one I mean, the one that we are all doing, the search for what matters in life, what excites us, what has meaning.  The search to find balance between creative or professional endeavour, putting food on the table, and having a life. 

When it rains it pours, and two momentous things have taken place this month for Tenth Meadow, squeezed in among the frantic day-to-day workings of our design studio. 1: we have opened a little shop in the CBD, and 2: we have expanded the flower beds at the farm this year, with over 8000 unusual and heirloom plants going into the ground. Both of these things have taken a lot of hard work, and nerves of steel, to bring into fruition. Both things have truly represented the transformation of dreams into reality. Both things have taken on lives of their own, full of unexpected changes, surprising developments, moments of both intense satisfaction and heartbreak in equal measure.

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The Tenth Meadow shop at 10 Compton Street is a work in progress.  Watch this space.  Here for a good time, maybe a long time.  I hate the phrase "pop-up", but you get the drift... We are testing the waters.  For a long time, I have wanted to bring a European style flower shop to Adelaide, the kind of place where I would want to go, to pick up some perfect bearded iris in a dark rust burgundy hue, some blousy local roses (the kind you have to steal over a fence because you just can't get them anywhere), copper hellebore pods, sweet peas with a true scent.  Interesting plants in interesting pots. A place full of greenery, dark dusty walls and big casement windows, hidden down a side street under a verandah.  Ah, to be in the backstreets of Paris.  Lucy and I are obsessed with 1996's "Bed of Roses" with Christian Slater.  He plays a florist. A hot, romantic florist.  With the most amazing shop and a hidden bachelor's roof garden that would make the hardest heart swoon. Watch that movie and you will understand better what we are banging on about.

In order for the shop to keep going it will need your support.  The same goes for anything good that happens in Adelaide.  The shop is SUCH hard work, it comes from a place of such genuine passion that we are eating, sleeping, breathing it.  I actually yelled at an old man who waltzed down the footpath and made a snarky remark about the shop's paint colour last week - I am strung out, and proudly defiant about what we are trying to do.

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Now, if you're still reading this, and haven't just skipped to the pictures: the flower farm.  More on this later, but just a heads-up that there will be a number of working bees happening at the farm over the next few weeks.  We will be exchanging plants, flowers and a mighty good luncheon spread for slave labour.  My friend Nat works in an office during the week. In his spare time he enjoys recreational digging (holes, garden beds, random digging needs).  If this sounds like you and you would like to get your hands dirty, get some exercise outside the gym and breath some fresh air, then keep an eye on facebook etc, or get in touch with me about the working bees.

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That's all for now.

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September 11, 2013

Not long now...

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The Tenth Meadow flower shop will open next Thursday 19th September.  Come hell or high water.  I have tried my best to make it this week but there is still so much to do, and I want it to be just right.

10 Compton Street, Adelaide (next to Push Pin Boutique). 
Shop Hours: Thursdays - Saturdays 10am-4pm, or by appointment. 


See you all next week xx

August 29, 2013

The colour of dusk

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Plum and burgundy notes for a sophisticated wedding. Pared back, intimate dinner, dark eclectic flowers.  Thank you Clare for giving me a colour - deepest maroon - and then just letting me run with the flowers, complete trust.

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Am still thinking about these black hellebores, their dusky magic. I totally live for the special flowers like these, the interesting stuff, the unexpected arrivals. I was reading an interview recently with florist/artist hero Thierry Boutemy and one piece of floral advice he gave was to humble the superstar flowers - "if a flower is important, make it less important"; if a bloom like a peony is crying for attention, tuck it in lower in the arrangement, treat it mean.  It follows then that the smaller, quieter flowers can have their place in the spotlight; all the little interesting blooms, the delicate, the dark, can move up and intrigue us with their subtle charms.
I like the flowers that don't clamour for attention, those that when you carefully hold them and turn them upwards toward your face, their beauty is revealed, and is breathtaking.  (I like people like that too).

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Thank you The Props Dept for letting me put flowers on your cool stuff.

August 26, 2013

Tuesday thoughts...

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Ranuncula, sweet peas and hellebores for a winter wedding.  I love making bouquets. I love the connection to the bride, the symbolic meaning, the careful planning of colour, texture and form.  I love the relationship between the bouquet and the dress, the old-world tradition, the sheer romance of it all.

So, Tenth Meadow shop update: It's coming along! Still heading for September 12 (that's a Thursday).  Currently alternating stressing-out sessions and trips to the hardware store with drinking reds at Cantina and pretending that it's all pretty much done. That's in between all the flower arranging, deliveries, client meetings, bridal consults, etc etc.  If I'm looking quite relaxed in the above photo, it's probably because I'm power napping.

The teller at the bank said to me last week, "renovations huh?".  I thought she must have tuned in to my thoughts through some kind of sympathetic women's intuition.  Turns out I just had a whole heap of paint in my hair.

See you all soon...

August 12, 2013

Hellebores & Happiness

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Today I woke up, wandered out to the kitchen, made a cup of coffee.  Looked out the window and there were ducks swimming on the lawn.  So much rain, so much mud, but at least the ducks are happy.  If one more filthy, sodden terrier runs through our house I swear I'm going to staplegun those blue Bunnings tarps to the floorboards, embrace the mud, and just rip up the plastic sometime in November.  Yep, living the country dream.  I watched Stealing Beauty twice over so that I could feel good again about crumbling houses and rural living.

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Last week I got asked to do an artist talk at the Flinders Art Museum.  I have a painting in their current exhibition, "Crystal Palace".  I generally get really freaked out about talking about my paintings; I love talking about just about any other topic, just give me an audience, but the art world can be a funny judgmental place at times and speaking about my paintings can sometimes feel like baring my soul.  So there I was, nervously trying to articulate myself in front of a serious little crowd, and suddenly I found myself talking about flowers.  And I felt truly happy. 

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The Tenth Meadow flower shop is due to open September 12th. Beyond excited!!!!  Setting an actual opening date seems like the best way to just get it together and get it done.   It's at 10 Compton street Adelaide, next to the beautiful Push Pin Boutique, if you're walking by and want to peer through the window.  Warning: renos still in progress so don't be alarmed if all you see is plaster dust and dropsheets.  No flowers in the house as yet. But soon.......!!

August 2, 2013

Hi there stranger.

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Hi, remember me? Yes, it's been a little while between posts, I've been busy renovating the new shop space, painting walls, ripping up shagpile carpet, sweeping and scraping.   The latest update: Early September.  Yep.  Renovations have a way of taking way longer than we hope, but I'm choosing not to stress, after all, the September opening will be in perfect time for all the Spring flowers to burst forth and do their thing: sweet peas, blossoms, rhododendrons, hellebores, jasmine...then a little bit later the first flush of roses...and then peonies...I hope I never lose the excitement that Spring brings.  I'm gonna fill that little shop to bursting!


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All this musing on Spring and THE END OF WINTER has got me thinking about peonies.  Difficult to grow in Adelaide, but not impossible. I believe they have an easier time with them in Victoria and Tasmania and last November/December we did a few events with peonies galore; one bride in particular timed her entire wedding around their short blooming season (hi Mary x).  Hundreds of peonies arrived for us on a Virgin flight from Victoria, precious cargo carefully picked from the fields the evening before.  The warmth of the studio meant that the tightly rounded buds popped open before our eyes, magic.


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Thank you so much to Alia from Whitewall Photography who dropped by and shot these beautiful evocative images while we worked.  I love this photo essay for its moment captured in time. We are no longer working from this Oakbank barn, having outgrown the space, but some floral workshops here are in the planning for the Summer...
And thankyou to Nicole and Anni, my beautiful, patient and devoted floral assistants on this day xx. 

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