Tag Archives: wreath

poppies in a wildflower meadow - using Lensbaby Trio 28 - twist

Firethorn, pansies, Remembrance Day poppy wreath, Six on Saturday – 10 November 2018

It’s been a windy and cold in Manchester this week. There’s still some summer flowers hanging on, but mostly it’s full-on autumn colours reds, orange and yellow. I’ve not been out in the garden to do any jobs as the weather has been foul.  Planting tulips in pots in the porch have been my main focus this week.  Also, I’ve been busy crafting felt poppies for my Remembrance Day Poppy Door Wreath.

There are many poppies too – as there should be at this time of year.  There are some stunning installations near Churches and memorials, in parks and in railway stations.  Our WI sent poppies to one of our sister groups out in a small village in Lancashire who was making felt and wool poppy wreaths for their war memorial – I made 16 felt poppies.

1. Viburnum

small white viburnum flowers on a branch with green privet bush in background
This is one of two standard viburnum trees that came as a wedding gift to us last year;  they were in full bloom for our wedding in September 2017. Since then – they’ve flowered at very random times – I think the very cold weather in March and boiling heat in June/July has confused the plants. They’ve been re-potted so I hope they survive the winter OK.
I don’t know the variety, as M and S didn’t admit it.  I’ll take some bud photos next time it’s sunny to help me identify it – no scent though.

    • Do my gardening pals have any ideas what variety it might be?

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Halloween Orange Rose – In a Vase on Monday – 29 October 2018

I love roses 🙂 they’re often in vases around the house (from florists).  My Chap often buys bouquets for us.  We only have four rose bushes in our garden – two pink climbing roses, a red patio miniature rose (see below) and this orange beauty in our front garden.   When I moved into my house nine years ago this month, it was in a bit of a sorry state, as it was in desperate need of punning and TLC.  It’s one of the first things My Chap did after he met me was to prune the rose (and install a gate into the garden from the ginnel – AKA alleyway).

The orange rose soon revived – it tends to flower in at least two distinct seasons.  This year it has flowered three times. It has a delicate rose scent too which wafts across the garden path.

In a Vase on Monday – Halloween Orange Rose

This is the last hurrah of the orange rose bush this year 🙂 I can’t believe the range of colours; it is bright orange as a bud fading through to the most stunning sunset colours.

Do any of my gardening pals know what variety it is?

Orange roses have appeared many times in my vases over the last three years – it’s also flowered at some very odd times including in January this year 😉

The bud vase is made from recycled glass; purchased at the Eden Project in Cornwall.  It has appeared a few times too:


The print is part of a series covering different animals representing different names for the moons.  The Autumn print is a Beaver; the Autumn moons are Corn moon, Hunter’s moon and Beaver moon.

The summer print will need to wait until next year 😉

As usual, I am joining in with Cathy from Rambling in the Garden who’s written about the history of All Saints Day and Halloween.  She has some glorious dahlias on their last hurrah too, before the frosts hit and the plants die off.   Cathy also has pumpkins with her vase which reminded me of a pumpkin flower arrangement I made a couple of years ago.

Pumpkin Flower Arrangement

Here’s something different for Halloween.  I’ve been on two flower arranging courses at Denman College in Oxfordshire.  It’s the Educational College for the Women’s Institute.

In October 2016 I was there for the weekend learning different styles of flower arrangements.  I learnt how to use a pumpkin as a ‘vase’. This arrangement has a block of oasis and it’s just a case placing the flowers as if making a round arrangement. For the arrangement, I used:

  • chrysanthemum
  • sea holly
  • rosemary
  • Callicarpa – beauty berry
  • choysia – this is a variegated one
  • poppy seed heads, pine cones and ivy

I’ve been far too busy to attempt this type of arrangement this Autumn – but I have unearthed my terracotta carved pumpkin for the porch.

Making a door wreath

This photo has also reminded me to make an Autumn door wreath – there’s a wreath ring around the bottom of the pumpkin on the plate. It is decorated with fluffy wool, pine cones, seedheads and ivy.   It’s a straightforward wreath to make and most of the elements are around in the woods or my garden.  I’ve put it on my list to make a door wreath this weekend 🙂

Here’s my tutor Christine’s arrangement – Stunning isn’t it?

My Denman Tutor – Christine Pearce’s arrangement featuring a broom and cobwebs too.

I learnt so much from Christine at my two visits to Denman.  You can see her work and book for courses via:

I wanted to tell what a great tutor she is – this isn’t a sponsored post and she hasn’t asked me to write about her or do a good review. 

Denman College – part of the Women’s Institute

I’ve written a few times about how much I have loved my visits to Denman. I’ve been on three weekend trips. Two to do flower arranging and last month, a mother and daughter weekend.

You can find out more about the courses at Denman – anyone can go, male, female and you don’t need to be a member of the Women’s Institute.


The clock’s changing, the darker nights and Halloween make me reflect on what

When autumn darkness falls, what we will remember are the small acts of kindness: a cake, a hug, an invitation to talk, and every single rose. These are all expressions of a nation coming together and caring about its people.
Jens Stoltenberg (1959 – )  the Norwegian Director General of NATO since 2014 – he was previously Prime Minister of Norway.  

Jens words resonate with me – I try to #bekind – and be in the moment.  My daily mindfulness activities are going well. I’m also walking or spending time outside for at least an hour each day.  


what do you have planned for Halloween? Have you seen any unusual Halloween decorations? Manchester has huge monsters on top of buildings – have a look on my Instagram for more photos

Carpe Diem,

Love Bec xxx xxx


pink flat daisy style flower dark leaves

Denman College Women’s Institute – Six on Saturday – 13 10 18

I’ve been down south to Oxfordshire, for a crafting weekend with my mum. We are both members of the Women’s Institute (motto – inspiring women!) her in a small town in Berkshire and me in a new Institute in the centre of Manchester (www.cottonopoliswi.com). I’d seen on an email about a ‘mothers and daughters’ weekend at the Denman College, the WI’s education centre in Oxfordshire, and asked my Mum if she wanted to join me. It’s a lovely place to spend the weekend – and the food is great too. I had a lot of fun learning new skills – and meeting new people – it’s a packed schedule as youre on the go from breakfast at 745am until the entertainments finish about 930pm.

Denman was founded in 1948 – it’s played a big part in teaching women (and men) skills and is an important part of the history of the Women’s Institute. The main building is listed – and running costs are high so we’ll see if this remains part of the Institute’s activities in the future. Member’s come from all over the country, often funded by bursaries.

1. Denman – a mini-mansion

We didn’t stay in the mansion though some people do. Instead, there are mini blocks in the grounds with well-appointed ensuite rooms much like those on University Campuses.

A slightly wonky sundial

2. Borders 😉

Always good to name your borders 😉

3. Dahlias everywhere

These are my favourite types of dahlias – I’ve grown the various ‘bishop’ colours before but all my dahlias struggled this year despite the hot weather in June/July – it should have suited them as they originate in Mexico.

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spring wreath - tulips, roses,

In a vase on Monday (not)- Spring wreath

Inspiring Women – motto of the Women’s Institute 

I went on a wonderful adventure last weekend – a flower arranging course in a Georgian mansion in the beautiful village of Marcham, in Oxfordshire.   It wasn’t just in any old place – I went to Denman College which is part of the Women’s Institute.

Denman is home of the cookery school, craft and lifestyle courses – there are over 500 courses each year from day courses to week long ones covering all sorts of topics – not just what you’d expect from the WI – cooking, preserves, crafting, dressmaking, etc. They have classes on history, writing, dancing, drumming, as well as lots of trips and walks.

It was a spur of the moment thing to go – I’ve had such a rough time last year and things are hard going at work, because of departmental mergers. I thought of the contributors to ‘In a vase on Monday’ from all around the world and especially our host Cathy – so much inspiration and support from everyone.  I’ve learnt a lot about flower arranging since I started my blog in February last year, though I mostly ‘plonk’ flowers in vases.  I thought now was a good time to learn more.   Also a change of scene – Denman and it’s 17 acres looked amazing on the photos.   So I ‘seized the day’!

spring wreath - tulips, roses,

Spring wreath I made at Women’s Institute Denman College – 1st April 2016

Do have a look at Cathy’s vase over at ‘Rambling in the Garden‘ – she has some beautiful tulips this week. Quite a few of my fellow – vase fillers have chosen tulips this week too.  My tulips in the garden are nearly ready to bloom – lots of purple and white ones from what I remember.   They’re one of my favourite flowers so I’ve planted many in the garden this year,  which seem to have escaped the squirrels – hurrah!

How to make a Spring Wreath

So today’s ‘In a vase on Monday’ isn’t what it should be – not posted on a Monday (Sunday!), not flowers from my garden and not a vase…. so I hope you don’t mind.

  • most of flowers and foliage are from Christine Pearce’s (the tutor) north facing garden in Abingdon in Oxfordshire, or from around the grounds of Denman (with permission) and
  • the roses, tulips and carnation are from the wholesaler – I hope this counts as ‘local’ for purposes of ‘In a vase on Monday’.
  • flowers – tulips, carnations and roses
  • foliage – Elaeagnus, rosemary, ivy, cornus, Choisya, euonymus
  • wreath base – hessian and hay with a block of oasis at the bottom right.
  • the wreath has a tiny vase in it – can you spot it?
  • I used Oasis for the first time – not too complicated considering everything… and I’ll definitely make more wreaths

My Chap was very impressed!

Wreath Repair 


Spring wreath with the first tulip from the garden by our front door- 4th April 2016

The wreath needed a bit of repair when it got home as it was warm in the classroom and the car…droopy tulips – so I added the first tulip from our garden and a tête a tête.

tulip and daffs Collage

We learnt how to make :

  • how to make this Spring wreath – surprisingly simple to do and my first time using Oasis.
  • pot fleur flower arrangement – my 2nd arrangement on the course.
  • my hand-tied bouquet with Spring flowers – 3rd arrangement – v simple and logical to do.

How to make a hand-tied bouquet – video

Here’s a video on the Women’s Institute youtube channel – my tutor Chris Pearce – explaining how to make a hand-bouquet:

Update September 2018 – I’m going to Denman College in September with my Mum.

fountain, garden and view of the house at Denman College,

Denman College – the training centre for the Women’s Institute, Marcham Oxfordshire – 3 April 2016

Anyone can attend a course at Denman – you don’t need to be a member of the WI or a woman! People hold weddings there too.

Fountain and summer house at Denman College - 3 April 2016

Fountain and summer house at Denman College – 3 April 2016

I had a truly wonderful time, in a beautiful location, great food but most of all, with some lovely ladies (mostly from the WI and some not) – the sun was shining too.  I’ll definitely be back.

Carpe Diem

love Bec xx

Disclaimer: I paid full price for my course at Denman College and neither Denman or the Women’s Institute asked me to write a blog post about my visit.  


Wordless Wednesday #100happydays – wonderful Christmas wreath

#100happydays Christmas is on the way

Wordless Wednesday – #100happydays –  Christmas is on the way

A wonderful wreath from Alexandra’s cakes and flowers, in Irlam #shoplocal #100happydays

See my #100happydays photos here