It was a chilly and blustery evening last night, and as I write I am surveying the damage in the front garden. An upturned watering can that has been reluctantly blown across the lawn, great piles of crispy leaves gathering in the corners of the picket fence and the apple tree is now completely stripped of its fruit and foliage. November is unashamedly here.
There is an inevitable sadness in watching the garden and allotment slow to a halt as the first frosts creep in overnight. Not only the homegrown flowers I have been so lucky to use this summer, but the forest green and burnt orange foliages that we have been so lucky to hold onto this autumn have been whisked away briskly overnight in the wind. As much as this signals the very end of the British growing season for this year, I do welcome the change as it heralds a whole new array of winter blooms to work with in the coming weeks. Couple this with the crackle of the log fire, the scent of a roast dinner wafting from the kitchen and long leisurely woodland walks on those perfectly clear and crisp days and suddenly the darker, longer November nights seem rather more manageable.
My hands have been kept busy this November with an array of celebratory bouquets here and there, lovely bespoke commissions that I am waiting to share (once I get the green light) and the most beautifully curated workshop with the lovely Katrina and Lisa from Planning Redefined. I was thrilled to be invited on the Friday by the wonderful Sundari and Andri, who shared invaluable insights into the process of styling weddings and events, and created the most beautiful tablescape and bridal shoot. I was guided by the most delicious seasonal brief and packed the van full of autumnal blooms and foliages – as much foraged from the Buckinghamshire lanes, allotment and garden as I could. We were so lucky to be joined by the lovely Hannah Duffy who captured the day beautifully, and the wonderful Fern from Rock My Wedding who has written the loveliest blog post here if you fancy a read (accompanied by the sweetest film by Insta Weddings). It was another glorious day working with such talented and lovely women, and I truly loved every minute. And there were mini doughnuts adorned with flowers. It was very much my idea of heaven.
Top photo and this photo by Reuben & Co
As the inky black nights of November draw us closer into the depths of winter, my head is well and truly full of festive fare for the season ahead. I know I am not alone in finding Christmas a little too much to bear before the last firework has fizzled out on bonfire night, but the moodboards have had to have been assembled and samples of sumptuous velvet ribbon invited to the workbench for this Christmas at Verity & Thyme for some weeks now. I adore Christmas, in all its heart warming joy and comfort, but experience has also taught me that an icy few months lay ahead in the studio. The first frost laden morning in the studio last week prompted memories of winters past; frozen fingers that never warm plunged into the arctic waters of buckets, the endless snagging of menacing prickly holly on favourite woollen jumpers (the holly always wins), and almost hysteria inducing relief when finishing for the day and collapsing in front of the fire. Or hugging the radiator – whichever is nearest. If you happen to see a frozen/solemn/exhausted looking florist this Christmas, a nice cup of tea and a shimmering bag of chocolate coins thrown in our general direction would be most welcome. We probably haven’t been able to feel our fingers since the end of October and have a nature tables worth of twigs and leaves in our boots – it is SUCH a glamorous job indeed.
Having said all of that, I do truly love the festive season. I recently came across an extract from ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ by Nigel Slater, something I am desperate to peruse but yet to fine a quiet moment by the fire to do so (and I need to buy it first). It’s a Sunday afternoon job, and I am waiting patiently for a particularly frosty one to read it, buried under blankets with a steamy mug of spiced hot chocolate …
‘To this day, I am never happier than when there is frost on the roof and a fire in the hearth. I have always preferred snow underfoot to sand between my toes.
I love the crackle of winter. The snap of dry twigs underfoot, boots crunching on frozen grass, a fire spitting in the hearth, ice thawing on a pond, the sound of unwrapping a Christmas present from its paper. The innate crispness of the season appeals to me, like newly fallen snow, frosted hedges, the first fresh page of a new diary. Yes, there is a softness in the cold months, too, the voluminous jumpers and woolly hats, the steam rising from soup served in a deep bowl, the light from a single candle and the much-loved scarf that would be a burden at any other time of the year.’
I take this sentiment with me into the coming weeks, finding the words ‘comfort and joy’ the very essence of Christmas for me. I have already been lucky enough to freelance on some beautiful Christmas installations for the festive season in both Buckinghamshire and London, and have been bowled over by the kind words, shouts of cheer across the street, and personal thank you's from passers by. It truly is a wonderful time of year.
I am looking forward to a particularly lovely winter wedding the day after Boxing Day this December, but before then I will be busy in the studio whipping up festive wreaths, table centrepieces and gifts for the festive weeks ahead. I am taking orders for bespoke wreaths, both traditional pine/fir and also more Scandinavian inspired eucalyptus wreaths, which will be finished with wintery adornments, luxurious velvet bows and streaming silks for a truly sumptuous feel. I will also be creating beautiful winter table centres, perfect for Christmas gatherings or to dress the Christmas Day table. As with the nature of Verity & Thyme weddings, everything will be created on a bespoke basis, so please do drop me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to order a wreath, table centre or seasonal bouquet for your home this December. I will be popping up some ideas, inspirations and festive behind-the-scenes up on the V&T Instagram over the coming weeks too, so do make sure you take a look to be kept up to date.