• Sarah Wyatt

My time at Tallulah Rose Flowers School

A year ago this week I embarked on a big adventure. A weeks intensive residential course at the stunning location of Sparkford Hall in Somerset. I would definiely say it was the best week in my 27 years in the floristry industry.

As I drove up the sweeping driveway lined with fields of long horned sheep, llamas, Shetland ponies, goats and chickens, the magnificent hall came into veiw, wow oh wow, this was my home for the next few nights, how was I going to cope?

As I pulled my van round the side of the hall I was greeted with an array of other floristry vans, I suddenly felt very at home.

After my 5 hour drive I had to run past all the lovely Tallulah ladies to pay a 'visit'! But I soon got chance to meet the gang. I was the first to arrive out of the students, but that's me all over. Always have to be early.

I fetched my luggage in and was shown to my room. With a cute little name tag on my door and a goodie bag on my huge bed, it was going to be a wonderful few days.

Soon after getting a few of my dresses hung up in the wardrobe, my PJs put on my pillow and a look through my little goodie bag, I started to hear others turning up so I went to say hi. There had been a pot of coffee and tea put on the dining table and the first of the very many delicious sweet treats greated us all. Not only was this week going to be a delight for the flowery sences but also for the tastebuds. Our resident chef for the week was just the best ever, not the best for my wasteline though, thank goodness I have taken nice jersey cotton dresses, phew!

So after our welcome meeting, evening meal, yet more pudding and a glass of wine, we were set loose on the flowers. Im not sure if it was the relief of actually making it so far in the van on my own, the woderfully relaxed company or the large glass of vino, but I have never felt so chilled and I think that showed in my first design. We had been given the brief of making a jar of flowers for our bedroom, the jar had a lid that had criss cross wire over the top of it, like the old fashioned rose bowls, and I think this also helped me create something beautifully loose and flowing, I was very happy with my design and it took pride of place on my bedside cabinet for the next few nights at Sparkford Hall, and for a good few weeks after that at home too.

And here ended the firts evening with all the excitement of a full day of creating ahead of us all in the morning.

Every morning before breakfast, as a group we got up and went for a morning walk, some went for runs, it was the perfect time of the year to wander the woodlands and look for insiration for the items we were going to make.

After each mornings amazing breakfasts we would gather in the study to discuss the plan of action for the day. There were 8 students including myself, and the Tallulah Rose ladies. We were split into two groups, one was to prep and foliage up the wedding arch and the other group was to prep and foliage up the sweeping stair design. It was crazy the amount of time just the planning required for both these before we even got started. Eventually all the mechanics were in place and got our hands on the beautiful array of foliages and the designs started taking shape. We obviously had to stop for a coffee and cake break, lunch and later on, our evening meal. Can you see now why I was glad of the Jersey cotton dresses and large denim aprons.

The next day we swapped over and flowered up the other design, so those that had worked on the arch were now going to work on the stair design and visa versa. This was a really great idea as we all got to work on both of the epic arrangements. And Epic they were.

That evening we got chance to sit as a group and work out all the costings for both items, including man hours (lady hours) and all the materials. This was such an eye opener. It was bonkers the amount of foliages and flowers that had gone into the designs, not to mention the time they had taken to create (obviously taking out all the refueling breaks) But we were all so impressed with our stunning pieces, and even now a year later, I love to look at the photos of what we made. Such a wonderful achievement.

Just as you think the week can't get any better the next day we turned our attentions to the fabulous Hall grounds. Again we split into two groups (a differant group of 4) 4 ladies to work on the swing and the other 4 to work in the walled garden creating an outdoor arch. I worked on the arch and the best thing about this was we were able to pick what ever we wanted from the large garden. I even managed to forage enough bits to create a matching bridal bouquet.

The swing looked super amazing too, especially for this time of year.

As we were in the foraging mood, we turned our attentions to creating an Autumnal door wreath only using bits we found in the grounds. I gathered some beautifully scented dill, bay, asparagus tops, pine, ivy and other bits and bobs. Again I went really wild and loose with the foliages and soon whipped up my door wreath. How chuffed was I when it was chosen to adorn the front door of the Hall by Rachel, Tallulah's founder.

After much more food and puddings we then had the chance to make our very own bridal bouquet. Now this was obviously nothing new for me, I have made 100s of bridal bouquets in my time, however, I really wanted to make something a little differant this time. So I chose flowers i had never worked with before, including Blushing Bride and a flower which I had wanted to get my hands on for a while, pretty blue Tweedia. I was never quite sure how it held up in bouquets before as it always looked so delicate so this was the perfect opportunity to give it a go. And here is the result.

We then got change to have a 1:1 chat with Rachel from Tallulah to discuss any concerns we may have taking our businesses forward, any questions we may have or just to pick her brains. My mind went blank and I really didn't know what to talk about, but thats me all over! Of course, soon after I thought of loads of things I could have asked and did when I got chance later that day.

The next day was our final day, and we still had so much to make, I really didnt think we were going to be able to complete what had been planned, but was totally blown away by the magnificent team work that went into making the ceremony room look simply spectaular. The piece de resistance.

Look at the concentration on my face!

But we also had lots of giggles along the way.

And just before the sad goodbyes and the long drive home for me and flights for those that had traveled from Scotland and Cornwall, we got together for a couple of team photos. One of all us students and one of the whole team including the lovely cook who was responsible for my widening waist band.

What a truly fabulous week, and one that I would totally love to do again. Not only working alongside such talented ladies, but beautifully lovely ladies too.

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