Nothing is too good when it comes to ‘The Flower Shop’ flowers and guests of Amberley Castle

This week I hosted a Flower Arranging Session at Amberley Castle. Amberley Castle is now a hotel but it’s history goes back centuries.

As well as a florist or ‘Floral Designer’ I am also a historian, specialising in medieval and Tudor architecture, so I love any excuse to spend time at Amberley (the name it was known as in the Doomsday book).

Imagine my excitement, at taking front stage, in charge, teaching a group of wonderful ladies about choosing, arranging, caring for and creating beautiful country-style bouquets to adorn any home.

I busily packed the van with a selection of fresh foliage and primary flowers, together with a plethora of secondary and tertiary flowers that would make up some fantastic arrangements. Annemarie was coming along too, so we hoped in the van and set off, leaving Rachel and Charlotte in charge at the shop.

Ten minutes after leaving the shop we were driving up the long gravel drive, leading through a grand portcullis and before long we were all set up, awaiting the guests. When the guests began to arrive I started counting on my stubby little fingers and when I ran out of digits I gave Annemarie a look of shear panic.

There were a few more ladies than we’d been expecting.

After the initial panic, which I hid well beneath an enormous grin and a warm welcome, I came up with a great idea. One of the most important skills required by a florist is one of ‘adaptability’ and being quick to think on your feet.

Once I had got everyone settled at their benches, I left my very capable assistant Annemarie laying out the flower selection, while I nipped out into the lawned garden with a pair of secateurs, in search of some additional foliage.

The gardens at Amberley Castle are very well tended so I had to be careful not to leave an obvious gaps in the borders. I was also trying to do this by stealth, hoping that the ‘management’ didn’t spot me or my bottom sticking out of a bush.

I returned with an abundance of additional foliage and we began; pick, strip, spiral, spiral, spiral, wind, bind and was all going so well until we got to the packing.

As a rule we create aqua-packs which are placed inside boxes of different shapes and sizes. Aqua-packs are easily created and mean that bouquets can travel or be left for several hours without having to be placed in fresh water. All you need is a sheet or two of Cello, of which we had plenty, and some water.

OK, where’s the water?

Annemarie ran off in search of water and minutes later several members of the hotel staff came in carrying trays of bottled mineral water which they decanted into jugs. I quickly thanked the staff and waited until they left before instructing everyone to pour it into their aqua-packs.

It wasn’t until we were packing away that I noticed a menu with the price for a bottle of ‘Sussex Downs Mineral Water’ and all I can say is I hope the bouquets appreciated the special water!

I’m waiting to hear if the water actually made any difference, but I don’t think my regular customers would appreciate an addition price tag of… at least £12 per bouquet for ‘mineral water’ but who knows, it could take off.

My next event at Amberley Castle will be Christmas Wreath making Masterclass. If you want to join us you can still get tickets at

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