In conversation with Katie Bickerdike

Setting up for a days filming

Brookside Flower farm is a sustainable, eco-friendly farm and floral design studio based in Mid Cornwall. Owner Katie has a passion for art and design, loving to create arrangements that reflect the colours and natural beauty of the flowers she grows. The farm produces a mass of traditional British cut flowers and foliage, used to style wedding venues and produce unique bouquets. We ask Katie for help and advice on making your day special.

When couples are thinking about wedding day flowers where would you suggest they start and what key things should they consider?

The brides bouquet is a great place to start it sets the style, colour, shape and feel  of the wedding flowers and will feature in all your wedding photos. There are so many beautiful flowers to choose from, so choose your favourites. The supporting flowers in the bouquet are continued throughout for bridesmaids, buttonholes, corsages, and venue. All with the same look and feel.

Consider your own personal  style, you may choose  a neat and tidy style that accentuates the design; or  a wild and flowing natural look with focus on  harmony of colour and texture. There are many styles in between that express the brides personal style

The style, size and shape of the brides dress are also important factors. Petite brides can be swamped by a huge bouquet. Whilst a dramatic ballgown may look silly with a petite bouquet. A trailing style can be wide or narrow.

Consider Season and  feelings you want to create. Each season has its own colours, tones and tints that contribute  to our mood. For example; if you choose your flowers for a spring wedding in autumn, be prepared to change your mind. Spring with its fresh new shoots blossoms and buds, it has a background of golds and lime greens full of energy and optimism. That’s how we feel in the spring.

In contrast autumn has a warm relaxed and cosy feel with gold, orange, reds and purple together with grasses and seedheads in nude and chestnut browns, muted pastels also work well.  Summer has an abundance of flowers in every bright and brilliant hue, both pastels and bright colours so much to choose. Whereas winter is a time of rest for nature,  branches twigs and silhouette dominate. Colours are deep forest green, chestnut brown, moss and lichen, or silver, white and icy blues. Against this backdrop flowers are bold and stunning with dramatic berries and added  sparkle

A smaller wedding doesn’t mean a less gorgeous wedding. Can you share some of your small wedding flower ideas with us?

I have been incredibly lucky to have been a part of so many smaller weddings and I have to say they are my favourite. An intimate wedding can be so much more relaxed, it takes the pressure off you from trying to please everyone. Sharing your wedding day with your closest family and friends can be so personal and meaningful. It also gives the opportunity for lots of personal touches and involving those close to you in the celebration. It is far easier on a smaller scale to create a breath-taking backdrop to your ceremony and an intimate table setting you will always remember. Those special details; such as chair backs and favours are easier to include on a smaller budget.  

For couples not based in Cornwall can you describe how you would work with them to make sure everything is just right?

Each experience is totally unique for me. Email, a phone conversation  or WhatsApp is usually the starting point. If the couple have some ideas they want to share with me then I set up a private Pinterest board that no one else can see. We keep adding ideas to the board allowing it to develope. We might start with a quotation as a rough guide  and develop designs within a budget. A deposit can paid to secure the date and designs can be tweaked right up to 10 days before the wedding date.

How would you describe your floristry?

I always work with my customer; their own personal style what they want to achieve is paramount. I tend towards a natural style, viewing my work as an art form, framing and staging the flowers. In a similar way to a nature photographer or artist. As a grower I observe each leaf, each delicate petal, stem and silhouette and how they grow naturally. This reflects how they are placed within a design.  Understanding how different species grow, their vase life and any special requirements they may have. I also love many different flowers that don’t grow in our country.  

I have been a grower for 7 years and trained with the British Academy of Floral Art to become a qualified freelance florist.  It involves continuously updating my skills, trying out new designs and I love a challenge.

The turning of the leaf

Autumn Chestnut ready for gathering

At Brookside flower farm in the last week autumn has really made its present felt, the shorter chilled evenings and the colourful russets and red of the turning leaves. All this change also leaves us more dependent on the two polytunnels and the foliage planted in the field. We have been busy with weddings and every weekend. Weekday events making up for the delays from earlier this year. Sadly as I write we are heading for another lock down and weddings for November are delayed again.  We will always ensure we have time for people moving weddings again, some for third time into December and January.

With the Lockdown for this month, we will still be doing socially distanced and Covid secure deliveries. Click and Collect from the farm gate and Cashless and online ordering.  This time of year we usually preparing for the many Christmas fairs in Cornwall and wreath making workshops. Its normally a rush as it seems to arrive all too quickly. This year we are moving online and our shop will be in place in the coming weeks. It will stock everything for making and crafting Christmas wreaths, kits and Stars.   

Our Photo shoots

One of the highlight of the recent months has been asked to do a couple of photos shoots at some Cornish Venues.  
The two shoots were quite different in theme and requirements. At Woodys the style was rustic chic, making use of bold colours, grasses and foliage. We supplied everything from the large floral installations, bouquets, table arrangement and down to the eatable flowers for the cake.  https://www.wedmagazine.co.uk/warrior-woman-styled-shoot.html

Our other shoot at the Boscundle Maor Hotel – Modern meets Classic Vintage Luxury Wedding. The brief was to decorate a Library, dining room and Outside, developing a story of the couple getting ready, the wedding and then leaving for their honeymoon.

Modern meets Classic Vintage Luxury Wedding with travel and literature detail

We are looking at reopening to Volunteers soon if we can, guidance permitting. This looks like it will now be in the new year now. This year’s workshop have now finished, It’s doubtful any winter workshops will be possible, under the current restrictions. Let hope 2021 is better all round.

July Already

I write this just as wedding venues are starting to reopen across the county under some quite restrictive, some say outright confusing conditions. Our first wedding of the summer a day after the lockdown lifted, beautiful roses and summer flowers – bouquets and button holes for a small intimate wedding.  If your wedding has been affected by cancellations, we can help with any of your floral requirements, even at fairly short notice. As a flower producer, we are not impacted by the shortage of flowers imported from Holland.

Our roses are enjoying the hot weather of late, producing some lovely blooms; they are traditional scented David Austin roses, not known for their vase life, but ideal for that classic rose bouquet for weddings. We planted a hundred bushes about 5 years ago, to cover most colours from a dark damask red to an Old English White.

We are adding a couple of new outlets for our Pretty Little Bunches, so we will put an update out, as soon as that’s sorted. They are still available from Bella Mama deli, Puddle Farm Shop and of course from the Farm itself, they can also be pre-ordered.  We also offer Bouquets form £18 delivered in the local area, they make ideal present for anyone who can get out or just to say thank you.

Sadly Geoff our Ouessant ewe passed away a couple of weeks ago. Her partner Monty was very lonely and would keep looking for her, it was heart breaking to watch and all he would want you to do is walk around the field to look for her. Luckily we got two Shetland lambs to keep him company. Mr Tumnus and Pan are a couple playful characters and have really taken to Monty, whose spirits are much lifted by their company.

We are looking at reopening to Volunteers soon if we can, guidance permitting. Paperwork, risk assessments and all sorts of hurdles to be done. If were booked on one of the workshop this year, you should of received an email. We are hoping to restart these later in the year, once it’s safe to do so.

June Update

It’s been a little while since we have updated the page and a fair amount has happened. The farm has expanded into the adjoining field. The stepped garden is slowly maturing with shrubs and foliage.  This time of year is always busy with the last of the late planting going in the outdoor beds and the poly tunnels looking fairly … Continue Reading →

Mud Glorious Mud – There’s nothing quite like it ……………

Cat Walk The wall in the Mediterranean garden has been washed out by the persistent rain; another job for the to do list. Ivan one of our farm cats prefers not to get his feet muddy while he’s looking for mice. Endless Rain …. When will it stop? The soil is washing down the path and now we need a … Continue Reading →

Flower Diary

Flower Diary Here we show you the flowers we are growing in the field as part of the CSA scheme and let you know how they are getting along.  We will share with you regular pictures and updates throughout the growing season. You will also be the first to know of  any special offers and availability of any additional flowers we are growing  in … Continue Reading →

Join Our New Community Supported Agriculture Scheme (CSA).

      Join Our New Community Supported Agriculture Scheme (CSA). 4 Week  Membership 12 Week Membership This  year we have introduced  a new scheme, it is an alternative locally based model of agriculture, to provide local environmentally aware businesses and florists  with  quality eco-friendly local cut flowers, at a very good price.  A member joins in the spring before … Continue Reading →

Spring has finally arrived

   12th March 2015 Spring has finally arrived. We have an  extremely mild winter so I’m  reluctant to believe it’s all over, we have had enough of the wind and heavy rain and so looking forward to the spring  Seeds are starting to go in and overwintered plants are starting to shoot – it delights and surprises me every  time. You … Continue Reading →

Brookside Flower Farm – Environmentally grown cut flowers and Wellbeing Gardens

  Brookside Flower Farm is an Environmentally Friendly Social Enterprise in Tregrehan Mills St Austell. The developing 2.5 acre site consists of a flower farm, wellbeing gardens, soft fruit, vines, vegetable beds, orchard and some wildlife areas. We also keep rare breed sheep and bees in top bar hives. We are situated close to the largest town in Cornwall St … Continue Reading →