APRIL MUSINGS

Seasonal stories and notable happenings from the team behind Ochre Botanical Studios.

Thank you for joining us here!

April is that wonderful month where one moment you look up with glee, hesitantly don your sunnies before swiftly being slapped with a faceful of rain the next. With the first of our weddings well and truly under our belt and the garden gently transitioning from the tentative stretching and yawning of early spring to the full swing of potting on, planting out, picking and processing, we can certainly say the season has begun. Amidst these activities, I felt myself reflecting on our journey and compelled to share our story in a little more detail.

A Collective

In 2020, six of us assembled for a tete-a-tete: Cynthia, Fiona, Julie, Marion, Sarah and Sophie. Furloughed from floral employment, each of us sought out a way to stay connected with flowers and with each other. Our like-minds brought us together to discuss a future for flowers built on our shared love for wiggly and wonderful stems, sustainable practices and the joy of working collaboratively. It was a no-brainer when later in 2023, we all agreed how desperately we wanted Claire to join our troupe and how delighted we are that she said yes. Since then, Cynthia has left to pursue dreams in London and beyond (Cynthia is currently exhibiting in Edinburgh at Inverleith House until 12th May and at Enso House in London until 18th May. Check out Cythnia’s instagram and her collaborative work with Pear_Ed )  

Being a collective has numerous advantages. A hive mind empowers us to rally behind one another; our numbers mean that we are able to bring ambitious projects to life; we develop creatively through learning from and with one another. Our diverse backgrounds allow us to work to each of our strengths whilst supporting each other in new challenges. For instance, where one florist might excel in creating the daintiest little buttonhole ensembles, another thrives on the tetris of van packing. Dreamwork.

Early Days

Sitting around Julie’s kitchen table one evening in the early autumn of 2020, we unrolled a big sheet of paper, and armed with numerous coloured felt tips, we wrote down the initial steps we’d need to take to turn our vision into a reality. We knew that our core values – a commitment to naturally grown, British blooms; using sustainable and responsible practices; working creatively, collaboratively and cheerfully – were essential to our success.

We are, of course, standing on the shoulders of giants. By no means the first nor the last to see the merit in working in this way and we continue to draw inspiration from talented botanical artists, including those I’ve noted at the bottom, amongst many others.

The Name

We chose a very tricky name to pronounce – sorry! No, we’re not named after the yummy green vegetable also known as bhindi or lady’s fingers; nor are we named after the largest member of the oceanic dolphin family, the killer whale. Choosing a name between 6 people wasn’t easy, but really it surprisingly wasn’t all that difficult either. What we felt summed us up perfectly was that pigment, obtained from the earth with its delightfully browny, yellowy, orangey shade. We became Ochre (OH-kur) Botanical Studios.

The Garden

We knew that growing would be an integral part of our practice. Serendipitously, we found a little corner of a community garden in North Edinburgh (read more about Granton Castle Walled Garden here), had our proposal accepted, and with excited determination we battled our way through a forest of rosebay willow herb, brambles and thistles. Our polytunnel, which was generously donated by Paula at Millpond Flower Farm, provided us with a space to start seedlings, house delicate blooms and store our equipment. On our wee patch, we practise ‘micro flower farming’. This enables us to grow all the special wiggly bits that we love and means we get to work with other local expert growers who have larger scale offerings.

In the early autumn, we celebrated our new space with our first ever flowery playdate. These now regular gatherings provide us with an opportunity to make things together ‘just for the fun of it’ in a pressure-free environment (read more about the February playdate here). We built on our portfolio, and naturally the wedding enquiries soon came in.

The Community

As fledglings in our business, we still had plenty of learning to do. The flower community in Scotland has always been exceptionally generous, offering guidance and support that we are immensely grateful for. In 2021 we were offered the opportunity to participate in the Business of Selling Flowers course, curated by Plant Passion, Carol’s Garden and Mill Pond Flower Farm. Other memorable moments include a dream day making bowls with Sarah, Rachael and Paula at Cambo in 2021 and a peaceful trip to Doddington welcomed by Rachel of Catkin Flowers and Fiona Pickles.

The Present

These days we spend much of our time orchestrating the intricate dance of twiddling and twirling florals for weddings, events, bunches and workshops (read more about a wedding in March here). This year, we hope to get on top of the rabbit situation at the garden  (thank you so much for the fence, Alan!), we’re looking ahead to more projects in 2025 and of course we’ll be making time for subsequent flowery playdates.

So many phenomenal growers and designers have been central to our journal. Here is a list of a few of our friends:

MILLPOND FLOWER FARM

Paula grows in the Scottish Borders where she also explores her avid interest in moths.

Image credit, Joanne Coates

SIMPLY BY ARRANGEMENT

Sarah is a floral designer, a teacher and a mentor in a small corner of Yorkshire.

Image credit, Éva Németh

FIONA PICKLES

Fiona is an artist in Yorkshire who draws inspiration flowers, leaves, weeds, roots, wood, rust and earth.

Image credit, Belle & Beau Fine Art Photography

ROOT & BRANCH

Moa is an exceptional plantswoman based in the Pentlands.

Image credit, Moa Carlsson

PYRUS

Fiona designs and grows in a magical Victorian walled garden in East Lothian.

Image credit, Alix Mackintosh

Speak again soon...

Ochre x

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