Sophie Witham

A Painterly Approach to Flowers

by Sophie Witham At Thyme 2 Aug 18

We are passionate about the seasons, bringing flowers and foliage throughout the year from the cutting garden and glorious surrounding landscape into the different spaces of the historic buildings at Thyme.

In the early summer cutting garden we are treated to a wonderful patchwork of colour, shape, texture and scent, welcoming fabulous foxgloves, old-fashioned garden roses, blousy peonies, lupins, scabious and the sweetest smelling sweetpeas. As well as the leading ladies of early summer, our displays always include a lovely mix of herbs including mint, lemon verbena, dill, flowering sage and of course thyme. We also use foraged leaves found across the water meadows such as meadowsweet, cow parsley and river mint; and love to add details of ripening raspberries, gooseberries and redcurrant.


It is this plenty that allows us to create painterly, abundant bouquets that have a loose, natural feel.

To create a beautiful centrepiece inspired by the season ...

You will first need to pick from your garden and forage from the hedgerows a handful of different varieties of foliage. Concentrate on different shapes, textures and tones of green. You will find that some foliage holds its shape better than others once cut, but pick what you like the look of and experiment to see what foliage works best for you. A favourite of mine at this time of year is raspberry leaf – it has the most lovely shaped leaves of different sizes and is a wonderful slightly citrus green. It also holds its shape beautifully for days once cut.

Next select a handful of different sprigs of garden herbs – sage, mint, dill, rosemary, thyme, lemon mint are all great and of course add not only texture but scent.

In the same way, collect together a small handful of beautiful garden flowers in full bloom in early summer. The roses are wonderful but can be a little fragile so need extra care and attention. Foxgloves, the quintessential English garden flower, are beautiful as well as the last of the blousy peonies. You only need perhaps one or two of each of these leading ladies to make a very lovely centrepiece.

Once you have all your garden ingredients together start by stripping off all the leaves on the stalks that will sit below the water in your chosen vessel. Then begin by holding the fullest piece of foliage in your left hand and start to add alongside this one of your leading ladies, as well as a couple of your smaller flowers such as scabious or cornflowers. Then rotate the bouquet while still keeping it in your left hand and then add another leading lady followed by some herbs and perhaps another different piece of foliage. Continue this rotation until the bouquet is as full as you would like it. You should have a slight twist on the stalks of your flowers. Tie the bouquet with some natural garden twine and trim the ends of all the stalks for a neat finish. Place your finished arrangement in your vessel with water for a beautiful, painterly centrepiece and change the water every day for longer lasting blooms.