The latest PlantGrow Champion to join us is Brigitte from @mossandstonefloraldesign! Brigitte creates seasonally-inspired floral art using flowers that are British-grown and locally-sourced. She teaches her floral style and ethos to florists and flower enthusiasts from her home studio as well as her online flower school, but she’s also a columnist, writer, photographer and podcast host! Brigitte is seen to be at the forefront of a new way of designing with flowers and we’re delighted that she’s joining us as a champion to show how much joy you can get out of growing beautiful blooms.
Growing up with gardening
Brigitte has always enjoyed being around nature.
“For me, there is something fundamental, vital almost, about being outside, immersed in nature and the countryside. My childhood memories are filled with sunny days, exploring the Suffolk fields and lanes that I grew up surrounded by. Picking primroses or watching the swallows lining up ready to begin another long journey, catching newts and smelling the sweet scent of my mum’s wallflowers. The sense of freedom and time to wonder; of losing hours watching ants and earwigs or climbing trees, which I now realise was always pointing to this way of life that finally found me! So gardening, which has been the backbone to my life and then later flowers, are my world.”
Brigitte grew up in a family of dedicated and passionate amateur gardeners. Everyone from her great aunts to her grandparents were interested in gardening, but Brigitte’s mum had the most influence on her.
“I honestly can’t remember when I actually started to garden but throughout my adult life gardening has been my relaxation and sanctuary. I lived in Scotland for a few years in my twenties and in the summer, I would be gardening until it was dark, around eleven at night. Basically, while there is a scrap of daylight still to be had you will find me outside! I have made countless mistakes and continue to do so…I think gardening is a lifelong learning curve. But the joy I get from having my hands in the soil, watching the wildlife and nurturing new life from specks of seed is immeasurably satisfying.”
When Brigitte became a florist, growing flowers for cutting helped her understand that true seasonality and following the rhythms of nature were what really made her tick.
“My garden which is a haven for wildlife, chemical free, untidy and a jumble of wildflowers is consequently an inspiration larder for my floral designs. I am no longer a florist but more a floral artist, using what nature provides as the season gently progresses to make arrangements that celebrate the magic of the moment in my garden.”
Attracting wildlife to your garden
If you want to attract more wildlife to your garden, Brigitte says it’s simple: don’t use chemicals or pesticides.
“Let nature balance it all out for you – she really does know what she’s doing. But there are of course countless other ways to encourage wildlife to flourish in your space. Compost your waste and feed your soil with natural, preferably organic products. If your soil is healthy everything else follows. Provide a small pond for birds and insects, frogs and newts. An old bucket will do and the creatures you attract will sort out your slug problem for you and pollinate your plants too. Leave your grass long… Give up the mower! And if you can’t give it up completely then leave some areas to grow wilder and longer. Be a bit more messy in your gardening. Embrace the self sowers and wildflowers.”
Brigitte also recommends not cutting everything back in the autumn. Insects will overwinter in the plant skeletons and birds will feed from seed heads.
“Basically, just be gentle in your gardening practices and enjoy the wildlife that will come as a result.”
Brigitte gardens organically to treasure the soil and health of the ecosystem in her garden. But not only that – it helps to protect the wider environment too.
“Working in an organic way and as sustainably as possible just seems too important to ignore. I am constantly learning and employing new, better practices as soon as I become aware of them. After all, you can’t know what you don’t know but this continual discovery of better practices, adopting them and adapting is fundamental to the growth of my garden and me as a gardener! I’m still learning!”
As a teacher in a former life and now a teacher in her own flower school, Brigitte has plenty of knowledge and advice for those that are just starting out on their gardening journey.
“Just start… You only need a windowsill. If you have a balcony that’s great; if you have three acres, well lucky you, get out there! But you only need a windowsill to begin to love and learn the art of gardening. Sowing a seed, nurturing it and then enjoying the dancing flowers, beautiful leaves or deliciously edible fruits you’ve brought to fruition… This is exciting, addictive stuff and so satisfying. You don’t need fancy equipment, lots of space or any prior knowledge. You will learn as you go along especially from your mistakes. Gardeners are a generous bunch, sharing plants, seeds and advice so it doesn’t need to be a costly hobby. Have a go and see where it takes you!”
Why we’re championing Brigitte
Brigitte is at the forefront of her industry and she cares deeply about creating floral art in a sustainable way. We love that she teaches her practices to other florists and flower enthusiasts to show them that there’s no need for floral foam or non-native flowers. We’re excited to support her as she shows her students that organic gardening can help the environment in so many ways as well as produce stunning flowers for cutting.