Mary Hill is an unassuming creative artist living and making in Handbridge. Her workshop ‘Cowslip Studios’ is crammed with her beautiful pieces of work, from a hanging meadow to a dried wildflower wreath. Both created with foraged flora from Chester Meadows where the majority of her materials are sourced.
At Cowslip Studios there’s a new kind of floristry happening with a focus on being eco-friendly. You won’t find florists foam here or ribbon and plastic wrap. Mary only uses materials from the natural environment and occasionally some paper wrapped wire to hold her creations together.
The wire will rust and disintegrate eventually, she tells me, and I find myself beaming with the sustainability of it all.
There’s a necessary realism too; on some occasions, she needs to buy in additional flowers from a grower in Cheshire and when she runs workshops demand for materials can be high. “It’s a business at the end of the day,” says Mary, “and that means you need to think about profits too.” But it’s clear the priority here is to create maximum beauty with minimal ecological impact.
She’s starting to work this way with other like-minded people too, having been asked to make eco-friendly sprays that look wild and natural for humanist funerals.
Mary draws her inspiration from the natural environment on her daily walks, gathering what’s available and also sharing inspiration with the ‘Flowers from the Farm’ collective that Cowslip Studios is part of. A lot of the plants aren’t what you’d traditionally choose in a typical florist. Yarrow, Tansy and even Dock have their place here, bringing a truly local feel to the arrangements and showing that our preconceptions about beauty can be widened with a little creativity.
By this point, I’m 100% in and starting to think I could dry some flowers from my garden and get creating. Luckily, Mary runs workshops throughout the year where you can rock up and learn a little about what it takes to create your very own dried wildflower wreath, hand-tied bouquet or even a flower crown.
I ask Mary where someone should start on their creative journey, and her advice is refreshingly simple:
- do what you enjoy
- don’t worry about where something is leading
- keep on trying
- know that it’s normal to fail
Before I leave I also ask her what I can home-grow in order to begin flower arranging, and she simply says, in a rather zen-like manner, “if you love what you grow then it tends to grow well.”
Saturday 21st September 2-3.30 Hand tied Bouquet at Industry.
Saturday 28th September 2-4 Seasonal wreath workshop at Industry
Christmas Wreath workshops 28th November and 7th December
Workshops are £35 per person and include all materials and refreshments.
Cowslip Studios also offer bespoke flowers and workshops for organisations and individuals
Images courtesy of Yam Kovatch – www.yamkovatch.com and Instagram @yamkovatchphotography