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Amber Partner left a job in the city 10 years ago to live out her dream of running a smallholding with partner Martin, and found the perfect patch in Dorton, near Thame. Alongside self-building an award-winning eco-house and rearing rare breed cows and sheep, she’s also found the time to create a drop-dead gorgeous flower farm, filling her field in swathes of gorgeous cut flowers from April to October. 

A Californian-born self-taught florist, Amber is an up-and-coming name on the ‘gram, with a devoted following of 13k+ for her glorious grid. It tracks Amber’s year from sowing and seedlings through to images of her with bucketful’s of blooms fresh from the field and finally her trademark blousy and beautiful bouquets. Business is going so well, there are plans to expand adding another XXXXXX hectares of raised beds to the acre of flowers already established.

Beautiful blooms snapped by photographer Ellie Walpole at the Bucks & Oxon Muddy Awards drinks!

Word has spread fast and Howe Farm flowers now grace the tables of stylish relaxed weddings, chic chi entrance halls and dining tables across Oxon and Bucks, with bouquets cut and arranged by Amber, or for the creative types, you can go for PYO and arrange them yourself at home.

Or take it up a notch, and try a workshop – one of the most popular offerings at Howe Farm is the Summer Flower Morning – collect flowers, learn how to arrange them and go home with armfuls of flowers and a tummy full of cake (get booking now as two of this summer’s dates are already sold out). There’s also full-day workshops in how to grow and arrange flowers and the ever popular Christmas wreath workshops. 


Arriving at the farm, you drive past Amber’s Cali-cool modern ranch-style house and into the spotlessly clean farmyard with Oscar the black lab usually in attendance. Three large barns form a horseshoe and while pretty it’s most definitely a working farm, with tractors and farm machinery parked up.

The Flower Shed is where Amber hosts her workshops and is a converted barn that’s bright, airy and rustic. It’s kitted out with Cath Kidston style oilcloth trestle tables, galvanised buckets of flowers and wooden benches decked with cute cushions.

I was there for a Summer Flower Morning workshop along with a mix of  brides-to-be, mothers and daughters fulfilling their Mother’s Day gifts plus a couple of friends on a creative day out. Amber greeted us with a warm smile a cup of tea before her introduction.  

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It was a bit of an early start for me (9am on a Saturday!) but cup of tea in hand and admiring the true cerulean blue sky and fresh cut flowers, it was a worth the alarm call. I was joined by seven fellow students, though each workshop accepts up to ten, with no experience necessary.

Amber started with a short introduction about herself and the farm before explaining the plan for the morning. 

The first step was to choose our flowers and I was grateful for Amber’s advice on this because it was definitely sweetshop territory for me – I could happily have picked one of everything. Her advice was to go for a selection of wow flowers – big bouncy blooms like dahlias or roses, to pick in threes for aesthetic, add a variety of flower shapes likes circular cosmos or salvia spikes, then consider wild flowers for that relaxed look and finally, a quarter of the bunch should be foliage with stems of mint or honeysuckle to add scent.

We had a leisurely 45 minutes for picking our flowers and walking up and down cutting long blooms for our bouquets with nothing off limits. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an acre of flowers before and the more you looked the more you saw. The atmosphere was peaceful and calm and although I had no idea what most were called, you couldn’t help be impressed by the geometry of Mother Nature (especially the dahlias) and the rich and vivid colours across every spectrum of the rainbow. Just beautiful.  

Back in the Flower Shed,  Amber walked us through arranging the flowers by colour and type on our trestle tables, and then one by one crossing them over with a quarter turn to create a spiral bouquet of hand held flowers.

My summery themed bouquet had splashes of blue xxx (thorny one), pink flox, apricot dahlias and white xxx spikes , but others made autumnal-feel bouquets of deep red, oranges and plum flowers. One bride-to-be piloted her 70s inspired wedding bouquet with orange dahlias, deep cranberry cosmos and burnt treacle sunflowers.  It was truly unique and very cool. 

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After the flower picking we could choose the Flower Shed or a shaded spot in the Greenhouse Garden for a spot of tea and freshly baked cakes. I had a gooey homemade blackcurrant cake (picked from the farm of course!) which was seriously delicious.  


If you want to make a day of it, the no-brainer has to be Waddesdon Manor, five miles away– you can easily spend the other half of the day there with a tour of the house; a meander around the formal grounds; lunch, dinner or wine-tastings; letting the kids hang out in the huge play area (good luck getting them off the zipwire), or exhibitions in The Stables.  

Further afield, Bicester Village is a 15-mile zip up the road, and both Oxford and Woodstock, home to Blenheim Palace, are 25 miles away. A little closer to home and more low-key, the windmill in the pretty hilltop village of Brill, the thatched cottages of Long Crendon (past winner of Muddy’s Best Place To Live in Buckinghamshire no less) and the market town of Thame are worth a potter.



GOOD FOR: Mindfulness and getting back to nature, a day out with girlfriends or gardening enthusiasts, a Mother’s Day gift or even a (civilised) hen party daytime activity before the drinking commences… 

NOT FOR: Taking your fiancé to choose a bouquet unless he is already showing interest  flowers – in my opinion best you keep your wedding bouquet a surprise. These workshops aren’t for young kids either – save one of the fab local local PYO farms for a day out with the littlies.

Top tip: Wear trainers – unlike me in my Birkenstocks – as the fields are dotted with sneaky thistles and nettles. If the weather is cool, wrap up, as the Flower Shed is open to the elements (hot and cold). 

THE DAMAGE: Flower Morning Workshop (9-12noon) £70, Grow your own cut flowers (10am-3pm) course £150,  1 hour PYO charged at £22.50 per galvanise bucket and 2 hour PYO Flowers and tea for two £60. 

Howe Farm Flowers, Ashendon Road, Dorton, Bucks, HP18 0NY;; 07852 417218 

The post The Muddy verdict: Howe Farm Flowers workshop appeared first on Bucks & Oxon.

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