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October 24, 2019

Raw and Gather Retreat

At Chateau de la Ruche

As soon as I heard about the Autumn Raw and Gather retreat at Chateau de la Ruche, I knew it was the perfect escape to recharge and replenish my creative soul. Something I need to do every year if I can. A treat to myself so that I can gather my thoughts and feel inspired for a new floral season. The combination of flowers, photography and good food in a beautiful setting in France sounded perfect. Chateau owners Rebecca and Tim made me feel welcome before I even arrived. It was going to be a special few days I could tell

It didn’t take me long to convince my pal Hazel of Eden Blooms that it was just what she needed too. She was the one that got me in to floristry and photographing flowers after we met on a calligraphy course a few years a go.

We were met by Tim at Le Mans station. Instantly recognisable from Escape to the Chateau DIY. (I’d last seen him on TV, plumbing in some pipes for a new bath) And much excitement when we realised Emma Davies photo was joining us as one of the guests too. Half an hour later we were turning in to the drive of the Chateau, flanked by woodland on one side and farmland, cattle grazing on the other. Remote, rural and rustic. Everything we hoped for!


I was immediately drawn to the magical swathe of cyclamen with Rebecca’s petite brocante shop looking picture perfect. With its moss clad roof, it was once an aviary, but Rebecca has it filled with beautiful market baskets, jars of local honey, scented candles and cosy blankets.


It was nearly dusk and the festoon lights were lit making the Chateau look utterly inviting and welcoming. Polina, @dafioridesigns and Kim, @maruphotography were there to greet us and before we knew it, we were sipping champagne with the other guests in the ancient barn that had been turned in to a magical and inviting space to work.

The table was laid outside for our harvest supper and it wasn’t long before Rebecca served a wonderful warming meal of coq au vin and apple crumble. The first of many amazing feasts.

Day one was all about creating a magical outdoor setting for later that evening. An autumn canopy celebrating the natural beauty of the season. We set about foraging in the grounds of the chateau with Monty the chateau dog and our baskets in hand. The trees were just turning to gold and copper and Rebeccas dahlia patch was brimming with Autumn colour.


Polina led the group installation with her beautiful vision of a canopy for our harvest supper amongst the avenue of beech trees and Kim took us through capturing the table from the best angle and using the light as we hit the golden hour. Kim travels all over the world as a photographer and her images are going to be stunning. I can’t wait to see them.

With a foam free garland along the table made using chicken wire and vases, we added the finishing touches, lanterns, bud vases and autumn fruits from the garden. It couldn’t look more magical.


Day two was all about creating a floral design using a pin frog or  kenzan. Polina is a passionate advocate of foam free mechanics and she explained that this was her preferred choice when designing a bowl arrangement.


Polina’s ingredients for her arrangement. I loved these artisan bowls from @factura_ceramica


We all had a chance to style the table as we chose and Kim again explained the camera settings and angles. I loved these teasels from the Chateau grounds.


There were so many beautiful backdrops to explore. This is Polina’s beautifully crafted bridal bouquet for an elopement shoot that was taking place the following afternoon. One lucky couple had won the a photography shoot, wedding ceremony and flowers with dinner and a night at the Chateau (I was rather envious)!


Saying goodbye to my room and a magical few days with good friends, incredible food and beautiful flowers was pretty hard I have to say! Thank you Chateau de la Ruche, Rebecca and Tim, Kim and Polina for an unforgettable few days.


Janne x


Floral Styling and photography

  1. Ann Davis says:

    Your images and descriptions are wonderful. Thank you for sharing your magical time.

    Ann Davis

  2. Gisela says:

    So georgeous your photos and a perfect Review, to take me back ☺️❤️

  3. Hazel says:

    Loved every minute of it. Thanks for inviting me x

  4. Karen hunter says:

    Looks amazing

  5. Gill says:

    Sounds and looks like an amazing few days! Your photos are just beautiful Janne. That little shop nestled in amongst the cyclamen looks like something out of a fairy tale! 💜 Gill x

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