Vintage Wedding Inspiration

September 24th, 2014

Working with lovely Jeni at Vanilla Rose Weddings here are a few photos from a wedding that we styled this summer.  The venue was a stunning tythe barn at Herons Farm in Berkshire which was the perfect backdrop for our vintage props.

For more information about hiring vintage props for your special event please email or call us on 01993 878861.

Photographs courtesy of Andy Rapkins 

Style your event with Mabel & Rose Vintage Prop Hire

May 9th, 2014

hire-pixGive your event a vintage twist

Vintage prop hire is something I’ve wanted to be able to offer customers for a while now but until moving to our new premises at the lovely Foxtail Barn in Leafield it just wasn’t very practical.  I’ve lent out odd bits and pieces to friends and family over the years and always enjoyed seeing how a few little vintage twists can transform even the simplest venue into something stunning. Styling with vintage props adds character and can really help to make your event feel that bit more intimate and personal.

Achieve the look
at a fraction of the cost

Sourcing everything that you need for a vintage wedding or event can be a time consuming, expensive and slightly daunting task though, especially if you’re working to a tight budget and you’ve got lots of other things to organise as well. Hiring vintage items means that you can achieve the look you want at a fraction of the cost and you also don’t have to worry about what you’re going to do with all of the items after the event.

Our range

We have a wide range of larger vintage items available for hire including vintage apple crates, zinc flower buckets, tubs and tin baths, stepladders, suitcases, milk churns, barrels, an old tradesman’s bicycle & wheelbarrows. We also have  a gorgeous selection of vintage enamel jugs, Ball Mason jars, old milk bottles, victorian terracotta pots and original French stoneware which are ideal for flowers and table centres.  

We’re working on a gallery of items that we have available which will be up on the website shortly – in the meantime please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like more information.

Vintage Hire at Mabel & Rose

Bee Kind

February 24th, 2014

BumblebeeIt’s been such a mild winter and I know that spring is on the horizon, but I was still surprised  to spot my first Bumblebee of the year today – a Queen emerging from hibernation thinking about building a new nest perhaps?  Looking around my garden I’m wondering what in the way of food I’ve got to offer her at this time of year and have  to admit that the larder is looking decidedly empty.

So, I popped on over to the  Bumblebee Conservation Trust website, where they’ve got a brilliant ‘Bee kind’ tool that helps you identify how Bee friendly your garden is and recommends other species that you can plant to make it a haven for these wonderful little creatures throughout the year.


BBCT is a great charity established to help protect the 24 different species of Bumblebee in the UK, which have experienced a massive decline in recent years, with 2 species disappearing altogether from our shores since 1940. The decline has been mainly due to changes in agriculture and the impact on our landscape meaning that bumblebees have found themselves both hungry and homeless.

It would be devastating if these bumbly insects were to disappear from our gardens, not to mention the huge impact it would have on pollination rates for lots of agricultural crops and the demise in many wildflower species.   The BBCT website is full of interesting facts, like why bumblebees have smelly feet and can help you identify the different species that you’ve got in your garden. It also has lots of information about what you can do to support their work, so do check it out.


And, if you’re looking for a quick way to encourage bees into your garden then try our Seedball Bee Mix, a specially selected collection of wildflowers that will attract bees to your garden or allotment with minimum effort. We will be donating 10% of our profits from sales of Bee mix tins to BBCT  between now and the  end of March 2014.



Heady Hyacinths

February 5th, 2014

It might be cold outside but spring is definitely in the air in the Mabel & Rose workshop as our spring bulbs come into bloom.  My favourite are these gorgeous pink hyacinths planted in a pretty vintage French tureen, a treasure found on one of our French trips last year.









A Guide to Gardening with Seedballs

November 11th, 2013

Gardening with seedballs is super easy and fun – here is a quick guide to get you started.


How to scatter seedballs

Seedballs are easy to use because they don’t need to be planted – simply scatter them where you want them to grow (preferably on top of soil or compost), and let nature do the rest. Seedballs also grow well in pots and containers.

They don’t need to be broken up and should be left whole – once water has permeated the clay, the seeds will slowly begin to germinate inside the ball. Scattered seed balls should not be picked up once it’s rained, as this could damage any growing roots.

Plants that grow from seedballs don’t need thinning out – the seedball will begin to grow as a cluster of plants, but will later disperse as the clay disintegrates and disperses.

When to scatter seedballs

Seedballs can be scattered at any time of the year, although the best time is normally spring or autumn – recommended time to scatter your seedballs can be found on the product listing and on the tin itself.

 Where to scatter seedballs

Seedballs should be scattered on top of soil or compost – they can also be grown in pots, containers and window boxes in your garden or on a balcony. If the area you want to plant is grassy, then it’s best to remove a layer of top-soil before scattering. More information about growing a wildflower meadow can be found on the plantlife website.

 How many seedballs to use

This depends on how dense you want the flowers to be, but as a guide you should use at least twenty seed balls per square meter for your garden. If growing in a small pot, 3 – 5 seed balls should be enough. For larger pots or window boxes, 10 – 20 seed balls should do the trick.


If they’re scattered outside seedballs shouldn’t need watering, except during a really dry spell. If your seedballs are inside or under cover you should water them every 1-2 days.

Germinating & Flowering

Seeds will start to germinate when conditions are right, normally after plenty of rain and when it’s not too cold.  It can sometimes take a while for seeds to begin sprouting so it’s important to be patient!

When exactly the seed ball grows and flowers will depend on the type of seed ball bought. Mixed tins contain a variety of seed species in one ball – some of these are annuals and some are perennials.

Growing wildflowers is definitely a long-term project and native UK wildflowers are slow-growers compared to many of the exotic plants common to gardens. Not only may seed balls take some time to sprout but they will also take their time to fully grow and flower. While some species will flower within the first year, many will not flower until the second year.

Storing Seedballs

Seedballs will keep well for planting the next year if they are stored in a cool and dry place.

Seedballs at Mabel & Rose

Seedballs at Mabel & Rose

November 6th, 2013

10705-03I was really excited to receive my new stock of Seedball tins just in time for the Christmas rush – a revolutionary way to create wildflower gardens and meadows, these gorgeous little tins make the perfect stocking filler or secret santa gift.

Using seedballs couldn’t be easier – simply scatter them where you want them to grow and then sit back and let nature do the rest.  Because they don’t have to be planted, they’re ideal for anyone who isn’t keen on propagating from seed.

How does a seedball work?

Each seedball contains a mini ecosystem: wildflower seeds are mixed with clay, peat-free compost and a tiny bit of chilli powder, and rolled into a small ball. They measure approximately 1cm in diameter, making them dead easy to scatter.

The dried clay acts as a protective casing from common seed predators (such as ants, mice and birds). When sufficient rain permeates the clay, the seeds inside begin to germinate – helped along by the nutrients and minerals contained within the balls. The chilli powder continues to deter predators while the seedball slowely degrades and the seeds sprout.

History of the seedball

Different forms of seedballs have been used throughout history – from ancient Chinese civilisations to Native American tribes. Recently, seedballs were re-invented and advanced by Masanobu Fukuoka, the Japanese natural farming innovator. Fukuoka showed that seedballs could produce high crop yields without the need for plowing, weeding, or the application of pesticides and fertiliser.

Although seedballs are fairly new to the UK, they’re commonly used in ecological restoration projects across many other parts of the world, such as the Rainmaker Project in Kenya. They’ve also been used creatively for re-greening urban areas and guerrilla gardening.

Seedball tins at Mabel & Rose


Vintage Enamel

October 30th, 2013

I love vintage enamel – all those pretty jewel like colours and pastel shades are hard to resist and are great for adding a classic French country feel to your kitchen, bathroom or garden.

Enamelware is made by fusing powdered glass onto metal at a very high temperature – the powder melts, flows, and then hardens to a smooth, durable vitreous coating that we know today as enamel.  The word originally comes from the High German word “smelzan” later becoming “esmail” in Old French – it is now known as “smalto” in Italian, “email” in French and German and “enamel” in English.


The very earliest examples of enameling can be traced back as far as 13th century BC when it was used as decorative art but it wasn’t until the 18th century that people began using enamel to coat iron cookware to stop metallic tastes and rust getting into food.  Easy to clean and durable, enamel gained in popularity and the industrial revolution saw the mass production of an array of household items throughout Europe.  However, by the 1930’s demand for enamel waned as other materials appeared on the market.

Vintage enamel is now highly collectable and French vintage enamel seems to be especially sought after, perhaps because of the huge variety of items that were made including enamel storage jars, coffee pots, soap dishes, buckets, tubs, utensil racks and even ‘allumette’ holders to store your matches!  French vintage enamel also seems to come in the widest range of colours,  from the traditional white and navy to pretty duck egg blue, yellow, pink, green and ‘eau de nil’.

Original enamelware will usually show signs of wear – chips and rust patches are common but can add real character.  I’m always on the lookout for vintage enamel on our buying trips to France and was excited to find some lovely pieces recently – why not take a look at our range and treat yourself – they also make fabulous affordable gifts.

Vintage Enamel at Mabel & Rose »


Images from: Victoria’s Vintage, Idemakeriet, UKTV

Lavender in Vintage Flower Buckets

October 16th, 2013

LavenderOn the hunt for an unusual wedding present for some friends recently, I was amazed when I found these beautiful lavender plants still flowering in early October and decided to plant them up into our gorgeous vintage zinc flower buckets.  In the language of flowers Lavender means luck and devotion so ideal for a wedding gift.

Lavender hates being damp so choose a sunny spot and it’s a good idea to protect them from harsh winter winds.  Although it has a large spreading root system it prefers to grow in a tight space so is ideal for containers.

If you’re local, then why not pop by our workshop and talk to us about having a vintage container planted up to give to someone as a unique gift for any occasion.

Vintage Zinc Flower buckets available to purchase here





Upcycled Vintage Shutter

June 26th, 2013

We’ve recently moved to a new premises that we share with a few other businesses and we wanted a business card holder for our communal area. Having scoured the internet and found nothing inspiring I remembered an old French shutter that I picked up on a recent buying trip and decided to have a go at upcycling it.

The original shutter had a frame around it which meant that it was too big for the space we had available so first job was to remove that – it was pretty straightforward and just involved removing a hinge held on with a couple of rusty screws.

I love the look of old shutters just leant against a wall and used to display cards and other pretty things but we needed this to be more secure and wanted to fix it flush to the wall, so the next job was to remove all the metal work from the back of the slatted area. This was quite tricky and involved metal cutters and a hacksaw but I persevered and once they were off I fixed a thin piece of MDF to the back and hey presto. I slid some cardboard inside some of the slats to make it easier to display smaller cards as well – a stunning repurposed shutter business card holder.

I then painted another piece of MDF with blackboard paint and attached it to the frame to make a funky little blackboard.

For more ideas and inspiration about upcycling vintage shutters check out this fab blog post by Dishfunctional Designs

Kiftsgate Court on Fathers Day

June 18th, 2013

On Fathers Day this year we went on a family trip to the beautiful and inspiring gardens at Kiftsgate Court.

Situated next door to the National Trust gardens at Hidecote, Kiftsgate has some really creative planting on a dizzyingly steep embankment, as well as some lovely rose borders and terraces around the main house. It’s also usually a lot quieter than more well known neighbour!

There’s also a little woodland stroll through a bluebell wood – we were a little late for the bluebells but the foxgloves were starting to grow through ready for a great summer display.

We particularly enjoyed the huge variety of Astrantias, one of our favourite flowers at the moment, and the giant Wisteria covering the back of the house gave off a delicious jasmine scent to the upper terraces.

Visit for more details of this wonderful garden.