I love flowers, all flowers, I always have done.
From rambling country hedgerows and exuberant summer meadows, through manicured country estate showcases to cottage gardens. Nature’s confident juxtaposition of delicate flowers with fierce architectural foliage and bold berries simply serves to remind us that when it comes to flowers, there really are no rules.
I adore simple blooms in a jar just as much as I love expensive bouquets or extravagant event displays from some of the most talented florists in the business. I grow as many as I can and have rescued many a bunch from the yellow-stickered reduced buckets in supermarkets.
Discovering the flower markets
Those who know me well know that I am a crazy insomniac. My mind is always racing. If I manage to stay asleep once my head hits the pillow, all well and good. If I happen to wake up (which, with a six year old who is currently going through the night-terrors stage is quite regularly) then its an altogether different story. I’m simply wide awake.
Many years ago, waking up at around 3am in a small London flat, I had a moment of madness. Rather than sit around reading as the sun rose, I shoved on a pair of well-worn desert boots and a large bright blue puffa jacket (this was 20-odd years ago!) and hopped on the night bus, with the remains of my monthly wages, in the direction of Covent Garden Flower Market.
My very own wonderland
Entering the market, I felt like Alice having fallen down the rabbit hole. I was in a land of mystery and intrigue, magic, colour and frenzied activity. Exotic African blooms, wild foliage, acres of tulips fresh from Holland, roses in such a variety of hues that it made my head spin. Peonies in full bloom, ranunculous in a rainbow of colours and numerous varieties I had never seen before.
Hours later I staggered out of the markets, tottering beneath my own weight in flowers – quite a sight on the commuter rush on the London Underground I can promise you! I hauled my haul back to my tiny flat and tried to find room for them all. A few found their way to favourite vases, some were squashed into rinsed out tin cans and wine bottles, others I cut short and packed into cups and saucers or soup bowls. Every bud and bloom found a home.
In the days before You Tube
In the months and years that followed, in the days before YouTube, I bought myself books to teach myself the basics of floristry and attended an intensive course at the Paula Pryke Flower School. I returned many times to indulge my crack-like addiction to flowers and pulled off my own wedding flowers with flair, if I do say so myself.
Over the years I have ‘done the wedding flowers’ for lots of friends – only the ones guaranteed not to turn Bridezilla mind you. My favourites were a Cath Kidston inspired ‘rustic country’ wedding in an old barn and a fiercely bold bouquet for a rock chick bride. Right now I’m all about simple posies in jam jars.
This love affair is a passionate one, but one that has stood the test of time. A rare thing indeed.
What is your creative passion?