Thursday, 29 November 2007


I love flowers....which is a good thing seeing as I trained as a Florist almost 5 years ago! I had worked in the City for 10 years, ending up in Legal Recruitment. But after having H, I just couldn't hack it anymore, I didn't want to be working the long hours, plus travelling and after a glitch with the nursery he was at (a blessing in disguise) I left.......

I wanted something that was going to fit in around children, and for those with children, you know how hard that is. Anyway, when I was 15 I had wanted to be a florist, but my mum persuaded me not to do it. Probably because junior florists are paid hideously low wages and if you learn 'on the job' you are going to get all the horrible jobs to do!

So at the age of 28, I went back to college for a 2 year stint to train to be a florist. I had an idea that playing with flowers was going to be a wonderfully enriching past-time and I would be happy spending all day being creative. Capel Manor College is THE place to go to learn floristry so off I trotted. H was settled at a new nursery and the course was less than 15 hours per week and so I had the best of both worlds.

Some things I learned in my first year.......

  • You are always going to be COLD.

  • You learn how to 'feather' carnation petals until the cows come home.

  • Wiring 100 ivy leaves is not funny and does not feel remotely creative with cold hands

  • You need lashings of handcream after every lesson

  • There are only so many things you can do with Leather Leaf to make it look attractive.

  • You have to learn many Latin names for plants and flowers, and learn how to pronounce Tsuga Heterophylla like you know what it looks like, and what to do with it (especially as everyone says it differently!).

  • Work experience as a 28 year old is no fun at all, especially when the Head Florist is younger than you!

  • Making arrangements and hand ties in class is totally different when you do it at work as the customer is always waiting.

  • Tool Boxes are best not left in the middle of the room, especially when you are carrying a bucket full of freezing water.

However, in my second year...

You learn to think creatively on every piece of the flower, like how to use stems of Gerberas in an arrangement. Something my floristry teacher had never seen before.

You learn to work as a team. Our team always went for large-scale designs. When we were asked to design and make a wire framed 'animal', we in fact, designed and made a swan. It was so large that the floristry department went over their budget for the year (the wings had individually glued on leaf skeletons that cost a fortune wholesale, let alone retail!). But our tutor said she had to let us make it as she wanted to see how it would turn out! We constructed the frame from bonsai wire, covered it in chicken wire, stuffed it with paper, and used moss all over (which you have to wire in place), and then we sprayed it. It was the centerpeice for Christmas.

You learn how to design and construct wedding bouquets - funnily enough I said I was never going to get involved doing weddings, but it turned out, I was very good at them and now that's what I do the most of!

I don't do as much floristry as I did, with two children, a job as a Fundraiser and all my other projects on the go, it has taken a back seat (for now). I still do the odd bouquet, funeral arrangement and sister-in-law is getting married next September so I will have to dig out my scissors and stem stripper!

1 comment:

Garden girl said...

Your arrangements are so beautiful..having done only a pathetic 10 week part time floristry course I can sympathise with the cold thing and the handcream thing as well. I think I had an incredibly naive view that it would be all about scent, colour and being clever. And whilst all that comes into it I didn't expect the cold, the boring jobs (wiring) and the constant criticism from my snotty lecturer..maybe I wasn't cut out for it after all, but I do still do the odd arrangement and am always very popular for buttonholes throughout the wedding season!x