Thursday, 18 October 2018

Questions - and Answers


Recently, I was invited along to give a demonstration at a locally run club; whilst there, chatting as I was working, several people in the ‘audience’ asked me questions about being a florist, and owning a shop, which I answered. I love it when people interact with me in such a way.

As it was, it transpired one of the gentlemen present recorded the conversation, and he has just emailed me over a transcribed version; I thought it would be an interesting piece to share with you. Some of it you may have heard/read, before; some of it you may not.

I’ve copied them to this blog in the order they were emailed to me, save for one question, which I wanted to put first (mainly because I know a lot of people won’t bother to read to the end!!) and while it was a way down the list of questions I was asked, to me, it is possibly the most important; the one which sums up ‘being a florist’.

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What annoys you most?

Oh my, where to start? (a rumble of laughter echoed around the room before the question had a post note added, saying “in regard to being a florist”).

That’s an easy one to answer. People who believe that it’s an easy job; that I’m just “playing at my hobby” all day. I am fully aware no offence is meant when it is said – several times each week – yet the perception floristry is an easy life really couldn’t be further from the truth. I am aware, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a hard job either, but it’s not all pretty-pretty in any way, shape or form.

Our customers, and the public on-the-whole, don’t see those late nights when you’re trying to get flowers finished for an early funeral the next morning and you find the lilies you got in 10 days before, for the all lily tribute, are still not open and they need to be or the tribute isn’t going to look how the customer wanted it to, and when it comes to funerals, we have to get it right. Just this summer, on one of the days when the temperatures reached over 30’c, I had to put the heating on in the office to try and get some to open. Same with weddings; often brides want lilies in vases, and as that is all they are having we have to ensure they open, or the desired effect won’t be created. We have no control over flowers at all, and they often put-us-in-our-place, reminding us they are a natural organism which nobody can control.

Our customers aren’t there in the morning when you open the emails from your wholesaler to find flowers you ordered with them weeks ago, they were unable to get. The day before a wedding recently, I had a call saying “you know you ordered 200 of those roses? Well, we could only get 140”. I had a bride expecting 200 specific roses, yet 60 of them I was unable to get hold of. Admittedly, our T’s and C’s do state we cannot always guarantee an exact flower, and occasionally we must make a substitution, but that doesn’t make it any easier; that could potentially ruin a brides wedding day. Then there are the times we open a wrap of flowers to find half of them are broken, or have been crushed in transit, or (even worse) are rotting in the middle. The outside of the wrap can look perfect so you’re none-the-wiser until you unwrap them. People seem to forget that flowers are a natural, living thing; we have no control over them. I recently had a complaint because the stems of some flowers weren’t dead straight. Because of this I then had to re-write all my care instructions, to ensure I added that the straightness of flowers cannot be guaranteed. But hey, I’m just “playing at my hobby”

Our customers aren’t in the shop when we arrive at 7am (and earlier some days) to find the flowers which are meant to be waiting for us, so we can get the mornings orders made up before the shop door opens, haven’t arrived. Not quite so stressful if for delivery as unless it’s a funeral, we never guarantee a time, but when you’ve had a customer in at 4.30 the evening before, demanding you get them a specific flower by 8.30 the next morning, and those flowers haven’t arrived, things can get a little tense – yes, we do have many customers like that, and yet, apparently, we are just “playing at our hobby”.

How about those days when we’re knee deep in water – this happens often thanks to vases not always being as stable as they should be, and is most un-delightful on a cold, winters morning – trying to get an order made up for delivery, with several lined up behind to be made for customers who have pre-ordered when someone comes in the shop, demanding you stop what you are doing to make them something to take-away “now”. Just the other week, on a Friday, I opened the door at 8.30 (as usual) and all that day’s orders were ready when I did so. By 8.45 I had taken 7 phone calls from people wanting me to get them flowers ready to collect anywhere between 9 – 9.30. Halfway through making those orders a gentleman walked in and told me he wanted “flowers in a water bubble to take away now”. When I explained I had to finish the pre-orders I’d taken first but should be able to get him something ready by 9.45 he got abusive, nasty and quite threatening with me. I tried so nicely to explain that it wasn’t fair for me to stop what I was doing and make his order up in that instant, as my other customers had taken the time to pre-order with me (albeit not giving me that much time) and asked how he would feel if he’d ordered with me earlier and his order wasn’t ready when he arrived to collect. I won’t repeat the words he spoke to me for they were foul, and I was extremely grateful when another regular customer, who is a very solidly built chap came in. But hey, I was just “playing at my hobby”, right?

Our customers aren’t always around the when drunken men come in a Friday after they’ve been in the pub all afternoon; they’re loud, they’re rowdy, they always want what we haven’t got and unfortunately some of them can be quite menacing. I’ve had a guy stand the other side of my workbench holding one of my knives trying to intimidate me before. I had a whole family once come into the work area and surround me while their mother was placing an order; they stood there to ensure I organised exactly what she wanted. Dealing with these kinds of people is most definitely “not playing at my hobby”.

Our customers aren’t there when a family come in who have just lost a loved one. They are dealing with one of the worst times of their lives, and grieving their loss, and we must gently coax from them what they want, while acting as a counsellor to them at the same time. Many florists have completed counselling courses, because we’re there, at the forefront, during those customers most desperate hours. Dealing with grieving families is definitely “not playing at my hobby”.

We are constantly working against the clock. As I’ve mentioned above I had 7 hand tied bouquets in water, to get ready in just 45 minutes. I wonder if those people who tell me it must be lovely “playing at my hobby” would be able to do so. Hobbies aren’t meant to be against-the-clock, constantly, are they?

Even worse though, than being told it’s just a hobby, are the customers who say “make it a nice one” after they’ve placed their order with you. I (and all my fellow florists I’m sure would agree) know it’s never meant in a detrimental way, but it is the single most annoying thing we deal with. As if we would do anything else. 

It’s a great job; the best I could ever imagine doing. Every day I get to work with natures very own colour palette; not many people can say that, but please, don’t ever think that it is an easy job, or that we are just ‘playing’. Most of us have spent hours (years) training; we’ve scrubbed floors on our hands-and-knees, made copious amounts of tea and coffee for employers. We have our hands in cold water for several hours each day; we’ve worked hard to get where we are and put in more hours each week than we will ever be paid for. We go home at the end of the day wet, dirty (flower stems are not clean in any way) and with feet and legs that ache where we’ve been standing on them for 8-14 hours. We nearly always have a pulled shoulder muscle where we are lifting watering cans above our heads to fill up the water bubble on a hand tied bouquet. Almost all florists will suffer with varicose veins at some level (unless they work all day in compression tights; not nice, or comfortable) and more than 60% who spend their whole career as a florist will end up with rheumatism. Our toes are nearly always bruised, broken or cut where rolls of cellophane, scissors and knives seem to fall on them, almost hourly. Under our fingernails can never be clean; our hands and arms are often covered in deep scratches from thorns. There is always blood at some point during a day – we must be so careful in the winter when our hands are almost frozen, that we don’t cut the tops of our fingers off. I came close with some secateurs once because I couldn’t feel anything.


Did you always want to be a florist?

Goodness, no. It’s not something I had ever thought about, and I knew nothing about flowers or plants; I still don’t know much about plants.  Once, when I was 12 or 13 I’d visited a flower shop with a school friend who wanted to buy a few flowers for another friend of ours who had just lost her Dad. I don’t remember much about the experience, except it was a narrow shop, dark, damp and dingy with a smell that correlated to the damp. It certainly wasn’t something which jumped out at me in a positive way, making me think to myself “one day I will make this my career”. We left with the flowers and I never thought about the experience again until just a few years ago when I visited a shop in Wales which had the same smell.

What did you want to do then?

I planned to be a secretary. My Mum and Dad saved hard to buy me a typewriter, which at the time was top-of-the-range.  I remember sitting there for hours, practising “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”; apparently the sentence uses every letter from the alphabet which is why it was one we were taught when I took a typewriter class. I’ve never checked whether that statement is true, or not; I just did as I was told, typing the same bit, row after row after row. I can’t knock it now though; being able to touch type has it’s uses in the shop
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If it’s not what you wanted to do, how come you are doing it?

I’ve asked myself that very same question, many times over the years, and my answer is always the same. I have no clue. Had I been allowed to leave school in the January I would have been working with children. I completed my 3 weeks work experience in a Nursery School and they offered me an apprenticeship but needed me to start before my exams. School wouldn’t allow me to leave early and so that put paid to that. I’m sure now they’d have let me on the condition I went back to sit my exams. Because of this, when they then set me up in the February with a careers advisor I was a bit peeved and went along only because I was told I had to.

I sat in a pokey office with this guy in a brown knitted jumper that had leather patches on the elbows; he was wearing dark wine-coloured cords and had unkempt messy brown hair. I kept thinking the whole thing was a waste of time – as you do when you’re a teenager – while he wittered on about different collage courses and how I would need to up-my-game if I wanted to finish school with good grades and prospects for a successful career. When he finally stopped he uttered the words “What are intending to do when you leave?” to which I replied, “I’m going to become a florist”. To this day I have no idea where those words came from; I can’t tell you how entertaining the look of shock on my parent’s face was when I told them (I can still see them both now, all these years later). I knew nothing about flowers, had never even considered them as being any part of my life.

That same evening, my Mum called my Nan to tell her the crazy thing I had come out with – I really wasn’t the kind of girl anyone would have thought would choose floristry. The next day whilst visiting my Great Aunt, my Nan had to take her to a florist to organise some funeral flowers; whilst there she mentioned to the owner what I had said the day before. Thursday of that week I was driven down to Portsmouth for a meeting with the shop owner, and by Saturday I was working there. That was one strange week, I can tell you.

Did you have to complete any training?

Absolutely, I did. I was put on the YTS scheme at the time (this meant my employer got me to work for free) and I spent 4 days in the shop, with 2 days at college for the first year. In the second year they dropped us to 1 day at college, 5 days in the shop. My boss was old school though. I scrubbed vases and floors and made tea. Back then we didn’t have foam frames, everything was made on wire with moss. I spent half my life with my hands in a bag of moss trying to avoid the sticks with thorns the size of daggers, the ant nests which would appear in spring; red ants usually. During wet spells the worms would be out in force; I didn’t mind these, would take them out to the garden and find a new home for them. I’d go home, and my hands would be black with dirt, my arms ripped to shreds from the thorns and edges of the wire frames where they’d not been smoothed off. They sure used to sting in the shower. Then, the next morning, I’d get up and do it all over again. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to oasis for making foam frames, even if I do end up with half of it in my eyes on a daily basis.

Do you have any regrets?

Only one, and that’s not about choosing floristry as an option. It’s about how I left a job. I’d been lucky enough after qualifying to get a job with an exceptional florist. I learned more in a year working alongside her than I had in the 2 years I’d been at college and working elsewhere. For 8 years I worked with her, going to Chelsea as her sidekick each year when she competed. She’d loan me out to her friends if they were busy or wanted time off (I wish I’d realised then what an honour that was). I once got sent to another shop for 2 weeks where I was put-in-charge. The owner was on holiday, didn’t trust the staff she had to run her shop, so borrowed me from my boss. I loved that job (my main one, not the one I was loaned out for) the people in the village where the shop was based, and my boss. However, around the same time I was going through my own personal crisis, so my boss was going through one too, and I was at work one afternoon when I realised I just couldn’t do it any longer. That evening I packed up anything I had to do with work, including my key to the shop, popped it all through the letterbox with a note explaining I wasn’t coming back. I regret that; not the leaving as such, although I’ve often thought about where I would be and what I would be doing now if I’d not, but the way I did it. It was a cowardly and quite pathetic thing for me to do; an awful way for me to behave. At the time though, I wasn’t exactly in the best place emotionally/mentally and I didn’t understand what she was going through either. As a woman, now at that same time of life as she was back then, I totally get her erratic, antsy behaviour. Hindsight is a wonderful thing though, and what’s done, is done.

Have you ever been rude to a customer?

Yes, 2 in fact. One not that long ago who came into the shop, was extremely rude to me and bought along 2 big beefy young men who were basically trying to intimidate me. I asked them to leave, they refused, pushing me further-and-further, until I lost my temper. I won’t repeat what I said, but they did (thankfully) leave.

The other was a guy over a decade ago, when I was Worthing.

It was Valentines Day. There were 5 of us working in the shop, myself included, and our 2 bosses were out delivering. Around 10am this man came in wanting a delivery to be made by 12 to an area outside of Worthing. The owners hadn’t been out with the deliveries to the area at that point, so I agreed to add his order to their list. He wanted to spend just £10, including delivery. I don’t know of any florist who would agree to do such a small amount, but our bosses would not let us refuse any order, regardless of how much someone wanted to pay. I did inform the customer there was no way we would be able to guarantee by 12 though, and the flowers would most likely not arrive until after 2. Our workload that day was phenomenal. I also hate Valentines Day and if I didn’t have to work them, I wouldn’t. They are nothing but stress and hassle from start-to-end.  At 12.05 he called the shop, yelling down the phone that his order hadn’t been delivered. The girl he was yelling at passed the phone to me, and I did my best to calm him down, once again explaining I’d not guaranteed a delivery time for him. I did tell him the orders for his area were on the van and they had worked the route out to try and get to him in time. This didn’t placate him, and he hung up on me. ‘Fair enough’ I thought and carried on with the million and one other jobs I had to complete. 15 minutes later, as it turned out the same time the delivery was being made, he came steaming into the shop, shouting. I sensed the younger girls I was working with shrink back a bit, so made my way forward, into the shop, where he got up into my face as close as he could, pointing his finger at me, going for me like I had just murdered his favourite cat. I did everything I could, speaking to him calmly, quietly, trying to explain all I had explained to him earlier. The whole time he continued shouting at me, ignoring me and being so rude I still don’t know now how I never punched him on the end of his nose. Eventually though, I had enough. I managed to free my arms enough to throw them out to my side, making myself as big and wide as I could, before I shouted at him “What do you want me to do?” I’m not proud of myself for doing it, but I could take no more. I’m not sure either, who was so shocked by my doing this. Him, or me? He winced a bit, taking a step back, so I pushed myself forward in an extremely aggressive way, before I again shouted, this time saying “Now, Get out of my shop”. He went to argue back with me, at which point I pushed forward a bit more, and within a few steps he was outside the main door. I finished with “if you ever step foot back in this shop, I swear to god I will smack you”. With that he ran off, and I turned around, livid, to see all 4 of the girls I was working with, have looks of utter shock and horror on their faces. The second they realised I was looking at them, they put their heads down, and avoided making any kind of eye contact with me, going about doing their work. He never did come back.

Has that been your worst day at work?

No, not by a long shot.

What has been your worst or hardest day, then?

There have been 3 of them. One was the day I got a call from my best friend to tell me the man (who the last time I’d seen him had said to me “You do realise, we will get married, don’t you?) had just died. I don’t remember much about the rest of the day; I know I dropped the phone, and at some point, our postman took me outside, sat me on a wall and smoked a couple of cigarettes with me. I had to stay at work all day though as my boss was on holiday and the girl I was working with wasn’t a florist; she was our office girl, and we couldn’t have shut up. That was a hard day.

The 2nd was 6 years ago when I answered the phone to my best friends’ eldest daughter. She spoke just 2 words to me “she’s gone” and I knew the hard-fought battle my friend had been fighting, against the cancer ravaging her body, had finally been lost. She was just 42 years old. All I wanted was to get the shop locked and make my way to her kids – they were 20, 12 and 9. As I was about to leave the shop, a family came in to order flowers, for the funeral of their 98-year-old grandmother. They were in bits; to this day I don’t think they ever knew just what was going through my head as I served them. I’d taken one of the worst calls of my life, literally minutes earlier, yet they had no clue how broken I was inside.

The 3rd was December 23rd last year. The day after I’d had to have my dog put-to-sleep. I was heartbroken, yet every customer who walked through the doors, or phoned the shop got their usual “happy, Sarah” dealing with them. Between visits and calls I was to be found sobbing in the kitchen, however, I never once let on to my customers.

That’s what is hard at times about this job. People only see the good bits when they come in. The cheerful people behind the counter serving them. Nobody sees what turmoil, stress or heartbreak we can be going through in our own lives, as we serve them. I sometimes feel that customers forget we are humans to, who are dealing with our own demons at times.

Have you ever cried in front of a customer?

Oh yes, twice, but they weren’t for personal reasons. One was an elderly lady. She came into the shop I was working in at the time. She was quite frail, and I could see she was visibly upset, so I took her over to the seating area we had, sat down opposite her and began to take the details I needed. She was ordering funeral flowers for her husband. He was the only person in her life she had left. She’d had no children, her siblings had all died years previous, and there were no nieces or nephews. She had nobody, and before I knew what was happening, I was crying alongside her. I’m not sure which one of used the most tissues.

The second time was because of an 8-year-old girl. She was born of a second marriage, having 2 much older, adult siblings. Their father had just passed away. That little girl came in knowing exactly what she wanted to order for her Daddy, right down to the colours and flowers. I’ve never experienced such bravery from such a young person before; by the time it got to her choosing the card she wanted to write on, I was beginning to feel very emotional. When I then watched her carefully unfold a sheet of note paper, upon which she had written a poem she wanted to put on the card, I couldn’t stop myself. I began to tear up and ended up spending a good 5 minutes in the bathroom, just sobbing. I had to go back later to apologise to her sisters for my unprofessional behaviour. Thankfully, they totally understood and said they’d had many moments themselves due to the little one’s bravery.

How about happy days? What’s been your happiest day at work?

Oh my, there are way-too-many of those to pick just one day. I worked with a girl once for almost 8 years, and we laughed pretty much the whole time we were together. We used to have some customers come in just to be cheered up by us. I’ve no idea why were like it, or how we came to be so chirpy around each other, but we bounced off each other constantly. She only worked part-time and I looked forward to the days she was in. Of course, when we had to behave professionally then we did, but if we could get away with smiling and laughing about things as we worked, we made sure we did. Many a time I thought I was going to pass out where we had laughed so much I couldn’t breathe. With anything in life, the people who are part of it, are what can make-or-break your day. Sadly, it doesn’t matter how happy, kind, friendly or helpful I am, there will always be one-or-two people who leave the shop unhappy, but on the whole, I like to think most people leave with a little bit of cheer, or positivity. Those are the happy days.

How many “Bridezillas” do you get?

I am so lucky, in 32 years of being a florist, I have only ever really had to deal with 2. One, I will admit, got me so angry I kicked a cupboard door. It’s still not properly fixed. She wasn’t in the shop at the time, I was talking to her on the phone. I don’t believe she ever knew how lucky she was not to be here, because I think if we had been face-to-face things could have ended up so differently.

The second wasn’t so much of a bridezilla, as extremely awkward. She wanted fresh flowers that don’t exist in the colour she wanted them, and it didn’t matter how many times I explained to her, I could not get her to understand. She emailed me 19 times in 2 hours, sending me photographs each time of the flowers, all of which were artificial. I even called a wholesaler who deals with the Dutch markets to ask him to speak to her, and he followed up with a detailed list of the only colours the flowers she wanted are available in, and still she continued to argue with me about them. In the end I emailed back, explaining that as I wasn’t going to be able to source the flowers she wanted, it might be best for her to try elsewhere.

Several weeks later she came back to me, having tried numerous other florists who had all told her the same as I had, to ask me to make her bouquets without the flower that doesn’t exist. I was tempted to turn her away, but that’s not good business, and I was available on her chosen day, so I made the decision to book her in. This was a mistake. Just 6 days before her wedding, she decided she wanted to change half the buttonholes, along with the colours in her bridesmaids’ flowers, and again she asked me “why?” the non-existent flowers weren’t listed as being in her bouquets. I’ll go out of my way to help anybody, to supply them with exactly what they want, but I called upon the Terms and Conditions she had signed, when she agreed to the order, which stated she was unable to alter anything less than 21 days prior to her wedding date, although I did end up adjusting the buttonholes for her.

And everyone thinks florists have such easy jobs, getting to play around with flowers all day!

Talking of weddings, how do you feel about people like M&S offering wedding flowers?

I don’t like it. Not because they’re taking business away from florists though. At the end of the day there is room for us all and competition is a good thing. I don’t like how they operate. I get that a bride might want to keep things simple and ordering via their website is easy. The name the company has suggests quality and their prices aren’t too bad, although they are a lot dearer than I thought they would be. What I don’t like though is their lack of personalisation. I accept that’s what the bride wants flower wise, but I am sure they don’t think about the logistics of everything, because they don’t need to. They automatically assume anyone selling wedding flowers is going to operate in the same way; they are wrong. To a florist, our brides are people, they have names, faces, opinions. We work with, and alongside them, creating their dream flowers. To people like M&S, they are just another pound in the bank account. They don’t warn brides about the pitfalls of ordering through them. They just take their money, churn out something half decent, shove it in a box and get a courier on a zero hours contract, who has no idea how to handle flowers and they must try to squeeze as many boxes into his car or van as he can, to deliver. I’ve had a bride come into my shop on a Thursday afternoon, whose M&S flowers had just turned up, damaged, broken and brown. They should never be delivered 2 days before a wedding to begin with, and they certainly shouldn’t be on their way out when they do arrive. That’s why I don’t like them. Once they’ve got their money it doesn’t matter to them. Those flowers had to have been made at the beginning of the week, or possibly even before. That is totally unacceptable for any bouquet, let alone a wedding bouquet. A florist friend of mine had a bride in on the day of her wedding, because the order she’d placed with M&S hadn’t arrived at all. These companies wonder why their businesses are starting to fail; I think any fool with half an ounce of common sense can see why.

What, or who, do you see as a threat to the high street florist? Supermarkets, or home workers?

Neither; to me, the only threat to those of us with shops, at this present moment in time, is our colleges. I’m getting people come into me, looking for work, who have completed their first year at college and have been passing their assessments with distinctions, thus believing they know-it-all and can work in a busy shop. Some even believe they are then ready to open their own shop. This is fine, I’m all for someone taking a risk, however, the work they are being awarded distinctions for, I would not even deem good enough for my bin. I’ve spoken to several other owners of shops around the country, who are experiencing the same thing. Don’t get me wrong, there are some who deserve their marks, but overall, the standards are anything but acceptable and marks are being awarded which are far from deserved. That is the biggest threat to our trade. People passing off shoddy work. I understand the colleges must achieve certain levels to ensure they get funding for the free courses they offer the following year (floristry is not one of these). I assume the free ones, are funded by the fee-paying courses still running, hence why they need to show good results. It’s not just the public being seen off with unskilled staff and substandard work, either. The florists paying to be trained, are also being seen off, for the sake of a few pounds in the college coffers.

There’s a place for the supermarkets, and for home workers; there is no place for bad workmanship and poor-quality floristry.

Have you ever failed at something?

Yes, I have indeed. One of my previous employers was quite big in the Interflora world, back when Interflora meant something, and set high standards – like the colleges, that is no longer the case. Because of her involvement, she would make me enter all competitions on offer, and I had to take several of their own exams, which lead me towards a diploma. For the floristry section, we had to make 4 different items, one of which was a traditional wreath for a funeral. A girl I was working with at the time, also took the same exam. Back then, when we were assessed on anything, our work would be turned upside-down and shaken vigorously. If just one small piece of foliage fell out, we failed. Not just the one item, the whole exam. I can’t tell you how nervous I was when I took my City and Guilds exams while at college, as they worked in the same way. 4 hours to complete 4 different items testing all we had learned, from basing, to mossing and wiring. Training back then definitely made us more aware of what we were doing and how we were making things, as well as ensuring we were able to work with good speed. While these days they can be given an hour to make one buttonhole, we were given 1 hour to make 100. Anyway, as we were leaving my co-worker said to me “I’ve failed that; as I put my wreath on the floor for inspection, bits were falling out of it”. I told her ‘not to worry’, it would be fine, she was going to pass. I was right. It was me who failed. Apparently when they shook mine, one, just one, spray carnation head fell out. That was instant failure. I had to wait another year until I could take the exam again. My co-worker always joked that she’d swapped our candidate numbers over when I wasn’t looking and passed mine off as hers. Sometimes, even now, I still wonder!

We also came exceptionally close to failure with the shop. Had we not moved premises when we did, I wouldn’t be standing here now, talking to you all, telling you stories about my little shop. Our first premises were not right for us, and we were sinking without a trace. Had we not been lucky enough to find our little shop in Fareham, we would have had to pull the plug; our success now, has come from that failure. They say that sometimes we must fail to succeed; I fully understand that and have learnt some valuable lessons from those failures.

Is there anything you ever wanted to make, that you’ve not been asked for, yet?

Yes, I’ve always wanted to make an alien *laughter rippled around the room*. I can see your faces and tell you’re thinking I’ve finally lost the plot, but of all the tributes I have been asked to make I always thought I would get asked for one. Thinking about it after the fact, I should have made one for my best friend’s funeral. We always used to joke about being abducted, and had I really sat and thought about it I would have made one. Because I never did, the wanting to make one has grown stronger. Maybe one day, if I get a spare hour, I’ll make one up just for my portfolio.

I bet your garden must look wonderful!

It doesn’t look bad, at times, however, that’s not my doing. That’s another preconception people have about florists, that we’re good at gardening. I can just about keep a shrub alive, on a good day. Plants are living, they need nurturing, tender hands to get them started, time to look after them. I love to see gardens full of plants and flowers, but they will never grow well if I’m in charge of them. As florists, we do with plants and flowers, after they’ve been cut. I can tell you the best way to stop a rose from drooping, or a chrysant from losing its petals, once it’s been removed from its roots. How to get it to that stage I leave to the horticulturalists; they’re the ones who should have the amazing gardens. They’re the ones who know-what-they-are-doing while a flower is growing.

Is the summer your busiest time of the year?

No, it can be one of the quietest. People often think the summer is “wedding season” so therefore, we must be busy. Back 50 years ago, that may have been the case; these days though, not so much. Weddings happen all-year-round, and on every single day of the week now. There is no “season” any more. Early Monday weddings are becoming increasingly popular, with most people, except us florists. Nobody wants to be up at the crack of dawn on a Monday, and everything must be made on-the-day. The rest of the week we can prep the venue decorations on the previous day; Monday’s we can’t do that as fresh flowers don’t come into the country on a Sunday. Whilst there is no real set “busy” time, there is also no set “quiet” time, either. We literally must take it, one-day-at-a-time. Today, we could be rushed off our feet, tomorrow we may not see a soul. There is no rhyme-or-reason to any of it.

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These were the floristry related questions I was asked. The other stuff you don’t really need to know! 😊


I did learn, reading through this, that I have a tendency to say "Oh my" a lot. I must work harder on my vocabulary.