Walking through the walled gardens of Doddington Hall where Rachel grows her own cutting garden, I begin to feel a real sense of calm. I can image being a florist is incredibly rewarding but almighty hard work. Flowers are a passion of mine and although I don’t have time to tend to a garden and lack serious knowledge to successfully grow anything, I love being surrounded by them and having a play.
Rachel has the cutest brick potting shed where she works from and a fury little feline friend to keep her company; I understand the cat adopted Rachel rather than the other way around. After a cup of tea and a catch up, Rachel and I get straight to business. She’s a great teacher and runs workshops, so she knows just how to run my challenge. I’m feeling quietly confident but still a tad nervous. I hold Rachel in high regard and she is an absolute master of her craft so this challenge is super exciting.
There are two buckets of flowers and foliage set out on a work bench; one for Rachel and one for me. Rachel starts by explaining how she picks the ‘ingredients’ for her bouquets. I love her analogy of wedding guests, bridesmaids, gatecrashers and the bride; Rachel’s method of describing the size, shape and texture of the flowers she puts in her bouquets. To summarise, you want a star of the show, support, fillers, a contrasting star, a variety of foliage and some ‘wispy’ bits! Not a technical term but you get what I mean.
I watch Rachel show me how it’s done and then it’s over to me! The most time-consuming element of flower arranging is prepping your flowers; cleaning the stems and laying everything out. Making the bouquet is easy! I lay out my bouquet ingredients on the work bench in front of me and in an order, I think will visually work well. Wispy, foliage, flower, foliage, flower, flower, foliage, wispy, and so on.
Now it’s time to start building the bouquet, so I pick up one stem from each pile, in the order I laid them out and begin to make a fan in my other hand. Once I have reached the end of the row, I twist the fan towards me, re position it in my hand and start a new fan all over again. I do this until I’ve used all my flowers and foliage up. With my final fan, I pull the bouquet together and check my work. I might want to pull a few flowers out a little more, or pull a few back down. Once I am happy with the texture and depth, I tie the stalks and cut them to the right length. I (another technical word…) whack the stems on the work bench and low and behold, it stands on its own! Challenge complete!
Working with flowers is incredibly calming and I love the methodical but creative aspect of creating arrangements. I must say, I’m pretty chuffed with the final product and Rachel has kindly given me a ‘Challenge Success’… though I am one hundred percent sure I am going to fail most of my future challenges.
Rachel is so inspiring and it is wonderful to hear about how she works with her brides and grooms to create their dream wedding flowers. Consultations, design briefs, invoicing, final consultations, flower ordering, flower cutting, prepping, arranging and delivering are all part of the extensive and thorough service you receive when booking a wedding florist. You aren’t just paying the florist for the flowers you receive but for their time, knowledge, experience, passion and talent. I absolutely have a new-found respect for this trade and the dedication florists put in to their craft.