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Learning To Change What I Had Been Taught

Guest Blogger: LOUISE McGOUGH (Owner of Grown & Gathered ™ - UK)

In September 2012 I started a part time floristry course at Otley College in Suffolk.

I learned strange things like ‘lazy s’, 'conditioning’, flowers needing a ‘collar’ and ‘rhythm’..... I mean who knew flowers could dance?!

Seriously though, these things are important when designing bouquets, corporate, funeral and wedding work. The flowers have to look ‘just right’, and I get that.

So I spent 2 years learning the Principles and Elements of Design. The flowers had to have balance, dominance, contrast, rhythm, proportion and scale.. They needed light, space, line, form, size, pattern, texture and colour.

Whilst at college learning the precision of floristry skills, I worked part time in a village florist. I absolutely loved it, but as we all do when driving, I picked up bad habits! The techniques I was learning at college aren’t always used in an everyday florist, where people ask for just a bunch of carnations, or a bouquet for £5 (not easy in a florist).

But those techniques are always there, and you do start to think about the focal flower(a lily), fillers(chrysanthemums, gypsophila), a secondary flower(carnation, gemini), and then little flowers around the outside(spray carnations), and then a few bits of foliage and a ‘collar’ of foliage(palm leaf), it just becomes second nature to do. The issue with it is that a lot of bouquets end up looking the same.

Above is an example of a very structured bouquet that I made.

So, fast forward 9 years, to me now being a Florist and growing my own cut flowers.

Those Principles and Elements of Design are so embedded in me, that suddenly arranging wild, crazy, natural garden blooms has been a learning curve!

I still look for the focal, the fillers, the secondary etc but that's not easy when you are growing a range of flowers, and you may only be able to pick 2 Cosmos (eeeek I must work in odd numbers!) or sourcing British flowers.

These flowers are different.

They bend in funny ways, they may be a little deformed, you can’t follow the rules of the colour wheel.

SO it really has been a lesson for me to be more natural with the flowers from my garden. It has taken a while for me to understand that flowers need to ‘relax’ in the vase not stand upright like soldiers. They are natural, they bloom how they bloom. Imported flowers are bred to withstand mass production, long journeys, cold stores etc. Thats why you wont often find a fragrant flower in a Florist.

But I am learning to absolutely love the challenge of turning my beautiful garden flowers into lovely bunches. I’m also gaining some lovely customers, who love the fact that what they are getting from me, is not what they get in a high street florist or a supermarket.

Until next time remember, Joy Blooms In The Garden.


Louise McGough

Business Owner of "Grown & Gathered "

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