The last rose of summer?

If there is a flower that reminds us of summer more than any other, it surely has to be the rose. Tourists love our heritage English rose gardens, views of rambling roses spilling over country cottage walls, brightening the corners of pub gardens, roses on show at village fetes, the best of Britain in Bloom. And everyone loves to see a summer bride with a beautiful rose bouquet.

summer bridal bouquet

The rose is one of the most versatile flowers to include in bouquets and arrangements. I love to use them in my creations, especially at this time of year. They’re so compact and layered, with such lovely velvety petals and that famous mysterious centre, perfect to convey the mysteries of love!

From a florist’s point of view, firm long stems are a plus point, and they last well, but to me, their truly priceless quality (apart from the scent) is their sheer variety – they come in so many colours, shades, shapes, and sizes. In the language of flowers different colours mean different things, so roses are fun as well, for including messages (secret or otherwise) in arrangements. Roses also suit pretty much any floral style, vintage/shabby chic, or contemporary.

Taking a simple popular flower like the summer rose and seeing what can be achieved when you combine it with new materials, in fresh ways, using up-to-the-minute styles and techniques is one of the challenges and pleasures of my job. Keeping ahead of new trends makes sound business sense, but is also a personal joy.

So business was combined with pleasure earlier this month when I attended [email protected], an event showcasing some of Europe’s most skilled and flamboyant master florists, to take part in demonstrations and workshops by (among others) favourite designers of mine, Per Benjamin and Gregor Lersch.  It was a wonderful weekend, included displays and demonstrations by Stijn Simaeys, Robert Koene, Bruno Durate, and Rob Plattel.  The work shown to us by these talented guys has filled my imagination with plenty of ideas for future designs.

In fact, I was so inspired, I tried out some new pieces (featuring roses) when I got home – perfect to include in the Floral Creations St Austell display stand at a Wedding Fayre held a few days later, on Bank Holiday Monday.  Organised by Partini Balloons, the venue was the charming setting of St Petroc’s in Bodmin, a lovely old Cornish church. I thought the event would provide an ideal opportunity to meet some prospective new brides, grooms, and mothers-in-laws (who often help organise the flowers), and so it proved to be.

We had a great day, made lots of new contacts with plenty of busy and productive networking. I’d say the event promises to become a ‘must add to the calendar’ for wedding services and suppliers across the county and I will be going again.

(See my Facebook page for some pictures of my stand, complete with new exhibition banners, and of course, a variety of freshly Flowers[email protected] bridal arrangements!)

So, as Gok Wan might say, August has been ‘all about the roses’. But there is a nip in the air now, September is round the corner, the garden roses are past their best and it feels like summer is nearly over. However, don’t despair, if you want arrangements of roses for your event, the roses don’t run out for us. We have our ways of finding beautiful blooms, whether from local suppliers or further afield, for your floral orders – all year round.

Networking

klettBuilding a small business in the current climate requires a lot of leg work.

When I’m filling orders I spend hours on my feet, conditioning, clipping, cutting and arranging my flowers, which stands to reason, as this is a job done on the move.

A less obvious part of working as a florist are the associated activities, attending courses and networking, both equally important. Courses keep skills in tip-top condition and refresh creative styles with the latest trends. Networking helps make important contacts and puts the business in front of future potential customers.

Just lately, I’ve been putting in the leg work on both these aspects of my business plan.

German master florist Wally Klett is renowned for her wedding work, and as Wedding flowers are a personal passion of mine, I decided to build on those strengths and attended one of her workshops on one of her rare visits to the UK recently. It was a privilege to watch such a skilled craftswoman at work and to have the opportunity to learn from her techniques. (I’d post both pictures of the arrangements I created over the course, except one of them met with a squashing accident in my overloaded car on the journey home from the Sid Valley Hotel in Sidmouth!).

As well as learning new skills, one unexpected new side benefit to attending such  courses (as well as overcoming the challenge of staying in such gorgeous and swish hotel settings 😉 ) is the opportunity to meet fellow florists. There were some lovely ladies at the Wally Klett workshop from all over the country, some from established businesses, some just starting out – we had a great time together, exchanged cards and social media connections, and I hope we’ll keep in touch.

On the subject of networking, as well as sharing tips and support with other professionals from the industry, local contacts are also vital, so with this in mind I contacted my local Chamber of Commerce. I wanted to find out more about what they can offer a small business in terms of services and promotional options in reaching new customers.  The meeting was very friendly and relaxed and proved really useful in helping to establish some new business contacts in the area. I’m planning on going again, more of which, no doubt, later.