The Flower Appreciation Society

I have always loved to learn particularly when the subject matter leans towards the creative. At school you would always find me in the warm and cosy art block, filling my sketchbook with tiny drawings, whilst eating my sandwiches. I continued with my creative endeavours, studying surface pattern design at college followed by textile design at University. Interspersed with my day time studies I often attended evening classes, dipping my toes into the water in everything from jewellery making to decoupage, embroidery to dress making. Whilst I enjoyed learning new skills and techniques these classes were always quite serious and definitely lacking on the style front. Usually held in a cold, dark church hall or a rather soulless conference room.

It is therefore with some glee that I have witnessed craft becoming cool over the last few years and seeing the most unlikely of my friends spending their free time with watercolour paints and pom pom makers. It has been truly thrilling to see creative pursuits becoming such a big trend and no longer feeling like a ‘craft geek’ as I have for so many years. So many women and indeed some men wanting to spend their free time learning new artistic skills and doing so in the coolest of surroundings, more likely to be accompanied by a cool glass of fizz than a luke warm polystyrene beaker of tea. Attending craft classes was something that I tended to keep on the quiet, but these days it seems like anybody who is anybody has taken a modern calligraphy class, carved a wooded spoon and made a succulent filled terrarium.

This is a bandwagon that I have happily jumped on and whilst I have still to do any of the afore mentioned classes, I have learnt to crochet whilst enjoying afternoon tea, made an origami mobile (still yet to have its big reveal) and spent last Saturday knee deep in delphiniums, ammi, and some of the most beautiful peonies I have ever seen!

As you already know I love flowers and I have set myself the rather enjoyable challenge of learning more about them this year. I aim to visit my local florist, selecting flowers by name rather than asking for the ‘yellow one’, to be more aware of what is seasonal and to be much more proficient in arranging them and caring for them in my home. I am also in the midst of learning to make paper flowers, so becoming fully immersed in the real thing can only help with the process of recreating beautiful blooms with tissue paper and crepe.

I have long been a fan of the Flower Appreciation Society, since purchasing their beautiful book which sits proudly on my bookcase with its lovely sunshine yellow spine inviting me to flick through it frequently. It is a weighty tome, absolutely crammed with everything that you need to know about all things floral. I decided to book onto their wedding flower course as it promised to teach me how to make button holes, floral crowns and hand tied bunches. Whilst my wedding day was several years ago, this seemed like the most comprehensive course to fulfil my flowery needs.

I made the trip from South West to East London with excitement and was greeted by the lovely Anna and Ellie and an absolute abundance of flowers, covering every surface of their studio. I popped on an apron and found myself a space, trying not to be completely overwhelmed by my beautiful surroundings. The tables were covered in jars and vases full of sweet peas, hydrangeas, roses of every size and colour and masses of foliage.

I shared my work bench with a beautiful bride to be and her lovely bridesmaid and a mum and her two daughters enjoying an inspiring afternoon together. There were several other brides to be in attendance, as well as aspiring florists and flower lovers similar to myself. The work space was so pretty and inspiring, helped by the sunshine streaming through the windows and the heavenly scent of flowers. Shelves groaned with vessels of every shape and size, old mixed with new, kitsch and contemporary. Anna and Ellie taught us the basic techniques but encouraged us to make our own decisions regarding colour and texture. We all had the same floral ingredients, so it was quite exciting to see the variety of different outcomes. Some bold and dramatic with clashing colours, others more restrained with a more considered palette. I chose to use a lot of foliage in my arrangements, combining viburnum with the tiny white bells and large green leaves of Solomon’s Seal with fragrant mint and rosemary, white lilacs and the occasional pink bloom.

I particularly enjoyed creating my floral crown using leaves in every shade of green with hydrangea petals and tiny white rose buds. We all tried on our crowns as we finished and spent the rest of the afternoon feeling like flower fairies, which only added to the magic of the workshop. The three hours flew by and I think we were all sad to leave behind the floral sanctuary of the Flower Appreciation Society and head back into the real world. As well as taking home our tiny posies, flower crowns, and beautiful hand tied bouquets, we were also encouraged to empty our buckets of their floral treats, with Anna and Ellie wrapping them in huge sheets of crisp brown paper for us to continue to play with at home. I really can’t express the indulgence and generosity of the afternoon, everything had been thought about and considered and I left clutching the most enormous bunches  of flowers, another copy of my favourite yellow book, and a mind whirring with ideas for floral projects. We were thoroughly spoilt and I would highly recommend any of the courses offered by the aptly named Flower Appreciation Society.

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