Thursday, 2 March 2017

RHS Chelsea 2016

I was asked by The British Florist Association to write about my Chelsea experience last year. They published it in one of their magazines, which is sent out to members all over the UK. I thought that it would possibly be a great read for anyone thinking about competing, anyone who tried but gave up and just for anyone who wants to try and sus out what goes on in my crazy head! There's a link at the bottom that will take you to one of their videos and me talking about my piece after i had finished set up. 

Youve spilt endless amounts of tears, convinced yourself that you're phoning the BFA and telling them you're pulling out. You have woken up in a cold sweat by dreams that make you believe set up night and your piece isnt even started, or you've put on the very last detail and the whole thing has disintigrated infront of your eyes. You've sliced your fingers open, burnt the already existed blisters on your fingers. Yet here you are...standing with the other 15 competitors, your peers and your friends. After 8 long weeks of living your design, all that stands between you relieving that knot youve had  in your stomach is Denis Van Wonderen and the envelope that he's holding. Never have you ever felt so excited, nervous and sick all at the same time. This is what we worked so hard  for. 
It's not your name read out, but regardless, we know the effort everyone has put in and you cant help but be exstatic for this years winner. In this years case,  how can you not be over joyed when the Winner, Di Marvel, has been one of your closest friends since you first met, at that very spot, in the same situation, 5 years before. The RHS Chelsea florist of the year competition is unique in so many ways, but especially in the sense that those who compete together make life long friendships. Are there any other competitions that can really boast that? 

For a minute that knot in your stomach disappears as you celebrate with Di. Until you see the sealed envelope being set down infront of your piece. 2016 was my 4th time competing at Chelsea. I've been fortunate enough to have already been awarded two silver medals. Unfortunately last year I was presented with what we call the dreaded letter. A no Award. One point away from a medal. No one judges you has hard as you judge yourself. Ill be the first to admit, that hit me hard. My confidence plummited, I questioned not only my 17 years of floristry and any skills i possibly had, but I questioned myself and who I was. Thats how much this competition means to us competitors. We put ourselves out there to be critiqued, open to being knocked back and stripped apart. It took me several months but with the help of your fellow competitors, friends and industry leaders, you eventually start to pick yourself back up. 
So here you are..a year later, with those ghosts from last year still haunting you, and all those emotions come flooding back. Who would have thought just opening a sealed envelope could make or break a person. I cant remember what went on around me. I only remember hiding behind my headdress, on my own, my hands shaking, stomach turning and then the tears bursting out. Id eventually done it, there it was, in my very own GOLD medal. 

For the first time i'd been at Chelsea without any family. Id travelled the 700 plus miles, driving the whole way only travelling the last couple of hours with Denise who had kindly come to look after me. Apparently, the fact that i was 20 weeks pregnant whilst as Chelsea, meant that I needed extra looking after and fussing. Still not something im sure I agree with, but im certain that being pregnant actually stopped me from stressing out as much as perhaps I usually would.
 The first thing I did was phone my Mum, Tracy Griffin apparently has a video of that. I can only imagine the stuttering drippy mess that I must be in that. Maybe its a good job my Mum wasn't there, Ive seen the emotional state she was in with a silver haha! Trying to get your fiance on the phone who at the time, was a bus driver proved to be difficult, so unfortunately he just had to make do with the simple text "GOLD!!!" Well...what else was needed to be said?
There were three gold medals awarded this year, Di, Helena Pike and myself. That made it all the more special. The three of us all first met through The RHS Chelsea florist of the year competition, sharing the gold with two of my best friends is a memory that will always be associated with winning my gold medal. 

Here I am three months later and to be honest, im not sure it will ever sink it. Ive the medal certificate on the shelf, i see it every day, but it still doesn't seem real. When the actual medal arrives later this year, Im still not convinced that it will appear real then either. You know what though...we do it over and over again. We joke that competing in the floral world is a disease, but in a way it is. It grips you in a way like no other. I was a competitive Highland dancer for 15 years, but it has nothing on floristry. I think it's because the only person you are really competing against is yourself. You do it to improve on what you did the year prove to yourself that you do have a flair, an ability. You dont compete against those around you. They are there, as Ive learnt, so help you in times of need, to pick you up when you need a hand and to give you a kick up the behind when you need it. There really is no other competition like it. I urge anyone out there who hasnt yet had a go at their local heats to step up and try it. Use it as a platform to build upon. You might not qualify, you might not get a medal, but what you will learn about yourself and the life long friends you will make, will mean far more to you in the long run.

Mothering Sunday...Mothers Day UK Sunday 26th March

I am opening up a Pop up Shop in the old premises ( which will become my studio again, joint with my Dad but thats for another day ) we will be offering exquisite designs to suit your needs. Each design will be hand made especially for your loved ones. Its something that we pride ourselves on..the personal touch. You dont get that with a bashed bouquet delivered in a box and left on the door step :( 

Our personal favourites this year ( and yours too going by the orders already in ) are our yummy spring boxes. Starting from just £20 plus delivery these gorgeous colourful designs are absolutely perfect to brighten up anyones day, be it Mum, Nan, Aunty or Effie next door for looking after the cat when you're away. 

We also offer designs suitable for the cemetery for loved ones that are always with us in our hearts even when they cant physically be with us. So ask us to see what we can create for you. 

So go on...treat that special someone this Mothers day.  Call us on 07841755110 or pop into the pop up shop between Monday 20th March and Saturday the 25th. We'll be open from 10am - 5pm 

Off the face of the earth.

Oh my! First of all i have to appologise for my severe lack of posts. It has been a roller coaster two years between one thing and another. Relationships, deaths and probably most specifically in my life, the birth of out son, Devon Robert Manson. Born 9th September 2016, three weeks early and weighing 7lb 1oz. So as you can imagine he has been keeping us on our toes! Hard to believe he will be six months old in 8 days. 

So, I am promising that there will be more regular updates. Coming up in the next few I have a brief highlight of Chelsea 2016 where I won a gold medal. Woo hoo i finally did it!! Also some lovely samples of mothers day designs as well as information on my pop up shop! 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

First scottish Florist...

Earlier this year I received a phone call from the lovely Chris Wolfe from Southeast flowers Ltd, asking if I would like to decorate a room at the Leeds Castle Flower Festival, in Maidstone, Kent. Who would turn down a chance to have that as your blank canvas??? I was assigned the Queens bedroom, which belonged to Catherine of Valois, who was the widow of Henry V. A room occupied by the most glorious four poster bed. Our theme for the event was art deco. After some research I decided to create peacocks. I created the bodies with different metallic wires, and the tails from the gorgeous blooms supplied by Southeast Flowers Ltd. I had the most amazing time in the most gorgeous setting! The castle and the grounds ( which boast their own peacocks, including several young chicks who were super cute) are absolutely breath taking! I also found out that I was the first Scottish Florist to take part in the festivities. I can't thank Chris and all the staff at Leeds castle for the chance to take part in such a fantastic festival.



Thursday, 13 August 2015

To hand tie or not to hand tie?

Its something that's stirred a bit of a hornets nest here in the UK lately! Supermarkets, corner shops, garage forecourt... doesn't matter where you turn it seems to be almost "unskilled" bouquets massed produced. Is there still a place in commercial flower shops for the hand tied designs? OFF COURSE! We just need to show them off better, present them better and bring them up to date with the times! Customers love them, so why should we dismiss them?
Customers find them easier to care for, easier to present and have a better understanding of the flower and skill value that goes in to them. We just need to show them what we can do as skilled and professional designers.
With a hand tie bouquet you can create value and design with fewer flowers than it may take for a traditional hand tie. Do they have to be "round mounds"? Off course not. Get out some twigs, some wire and have a play with creating beautiful frames for your bouquets. Make your designs stand out from supermarkets, garage forecourt's and even your nearest competitor!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

wearable art?

I am my own worst critic! Always picking faults and wishing id made something or approached a design differently. So when I'm excited about a piece I've made... its usually because I've been happy with the majority of the elements!
This floral collar was constructed using a solid metal base and then building up the support frame with branches and vines before attaching any botanicals and accessories. The little circles you see are metal rings wrapped in tapestry threads.
This design was created again as a competition piece. This time as an entry in thru RHS Chelsea florist of the year competition. Unfortunately that year I didn't qualify but has "happy" with the outcome none the less.
I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to leave a comment below to let me know you were here!!
Happy creating!!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

"Origins" on many levels....

Every year Fusion Flowers Magazine run their International designer of the year competition. This year I am delighted to again announce that I have been awarded a silver for my "Origins" design.
When I first sat to plan, I knew that I wanted to create more than on meaning to the overall piece. So I came up with the idea of birth. Linking it to the origins of humans, the origins of flowers and to the season of birth... spring.