Since childhood I have found inspiration in nature and flowers, in the wilderness of the landslip at Luccombe, a National Trust owned walking trail, and old country gardens. Granny Alder, a botanist and keen gardener, taught me to appreciate the countryside, each walk a lesson in looking and learning, while gentle foraging, and many years on I am still learning.
In the dim and distant past I managed dried flower shops in Exeter and London, in the heady days of 80s dried flower mania. Our stunning arrangements were commissioned by the great and the good and we also had a ball showing and telling others how to do it.
Some of you will know already that it was not that long ago that I gave up Couthie, the Scottish giftware brand I created in the noughties, best known for its cheeky humour and a spring board for a number of young and not so young, up and coming artists and illustrators.
With company life behind me, it didn’t take much to reignite my flower passions, with an old and chaotic garden to tend to and the East Lothian countryside, which never ceases to inspire.
After a spell of working in commercial floristry, in Haddington and Edinburgh, and years of experimentation, I have re-discovered my own naturalistic style, combining formal and informal – the quotidian with the unusual.
The current trend for “locally grown” flowers is an added impetus. And what is more, locally there is an increasing number of old walled gardens that are being brought back to life. Flowers and veg grown without chemicals, supplied locally means fewer flower miles, no storage or cooling costs, and a lot less wasteful packaging, bees, butterflies and birds are benefiting enormously too.
I want to see these floral enterprises flourish and beautify our county. But I also think that we need to provide economic ways of supporting them, yes through donations and volunteering, but also by actively buying their products.
I currently volunteer at Amisfield Walled garden in Haddington