When I came home with the hand tied bouquet I’d made during a workshop at the Eden Wedding Florist and Flower School, a friend down from London Town asked where I’d bought my ‘stunning flowers’ *swells with pride*. I have to admit, they did look rather good, dressed up in their fancy brown paper and cellophane. Whaddyathink?
Eden’s owner, florist and floral designer Jane Cowling, has been in the business of transforming a bunch of flowers into a work of art for 25 years and has been specialising as a wedding florist and flower school since 2014. The Eden team is award-winning: Jane has competed many times at national level and colleague Lisa Fowler was the RHS Chelsea Florist of the Year in 2014 and a Chelsea Gold Medal winner in 2015. Feast your eyes on these fabulous winning designs:
When the team’s not competing at Chelsea or designing flowers for weddings (they did 130 last year), Jane runs workshops and courses for beginners and advanced alike from her shop-cum-studio in Taunton’s Riverside Place. She invited me along to her two-and-a-half hour workshop called ‘Flowers for the Home’.
After a welcoming coffee and a heap of biscuits and mini croissants that only I seemed to be scoffing, we got down to work. The workshop covered a lot of ground: how to choose flowers and ‘condition’ them to keep them looking good for as long as possible, different ways of creating striking combinations of flowers and foliage in a vase, a clever trick using short flower heads and odd flowers rescued from flower arrangements past their best, and how to make the spectacular hand tied bouquet that had so impressed my friend.
Jane’s full of brilliant tips and advice (I was making notes and could hardly keep up with her) as well as some amusing stories – it’s a great atmosphere in the workshop. Turns out that lemonade and a splash of ordinary bleach is just as good as those little sachets of flower food that I always accidentally throw away with the cellophane. If you put flowers next to a bowl of ripe fruit, the ethylene gas the fruit gives off will hasten your flowers’ demise. And here’s some flower first aid for a rose (or sunflower) hanging its head: place the stem in an inch of boiling water and – amazingly – it’ll be standing tall after about an hour.
Of course, she’s a whizz with the flowers. She worked like a whirlwind putting together the hand tied bouquet, first forming ‘scaffolding’ with hazel and willow twigs, then adding in chincherinchee, white tulips (incidentally one of the few flowers that keep growing after being cut), statice limonium, white roses and acid yellow miniature santini chrysanthemums – whilst all the time ensuring the stems were attractively spiralled together in that posh posy way.
Then it was our turn. Some of us were complete beginners (yours truly) whilst others had been on Jane’s courses before. Soon everyone was busy putting their bouquets together, with Jane on hand to advise. She was so enthusiastic about everyone’s work, even those of use who were all thumbs (my stems did not attractively spiral), and gave just the right amount of help and encouragement, so that even I managed to create something special.
Jane runs one-off workshops and short courses throughout the year, both during the day and in the evening. These include introductory sessions for beginners, follow-on workshops for those who’ve been bitten by the bug, and more advanced classes for those who know what they’re doing but want to refresh their skills. She even runs children’s posy making parties. You can express (or discover?) your artistic ability by making everything from a hand-tied posy to sophisticated Japanese Ikebana-inspired designs. One-off morning workshops cost from £45.
Eden Wedding Florist & Flower School, 6 St James Street, Taunton TA1 1JH. Tel 01923 276633. edenweddings.co.uk