I’ve been mulling over in my mind during the last few weeks why it’s a good thing to buy flowers. As I am now spending quite a lot of time encouraging people to take notice of blooms and buds and suggesting people part with money to decorate their wedding ceremony or dining room table with vases of flowers, I realise how much I truly believe flowers bring beauty and joy.

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It would be all too easy to slip into a very mushy and longwinded discourse trying to redress the social etiquette that in many ways no longer exist. So put simply; I think anyone can (and should!) buy flowers for anyone! (I guess that’s predictable speak from a florist). Flowers are a wonderful gift for many reasons: they do not last forever, they are superbly versatile and can enhance any occasion, they can suit any budget, or any taste, and even those who don’t really like flowers might find they love one of these in a room:

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(Credit for this photo here.)

It’s good to promote a little beauty in our lives, and I wonder if something truly beautiful is unlikely to have any practical use (there are holes in that argument). It is unlikely that something truly beautiful will do much except gently or lavishly imbue its beauty upon its surroundings. This is what flowers do. And to top it off they will then eventually die. And start to smell bad if you’re not quick to get rid of them. If you want to really appreciate a flower you have to stop and take the time to notice it before it dies. They are more precious, and more generous a gift because of their limited lifespan. Flowers can cause you to remember someone, can remind you of a distant holiday, be given to encourage someone or let someone know they are being thought of. They can add delight to a wedding or grandeur to a feast. They can be the finishing touch to a suit or dress or hat and can be the familiar scent in the hallway. Bring back the buttonhole, I say!

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I think it’s too late to say I’ll stop before I get carried away, but I will move on to where and how to get hold of flowers (sounds stupid perhaps but really successful shopping for flowers is a skill!). Over the last year or so our home has had a small bundle of flowers (or usually foliage with a few flowers) in it most weeks, and I’ve not often had to spend anything. Occasionally I can pick up a few left over stems from weddings and events which is a definite perk of the job! But mostly I’ve picked a few sprigs whilst out on a walk and bought them home to enjoy. There are guidelines to what and how much you can pick so you need to be informed before you start foraging. This does take time, and I know time is expensive! But it is in all other ways, free.

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I’ve been talking about my cutting garden for several months now, and I am now a proud owner of TWO SEEDLINGS!! Finding and supporting your local cutting garden is (in my opinion) the perfect way to bring flowers into your home and the homes of your friends. And it supports local business and people who are taking care of the land. There’s a great directory here of independent cutting gardens which I am not listed at the moment…but that is on the To Do list for 2014! I am thrilled I will be able to work with blooms that have quirks and idiosyncrasies; blooms that incorporate a little of the unusual in them. I am being very careful to select flowers to grow that have a proven track record for long stems, glorious blooms, and acceptable vase life (perhaps with the exception of the Sweet Pea which are so beautiful but somewhat delicate. However I have received quite a few tips and tricks to experiment with that should hopefully prolong their cut-flower life). I hope my “home grown” flowers will quietly outsmart the steroid super-flowers shipped in from afar on their looks, their scent, their shape and colour. Here are some words of truth (in my mind) from K. F. Bates; “The principles of design are related to the forces of the universe. You feel these forces but they should not be used too obviously. It is only the imperfections and the unexpected that make art what it is.” Amen to that!

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I would also encourage you to talk to your local florist. Let them share their years of experience with you and advise you about what to buy! A good florist will have a wealth of knowledge about seasonal flowers, exotic flowers, unusual flowers and foliage, and will be able to make an arrangement to suit any occasion.

And whilst I would far rather promote carefully grown British flowers than blooms flown in from abroad, ANY flower is a thing of beauty. I am often caught trying to do several things at the last minute and if nothing else, supermarkets are convenient (fact). There is usually some sort of selection of flowers available at a supermarket that can be bought home and arranged into something quite superb. My fellow Eastbournian flower friend runs a huge array of different courses, one of which specifically makes use of flowers available at supermarkets. I cannot recommend these courses enough!

I shall very happily be creating Valentine’s arrangements for folk all over Eastbourne and further afield in February. I can understand resentment or revulsion towards Valentine’s day so appreciate that not everyone sees this day as the perfect day to give flowers. But perhaps as the winter drags on and January comes to an end it might be nice to find a few stems, leaves or flowers to give to someone to enjoy, or bring into your own home! You never know, someone might surprise you!

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