From the very friendly welcome, to the great facilities and teaching pitched at the perfect level for beginners, it was such a lovely day out.
Gillian Wheeler runs The Academy, which she opened last year. She has around her a lovely team of people, including Madeleine, Dawn, Robyn, Lynne, Keith and her daughter, Fleur.
On the course, there were 11 people who were of mixed abilities, from complete beginners to some limited experience.
After a health and safety talk by Dawn, Gillian explained how to keep our flowers fresh and last as long as possible.
And one way is to ensure that they are conditioned properly…which was our first job. We were each given a bunch of roses which had been delivered fresh from New Covent Garden Flower Market that morning.
We had to remove the majority of foliage with scissors, plus cut off the thorns. We were also given Handy Foliage Removers to try out, which were great for removing foliage on stems which weren’t very thorny.
Thorn strippers were also available. And to be honest, they’re what I used to use when I was working, but as was rightly pointed out…they’re quite brutal and as you tend to damage the stem when using them, it can lead to bacteria growing more quickly and thereby decreasing the life of the flower.
After removing the foliage and thorns, we then cut off about 3cm from the bottom of the stem, at an angle, and placed the flowers in clean buckets filled with water.
Next up was the foliage. Gillian advised us that foliage is as important as flowers to a design, as it enhances the blooms. She also said that certain shades of green go with certain flowers. For example, grey-green eucalyptus looks lovely with pink and white.
So, our next task was to condition hard ruscus and eucalyptus.
Creating a hand-tied bouquet
We then watched as Madeleine demonstrated the technique of how to make a hand-tied bouquet…and the all-important spiral. She gave us advice including ensuring that there was no foliage beneath the binding point, and the higher up you hold the stems, the smaller the size of the bouquet.
Then, it was our turn…and everyone did a marvellous job and picked the technique up very quickly.
Next up was wrapping our blooms and Gillian showed us how to cut the tissue and cellophane before securing it around the bouquet. She then demonstrated how to create the water bag before placing it in a lovely box. By the way, the stunning pinky orange roses she included in her design are called, would you believe, Miss Piggy!
And here’s me with my design and then, in its box…
All morning, there was help on-hand if anyone needed any assistance and nothing was too much trouble. I was so impressed by the friendly and relaxed way that students were taught this essential floristry technique.
We then all left The Academy to have our lunch…and what a treat to be right in the midst of Covent Garden with so many places to choose from to grab a sandwich and then even do some shopping.
On my return, I had a look around the stunning shop at The Academy. You’ll see the inside below which is beautifully styled. Tune in tomorrow for more photos of the shop, but this time showing outside, plus what we got up to in the afternoon…
(Images : Rona Wheeldon for Flowerona)