Writer in the Flower Shop

How to wire an orchid

The weakest part
is the throat,
submerge head
then pull
up by the stem
and twist –
you’ll feel it.

Go up and push
a little harder.
Don’t spear the leaf,
but cut to show
the silver.
Pinch and pinch
and then stretch
and then twist
wire into gutter tape.

Orchids hate
the breeze,
by the time
you get them home,
they’ve caught a cold,
but remember,
the beauty
of flowers
is all about
the sacrificing of them.

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Lucky me. Just before Christmas I won, at auction, a flower arranging course at the prestigious Covent Garden Academy of Flowers, and so last Friday I got to spend a day with some of the most beautiful flowers – and people – you can imagine.

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To be honest, although I love flowers, I haven’t thought to much about arranging them before. This is my usual effort:

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So anything was going to be an improvement. But …. TA-DA ….. look what I came home with. I couldn’t have been more chuffed – or amazed!

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It was surprisingly hard work. And as I huffed and puffed, professional arrangers dotted and darted around making the most beautiful arrangements to go to hotels, venues, events and weddings. I spent quite a lot of time with my mouth open, watching little dreams being spun in front of me.

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And if I needed a reminder that it was art we were making (or everybody else was, I think mine was more of a fluke!), here are three images from the books we could flick through for inspiration.

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I’m not sure I’ll be taking this up, I have a friend who is a wonderful flower designer so I know just how skilful real experts are, but I came away totally inspired. And with a list of flowers and foliage I want to grow on my allotment for the next time I’m tempted to plonk some stems in any old vase.

And the poem at the top is the exact transcript (although maybe not in the right order) of our instructions for wiring an orchid. Who knew orchids could catch colds? Somehow my life is a little bit richer for even that one fact.