Whilst my job keeps my creative juices flowing, I do miss getting my hands ‘dirty’ occasionally and have been looking for something practical to do for a while. So, when Ed asked what I wanted for my birthday this year I thought a workshop would be a good idea. I follow heaps of florists on Instagram, so dropped Ed a few hints and he booked ‘An Introduction to Floristry’ at Jam Jar Flowers, which happens to be just a couple of miles from our house. I did the course back in October and although this post is very delayed, it is better late than never!
The day started at 7.30am at New Covent Garden Flower Market, which on a Saturday was a horrible thought, but from what I know about florists that is almost lunch time for them. Melissa, who founded Jam Jar, gave us a guided tour of the market and introduced us to her favourite traders. These included Dennis Edwards for their unusual selection of flowers, Bloomfield for their expert advice and huge selection of beautiful roses and Zest for their good all round selection and friendly service, although my favourite recommendation has to be G B Foliage; David who runs the stall was super friendly and even offered us all a cup of tea!
The group consisted of 10 students and we were free to point out flowers we might want to use in our arrangements and if Melissa didn’t have them back at the workshop, she was more than happy to purchase them. After a good tour we all headed back to the workshop, about 15 minutes from the market.
The workshop is set in a beautiful Victorian mews, which is owned by the council and only let to people in the creative industries, making for a lovely atmosphere, with just the right amount of unkemptness. The studio itself is beautifully laid out with bare brick walls, an open fire and gorgeous glass vessels, which bounce coloured light around the studio and as you can image, lots of flowers, foliage and plants.
The first exercise of the day was a hand tied bouquet to go in a jam jar. Melissa’s colleague Talena talked us through the process and then we were let loose with an abundance of flowers and foliage. I don’t want to give too much away, but I most definitely felt I was given all the skills necessary to have a good go and learnt lots about the tools of the trade and new flowers; a particular favourite was the scented geranium leaves, which have a beautiful sweet scent and can be seen poking out just above the dahlia in the picture below.
Next on the agenda was a wired buttonhole, which required some technical accuracy but was is definitely something I would now feel confident doing for a friend’s wedding or similar event – I just need to convince someone I am good enough!
After this we all sat down to a gorgeous lunch spread of cold meats, salads and cheeses and had a good chance to chat amongst ourselves and with the Jam Jar team, which was a lovely way to break the day and get to know what motivated Melissa to start Jam Jar.
The final lesson of the day was a large bucket arrangement. This followed the same format as the hand tied bouquet lesson and we were first talked through the process by Talena. I was amazed how much foliage the arrangement took and unlike most of the students, actually found it slightly easier than the hand tied bouquet; perhaps because my day job requires me to think about larger arrangements and the space items occupy.
By the end of the day I felt really confident in all that I had learnt and have already been back to New Convent Garden market to pick up some flowers and try out some bits on my own at home. Melissa is also a truly inspirational lady with lots of stories and knowledge, so if you are looking to learn a bit more about flower arranging I would most certainly recommend one of Jam Jar’s workshops.