Floral artist Brigitte Girling is about to complete a whole year of designing with flowers from her garden. And as she launches her latest seasonal floral design course, she talks about what we can all learn from nature
I like to say yes to new work ideas or opportunities, and I think that attitude has resulted in some great friendships, connections and experiences over the years. However, I am pretty good at saying no to things that don’t ‘feel’ right too!
I started 2020 knowing that I would be doing the last few weddings I had booked in before my business concentrated solely on teaching seasonal floral design to established and aspiring florists which I have been doing for several years now from my home studio and garden. I also had some wonderful classes booked across the country where I would be guest teaching plus a wonderful guest teaching week in South Korea planned. It was going to be a year of change in my business but with hopefully many new opportunities arising.
My experience of lockdown has been a time for reflection, contemplation, rest and reassessment of where I want my business to be. Aside from the obvious sadness and distress at not seeing my friends and family regularly or the way I would like (I have missed them terribly), this has been countered by a great contentment and solace working in my garden and designing with my flowers. I try to create something with my garden flowers almost every day. It is like a need, a compulsion. I need to have my flower fix! My garden, growing flowers, garden wildlife, and long dog walks have always been a great source of inspiration and relaxation for me. That I was able to indulge this in 2020, with no other work pressures to worry about or getting in the way, was a huge silver lining to what was a very worrying year with no income or tangible work.
I was fortunate enough to be approached very early on by a young talented videographer about producing some online floral design courses. This was something I had considered in the past but never had the time to really take any further. Obviously, I now had a lot of time and garden full of flowers with no classes to use them for! So, we jumped in with very little planning and we developed a series of seasonal courses using my garden flowers that will be finished this May – completing a whole year of designing with flowers from my garden! The whole year course will be available very soon and, in the meantime, we have already successfully launched A Summer Learning from Nature and An Autumn Learning from Nature and now, a Winter Learning from Nature! I have also started a podcast with two floral friends, The Restless Creatives Podcast. I’m co-host and editor and, as a total technophobe, I have been on a steep learning curve! But it too is being very well received which is wonderful.
I do think that many people have returned to the love of gardening and equally many have discovered it for the first time. There is plenty of evidence that sales in seeds, plants and gardening products have escalated hugely over the last year. This really excites me. I know that not everyone has access to a garden but a pot by your door or plants on your windowsill can be just as rewarding. Nurturing and caring for a garden, however big or small, can really allow your mind to rest; allows you to engage with nature, enjoy gentle but rewarding exercise and feel a sense of purpose. Then of course there is the added benefit when the fruits of your gardening labour can be enjoyed too – a beautiful outside space you’ve nurtured, delicious fruit and veg to eat and share and of course flowers to cut and enjoy inside.
I know, going forward, the repercussions of the last year will have long lasting and, in some areas, devastating effects for many. I wish this wasn’t so. However, I also feel that we have huge inner resources and strengths. I think entrepreneurial spirit will flourish and fresh new ideas and enterprises will bubble up as we go forward. This is going to be wonderful to witness. This year I hope the enthusiasm people have found for being outside and engaging with nature will grow rather than diminish. For myself, I hope to welcome back guests to my studio and garden for classes and begin to reorganise teaching further afield when that becomes feasible. I want to have friends and family back in my garden, back round my table, hugging, laughing, sharing and enjoying each other. And I hope to continue to explore new opportunities and experiences for my work and business. I feel very optimistic and excited about what lays ahead.
Featured image picture credit: Gina DoverJaques Photography