The signs of a really special experience: You feel sad as soon as you leave. Check. Thinking about it puts a lump in your throat. Check. When telling people about it it feels like your heart might explode. Check.
With Helen Matthews
Helen is Deputy CEO at the Cure Parkinson's Trust. I can't put my finger on the first time I met Helen but I feel like I've known her forever. I had the pleasure of getting to know her better when we spent some time in Portland for the World Parkinson's Congress.
I've been mega excited about this one since London Flower School co-founder and all-round lovely human Helen Dyson (keep up folks, there are a lot of Helens in this post) replied to my email and invited us in to take a class. I love flowers, anyone who saw my Christmas tree this year can testify to this (there were silk flowers in it) and I love having them in the house. But I've never really been any good at displaying them, I sort of plonk them in a vase and wonder why they look sad in a few days time.
'For me it’s the small things that make me really happy, the small kindnesses, the small funny observations of everyday, a bulb emerging In the spring against all the odds. The kindness you find when least expected.' Helen
So I was keen to create some masterpieces myself and learn all the tricks that would allow me to arrange and maintain flowers in my home. The class was an all day affair, with a lesson in the morning, lunch and then another lesson in the afternoon. Held in a fantastically light studio space everything was photogenic (I just had to wade through over 1oo photos of blooms to gather together a few for this post.)
The morning session, how to create a neat domed bouquet, was taught by Marzena who made it somehow look both easy and terrifyingly clever. I struggled a little bit with holding it and adding flowers at the same time but Helen M mucked in and provided a steady hand for me to create on. I was pretty smug about the finished outcome! The afternoon, how to create a more freeform modern bouquet using live and dried flowers, taught by Wagner was equally as much of a joy and my arrangement was a riot of pink and fluff.
I LOVEDLOVEDLOVED it. For many reasons. Working with such beautiful natural materials is like nothing else. The teachers were knowledgeable and encouraging and shared some nifty tricks which really helped us. The process was thorough with us learning everything from 'conditioning' (prepping the stems for use) all the way through to wrapping. The tone was relaxed but I felt like I learnt a huge amount in a relatively short time. It was brilliant to spend some time with Helen M outside of Parkinson's related stuff. And my home now looks like I have lots of very generous flower buying secret admirers, which is never a bad thing.