Over a decade ago a friend introduced me to her aunt, her name was Louise McGregor and she was a freelance florist. Keen to meet her and get an insight into being a florist myself, I accepted the invitation to join her on one of her many (and often glamourous) jobs.
On our first 'official' work meeting, we met at a country club at the crack of dawn in Henley on Thames; she gave me a pair of florists scissors, pointed to an enormous empty pot and said "you can do that one". I reminded Lou politely, I wasn't in any way trained or indeed had the first idea what she wanted me to do, she merely shrugged and replied "Well dear, you've got to start somewhere"!
Hours later, and after watching, doing, watching some more, doing and all the while being critically appraised, we delivered the bride's bouquet and left! I was in awe of this amazing woman who, in the same time as I had rustled up one (admittedly) huge arrangement with much intervention, had done two even larger "whoppers" as well as arranging and setting out a dozen table centres!
That afternoon at her home, she showed me how to properly wire a bouquet and make buttonholes. It was a life changing moment sitting there, watching her, utterly transfixed. It was at this point I can honestly say she passed on the flame of floristry I still have burning brightly inside me today. That was over 11 years ago and since that very first meeting, I have had the pleasure of working many more hours alongside Louise, soaking up these experiences like a sponge - and in some very illustrious locations!
She is a "one off" from the school of Constance Spry (even before florist foam!) where flowers look natrual, colourful, have grace and movement - as nature intended. The original independent woman, working as a freelance florist her entire life and at the same time, bringing up her family, she continues to work to this day - her 70th birthday. She reckons florists never retire but merely slow down as they get older; Louise McGregor I wish you the happiest of birthdays and thank you from the bottom of my heart for changing the course of my life on that first day 11 years ago, forever. No gift could ever equate to the gift you gave me of encouraging me to be myself and just let the creativity flow. There was never a florist course or class that could have turned out a florist like you and perhaps one day, I might even be able to say the same of myself!
Thank you Lou and Many Happy Returns. x