Here's the thing. As an "indie" (independent florist), I don't get to gossip at the photocopying machine or have a laugh with the girls over lunch, instead I use this thing called social media to keep in touch with the world outside my flower filled workroom.
I scroll through my Instagram feed, drooling over pretty flowers and foodie posts 'liking' and commenting with gay abandon. I love it. It's fun, friendly and what's more, I've only gone and made some real live friends through it. Who'd have thought? Fancy that.
Fast forward ten months from when we first met and flower friends Tom, Chloe and I are heading down the M5 Cornwall-bound. We are on our way to a Farmer-Florist meet hosted by Becca and Maz of The Garden Gate Flower Co. Meeting up with a host of other like minded folk such as growers, bloggers and florists, this dear reader, is a busman's holiday! And what's more it seems as if we all sort of know each other in a funny sort of way through the world that is twitter and Instagram. How bonkers is that?
When I think about it, this whole road trip is a little incongruous to me because I didn't really think I was 'that' sort of person who did 'this' sort of thing, you know, go to gatherings like the one I'm en route to. Yet when I look back over the last 36 hours with Tom and Chloe not to mention the day spent at the farm, it's obvious that we have a common love of all things floral. We're three very different florists who laugh, share ideas. ask questions and also have opinions on all manner of things. It's both cathartic and comforting to share this journey with them. Infact, we barely draw breath. We leave at midday and turn in at 1.30am, not because we've run out of things to say, but we've to get up in a few hours!
So what happens at a flower meet up I hear you ask? First, you put on your wellies (we're on a farm) then over a mug of coffee you chat with a group of people who probably feel just as awkward as you do to begin with then you remember you all share a love of flowers, trust me when I say the conversation is effortless.
After an hour or so of chit chat and admiring abundant cutting gardens, we got to snip armfuls of flowers, march off to one of the barns on Becca's parents farm and have a bit of a 'play' arranging them.
This part was all very relaxed and informal and teaching was not on the agenda; to be perfectly honest arranging flowers is my day job so I just wanted to talk and hear what others thought about this and that. So I just lobbed a few bits of greenery, a few dahlias and cosmos into an urn, got the Micky taken out of me for bringing some 'dirty' Dutch leftovers from home (someone had to lower the tone) and because I know the girls are big fans of some US flower company called Saipua, I did a bit of a loose Constance Spry number; then I had lots of fun photographing mine and everyone else's flowers in the rustic diffused light around the shabby old barn, which of course made all the flowers look like some sort of glossy photoshoot!
It's admirable what Maz and Becca have achieved in such a short space of time - they've only been going three years. Yes, just three, impressive huh? They're both young and so enthusiastic. I recall starting up my own business over thirteen years ago, the whole social media thing simply didn't exist back then, my own business grew quietly and steadily through word of mouth. Over the past two years I've dipped a toe into the waters of Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, and what I found were like minded florists and not just here in the UK, but all over the world; it's a crazy concept when you stop and think about it. From a business perspective it has very little impact on me, I only consider it a social medium rather than a business platform, and I don't take it particularly seriously but it certainly quells any feelings of isolation I might have felt working as an indie.
Social media is the photocopier of the cyberspace - somewhere to meet, admire, chat and befriend.
So back to the farm and HQ of The Garden Gate Flower Co. Massive thanks to Becca and Maz and to everyone I met there, I had the best of times both the evening before when we all went out to supper and the day itself was perfectly pitched. I admire your flegling company immensley and all that you do, we got to pick beautiful flowers and eat the scrummiest of cakes but most of all, I so enjoyed being part of a little community of industrious people. I marvel at the fact we are all so very different, have such eclectic approaches to what we do as florists, growers, gardeners or bloggers. I love how we inspire each other by coming together and supporting each other and having fun, what an incredible melting pot of people we are.
Let's do it again sometime, the sooner the better.