Our Blooming, Zooming Sussex Florist

There’s a certain romantic notion which prevails when you think about floristry. Or at least, when I do. I think of someone surrounded by beautiful blooms, the scent of a thousand flowers wafting over them as they serenely create floral creations.

What I didn’t consider was the reality of finding those flowers at 2am in a London market, or ensuring you pre-order the ones you need so the rest of the supply chain can fulfil your requirements for events.

Thankfully, it’s not my job, it’s owner and proprietor of luxury florist Amanda Jane Flowers, Amanda, a fresh flower designer who specialises in modern seasonal arrangements.

Pre Covid, her talents were used in dressing high-end events in London, but like a lot of us, the pandemic meant reconsidering her offer, something which Amanda has embraced wholeheartedly.

Sussex flowers

“I was running floral workshops at Leonardslee Lakes and Gardens in West Sussex, and hope to do so again in the future, but when the pandemic hit I began to look at other ways. Like a lot of people, I took to online tutorials and I ran a lot of Zoom workshops,” she explains, “I have private and corporate workshops – I like the corporate ones as they can get quite competitive. I did a lot of Zoom workshops over Christmas, where I’d post out all the bits first. It was a lot of fun.

I hadn’t done Zoom workshops before but will be doing some more in the future, certainly. I’ve just secured a new studio in Plummers Plain which can be beautifully set up, so I plan to do videos there including a mix of pre-recorded and live workshops.”

Amanda is used to teaching people and has had a flower school attached to her business where a core group of people learnt floristry techniques with her via workshops. The recent few months of restrictions have meant the workshops have been, in Amanda’s words “stop start”, but she expects to pick them up again when she moves into her new premises.

“I like having the buzz,” she says, “I enjoy seeing what people create.”

With events starting to begin again, Amanda admits her work is more “out there” than traditional floristry, so where does she get her ideas from?

“You get ideas from everywhere. I’m inspired by the seasons of course, my favourite flower now will be different to three months’ time so I like to see what’s around me. It’s important to see what’s happening creatively everywhere instead, look around and within.”

She adds, “Botanical and floral artists and ceramicists inspire me – as do interiors. I love looking at those. I try not to look at other florists much as I think you can run the risk of imposter syndrome, comparing yourself to others.”

What about the 21st century noticeboard – Pinterest?

Amanda laughs a little, “I like Pinterest and it’s a great tool to demonstrate ideas. With weddings it’s quite useful to get an idea from a client as to, visually, what they like, but there’s a level of expectation versus reality. Pinterest images are often styled in a way, or filtered in a certain look so flowers appear in different colours or tones than what they naturally come as, so I have to show what can be done.”

The idea of creating flower designs for a wedding harks back to my romantic notion of the business, but Amanda quickly dispels any thoughts I may have of casually draping a few stems around and calling it a job well done.

A wedding is really personal – it’s the biggest party anyone has ever organised usually and a lot of the population know exactly what they want their big day to look like, which I love and enjoy fulfilling – but floristry is an art, and on a day when the bride looks her absolute most beautiful, I’m generally at my busiest and grimiest, pulling everything together. It’s quite a contrast.”

There is one moment which does fit my narrative though, the one of the romantic florist, as Amanda explains, “I love handing the bouquet over, it’s a really special moment. It can be quite moving. Quite often the florist is the last vendor the bride will see. She’s had her make-up and hair done and she’s sitting having a glass of Champagne with her closest friends and family and it’s a privilege to be part of that moment, it’s a personal moment.”

Amanda adds, “A bride I worked with a couple of years ago from London, I didn’t get to meet before her wedding. All our work was done over the phone, but she was such a pleasure to work with. She burst into tears when she saw my bouquet and she grabbed hold of me. It was very moving. That’s what I love about weddings – the human connection.”

According to Amanda that bride kept hold of her bouquet and preserved it and this year, her and her mum and sister, all joined in on one of Amanda’s group Zoom Christmas workshops.

Sussex florist

Of course, flowers aren’t always used at our happy occasions, they can also be at the point when people are at their saddest, when saying goodbye to loved ones who has passed and Amanda creates beautiful designs for funerals too.

They’re my favourite flowers to create as it’s the last gift you can give someone,” she says, “to be asked to do funeral flowers for someone is such an honour.”

Of course, not all people can make it to funerals at the moment, but Amanda has a way of ensuring people can feel a part of it.

Families at the moment can’t come together, so I offer to create small bouquets from the funeral flowers to be given to those who want them. It’s a real honour to give them something that’s an aspect of it and something that I thought was important to do.”

To order any of Amanda’s flowers visit www.amandajaneflowers.co.uk, or visit The Crabtree on Brighton Road, which is currently stocking seasonal bouquets.

Contributed by Lisa Brace 

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