This was a very welcome challenge in my new workshop space especially now that I work alone a lot of the time.

But my teaching background (I was an Early Years Teacher and Lecturer for many years before turning to floristry!) soon kicked back into action as I prepared a relaxed ‘lesson plan’ for Sophie who was going to spend an afternoon with me to think about colour theories and choosing a colour palette, as well as make her own hand-tied bouquet. First though, she would need the tools of the trade and a tube of florist’s friend – some nice hand cream!

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We looked at colour wheels to understand how different colours affect each other and I explained how certain colours harmonise or complement each other. Often deciding on a colour scheme can be your first filter to help narrow down selection from the many beautiful flowers available.

However a mixture of colours always works perfectly well when using seasonal and foraged elements because that’s just how they grow together naturally!

We looked at some of my favourite books by other florists and flower farmers and we drooled over the gorgeous arrangements in The Flower Workshop by Ariella Chezar.  Some of her arrangements highlighted for us the importance of choosing a suitable vessel to enhance your flower arrangement!

We spent a lot of time looking at the possibilities of each flower not just for colour but shape, size and characteristics – which might be focal flowers which would add texture and shape to Sophie’s bouquet.

I worked alongside Sophie at each stage so that I could show how to condition and prepare flowers – it is often necessary to remove buds that detract from the impact of a single flower or thin down a branch to create a more dramatic effect.

I was able to demonstrate how to spiral stems in your hand to create the best display – and reassured Sophie that florists often have to ‘start again’ if the flowers just won’t go where you want them to!!

This was a real treat for me to share my knowledge and passion – I can’t wait for the next one-to-one session!

Great job Sophie and thanks for the feedback :

“My afternoon with Sue was a delight.  Sue made me feel at ease throughout our
session and shared her fantastic knowledge with me without being
overwhelming. I learnt a lot in our session and I was amazed at the
beautiful bouquet I had managed to create by the end of it!

Thank you Sue for teaching me something new, sharing your knowledge and making me feel
comfortable. Oh and for the yummy homemade cake!”

 PS I am happy to work alongside you (and a friend) to share my skills and passion for flowers in lots of different ways – contact me for details via e-mail: or fill in the comment form on this blog.

For details of my larger group workshops at Rugby School please go to my website and follow the link to Workshops

Celebrating Charlotte

tiny bronte

(Click here to read full blog)

A floral workshop to celebrate the bicentenary of Charlotte Bronte, was the idea of Sarah Statham and Mrs B. from Simply by Arrangement ( in collaboration with The Bronte Parsonage Museum. (

So on April 20th I joined a group of 10 flower lovers in beautiful sunny Haworth, to create floral installations both ‘great and small’ for each room of the Bronte Parsonage Museum to celebrate Charlotte Bronte’s 200th birthday the following day.

The day started in the Old School Rooms, a few steps away from the museum, where we were greeted by buckets and buckets of beautiful seasonal British flowers and foliage mostly supplied by Paula, from Mill Pond Flower Farm, who is based in the Scottish Borders, and she also joined us for the day. Mrs B. thrust fresh coffee and flapjacks in our hands while Sarah suggested who might work on each room then we headed over to the museum for inspiration and much discussion…


Decisions made, measurements taken, colour schemes set, flowers chosen and vases prepared we set to work creating our individual floral designs – quite a daunting moment in room of experienced flower lovers!! The concentration was palpable – all that could be heard was Mrs.B. preparing our 3 course lunch!

This was my view in and out of the School Room…and some of the arrangements in progress.

… and below my finished arrangement (no.1) for Mr Nicholl’s study – Charlotte was married to Mr Nicholls for only 2 years before she died.


Contorted hazel provided the ‘dramatic’ styling needed for the rather stark windowsill in the study, with bright blue scillas, purple anemones, snakes head fritillaria, fritillaria persica, pieris flowers, hellebore, bridal crown narcissus.

..then lunch… a feast created by Mrs B. and served al fresco in the Yorkshire sunshine !!


Then on with arrangement no. 2 for Mr Nicholl’s study, to be placed in an old cast iron fireplace and designed to look as though it was reaching across towards arrangement no. 1 in the window.


This photo was taken in the schoolroom,  and I tried to echo the colours and shapes with similar flowers but lighter tones with apricot tulips and more narcissus to stand out against the black fireplace …the clematis vine was to be threaded through the fire grate.

With minutes to spare we waited for the museum to close so that our flowers could be installed room by room with the museum staff. Emotions were running high as it was such a privilege to have our work placed within the museum and one or two adjustments had to be made to avoid any flowers or foliage touching precious wallpaper!! The museum staff had to place transparent covers on mantle shelves, fireplaces and windowsills to avoid any damage to original fittings (although we had all triple checked for any leakages!!). Then with staff wearing white gloves, and all of us holding our breath,  our arrangements were carefully positioned room by room!

The relief…they fitted, they looked stunning, the parsonage was brought alive! There were quite a few emotional tears mainly from the Museum staff who were overwhelmed with our creations!! Praise indeed!

The kitchen

The Writing Room where Charlotte wrote ‘Jane Eyre’ ( lighting difficult because we couldn’t get close-up)


Mr Bronte’s Study


The Stairs


Mr Bronte’s bedroom


My arrangements in Mr Nicholl’s study


Charlotte’s room


All in all it was a fabulous experience – roll on Emily Bronte’s centenary in 2018!

Looking forward to celebrating Charlotte

April 21st is the date of Charlotte Bronte’s 200th birthday, and I will be taking part in a very special celebration of this unique date in the literary calendar.

I’ll be joining 9 other flower lovers who will gather to work together to make floral installations that will adorn each room of the Bronte Parsonage in Hawarth, Yorkshire, for the birthday celebrations.

We will be working in the Old School rooms, where Charlotte taught, just steps away from her home, using my favourite British-grown Spring flowers, carefully selected vessels and our imagination to create floral arrangements that will sit harmoniously inside the Parsonage; Yorkshire’s most famous museum.

I am, of course, honoured and delighted to be in the group.  I will be working with wonderful British grown flowers and in such an important and historic setting, helping to celebrate the birthday of one of the greatest British authors.  It’s incredible; I am so excited and thrilled.

Watch out for the TV coverage but if you miss it you’ll see lots of photographs on the Garden Gate Rugby Facebook page.