The Flower Shop

As soon as I saw their van I knew I had to visit The Flower Shop in Bushey!
The Flower Shop is a double fronted building with large windows, and years ago it was used as a car show room selling Austin A40s. When current owners, Martin and Susie Roberts, took it over they had to remove the bays the cars were parked in, and during the renovation they discovered that underneath the flooring there was a beautiful parquet floor.
This is a wonderful flower shop, I am so glad I called by. There are banks of flowers in almost edible colours and around the shop are quirky bits and bobs that would make perfect gifts. I just wish my florist friend Jennifer was with me - she would love it so.
It turns out that The Flower Shop is a real family affair. Martin (who everyone seems to call Harry!) and Susie's son Sam once helped his parents out on a busy Valentine's Day when he was seventeen, and over ten years later he is still here.
Sam gets married in June and I have a feeling flowers is the one thing he and his bride will not have to worry about.
Susie tells me that what she loves about her shop is that it is a village flower shop, but that they are also so close to London. This means they could be making up a nice bunch of flowers for people locally or travelling up to London in their van to decorate Claridges for a wedding.
They have also been asked to provide flowers for stars' dressing rooms when they are performing in London. For one such order she was told that comedian Lee Evans - 'hates flowers' - so Susie decided on an arrangement of spiky thistles and anthuriums. It turns out he liked them so much he took them home with him.
I also get to take some flowers home with me. Over a cup of tea we chat about my books (Susie has promised to help me with my next one) and the family say they would like to have a copy of 'Flower Shops & Friends'. This is easy, we barter a book for some flowers and everyone is happy!

Happy Valentine's Day from The Flower Shop

Twenty years ago today, as the clock struck 6am, I was already in my London flower shop, The Lemon Tree. That day we organised nearly 300 flower deliveries and did not stop until 8pm, when we all sank into sofas in our flat above the shop with glasses of wine and a curry. Except, I didn't have the wine as I was 81/2 months pregnant! Some people say the spices in curry will hurry on a baby (some might say being a busy florist has the same effect) but what ever it was, my daughter Alexandra Philippa Page was born on February 15th 1990 at 5.30pm.
Happy Birthday for tomorrow Alex!
This Valentine's Day I have the pleasure of fond memories, the chance to visit my flower shop friends, without quite so much hard work! Sounds very good to me.
First stop, naturally, is Ted Martin Flowers - the subject of my first two books. I am delighted to see Ted has a poster in her window promoting our painting exhibition (see blog below) with a note saying that florists Sarah and Kate have submitted paintings. Both created beautiful and fun pictures using a mixture of paints and collage. I am going to show you Kate's here as it is so perfect for Valentine's Day. To see Sarah's 'Burleigh Angel' you will just have to come to the exhibition!
The shop is experiencing a brief lull when I arrive and then, like a wave, the next customers arrive; elderly couples, young women, dads with their daughters in tow for some advice, and of course the anxious looking, young men.
One young customers is wearing the perfect coat, so I ask if I can take a photograph of her amongst the flowers.
There are gorgeous bouquets and posies all ready for delivery, but I am also drawn to this small jug filled with broken flower heads that sits quietly on the dresser.
After a brief chat with Ted and the girls, next stop is to see Vicky and Anna at Wild Paeony in Shaftesbury. Anna's trade mark is fabulous red lipstick - perfect for Valentine's Day!
Vicky is whizzing through orders for bouquets and they are also kept busy making up 'ready to go' poises for the shop. 'So much easier for those worried looking men!', Anna laughs.
I make Vicky stand still for one moment so I can photograph this lovely mix of roses, tulips, ranunculus and waxflower, and can't help wondering if I will get any flower today?
Happy Valentine's Day!

Sorry to have been away

I have been a lazy blogger recently but hope you will excuse me as I have been so busy with my painting fundraiser (see blog January 10th).
Hard work, but such fun.
I now have 108 paintings, mainly from amateurs (most of whom are beginners - including myself) and they will all be on view at Stourhead gallery 19th - 21st Feb. We are delighted to have had the help of Desmond Shawe-Talyor, Surveyor of the Queen's Paintings, who has chosen 12 to be auctioned at our charity dance, the Paint Ball. I have to confess I do not know Desmond at all but he once taught my best friend, Pip, history of art and she loves him. And since he has given up his time to help Msaada I am now joining the Desmond fan club.
Here is a sneak preview, starting with my daughter Alex's painting (proud mum) called, The Lone Emperor. Alex is at uni studying natural sciences and saw this image on Planet Earth.
It has been wonderful to see the range of subjects that people paint, but most have chosen what is dear to them. I have no doubt that Alex will one day be a zoologist. (For Christmas she asked for a 'chimpanzee chasing hat' to wear in all weathers, as she will be spending the summer in Uganda studying a troop of chimps.)
This painting is called The Promise, and was painted by a young woman called Clare Davenport who is head of Maths at Shaftesbury school. She had been to Rwanda with Msaada, as the charity has helped to link the school with another school there. She wanted to paint an optimistic picture full of hope, but also show that the genocide is not forgotten. The purple of the earring is the colour that is worn by people on genocide remembrance days.
I love the fact that farmer's wife, cook, and all round good woman - Gillie Strang - painted her landscape with a pastry brush. Any one who has visited the Strang's mad, farmhouse kitchen will understand that the chances of her losing the brushes that came with the paints and canvas we gave her were always pretty high!
Mother and daughter, Francie and Beth got all their friends and female relations to kiss their canvases. They wanted to show how women support each other in Rwanda - and in fact all over the world.
Isn't that the truth.
And what did I paint? (or rather copy from a greetings card)
A flower stall of course!


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