AKA... When Creativity Drives, Inspiration Rides Shotgun and Practicality Sits in the Back
It was 1983 and I was turning seven. For my birthday my parents gave me a little brown plastic Fisher-Price cassette player, and two two tapes – Elton John and Carly Simon. I didn’t really dig Carly but I played Elton over and over.
There was one song that I called The Funeral Song which I now know was actually Funeral for a friend/Love lies bleeding. I loved that song.
I would carry that little tape player (like a plastic ghetto blaster), clutching a bunch of flowers and walk around the garden slowly and sombrely as though I was in a funeral procession.
Once I’d walked for the duration of the song (it’s long) I’d stop, lay the flowers down and stand still, wishing the made-up dead person well in the afterlife via the flowers.
And that’s just one of many floral memories that have finally come together to become the bouquet of a new beginning…
Now let me tell you straight up that this story is going to be longish… Not novel long, but way over normal blog length long. So I’ll cut to the chase now, and you can read on if you have the time…
This is the story of my lifelong love affair with flowers. A love that I neglected, treated mean, ignored, belittled, overlooked, played down, kept behind closed doors… Until now.
You know that feeling when you’re trying to work out what you’re supposed to be doing with your life? What your true calling is? When someone asks you, "What did you want to be when you were little?” When you listen to the vocational beginnings of other passionates… Stories of how they write, drew, made, did, etc, etc from a very young age? And have you ever felt lacking in such a lifelong passion and calling?
I sure did. Used to frustrate the hell out of me to hear those stories… I wanted those stories… Until I realised I had those stories. I’d just been hiding them under the bed.
So, really this is the story of a beginning… A well overdue beginning… Of a long-held passion, a rediscovered idea and the birth of a business.
Welcome to Flowervore!
A business that allows me to indulge my passion for flowers, and bring beauty to the lives of others through Mother Nature’s jewels.
So, before we get into my flowery backstory, if your attention span is waning, I want to finish by asking…
Is there something you’ve wanted to do forever? Something you really love? Something you’ve been covering in ifs, buts and why nots?
Well sod all that. Do it anyway.
Do it despite what people say. Do it despite what your skeptical internal monologue says. Do it whether or not it’s a smart business choice. Do it regardless of whether or not it will be successful… Hell, just do it because it makes you happy.
Because life is short, it really is. Too short for practical, that’s for damn sure.
And now if you’re still with me here’s the
rest of my flowerography…
When I scan back through the highlight reel of my life, flowers are in almost all the frames…
I grew up on a farm in rural Victoria where the contrasting seasons give birth to a wide array of blooms.
The long hot summers were coloured by vivid dahlias, blue and white agapanthus following fence lines, and belladonna lilies elegantly flowering in spite of the dust and the heat.
In autumn little crocus blooms would appear like magic, and the poplars, maples and oaks would ostentatiously drape themselves in bold reds and deep oranges, before surrendering into their winter nakedness. The paddocks would overflow with cape weed, which was the bane of my father’s existence, but meant endless supplies of daisy chains for my sisters and I.
Wintertime was always very cold and wet. It was the season for the shy flowers of the garden… Snowdrops, Violets, Lily-of-The-Valley and elegant Hellebores (Winter Roses). And always a big bush of Daphne in flower at our front door… Which smelt so good I wanted to eat it… In the same I always want to shove gardenias into my mouth.
In spring the whole world went crazy with flowers… Stunning blossom on all the fruit trees and eucalypts; fuzzy, fluro-yellow wattle; daffodils and jonquils in thick retro carpets, and wildflowers adorning the bushland-covered hills behind our farm…
My sisters and I spent a lot of our childhood riding horses in those hills, looking for wildflowers, particularly little wild orchids… I’ll never forget the day Dad (who despite being a 6’4” strong, practical, chain smoking farmer, has a soft spot for flowers) walked in with a handful of delicate little green hoods cradled in his handkerchief. He’d found them in one of the distant valleys, where it stays cool and damp most of the year… Which is rare with our blazing hot summers.
My happiest childhood memories are with my grandma…
We’d wander around the garden together and she would dig up little seedlings and cuttings for me and together we’d pot them up… She had a big bucket of broken bits of kitchen crockery that she used as drainage at the bottom of each pot, and then lovely composted soil from the garden. Together we’d pot up all the cuttings and clippings in the ‘Old Laundry’ (aka a broken cement slab, an old copper and a rickety frame made of scrawny stringy bark poles lashed together with baling twine) and I’d return home with a big box of plants to love.
In winter thick crops of violets would fill the circular flowerbeds at the base of her orange trees. My sister and I would have violet picking races to see who could gather the biggest bunch to give to her. Searching through the emerald leaves for those little purple faces was even more fun than searching for easter eggs.
In high school my best friend’s mother was a florist. Sometimes we’d go and visit her in the shop. I loved watching her put arrangements together, and the smell of the flowers and gum tips. I even loved the floor that was covered in leaves and offcuts.
Some Valentine’s Days and Mother’s Days my friend would be called in to help. I thought it sounded like a dream, but wasn't never forward enough to ask if I could help too!
In art class all I wanted to do was draw flowers, photograph them, carve them out of old pieces of lino and print them, montage them, press them, paint them… But I thought it was lacking in imagination and not edgy or deep enough to be art-worthy.
I even went through a period of wanting to be a Botanist – I loved biology but sucked at chemistry and math, so that never happened. But I think really I just wanted to draw them, not research them.
I loved English and the piece I wrote in high school that won the senior literary award (relax there were only 40 people in our year level) was called ‘Picking Violets’… You already know what that was about.
When it came time to choose what I wanted to do after school, Floristry didn’t even get a serious look-in. I was ambitious. I wanted lots of money, and I remember very arrogantly saying, “I’m not going to be a secretary, I’m going to have a secretary. Yes, I was a nightmare.
So instead I went in the exact opposite direction, and did a Bachelor of Commerce… Now sure there were aspects I found interesting – understanding a little of the world economy and how different systems (are supposed to) function. Going through case studies of large corporates and analyzing their success - hat was kind of interesting. Organisational Behavior – how individuals interact in the manufactured culture of a company (and what managers can do to manipulate that for greater productivity and performance). Accounting – argh, didn’t like anything about that. Industrial Relations – so boring I couldn’t bring myself to do any of the reading, and even turned up to give a tutorial presentation knowing nothing. Can you imagine it? Getting up in front of a group of people who know a lot about the given topic and then giving a presentation knowing nothing?? World swallow me up now!! The tutor took pity on me and allowed me extra time to do the work and represent the following week… I think I still only just scraped by. I did also do some literary theory, which I loved.
Anyway, suffice to say, studying something you find really boring is not terribly enjoyable. But I’m pretty stubborn, so whilst my friends were chopping and changing degrees, I resolved to finish what I started.
By the time I finished that degree, my creative side was bursting at the seams… Which manifested in flamingo pink hair and long stripy socks worn under my graduation gown, amidst a sea of black and the hopeful faces of the brightest new stars of the business world.
I, on the other hand didn’t respond to any of the recruitment invitations. I just couldn’t come at working in a big corporation like Ernst and Young, Andersons Consulting or Coles Myer.
Instead my creative side finally said ENOUGH and I volunteered at a media arts organisation. When I look back on it, this was a hugely significant time. I was writing, drawing, editing, publishing, organizing festivals and meeting amazing people… But, because it was unpaid, my creative side was once again shoved aside by practicality and I felt compelled to ‘get a real job’.
I won’t bore you with a full CV as this is about flowers, not resumes… But I gravitated to marketing because it was, in my opinion, the most creative field I could find in the business world… Which utilised my tertiary studies, my love of writing, and my need for variety.
But still flowers remained only something in a garden or a vase, not a vocation.
One day when I was at the end of my tether as a corporate suit-wearing employee, I even went in to the local florist to ask them about it and they confirmed what I suspected – Don’t do it they said, the pay sucks and the hours are long.
So instead, I quit my job and set up my own marketing consultancy from home. I continue to enjoy this. It’s amazing what being the mistress of your own time and environment can do for satisfaction and enjoyment, but still this flower thing was there, and the calling was getting stronger.
Recently I did some work experience for a top florist. I loved being around the flowers, and learned so much from some very talented people, but I could not commit to full-time work as it didn’t fit in with children or business. So once again it seemed my thoughts on floristry as a viable career had been validated.
But still the idea persisted. The more I thought about it, read about it, dreamed about it, the more I realized I just had to tell my practical side to be quiet in the back seat and enjoy the ride, because inspiration and creativity were driving now and they were creating a floristry business whether practicality liked it or not. In fact they were downright arrogant about it. They would occasionally glance over their shoulder and say that it was going to damn well be a success and what’s more, practicality could help if it wanted to play too, or keep quiet for once.
And so Inspiration, Creativity, and a reluctantly excited Practicality have joined forces to create FLOWERVORE!
Because life is too short to let practicality do all the driving!
So if you need some beauty in your day and live on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland... I'd love to hand deliver one of our weekly featured posies to your door. (Check delivery area)
If you are looking for a unique, sweet and handmade gift, my Succulent Cups may be just your cup of tea!
And if you want some flowery words (and to be part of the inner circle) you can subscribe to the blog.
...Oh, and finally let's get back to the title... I do have a flower tattoo... Two dandelion seed heads on my ankle. They're a symbol of my children who will grow up, fly away and set seed in their own patch of life... And I have a soft spot for 'weeds' - Those flowers who refuse to be hemmed in and grow where they wish!