Flowers for Christmas with Roma Berridge (30-11-16)
The turnout for Roma’s demonstration on the 21st November was amazing considering what a filthy night it was and she certainly put us in the mood for the up-coming festive season.
Roma is an Area Demonstrator for the National Association of Flower Arranging Societies (NAFAS). Her fascination with all things floral must have begun at an early age as her first job after leaving school at 15 was in a florists in Nottingham.
She reminisced about her days spent in derry boots, ankle deep in cut-off foliage, discarded flowers and sopping moss with cuts and blisters on her hands from manhandling wires and frames. Sounds grim doesn’t it? But then, when you look at the fabulous arrangements at the end of all that toil you have to applaud the skill and hard, physical, work that goes into them.
Roma entertained us as she manipulated greenery and flowers into the most astonishing shapes. She told us of her favourite foliage plants such as Cryptomeria and Elaeagnus together with Golden King holly and Fatshedera (a cross between Fatsia and ivy). Apparently, greenery like ivy will keep fresh for up to three weeks if stored in a black bag in a shady corner at the bottom of your garden.
Roma was very familiar with the village of Cropwell Bishop having spent some of her adult life on the parcel delivery team for Royal Mail. We may have wondered why her parcels were delivered to the back doors – well, it was so that she could have a good look at what shrubs etc. we were growing so that she could come back and beg some “trimmings” for her floral creations!
However, for me, her most impressive trick was the way she wove split phormium leaves into snake-like runners which she attached to the ends of the foam blocks – the effect was to almost double the length of the finished product without using too many precious blooms.
She also told us of a nifty trick for extending the life of floppy roses. Apparently, the shorter you cut a rose, the longer it will last. So, if your long stemmed roses get a touch of the droops, lay them down flat, wrap their heads in paper, make a cut between leaf nodes to the desired length then immerse the stems in some boiling water about an inch deep. Wait for five minutes then top up with flower food and leave for a few hours by which time they should have taken up all the water and be back to almost pristine condition.
Her other tip was don’t buy red or white roses at Christmas if you want to make a decorative spray – they are way too expensive. Better to go for orange or bronze blooms which will look just as effective and be half the price.
At the end of a truly fascinating evening three lucky members each won one of Roma’s creations in the raffle. Wonder if they (or any of the rest of the audience) will attempt to recreate the finished article!