“Gardeners and florists are the happiest of all the professions … nearly twice as happy as people in more prestigious and better paid jobs.” – Professor Paul Dolan, UK Economist and Behavioral Scientist.
It was this random little nugget of information I happened to stumble upon during one of my daily wanderings around the internet that sparked a latent creative passion – the deep-seated and unfulfilled love of making pretty things with flowers.
The quote originally caught my eye as something of a heaven-send for Guillaume, who was having a particularly existential week, with all sorts of logistical challenges amid the launch of his brand new landscaping business.
I snapped a shot of the encouraging words and sent them his way, adding as a humorous afterthought: “Hey! Maybe I should become a florist. Imagine how happy we’d be!” ending off with a cry-laughing emoticon to indicate the hilarity of the suggestion.
But then, I thought. Well. Why not? I’ve dabbled in the art of making flower crowns before. Maybe. Maybe I could make it a thing, you know?
I would probably have forgotten all about it pretty soon, had an intervention from an unlikely (okay, actually probably very likely) source not steered me even deeper into this pursuit.
The goody bag included a cute Zana pouch, Lulu&Marula lip balm, 10% off Hey Pioneer camping, a Ruschka du Toit card, and a Mervyn Gers ceramic bowl, as well as vouchers for Prestwich Collection and Kind Cafe. (Photo: Makers/Facebook)
Whether it was serendipity or the fact that Facebook is now also reading our minds, a few days later a random ad about a flower crown making workshop popped up in my feed.
Shaky with equal parts suspicion and excitement, I clicked through to the Makers website and found that this Woodstock-based creative studio would be hosting a workshop called Buds & Bloom with local florists, BouwerFlowers.
Fast forward two weeks and there I was – with about eight other flower-enthusiasts – in the gorgeous light-flooded studio, sipping bubbly, snacking on vegan-friendly brownies, basking in the treasures of the best goody bag ever and, most importantly, surrounded by a fragrant sea of blooms just waiting to be turned into crowns: roses in red and pink, peach and white, fragrant sprigs of lavender, an assortment of chrysanthemums and little bunches of chincherinchee. And for greenery: pennygum and olive branches and other assorted leaves.
Example of a Bouwer Bunch. (Photo: BouwerFlowers/Facebook)
Just before we all took our places and set to work, I had the pleasure of chatting to Deb, the founder of BouwerFlowers, about her amazing journey. In a nutshell, her passion for floristry first started to bloom while living and working in Sydney, Australia.
“My ad agency office was right nextdoor to a florist. I’d walk past every morning and see these gorgeous girls hauling fresh market flowers out of cars and into the shop. I just thought: they have the best life!”
It wasn’t long before she enrolled in a floristry course and started interning at another shop in the city. When she and her husband returned to Durban a few years later, she decided to start Bouwer as a business on the side.
Demand for her work grew steadily and within no time she needed an extra pair of hands.
Even though she was based in Cape Town, Shari caught wind of Deb’s work with Bouwer and decided that she simply had to be part of it. With a florist for a grandmother, she had a long-held childhood dream of being one too and jumped at the opportunity.
And so, Shari and Deb started working as a team, flying between the two coastal cities to do weddings and functions and all things in between.
Finally, Deb and her husband relocated to Cape Town and, earlier this year, BouwerFlowers became a full-time thing. (And at almost the same time, Deb became a mom!)
Deb and Shari gave a delightful introductory presentation about the work they do, emphasising the fact that they use only the freshest, seasonal, locally-grown flowers, ensuring not only superior quality, but also sustainable practice.
While much of their time goes into weddings, they also have a few extra special products for everyday celebrations. If you love having fresh flowers in your home constantly, be sure to check out the weekly Bouwer Bunch.
A few of the gorgeous flower crowns. Mine’s top left 🙂 (Photo: Makers/Facebook)
Once they’d shared a few tips and tricks, it was time to set to work on our flower crowns… They had suggested three guiding styles that we could choose to work with: Soft and Romantic, Minimalistic or Bold and Dramatic.
I chose Soft and Romantic and went with faded pinkish-hued flowers and grey-green pennygum and silver-sided olive leaves. Those who chose Bold and Dramatic, harvested red roses and bright orange pin cushions from the vases on the tables, while the minimalists picked lavender, chinchirichees and petite wax flowers.
It was amazing to see just how different each person’s crown turned out, speaking volumes about the untapped creativity inside all of us.
Make no mistake, flower crowns aren’t just a quick twist of leaves and ta-daaa! It took the best part of two hours to construct – what with choosing blooms, taping florist wire, pinning flowers and securing them with even more tape! But I’m sure as you do it more often, your fingers will become more nimble and your eye more practiced to recognise which arrangement of elements will work best for what.
While Deb and Shari assisted us in taping, wiring and pinning, Makers’ Lynn made sure we were well-fed and hydrated throughout, popping by the tables ever so often to offer a top-up or a snack.
Lynn’s story in itself is hugely inspiring, as she founded Makers to connect, inspire and promote the talented and vibrant community of South African creatives through the hosting of workshops, the posting of blogs and the sharing of resources.
Apart from founding Makers, Lynn is also the owner of Prestwich Collection, an online boutique featuring homeware, jewellery and other lifestyle goods for women.
Find me among the flowers
I was drawn to the Buds & Bloom workshop through a serendipitous series of events and ended up gaining so much from the experience.
While I’m keen to explore every other sort of creative endeavour Makers may offer in the future, it’s safe to say, I’m pretty taken with flowers. Over the past few days, I’ve sniffed out all the most magnificent florists on Instagram and already spent hours poring over the pics. While I may never make a business of it, I feel that flowers are my thing – I want to fill my home and my hair with them and shower my family and friends with blooms, whether there’s reason to celebrate or not.
I guess it’s like Deb said – maybe it’s the fleeting nature of flowers, the fact that they’re so heartbreakingly beautiful today, only to be wilted and gone tomorrow, that has given them such a special place in our hearts. Tangible reminders to embrace each ephemeral moment in all its glory and all its pain.
Thanks to Lynn, Deb and Shari for a morning that really filled my heart with so much happiness.
Finally… if anyone out there needs a floral head dress for a festive occasion, I’m super keen to practice this craft. I promise I’ll make it pretty! Anyone?
Check out Makers’ blog post about the morning and be sure to keep an eye out for future workshops!