Did you know that you can kill a plant by giving it too much love? No, I didn’t either, until I found my once juicy green pots of succulents, wilted, black and swollen one morning. Apparently, I had watered them too much (too much love) and had successfully drowned them. I was bitterly disappointed. Having tried and failed to keep almost every other species of plant or flower alive over the years, the succulents were my last chance. The florist had assured me it was almost impossible to kill a succulent as they needed so little attention. Clearly, I had found their weakness: just water them.
Resigned to the fact the green-fingered genes had skipped a generation, I was a little reluctant to accept the very kind invitation from All in One Season, to attend a Dutch floristry course. There was little point in me learning the art of quirky flower arranging if I was unable to keep a cactus alive. But when I realised that it was a Mother’s Day workshop, and knowing that my Mum most certainly does have the green-fingered gene, I decided to accept. Even if I managed to kill my flowers, at least I would have proved the model daughter on Mother’s Day.
So, off we set on a very wet and rainy Saturday afternoon, bound for the beautiful home of Alice, owner of All in One Season. I must admit, my main lure to the workshop was the promise of Dutch frothy coffee and cakes; my belly was already rumbling as we made our way down to Letchworth Garden City. Arriving at Alice’s house, we made our way through her little shop, crammed full of flowers and homeware, to her indoor workshop.
The workshop was a treasure trove filled with candles, flowers, sea shells, photographs and little knick-knacks; like delicately dyed quail eggs, laying ready for use in Easter decorations. I’ve always dreamt of owning a house like this when I’m ‘older’; filled to the rafters with beautiful little things, the smell of cake and coffee lingering in the air, and the general hustle and bustle of a house bursting with personality.
Once we were settled in our places around the thick wooden table, candles flickering and the gentle pitter patter of the rain outside, it was time to begin our workshop. Alice firstly gave us an introduction to Dutch floristy, which to my relief seemed fairly relaxed. Far from creating a design that I would never be able to replicate, Alice spoke of how she wanted to show us how easy and inexpensive it can be to create beautiful designs from very simple objects.
We began by creating the box that our flowers would sit in. Rather than buying an expensive pot, all we needed was some hard sided polystyrene and a few nails to secure the corners together. It was as simple as that. In fifteen minutes, we had already completed our boxes and were ready to move onto the fun part: adding live moss to the outside of the box with a glue gun.
The last time I came into contact with a glue gun was circa. 1997 in an art class at school. Generously splodging the hot, sticky glue over the container, I wondered how I had lived life for so long without one. It was so much fun. Whilst others carefully and systematically applied the moss, I confidently grabbed fistfuls of it and stuck it on, here, there and everywhere. The smell of the moss and soil, combined with the rain outside, reminded me of cold autumn afternoons in the woods as a kid; busy lining my newly made den with spongy moss and crispy leaves.
After ‘mission moss’ was complete, we took a break: the time had come to get my greedy hands on the coffee and cake. An extra perk of the workshop was that Alice’s daughter, a brilliant baker, had made us some truly delicious cakes. Chocolate cake, apple cake, florentines and macaroons, sat waiting for me amongst the flowers of the little indoor shop. I quickly filled my heart shaped plate with one of everything.
Back to work after filling our bellies full of the most delicious cake and coffee, it was time to start filling our now moss covered boxes. Once the inside of the box was lined, it was time for the best bit – adding all the colour! It was now late afternoon and the now darker workshop was brought to life as Alice gave out bundles of flowers, including the Dutch favourite: tulips! What I loved about the design was that it included planting a lot of bulbs, meaning it will continue to evolve and change through the seasons. Already starting to sprout, my little bulbs held the promise of spring and warmer days.
Standing back from my design, I was quietly triumphant. Despite not inheriting the green-fingered gene, my box looked absolutely lovely. Bursting with colour, I couldn’t wait to get it home and put it pride of place in my kitchen window. My Mum seemed equally happy with hers and was already discussing her imminent purchase of a glue gun so she could continue to make more of them.
Before we left, Alice was kind enough to show us around some more of her beautiful home. At Christmas, she opens the house up to the public, creating a Dutch Winter House. Unlike the traditional ‘winter wonderland’ themes often found in England, Alice was clear to point out hers follows a much more simple, Nordic design. For those of you who read our blog regularly, you’ll understand our excitement, as we’re complete obsessed with anything Scandinavian. We’ll most definitely be back for that later in the year.
We stepped out from the warm glow of Alice’s house to a dark and wet night, but our colourful creations kept a bounce to our steps as we made our way to the car. Alice’s workshop had transported us from a rainy, winter’s day, to an afternoon of colour and hints of spring.
Thank you Alice for inviting us to your All Seasons workshop! Even for a complete plant killer like myself, I had a lovely afternoon.