It’s time for the penultimate florist taking part in this year’s British Flowers Week campaign, Ruth Davis from All for Love London.
1. Why are you excited to be involved in creating a British Flowers Week installation at The Garden Museum?
Oh my goodness, it’s a dream come true to have been selected as one of the five florists to participate in this year’s Garden Museum exhibition for British Flowers Week. I actually applied the last few years when the entry was in competition form and I never got in. So to be chosen this year by the committee is a real honour! The Garden Museum is such a wonderful building and one I have walked in and around looking at so many other exhibitions that to have the chance to have my work on show here myself gives me goose bumps just thinking about it!
2. Why do you feel that British Flowers Week is important?
It’s such a wonderful week in our industry, casting a light not only on floristry as an art form but the added emphasis on British growers is also brilliant for sharing the ‘home grown’ message amongst florists and suppliers.
3. The theme this year is Memories. Please could you tell us what your memories are and how they’re reflected in your installation?
For me, there are so many flower related memories in my personal memory box, as they have always played a significant part in my life – with or without me knowing! Many of my happiest memories as a child would be spent with family at my grandparents’ house in Lancaster. My Grandad would grow sweet peas outside his greenhouse, up against the wall adjoining his neighbour’s garden. They would grow up rickety bamboo canes he had had for 50 years or more. And as a small child, I remember thinking how tall they were. They towered over me! He would walk me over to them with him to show me how many new flowers there were this week, how many different colours. We would water them together and then he would pick some of the delicate flowers for me.
I always remember feeling so special that he was willing to part with his prized, precious beautiful flowers that took him so long to grow. He would send me into the kitchen with armfuls of them and ask me to take them to Nanna who would split them into three bunches. One for their kitchen table, a big beautiful one for Mum, bundled up with damp kitchen roll at the stems and then wrapped in tinfoil to survive the car journey home. Then, lastly, a little bundle also wrapped in damp kitchen roll for my bedroom windowsill. He did this for me from the age of around 5 to the age of 25. And I would leave their house each time, proud as punch with my precious little bundle of home grown sweet peas.
When at university and away from home, Nanna would send me little hand-written notes, always on little flowery notelet cards. And they would send with whoever was visiting at the time another little wrap of sweet peas, always with their kitchen roll wrapping on the stems. Their scent to this day catches me off guard and catapults me right back to being there with all my family enjoying the small things. I have learnt that these are the biggest things of all.
My grandparents passed away the year I started All for Love London, five years ago. My Nanna was my biggest supporter. Even when I was starting out and I had no work at all, she would tell me she ‘had faith’ and that one day I would be making and creating large pieces of floral art for everyone to see. I didn’t for a second believe her and thought she was just being nice to make me feel better. But she was right and she saw a future for me in flowers that I couldn’t at times see myself. So, in turn it seems only right to share this special moment at the Garden Museum with her and with my Grandad and dedicate this installation to them both.
4. Please could you share with us some details about your installation?
I have taken over a compete archway in the church and decided to use the full height and shape of the arch cavity to create my installation. It’s at once an ambitious and yet simple design – the sheer scale is pretty epic at around 7m tall but the content is just one flower – sweet peas! Just like the little girl looking up at Grandad’s trellis, I want people to crane their necks and look up as far as they can to see the sweet peas growing, the sheer size of it to dwarf them as they look up. I will build a handmade, rickety trellis out of bamboo canes to fill the space and then grow thousands of British sweet peas up them, as tall as can be!
Thank you so much Ruth. We can’t wait to see your installation!