I break my wrist on a snowboarding trip 2 weeks before a wedding and have to move back in with my parents for 4 weeks until I get the cast off. Granny, who’s in her mid-80s, pops in every day without fail to change nappies and check we are doing ok. I am grateful for the bond formed between Cillian and his Great Grandparents over the course of that month. Cillian takes his first steps. There is joy all across the land. Covid isn’t even a word …. yet.
With no right hand to work with, reinforcements have to be called in. Jo, my green-fingered friend and colleague from Florencecourt steps in to save the day (and my sanity!). She’s my hero. Her work is amazing, and she totally rocks her first attempt at professional floristry. We go on to have the BEST DAY EVER celebrating our bestie’s wedding day at Lusty Beg. Little did we know it at the time, but this would be our last ‘day out’ for a very, very, long time.
Covid is now a word. It’s on the tip of all of our tongues. We go into lockdown and the very first (of what will be many) wedding postponements is called in. Banana-bread is baked by the tonne, the soles of the shoes are worn thin from walking the roads (our new ‘daily highlight’) and an idea enters – what if I used this time to try to get a cut-flower garden going? Books are read, brains picked, plans drawn and the first seeds planted under cover. Ahhh, it’s all making sense now .. 2020 is the year I will learn how to ‘garden’. I was wondering when that might happen …
With no end in sight to the fiasco that is Covid-19, we postpone our own upcoming wedding. The wedding postponements are starting to flood in now. To distract myself, I create a list of jobs for Ruairi to do (lol) and get the raised beds built and soil ready for planting. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing really, but Mum is on hand to help. Thank God for the gift of mothers.
My new workshop at home is nearing completion (work had started earlier, in December ’19) and I end my lease at the old unit and move everything across It feels good to finally be able to step out the door and be at work in 15 seconds. The commute of dreams, eh!? The workshop remains a disorganised mess for months and with no weddings happening for the foreseeable, that’s OK. Cillian thinks the workshop has been built especially for him as a giant play-room / fun-house and I haven’t the heart to tell him otherwise. We while away many hours playing with Mummy’s buckets, Daddy’s punch-bag and a huge box of toy cars that Granda landed with.
The first of my flowers are starting to bloom. I feel like Charlie Dimmock (without the fabulous hair). It’s not long before I realise that my frantic / slapdash planting (on a morning without childcare when Cillian ran wild and we hadn’t a gate on yet and I kept having to stop him from running out onto the road) was not a good idea. I really wish at this point that I’d stuck to the well-drawn-out plan (see March) as apparently cut-flower growing is one such project whereby ‘wing it’ is not an advisable work-strategy. Growth is fast and wild and although the beds are all higgeldy-piggeldy with stuff growing all over the show, I am happy that there is life, at least. My hopes of becoming a more sustainable florist grow (no pun intended).
I meet Joe Wilde (MacDigital). He’s my business mentor, kindly appointed by FODC. We meet up to talk about my little wedding floristry business and where I’d like to see it go. I realise I’ve been coasting. That first meeting makes my head spin. Joe asks hard questions and over the course of the next few weeks, I put in the hard work to answer them. I read many wonderful books. The garden continues to bloom in its own crazy way. I find myself feeling a strong sense of ‘everything happens for a reason’.
Two firsts happen this month. I draw / paint a wedding bouquet and I go on my first ‘date’ with two lovelies I ‘met’ on Instagram (now there’s a sentence I never expected I’d be saying at the start of the year!). Sarah and Fiona, both self-employed and based in Fermanagh like me – one a lifestyle photographer and the other a Florist – become two-thirds of the very Tribe I had manifested after listening to a WHFC podcast by the wonderful Lindsey Kitchin. They become the ‘team’ I had longed for (being a lone-worker can be, well, lonely!); providing banter, encouragement and a sense of sisterhood that I hadn’t felt since leaving my last payrolled job in HR. The drawing and painting becomes a real love affair, and I have an idea in the middle of the night for how I will share it with the world.
The garden continues blooming despite my best efforts to neglect it to death. Apparently cut-flower growing takes lots of time, energy and expertise; three things I seem to be lacking, despite being ‘on paper’, both idle (due to the postponement of weddings) and highly capable (I have all of the books, a whole Internet and unlimited hours of free consultancy, in the form of my expert Mother, at my disposal). I promise myself I’ll be a more organised and dedicated gardener next year and even set about creating a product offering for 2021 that will include home-grown flowers, to ensure I don’t renege on that promise.
FINALLY, a wedding goes ahead. It’s an intimate ceremony at our neighbouring Belle Isle; a stunning venue we visit for the first time on that moody Autumn morning at the end of the month. A mix of white anemones, pale blue hydrangea and sea holly are used, and tonnes of eucalyptus (as requested by the Bride who tells me earlier that she met her husband-to-be when he was working in the forestry growing it; how lovely!). I create the wedding without the use of floral foam. It’s a first for Forget Me Knot Floristry which will shortly be ‘reborn’ as simply ‘FMK’.
I manage to launch the new brand … FMK. I give myself a swanky new title, ‘Flowersmith’ just because. Service offerings are simplified, website revamped and new boundaries set; personal and professional. I feel hopeful that my business is and will become more of what I had imagined it would be when I first had the idea to start it. I vowed to stop saying ‘yes’ when I meant ‘no’, to do more of what I loved, to work smarter to ensure better outcomes for the environment and of course, to nail the s*** out of that elusive old ‘work-life balance’. News arrives that next month’s wedding is a ‘go’. I’m beyond excited to get my hands on some blooms again and feel so grateful to have the job that I do.
Frankie (my van) gets his makeover with the new FMK branding, just in time for the wedding. It’s hands down, my best work yet. Only three weddings in total have actually been created during 2020, but the progress made, away from the workbench, has been as important, if not more important than any flowers that actually appeared at a wedding. We (I mean ‘I’, I mean ‘FMK’) have made huge strides this year in terms of living and working more authenticly and more sustainably and had it not been for the lull that Covid brought about, I may never have even begun to ask (and answer!) the difficult questions that have led us here. And for that, I can only be grateful.
Thank you to each and every special person, place and thing that has been part of our 2020 story. It’s one to remember, for sure.