At a time of life when most people are content to kick back and relax, one Ballymena woman is celebrating her 79th birthday this month with the publication of her first book.
Sandra Carson has poured a lifetime’s passion for flower arranging into the creation of a lavishly illustrated hard back volume entitled, ‘Collect, Create and Celebrate with Autumn and Winter Flora’ - and this determined septuagenarian sees that as just the first step on a crusade to make this creative art life enhancing.
She is eager to share her pleasure in flower arranging with others and has packed her book with tips, advice and encouragement designed not only to sharpen skills, but also to prompt people to benefit their physical and mental wellbeing by getting closer to nature - and encourage them to abandon cramming flowers into a jam jar in favour of something more ambitious and altogether more artistic.
Formally launching the book, she said, “There was a time, not so long ago, when flower arranging was enormously popular and well appreciated as an integral part of interior design but somehow it has fallen slightly out of favour. That seems surprising at a time when gardening enjoys such a high profile and when so many people are having such fun trying to become ‘Domestic Goddesses’!
“Few of us ever reach those dizzy heights, but I believe that everyone can have a go at flower arranging and they may be pleasantly surprised both at what they can achieve and what fun it is. Learning now may even put you ahead of the trend for, right now in fashionable London, it seems that floristry is ‘taking off’ with the style conscious!
“Whether your personal style is relaxed or formal, flower arranging is a creative outlet which provides an opportunity to connect with nature and to bring some of its rich harvests into our homes. It is also a wonderful ‘mindfulness’ activity and I know, from my own experience over the years, that flower arranging has brought me countless unpredicted, golden opportunities for diversification and fulfilment in new experiences and enterprises on retirement; more recently it has bestowed peace and harmony, after some of life’s inevitable ‘slings and arrows’.”
Retired teacher Sandra was a founder Chairman and is Honorary Life Member of the Northern Ireland Group of Flower Arranging Societies’ Judges, Demonstrators, Speakers & Education Committee and she is enthusiastic about the high standards which prevail here.
However she says that, while joining a class or flower arranging group is a great way to gain, and share, skills, anyone can ‘have a go’, particularly if they arm themselves with her new publication.
She says, “My book is packed with all sorts of tips gathered over the years, illustrating how even quite humble plants and containers can be transformed with a little artistry and patience and often very little or no expense. The photos and illustrations reflect the variety of projects which can be undertaken around the home, from modestly scaled, quick-to-do arrangements to more ambitions celebration centrepieces. I hope that readers will enjoy the imagery, but I wouldn’t for a moment suggest that would-be arrangers should copy them slavishly, for they are meant as a springboard for inspiration.”
Sandra is quick to correct those who may think they will have to wait until Spring to develop an interest in flower arranging. She says, “This is very much a year-round hobby and searching for interesting foliage, seed heads and other plant material can certainly add interest and purpose to a brisk winter walk! As I demonstrate in the book, it is also possible to dry, press and preserve plants to build up a collection with which to experiment and create different effects and, of course, there are some wonderful silk flowers available in the shops now.
“In Winter, when we are more likely to be confined indoors, it is lovely to be able to bring some of the outside in and, as Christmas approaches, arrangements and festive wreaths can make thoughtful gifts as well as stunning centrepieces for the seasonal table. They all seem so much more special when you have made them yourself and – who knows? – you may even receive some flowers at Christmas to encourage you to do still more!!”
Signed copies of Sandra Carson’s book, which may well find itself on many 2017 Christmas lists, are available now from outlets across Northern Ireland, including Cameron’s of Ballymena, Harrison’s of Greyabbey, Glenarm Castle Tea Room and The Nest, Broughshane at £30.
Harrison’s of Greyabbey will also feature a floral display and signing by the author from12:30-4:00pm on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 November 2017. Books are available direct from Cameron’s of Ballymena, with the addition of £4.00 for post and packaging within the UK.