The Joy of Flowers
Tutor and award-winning floral designer Jo Smith spends her days “spreading the joy of flowers.” We caught up with her at Blooms at Borrowdale to talk inspiration, seasonality and workshopping with Belgian designers.
ECT: As a tutor and creator of floral art, your life revolves around flowers. How did it all begin?
JS: I was a horticulturalist first, but when I started playing about with flowers in the garden, I just fell in love with the joy they brought, so I went back to college and it turned out that I had a knack for floral design. That was about 20 years ago now.
ECT: So, what do you do now?
JS: I teach and create floral art from my home and garden workshop based on the fringes of the Lincolnshire Wolds. I’m also a member of the NAFAS Teacher’s Association in the North Midlands and the current Chairman, which is a real honour.
ECT: What do you like about teaching?
JS: Enthusing and inspiring the people I meet at my workshops. I love seeing the satisfaction in people’s faces at the end of the day.
ECT: Tell us about your own work – what are your inspirations?
JS: I have always enjoyed the cycle of the year so I work – and teach – seasonally. Having to make the most of what’s in the garden forces you to be much more creative, and it makes your designs more varied too. My work is becoming increasingly structural. I did a Level Four Floral Art & Design course recently and that really challenged me because I was working without any foam or plastics.
ECT: Which floral designers do you most admire?
JS: I really love the Belgian designers because they work structurally and with the seasons.
ECT: You visited three Belgian designers last autumn as part of our Fleur Créatif Workshop Adventure. What were the highlights?
JS: Going to the places where these designers work everyday and seeing their beautiful gardens. Geert Pattyn’s premises was knock your socks off, blow your mind stunning. We were just in awe of what he had to work with. Annick Merten’s rose garden was stunning too and being able to go and pick our own flowers was amazing.
ECT: You went with your mum, is she a floral designer too?
JS: No, but the tutors were incredibly helpful so everyone, whatever their level of ability, came away with something they never thought they would be able to make.
Read about our 2020 Fleur Créatif Workshop Adventure programmes here