"You have my dream job," a woman said to me recently, "Words, flowers and books."
I'm a radio journalist by training, a Nature Girl by temperament and a storyteller by instinct and although my working life, written down on the page, looks unlikely I can see now that it's all been one long apprenticeship for Verde Flowers. I thought I was just growing flowers to sell. What I quickly realised is that flowers are at their most eloquent when language runs out - at wedding, funerals, christenings, memorials and when you've just had a really terrible day.
My first love was radio and for most of the 1990's I worked for BBC Radio 4, gathering stories and turning them into features (and one or two even won awards) and all the time I was gardening and growing. In the noughties I started garden writing too for magazines and newspapers such as Gardens Illustrated, House & Garden and The Telegraph, and charing book events with international writers at festivals from Durham to Adelaide in Australia. That decade was all about balancing the needs of my young family with my desire for some adventure. I went to Iran to write about the annual rose petal harvest, the Caribbean island of Nevis where I found a garden on the side of a volcano, a vegetable market in Siberia where I interviewed growers who remembered the Communist Collective farms and a giant pumpkin festival in France full of improbably sized gourds and small yapping dogs wearing scarves.
And throughout this I've always grown flowers, mainly on my allotment, but in my small garden too. But then the golden opportunity came up one May evening in 2015 to grow flowers on a grand scale for weddings and other special events, and I thought "Why not?" and Verde Flowers was born.
It's lots of hard work, and flowers are just as temperamental as people, but yes, it's my dream job.