Valentine’s Day: Barking’s Flower Arrangers show off their skills

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 February 2016

Patricia Lungley's 'Alternate Colours for Valentines Day'

Patricia Lungley's 'Alternate Colours for Valentines Day'


For more than 50 years Barking’s Flower Arrangers have met on a weekly basis. As the old committee retires, Phoebe Cooke joins the new-look group ahead of Valentine’s Day tomorrow ...

Flower arranging at the groupFlower arranging at the group

A buzz of chatter emanates from a flood of purple and green as Barking’s flower arrangers perfect the ultimate multi-task – discussing the week’s events while putting the finishing touches to individual explosions of irises.

“We wanted to bring it into the now,” explains Pat Lungley, 71, at Barking Flower Arrangers’ weekly session.

“When the old committee stood down we all rallied round and decided we were going to run it,” continued Pat, who as the club’s new syllabus secretary assigns a different theme to each week’s arrangement.

“They used to do more traditional arranging but we wanted to try something different.”

Flower arranging at the groupFlower arranging at the group

Thursday night’s “vertical” theme has given birth to a range of displays, most with long-stemmed irises and roses.

Pools of pebbles and porcelain herons also appear, as more advanced members try “water inspired” creations.

The most unorthodox display is perhaps by Diane Donovan, 49, whose orange-spotted masterpiece features birds of paradise, scarlet ibis, “little piggies” and plaited palms.

“It’s about making a story,” explains Diane, who lives in Ivyhouse Road, Dagenham.

“There’s a difference between this and floristry.

“It’s really relaxing. I’ve got two sons so it’s nice to come over once a week to do this.”

There’s a lovely, relaxed patter of conversation over the evening, as the twenty-odd members swap stories, scissors and floral foam – as well as handy hints. About ten minutes in, there’s a friendly cheer for Joyce Perry, who turned 82 at the weekend.

The session finishes off with a cup of tea and a demonstration by Pat of next week’s theme: “alternative colour for Valentine’s day.”

Not your average bunch of roses, Pat shows a range of ways to enhance the traditional romantic gift through leaf wrapping and netting the flowers. But she insists it’s up to the individual to express themselves.

“Different people have different styles – you can sometimes tell whose is whose after you’ve known them for a while,” she admitted.

New members are always welcome. The club meets every Thursday at Eastbury Manor House, in Eastbury Square, from 7.30-9.30pm. £4 a session. 
An outside demonstration will also take place on February 25, 7.15pm for a 7.30pm start. £5 including refreshments. Email for information.

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