CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to EADT Suffolk today CLICK HERE

Business is blooming

PUBLISHED: 11:08 10 March 2015 | UPDATED: 11:08 10 March 2015

Edelweiss florists in Stowmarket prepares for Mothers Day. Isabel Wilton.

Edelweiss florists in Stowmarket prepares for Mothers Day. Isabel Wilton.

Archant

Tessa Allingham meets the indefatigable Isabel Wilton, as she celebrates 45 years in floristry

Les and Mary Coltart and the flowers they had made by Isabel Wilton of Edelweiss (RIGHT) in Stowmarket, 40 years after she made their wedding bouquet for them.

EADT 11.11.10Les and Mary Coltart and the flowers they had made by Isabel Wilton of Edelweiss (RIGHT) in Stowmarket, 40 years after she made their wedding bouquet for them. EADT 11.11.10

Picture the scene. You have a thriving flower shop on a lovely corner plot in the heart of Stowmarket. You have been in business for 45 years and are planning how to mark this remarkable anniversary, it’s two days before Valentine’s Day – one of the busiest times of year for any florist – when the number 88 bus ploughs into the shop and ruins the lot.

“I had a Dutch lorry waiting to deliver 1,500 red roses, and flowers to finish for an 11 o’clock funeral so I had to just get on,” says Isabel Wilton, owner of Edelweiss, showing an upper lip of the stiffest – but still smiley – kind.

“I arrived at the shop at 8, just after it happened, and as soon as I knew nobody had been injured, I got on with the last coffin spray with the bus wedged in the window. I somehow managed to get the roses into the shop too. I’m very single-minded – there was no time to sob!”

Efficiently, the business decamped to Noble and White, the gift shop across the road also owned by Isabel, and months of repair work began.

Bus incident in Stowmarket.Bus incident in Stowmarket.

That all happened about a (busy) year ago. Now, the walls are a stylish, calm, pale grey, the large windows sparkle and, of course, flowers colourfully fill the fresh space. A pale exotic orchid perches daintily next to an explosion of stately lilies. Bold gerbera, romantic vintage-pink roses, and sugary cyclamen share a table top display. Bundles of airy lisianthus, fragrant eucalyptus and sculpturally twisting willow fill galvanised buckets.

Isabel is hoping that 2015 will be a celebratory year, following an exhausting, stressful one. “This is the beginning of a new era for Edelweiss,” she says. “It’s quite something to have been in business for 45 years. We’ve been through four recessions, not to mention the bus. We are definitely here to stay.” She kicked off anniversary celebrations with a flower chain.

“We gave a bouquet to the first customer in the shop on the day we reopened and asked her to nominate another person to receive a bouquet. The idea is that every recipient nominates another person, and so on until we’ve delivered 45 bouquets.” At the time of writing the chain had remained unbroken with 20-odd bouquets delivered.

Isabel talks about flowers with the enthusiasm you’d expect of a newcomer to floristry. There’s no sense of passion palling with time.

Isabel Wilton (left) with Ellie Wonfor receiving the first of the free bouquets as part of the 45 giveaway chain.Isabel Wilton (left) with Ellie Wonfor receiving the first of the free bouquets as part of the 45 giveaway chain.

“I’m so privileged to do something that gives so much pleasure and, at times, comfort to people.

“I love my job, even though the work is a lot more demanding than many people think. I’m constantly working to deadlines that cannot move – a wedding, a party, a funeral – and expectations are always high!”

Trained by the iconic Constance Spry, Isabel’s passion for flowers blossomed in her early 20s while working for Notcutts garden centre in Woodbridge.

“One day a friend told me about a shop available in Stowmarket and encouraged me to take it. I had never expected to run my own business, but I stayed on that site for 30 years before moving to our current shop 15 years ago.”

There is a tangle of other strings to Isabel’s creative bow. Twenty-five consecutive years exhibiting at Chelsea Flower Show – apparently she’s unique in that achievement – have resulted in a clutch of gold medals and three ‘best in show’ awards. She has won the prestigious British Florist Association (BFA) Florist of the Year title, judged myriad national and international competitions, was a founder member of the Floristry Judges Guild, and is a former director of the BFA.

Isabel has passed on her vast experience, lecturing, demonstrating and founding the floristry department at Otley College where she taught for eight years. She has also run flower arranging sessions in a women’s prison and her own course from home, Flowers for Pleasure (see panel).

It’s enough to fill three lifetimes and make anyone listening feel faintly inadequate, even a bit lazy.

“I love being busy, and the job is so varied. I did the flowers for a golden wedding party last weekend. The couple came in to discuss it and produced a receipt from 1964 for their wedding flowers – it turned out I had done the bouquets and they remembered! It was a real privilege to do their flowers 50 years later, a truly happy occasion.”

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other EADT Suffolk Magazine visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by EADT Suffolk Magazine staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique EADT Suffolk Magazine account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

57 minutes ago

October . . . the month for the unusual and the unexplained. Pip Wright delves into Suffolk’s strange, bewildering history of witchcraft | Words: Pip Wright

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tessa Allingham sits down to dinner prepared by some of the county’s most talented chefs and their most promising protegés

Read more
Friday, October 5, 2018

John White has lived and worked at the tiny hamlet of Felixstowe Ferry for almost all of his 79 years | Words & Photos: Mike Trippitt

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Thinking of boarding school for your child but have concerns? There might be a flexible boarding option to suit you at Royal Hospital School, Ipswich

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Barrister Sarah Langford hopes her fictionalised accounts of some of the challenging cases she’s defended will give people a deeper understanding of the justice system | Words: Catherine Larner - Photo: Sophia Schorr-Kon

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tree sculptor John Williams has embarked on an ambitious storytelling project in the Ickworth House gardens | Words & Photos: Suzy Stennett

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

A couple moving from the UK to New Zealand have decided to use their journey to save threatened wildlife, by cycling 21,000 kilometres through 27 countries in 12 months, fundraising for Halesworth-based wildlife charity World Land Trust

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Kate Osborne is on a mission to share her love of all things coastal, and to help save marine environments | Words: Jayne Lindill

Read more
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

An exciting new project will unlock Sutton Hoo’s Anglo Saxon past and reveal how it has helped shape who we are today | Words: Jayne Lindill

Read more
Thursday, August 16, 2018

James Henry’s foray into the world of birdwatching in Suffolk provided the backdrop to his latest crime novel | Words: Catherine Larner

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

EADT Suffolk Magazine regular newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search