doing plays, touring around the country. I moved to London because I thought doing acting, you had to. I messed around trying to be an actor but, in reality, I worked in restaurants. My friend got me the job with the Russian oligarch. I really loved it at the time but I didn’t want to be a cook. I questioned what I was doing with my life. I wanted something else. ‘My mum is a really keen gardener; she really does know everything. Growing up I went to lots of garden centres which clearly had more of an impact on me than I realised. I’ve always been interested in nature and I thought about botany. I thought that would be really fun.’ Helena, who also worked for the Flower Appreciation Society, enrolled on a floristry course, applied for an allotment, and trained with brilliant, but traditional florists. But it was when she began work with the internationally renowned Jane Packer, she discovered a different way of doing things. ‘It was much more about making the flowers move how they are meant to be,’ says Helena. ‘It wasn’t about making flowers bend into a shape. I wanted to work more like that. I’d also learned that often flowers were cut then plunged into chemicals so they could be flown thousands of miles. ‘I wanted to have a more organic approach, growing my own flowers in an organic and ethical way. I want all of my flowers to look as though they have been freshly picked from the garden. ‘Growing up in an area surrounded by the Yorkshire Dales, with its wild and dramatic landscape, had a huge influence on me.’ Today Helena, who has designed for Chelsea Flower Show, major labels including Liz Earle and is a go-to for gorgeous bridal blooms, creates stunning flower displays that complement the natural environment, rather than work against it. Along with creating beautiful flowers for others to enjoy, Helena also wants to nurture new floral design talent and hopes to hold workshops soon. Teaching others has long been a part of her job she thrives on. ‘In London, I loved the flowers and I loved teaching. It felt like acting, which appealed, but the thing I really loved was working with people,’ she says. ‘My dream plan is to get an allotment full of beautiful things and get a studio in Otley, so I have a teaching space. ‘I want to find somewhere to grow. I love growing flowers, arranging them, and being surrounded by them. Flowers make me happy and working with them is the best decision I ever made. I want other people to discover that same joy.’ ABOVE: Dressing a table with flowers makes an occasion of the simplest supper BELOW: Berries add texture and richness to this table display RIGHT: Helena at work theallotmentflorist.co.uk 26 Yorkshire Life: October 2020
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