In the first of our Support Independents series, we’re collaborating with Petals Florist, one of the longest serving businesses in Newton Aycliffe town centre, to show you how to turn your Valentine’s Day flowers into long-lasting art for the home.
We caught up with owner and creative mind behind Petals Florist, Bridie Griffiths, to delve into the history of her company.
How long has Petals been in business?
“Overall, I’ve been running the business for 24 years, although, it’s only been the Petals Florist we know and love for three years. Before that, the business was called Petals and Pets and as you can probably guess, we also sold pet supplies.
“In 2015 we decided to close down the pet supply side of the company and re-branded as Petals. To go with our new name, we moved into a new location in the Thames Centre and started focusing on providing quality flowers and gifts.
“I absolutely love flowers and the creativity behind arranging them- I feel so blessed that I get to work with them everyday.”
“My parents have always been business owners. In 1980, they turned this store into one of the first solariums in the county, owned a pet shop in the town centre and also ran two other businesses in the North East. I worked for them from a young age, making time around my schoolwork and weekends to build up my experience.
“In 1985, my father suffered a bad stroke and was unable to work, so my mother had to look after him. This meant I was running four shops at the age of 15, which as you can imagine was a challenge, but it was something we had to do to get by.
“When my father finally returned to work, I experimented with flower arranging and discovered I had a natural flair. In 1995 when my parents retired, my husband and I took over the business and started our own journey with the company, saying goodbye to pet supplies and concentrating on creative floristry.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes in the town since we began all those years ago, and tracing our origins in Aycliffe back to 1978, I believe we are one of the longest serving businesses in the town centre- thanks to our amazing regular customers!”
“It’s all on your shoulders as an independent, so you have to have the mental strength to cope with any problems.
“Having a business partner in my husband has been a great asset as we help each other get through the tough times and sleepless nights. We’re up against high rents and service charges, as well as supermarkets and out of town retail parks, but I believe we offer such a personal service to our customers that although we’ve had lean times, we will hopefully continue to battle through.”
“I’m afraid it’s quite simply a case of use it or lose it.
“We’re constantly fighting rising overheads and competition from major supermarkets who buy in massive bulk quantities to keep their prices low, but they can’t offer the customer care or personal touch that independents offer. I know 80% of my customers by name and love chatting with them- it’s all part of the Petals experience.”
It’s lovely to receive flowers on Valentine’s Day, or any other day of the year. They show thought, smell great and brighten up a home, but they don’t always last very long.
Why not preserve your Valentine’s flowers this year, by framing them to create art for your home that can last for years?
When you’ve finished displaying your flowers, but before they’ve started to wilt (pressing will work better while the flowers are in bloom or fresh), choose a selection of your favourite heads and cut the stem at a diagonal.
Tip – choose more stems than you will need in case some don’t press successfully.
To ensure your flowers keep their colour, place these stems in a vase of water for a couple of hours, then remove and cut at a diagonal again.
Flat flowers, such as Daisies, are perfect for pressing, however, it could be tricky for flowers like big, red Roses! If you have bulky flower heads, cut in half (making sure not to make the flower collapse) so you have a flat side.
Choose a few heavy books that will hold your flowers, and cut two pieces of parchment paper that will fit a page in each book.
Place one piece of paper inside your book, and arrange the flowers on top of it, making sure the stems don’t touch and dry together.
Place another piece of paper on top and close the book. Then, place this somewhere out of the way as it will need to be left for 2-3 weeks. For extra effectiveness, pile a couple of heavy books or items on top to ensure pressing.
Tip – if you have time, change the paper every 3-4 days so the flowers can dry out. You will need to be very careful so as to not damage the stems.
After 2-3 weeks, carefully open your books and remove the paper. Using a pair of tweezers, remove your flowers, being very careful as they will be delicate.
From here, select which of your flowers have kept their vibrancy the most, and arrange in your open glass frame. Make sure you’ve made the right decision before closing the frame as flowers may be hard to remove once compressed.
All that’s left to do is find somewhere to display your beautiful framed flowers so you can enjoy them. Depending on the flowers and how successful the press was, your stems can last from 5 to 7 years before the colour fades.
Love this idea? It’s also a great way to preserve wedding and anniversary flowers!