Emma Ferrari applies some floristry skills taught to her by Joanne Groombridge.
Emma Ferrari applies some floristry skills taught to her by Joanne Groombridge. John Gass /TWE160212fsoa

Harnessing flower-power

FLORISTRY-student Emma Ferrari's favourite flower is a baby-pink rose.

Her teacher, Joanne Groombridge's favourite, however, is typical of her 30 years' experience in the industry: just about everything.

"I love lilies, roses - I just love flowers," Ms Groombridge said.

"I don't think there's a flower I don't like, and to be surrounded by them all day is great; it's beautiful."

She bought the Floristry School of Australia last year from a retiring woman who was "looking for the right person to grow it".

She is a self-confessed "Pom" and teaches classes at South Tweed Sports each Thursday.

"I did a course as a refresher after coming to Australia, because some of the styles and flowers - such as natives - are very different.

"Teaching is not a problem for me though, so since taking over I've opened this class and one in Springwood."

The school which can either offer a very practical, career-oriented or recreational experience is based in Southport.

Ms Groombridge said she had already seen some very successful outcomes among her students.

"If we get calls from local florists we can put people forward.

"Emma's mum has a florist in Townsville and eventually hopes to open her own."

Ms Ferrari said her mother also used to own a florist in their native Yamba.

"I send her photos of arrangements all the time," she said.

"I'm just starting, and I really just like being creative - not having to be told what to do.

"I really love coming here."

An example of the school's quality is the fact a florist trained by its previous owner Lorraine Harrel won Australian Wedding Florist of the Year.

Ms Groombridge said many students opened their own businesses after their time with the school.

"It's not an expensive pursuit, and some concentrate on wedding flowers, while others on all sorts of things.

"One girl is now specialising in incorporating candy and flowers into a gift box, which is popular in florists because there's very little waste.

"It's something you can easily work around a family.

The school offers a Fun With Flowers course: six lessons as a hobby.

And the school's popularity with men?

"We don't get a lot of men," Ms Groombridge said.

"In England there's a lot more male florists than here.

"Lorraine had two men over the past couple of years, and sometimes you'll get a husband and wife team."

Although not a typically male pursuit, it is popular across the age groups, with Emma and an 18 year old student.

"We get a lot of interest from people who've done a university events course.

"Then I've got ladies that are retired, who are looking for something to do periodically.

"Floristry is obviously something a lot of ladies want to do, and all you have to have is creativity," Ms Groombridge said.

Visit floristryschoolofaustralia.com.au or phone 07 5591 6001 for more information.

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