My Devon Adventure

Joanne Harris – 19 May 2019

My formal floral journey started very early one Saturday morning, a couple of days into the New Year 2018, with a drive down the M5 to Dunchideock, Devon, to attend a hand tied bouquet workshop with the British Academy of Floral Art.  Finding the venue itself was an achievement – if you’ve ever driven across the Dartmoor National Park, you’ll know that it is quite stunning, but a maze of single track roads, with very high hedges and very little signage!  At the end of the maze, I discovered the Academy’s studio next to the Dunchideock church, I think it would be hard to find a more idyllic setting for a floral academy.  Since that Saturday morning, I’ve been hooked on floristry and return to that studio to study every month, usually accompanied by my best little friend, Hugo my dog.

Dunchideock Barton Church next to the Academy

Studying with the British Academy of Floral Art has been immensely enjoyable, I’ve learnt so many new skills, met the loveliest people, and have on tap floral mentors from the hugely knowledgeable tutors – who thought studying could be so much fun!  But without a doubt, my favourite day with the Academy to date was the day I passed my exam, and with a distinction – beyond proud…!  These days my thoughts are consumed by flowers – what’s in season, what’s on trend, what’s going to last well for my corporate clients, what’s the prettiest varieties available for my brides, perfecting my bouquet gift wrapping and finding gorgeous new ribbon, and of course all the marketing, admin & finance involved in running my new business – Joanne Harris Floral Design.  It’s amazing how quickly flowers can take over your life, rather like a Virginia Creeper adorning the walls of an old cottage.

I’m currently perfecting my wired shower bouquet skills on the Academy’s Advanced Wedding Floristry course, so if any brides out there would like to emulate Princess Eugenie’s bridal bouquet, please form an orderly queue!

Hugo & I have encountered every weather extreme during our Devon Adventure – the Beast from the East, the 2018 heatwave, and most recently Storm Gareth. 

To make my Devon weekends even more special, I have discovered the ultimate in guest houses – Weeke Barton, a 14th Century Devon longhouse, the perfect mix of rustic charm, indulgent comfort, charming hosts, a couple of great Spaniels, and with the best home made granola and Dartmoor gin – it’s always good to be back…  And the final element of the Devon Adventure, of course it had to be the pub!  I don’t have a local at home in Stratford-upon-Avon, but I do have one in Devon – The Nobody Inn.  A 17th Century charming pub, oozing with character, bordering on World famous for its collection of rare spirits, where Hugo & I can be found on a Saturday night every month.  Hugo is hugely popular there, I like to think they’re pleased to see me too, but I’m under no illusion as to who holds the trump card – #itsallabouthugo!  And at the end of the weekend, I’m always a little sad to leave, but already planning my next Devon Adventure…