Who can fail to be captivated by the beautiful display of flowers inside, hand selected from the finest Dutch markets by florist Heather Wilbourn.
Heather recently took over Flowersmiths (formerly Smith Street Flowers) after it had relocated to Anzac Street following the devastating fire in Dartmouth’s town centre in 2010. She had spent the previous two years working alongside the shop’s original owner, Marcelle Chownes-Dove.
The shop is the realisation of a lifelong ambition for Heather, whose interest in flowers and all things floral has grown since she was a small child watching her grandfather, mother and aunt nurture wonderful blooms in their gardens.
She has since acquired a list of floral qualifications and experience as long as your arm including a National Certificate in Professional Floristry, teaching vocational studies to floristry students at Plymouth University, running a gardening business and working in a variety of florists and floristry wholesalers in Holland, New Zealand and the UK.
In between times, Heather has worked as a boat builder, horticulturalist, cheesemaker and window dresser, but always returns to her first love – floristry.
Heather said: ‘Flowersmiths is the culmination of all my experiences, even boatbuilding, because it’s all about hand-crafting.
‘Floristry is my medium. I believe everyone has creativity in them, you just have to find your medium and flowers are definitely mine. Perhaps it’s because it’s a three dimensional art form, or even a four-dimensional one if you include the smell – it’s just a wonderful art.’
Heather describes Flowersmiths as a ‘four dimensional art gallery’ full of blooms from all over the world including Ecuador, Israel, South America, South Africa and Australia.
‘I’m really lucky with my suppliers, I buy everything by live auction from Holland so I can cherry-pick the best. It does come at a price but you can just have a few really exquisite flowers arranged in a really beautiful way and it doesn’t have to cost too much.’
Heather buys whatever takes her fancy from the market in Holland, which is one of the biggest flower markets in the world and has up to four deliveries per week ensuring consistent quality and freshness.
She can also buy to order if a customer wants a specific bloom or blooms.
With so much choice available, Heather is never short of ideas to bring Flowersmiths’ window alive. Some of her most inspiring window displays have been created to celebrate Dartmouth’s many events including the recent floral diamond-shaped cake in honour of the Queen’s jubilee. Last year she won the Dartmouth Regatta cup for the best dressed window – jointly with Dart to Mouth Deli.
As well as providing that special floral touch to weddings and celebrations, Heather also specialises in bespoke floral tributes for funerals . The shop incorporates a private consultation room to share ideas and plans. Heather also offers a next day delivery service, sending her own creations to anywhere in the UK.
Conscious she can’t compete with the supermarkets on price, Heather concentrates on providing more unusual blooms and offering a tailored service to her customers.
Heather’s floral displays range from small posies to huge celebration bouquets. Customers can select the flowers they would like included in the arrangement or they can leave it to Heather’s judgement after discussing colours and scent.
With her tiny whippet, Pipi, at her side, Heather has never felt as at home and settled as she does now. Business is blossoming and Heather is happy to be living and working in her beloved Dartmouth.
‘I’m really enjoying it,’ she beamed. ‘My customers have been amazing since I took over the shop. I’ve got a lot of regulars, as well as new faces and they have been so supportive.
‘I’ve also had the support and love of my family including my mum who is very proud. I’m sad that my dad died before the opening but he knew I was going to do it which makes me happy. My partner Nigel came back from New Zealand for the opening, which was fantastic. I couldn’t have done it without them.’
First Published August 2012 By The Dart