Michael Bowyer Travels
Fresh from his hugely successful tour to WAFA India earlier this year, NAFAS President-elect Michael Bowyer MBE has teamed up with us once again, this time on a tour to discover the glorious gardens of Ireland in Springtime. We caught up with him on the phone from his home in Salisbury to discover more.
ECT: First, congratulations on your new role – when do you take office?
MB: Thank you, it is a huge, huge honour. I officially become President 7th October, at the NAFAS National AGM.
ECT: What made you decide to lead a group tour?
MB: I wasn’t very well last year and when all the tests came back negative, I decided to take myself for a week away. But I was a bit lonely. Coming back, it occurred to me that there must be lots of other flower arrangers who would love to go away, but would like to do it in the company of fellow flower arrangers because you automatically have a point of connection. A kinship.
ECT: And why choose Ireland?
MB: The seed was sewn by a review I read of ‘A Beautiful Obsession’, the book about Jimi Blake’s garden at Huntingbook. It sounded so wonderful that I thought I had to see it for myself, and then I remembered that many people travelled to Dublin for the World Flower Show in 2014 and, while they visited some gardens, there were still so many left to see. The Irish are a nation of gardeners.
ECT: What are you looking forward to most?
MB: Everything! May is such a lovely time to go - we will catch the last of the Spring and the first of the Summer - and I've never been to any of the gardens we’re due to visit before. I can’t wait to see how Helen Dillon, who is an incredible plants woman, has downsized her previous garden at her new home. Powerscourt is listed as one of the World’s Greatest Gardens so that will be a treat and Kilmacurragh is lovely because it’s a satellite of the National Botanic Garden in Dublin. The other two are owned by Jimi and June Blake, who are brother and sister. Located just across the field from each other (although we won’t be asking people to walk across the field!), they are very different. June’s garden is quite traditional in its design and planting, while Jimi is renowned for the unusual way he places – often unusual - plants and combines colours, textures and shapes. And there’s Christine Hughes’ floral demonstration too – that’s going to be a joy.
Helen Dillon Garden
June Blake Garden
ECT: Christine is a NAFAS National Demonstrator and current President of the Association of Irish Floral Artists. How would you describe her work?
MB: Her designs are very much inspired by the landscape around Wicklow where she lives and the hills, lakes and plant life. They are also very much rooted in Irish history – she is fascinated by Irish artists and botanical painters. Lots of people in the UK won’t have had the chance to see her demonstrate so this will be a real highlight of the holiday.
Find out more about this tour and register your interest here