Michelle Wake 1965-2020
I first felt the pull of garden making when I bought a house with a garden. It was a small garden but I was determined to make it beautiful.
It was around this time that I started visiting gardens. Great gardens like Sissinghurst and Hestercombe became my inspiration. I discovered the wonderful, and seductive, world of plants at RHS shows.
All this garden beauty inspired me to start studying gardens seriously. In 2005 I graduated from Greenwich University with a First Class degree in Garden Design. It was during the course that I first began to understand the profound impact a garden can have on our health and wellbeing.
After graduating, I took the big step of giving up my job as Marketing Director at a lifelong learning charity and started my own garden design business, Greenwave Design. My first Show Garden won an RHS Silver medal at Hampton Court Flower Show in 2006. I moved to Somerset soon after where I have been designing gardens for over ten years. Shortly after moving, I passed the accreditation process to become a full, registered member of the Society of Garden Designers.
I started teaching on garden design courses soon after qualifying. I like the way teaching allows me to share the secrets of creating beautiful gardens with many more people than if I was only working with garden design clients.
Louise and I met through a local group for Somerset garden designers. Louise had started specializing in garden floristry workshops and we instantly thought how great it would be if people could learn how to transform their garden on my courses and then beautify their homes from the garden by going on Louise’s courses. And the Crafty Gardeners was born!
Crafty partly because we will help you craft all sorts of lovely floral things to adorn your home, but also Crafty because we can teach you some cunning skills to create a gorgeous garden, without spending all your precious spare time gardening.
Idiscovered the instant, pure joy of flower arranging when I created little posies to show my garden design clients how their new plants would look together and, importantly, how this made them feel. My love of flowers grew from my work as a garden designer, running my business, Alchemy Garden Design.
I soon became obsessed with floral decorations for the house and found myself putting flowers on my kitchen table as often as possible: bringing blooms home from country walks to put in bottle jars on the mantelpiece, snipping a stem of daphne from the front garden to perfume my living room or floating hellebores in a bowl to see the wonderful detail of their nodding flowers. This obession has developed into growing flowers which I arrange for weekly local deliveries in Bristol as fridayflowers, ethical funeral arrangements and sustainable wedding flowers through my floral business bestofthebunch.
I have travelled the country learning from the best floral designers: celebrating British flower week in Derbyshire, learning about the meaning of flowers in Somerset and being festive making Christmas wreaths in Sheffield. I have loved every minute of it and along the way I have learned a lot about what makes a good floral workshop. My degree in Art History and a stint as a BBC picture editor have also contributed to my learning journey, as they fine-tuned my appreciation of composition and colour. And, of course, 20 years’ experience of garden making, where I observed the shapes and habits of nature, means that I have a good understanding of how flowers work together.
Now I’m delighted to be able to bring all these strands together and present these floral workshops: carefully crafted, and packed full of the tips and techniques I have learned.
The Crafty Gardeners is a natural collaboration in which Michelle’s garden workshops and my floral ones combine to give you all the joy and pleasure of being in a beautiful garden, and of bringing some of that natural beauty indoors to decorate your home. I am now running Michelle’s most popular course since her passing earlier this year. For my tribute to Michelle please read this blog post