NEW HOBBY: Floral artist Desley Clarke with her award-winning floral art.
NEW HOBBY: Floral artist Desley Clarke with her award-winning floral art.

Flowering canvasses win awards for octogenarian

WINNING awards when you are in your 80s is something to boast about.

Not that Desley Clarke ever blows her own trumpet.

But at age 85, she has turned her love of flowers into a hobby that has won her a swag of awards.

Desley embraced this new hobby of floral art and become a member of the Mt Gravatt Garden Club after being encouraged to take a class in floral art by her sister.

After building confidence with her displays, she began entering her work in competitions two years ago at age 83. She has not looked back.

"There are rules in floral art just as in painting," she said.

"It is an art. You use the flowers as an artist uses a canvas."

Last year Desley won a prize every month, then went on to win the trophy for the year in the beginner's section.

This upgraded her to the intermediate section where she won first prize for her interpretation of 'bright and beautiful' with yellow, orange and red gerberas.

Although it helps to have a little artistic flair, Desley insists it is not necessary to enjoy the pleasure of floral art.

"You can take a course to learn tips to keep and pick flowers as well as making floral arrangements," she said.

"For example, with hydrangeas you smash the cut ends and then keep them in warm water.

"With maidenhair fern, you need to burn the ends so they don't curl up. There are lots of tips, and like anything, practice makes perfect."

As far as hobbies go, floral art could be expensive, beautiful flowers are not cheap. But growing your own helps and using anything green in the garden as accessories reduces costs.

"My daughter puts photos of my arrangements on Facebook and shows me all the comments and I love that," Desley said.

"She wants me to start a blog but I'm not sure about that.

"I love the way floral art stretches me.

"I have become a bit competitive which is out of character for me.

"Fresh flowers can make a home. There is something very soothing about them in a room.

"They also enhance a special day.

"It is now a tradition for me to fill our antique art nouveau silver epergne with flowers for the Christmas table.

"This tradition has been going on in our family since the 1850s when it (the epergne) was purchased by my late husband's great-grandfather, who came to Brisbane on the second ship of free settlers in 1849.

"Traditions like that are what families are all about, shared memories of significant events."


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