My Instagram feed shows an interest in two main areas: dogs and flowers (well, three if you include micro pigs. And everyone really should include micro pigs. If you don't already, start immediately). I spend hours each day following the work of floral designers around the world and following the daily lives of dogs in all four corners of the globe. I follow a daschund living in London that recently holidayed on the Isle of Harris before dropping in to see another daschund I follow in Edinburgh for tea and walkies. I get tearful when I see the little French bulldog who was rescued from a puppy farm when she was no longer of use for breeding, but who now lives a life of luxury in down town New York with her new Frenchie sister... I love Sophie Gamand and her Pitbulls in Flower Crowns campaign against BSL. Best of all, I love to read about dogs belonging to florists. Luckily there are plenty of them - Miss Pickering and the dashing Valentine, Florence of Petalon and the truly delicious Huxley, Emma of Martha and the Meadow with, well, a beautiful spaniel named Martha. Hilda herself is still sulking after being separated earlier this week from Matilda, the cutest and sweetest poodley thing belonging to Jennifer Pinder. And have you even seen the photos of Daisy, the new addition to Brigitte of Moss and Stone's family? Or Wilson who now resides with Lucy The Flower Hunter? So, to the outside world, there is nothing remarkable about another florist and her attachment to her hound.
It is also true to say that, in my case, the flowers wouldn't have finally happened without Hilda. In 2012 I had one of those life changing events that means you simply can't go back to your life as it was before. The aftermath had left me bedridden and reliant upon opiates for over a year and I couldn't even imagine what I was going to do with myself. I was convinced, however, that life with a dog would be a big improvement and after long negotiations and a decision to overrule my partner, Hilda entered our lives in the winter of 2013. The very act of acquiring a dog, whilst improving my spirits, didn't make the pain go away. But it did mean remaining bedridden wasn't an option. No matter how I felt, there was a tiny brown dog relying on me to take her out and to look after her. And so it began, the walks along Hackney Marshes, across Hampstead Heath, through Highgate Woods... and increasingly, further into the countryside with weekends in the Cotswolds, trips to Wales and beyond.
Somewhere along the way, when not looking adoringly at the dog, I started to notice my surroundings, to take interest in nature again, and to notice the colours of leaves, the shapes of branches, the textures of moss on a damp winter's morning, birds singing from the trees. A few months later, I was taking secateurs with me on my country walks, and visiting florists' shops in the afternoon for flowers to accompany what I had already gathered. I started to realise that and then arranging things made me happy and gave me another small sense of purpose. And so with foliage, flowers and a 4.5 kg Schnauzer my recovery began.
Every dog is very special to its owner (s), and we couldn't do without them. But this is my story and why I couldn't have Honeysuckle without Hilda. I'll try not to go on about her too much, but if I do, I hope you will forgive me.