Florist Sara Barrow's floral journey from Chelsea to a Rolex

Award-winning florist Sara Barrow is always up for a challenge - but one of her latest commissions took her and social media by surprise, as Fiona Finch reports

Wednesday, 5th December 2018, 10:36 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th December 2018, 11:45 am
Sara with her floral Roex
Sara with her floral Roex

It was not the usual kind of commission.

Please can you make a giant Rolex watch … out of flowers?

For most people it would not just be a tall order (literally), but impossible to conceive or achieve.

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Sara at her shop "Flowers With Passion"

But for Sara Barrow it was another challenge to be met.

Since retraining as a florist, Sara from Goosnargh, has got used to accolades and awards and demanding commissions.

She has won Gold at RHS Chelsea, was invited to create a special floral dress to promote Harrogate Flower Show and was commissioned to create a special natural umbrella for Alpro Soya, which was modelled by Una Healey of The Saturdays.

But nothing could have prepared her for the instant fame afforded by the Rolex-inspired watch commissioned by Whittles jewellers in Preston.

The eyecatching floral dress created to launch the Harrogate Fashion Show

A photo of it went viral gaining more than a quarter of a million views after being posted recently on Linked In.

Sara admits to some sleepless nights after first getting the commission as she figured out how best to meet this challenge.

The result – with individually trimmed and sprayed chrysanthemum heads and added wire work took five days to create.

Sara said: “Whittles do a Rolex event every year. I started to work with them a couple of years ago. This year they came up with the idea of a big spruce wall and a replica Rolex took a lot of thinking about. The wall was 8ft by 9ft.

Team work - Sara, Carl and Emma Smith at the shop

"Having worked on various events with Whittles we were delighted to be involved with such an exciting project. The watch was needed for their VIP event with some of their most important customers attending

“I used about 2,000 chrysanthemum heads and 12 cans of spray paint. It was an amazing challenge. To be honest it was on a par with entering Chelsea in the practicalities and the sleepless nights working out the logistics and seeing the big picture!”

Of the final result she said: “I was really chuffed, I’m my worst critic and I was really proud.”

The name of the shop she runs with husband Carl, on Inglewhite Road in Longridge, Flowers with Passion reflects her delight in all things floral.

Sara's creation won Gold at RHS Chelsea

It was a passion sparked at an early age by her mother’s love of flowers. She recalls: “My mother was a Constance Spry trained flower arranger. She loved to garden. We always had fresh flower displays in the house she had grown.”

Sara and Carl now grow some flowers for sale and Sara is clear her mother’s influence has been and still is instrumental in her work.

However it was many years before she found her vocation as a florist and first worked from a home studio.

She first worked as a journalist, then made loose covers and curtains and opened Sara’s in Clitheroe which developed from a children’s shop to an interior and gifts shop.

Having run shops and then opened a tea room she wanted another string to the business.

“I rang Myerscough College and said I need to be a florist in six weeks’ time. They laughed and said we can help you be a florist but it will take more than six weeks. That’s when I signed up for the degree course and the rest is history.”*

Sara's flower loving mum (pictured with Sara) was a great inspiration

A tailoring course taken in her early twenties also helped her create her eye-catching floral designs.

She explained that when she made a silver medal-winning jockey shirt for the RHS Chelsea flower show she started with a a warp and weft base made from glue strands to which leaves were attached.

But it was a fantasy floral dress to be worn at a crystal themed ball gown which was to win her Gold at Chelsea in 2014.

"I made the skirt out of wire, giant petals and organza and the bodice was made of thousands of tiny leaves and I put on glittery wings and a bustle at the back made out of wires and flowers."

While these designs are special event show stoppers, Sara continues working her floral magic in her everyday work of a florist - for weddings, funerals and special occasions.

A floral necklace created by Sara