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Fiona Armstrong: My flower-arranging skills are blooming, no thanks to the MacNaughties

To go with story by Nora McElhone. Fiona Armstrong column 020722 Picture shows; Fiona Armstrong column. Dumfries Flower Club. Supplied by Fiona Armstrong Date; 2022/06
To go with story by Nora McElhone. Fiona Armstrong column 020722 Picture shows; Fiona Armstrong column. Dumfries Flower Club. Supplied by Fiona Armstrong Date; 2022/06

The biggest MacNaughtie has taken on a new role. Delilah the chow chow has decided she is now head of security.

As such she has started to regularly prowl the house. Inspecting room after room. Making sure that everyone – and everything – is where they and it should be.

This lion-like creature would give an intruder a scare or two. Especially as she has a deep bark, almost a roar, on her.

She is at times aloof, and as the chosen dog of Chinese emperors, she is certainly regal.

Yet she is as soft as butter. Her silky coat sparkling, her face purposeful as she sashays round the place.

My Delilah

I never thought I could get so attached to a dog like this. Yet Delilah has won our hearts. She is gentle, loyal and calm.

Which is in sharp contrast to the naughty Norfolk Terrier. Who is still proving a handful.

It is only 8am, and already Bennie has overturned all the wastepaper baskets upstairs.

He has chewed a strip of hayfever tablets – mercifully it was an empty strip.

And he has somehow managed to get himself on to the kitchen table and knock over a vase containing a rose and some lady’s mantle.

Water is now trickling on to the floor. Bennie gets a fright. I get cross. The chow paces round, hoping to keep the peace.

Finding calm in the garden

To try to calm down we all go out in the garden. To inspect beds and borders. Which are nicely filled with colour, as they should be at this time of year.

Yes, the flowers are doing well. And beautiful blooms stay on the menu as I attend a luncheon to mark 60 years of the Dumfries Flower Club.

We seem to be a nation of flower lovers. Because all up and down the country, enthusiasts can be found fashioning displays.

They are making wreaths and centrepieces. They are tying corsages and creating fabulous floral designs.

It is a delight to sit down at a table festooned with buds and blossom. To chat with the ladies – and they are mostly women – who make flower arranging into such an art.

I am envious. Because my offerings generally get plonked into a vase.

Expert at work

And so, it is with admiration and awe that after the meal is served, we can watch a demonstration by an expert floral designer.

Alan Beattie has come over from Northern Ireland to entertain us. And boy, does he manage to do that.

Alan Beattie, flower arranging expert. Dumfries Flower Club.

From a series of boxes, he produces bright red and yellow gerberas. There are purple-headed alliums and pale pink roses.

Weaving in a mix of hosta leaves and other green vegetation he sets to work. Producing stunning displays.

Yes, I must definitely try harder. And I must also try to keep the dog off the kitchen table.

I leave with two new resolutions – and a tip to keep the flowers looking good.

Place them out of direct sunlight and draughts, and, importantly, change the water every day.

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