Picking flowers for the Agricultural Exhibition as a child inspired Garina Tucker to travel more than 3,000 miles to train as a florist.
The 24-year-old has spent five years studying and gaining work experience in England so she can pursue her dream career on her home island.
Ms Tucker was given her first taste of flower arranging as a primary school pupil. She fondly remembers “cutting everything that looked like a stem” to enter into the floral show at the Agricultural Exhibition at the Botanical Gardens.
She now has her heart set on a career as a florist and has already secured her first full-time job at Demco Florists.
Ms Tucker, from St. George’s, is currently in the final weeks of her Level 3 Floristry Diploma at City of Bath College in the south west of England and is looking forward to sharing her skills with the people of Bermuda.
She credits East End Primary School teacher Rose Douglas, who is also her great aunt, for giving her the floristry bug.
Ms Tucker said: “I remember every year I was told to get up early and search for flowers for the Exhibition.
“It must have only been about 6am and I would already be there holding a handful of hibiscus and passion flowers.
“The Exhibition was a big thing for us as kids, it’s a Bermuda tradition and I loved being part of the show and being surrounded by flowers.
“Most years we helped put displays together with my great aunt then the first time I was old enough to do one by myself, I won second prize, I was so pleased.”
Ms Tucker, who went to Clearwater Middle School and CedarBridge Academy, is one of three out of eight people on the college course who has found full-time employment.
The College’s students have won awards at a whole host of international flower shows, including Hampton Court and Chelsea.
The practical course includes 80 hours of work experience and the responsibility of making floral displays for prestigious college events such as graduation and student award presentations.
Ms Tucker and her classmates also recently had a starring role at the Bath in Fashion Festival where they created ‘living designs’ out of people’s unwanted clothes, shoes and accessories.
Ms Tucker, who lives in nearby Bristol, says her mom ,Christina Smith, who works at Westmeath Care Home, is her greatest fan.
She said: “I really do feel I have a passion for floristry. I just love everything about flowers; I can’t get enough of them.
“I’ve really enjoyed the practical side of the course as we’ve covered all types of floristry from small to huge displays and arrangements.
“Being in England has given me a chance to become a qualified florist. Now I want to take what I have learned back home, put my skills into practice and make my mom proud.”
Ms Tucker said it had been an invaluable opportunity to experience the different working environments of Bermuda and England.
She said: “They use similar flowers, but the working conditions are very different.
“In Bermuda all the flowers are kept in huge fridges because of the heat and humidity, but in England you can have the door open and it still won’t make much difference as it’s always freezing!
“Floral designs are also very different. In Bermuda flower arrangements are very bright, bold and in your face, while in England things are more subtle and low-key.
“In Bermuda we put together bright flowers that they probably wouldn’t dream of mixing in England, but that’s us; it’s part of Bermuda’s colourful life.”
Ms Tucker moved to England five years ago with boyfriend Andrew Smith after they grew up together in St. George’s.
She studied Combined Studies and Floristry Level 1 in Bristol before going on to study the higher floristry qualification at City of Bath College.
Mr Smith is studying Accounting and Finance at the University of West of England (UWE) and will return to Bermuda with Garina next month.
Ms Tucker, whose favourite flower is a gerbera, eventually hopes to set up her own floristry business.
She said: “I’m looking forward to moving back to Bermuda, it’s been a while. I’ve missed my family and friends and you can’t beat the summer in Bermuda.
“I love England, too; living in a big city there is always something to do. But I can’t stand the weather, every time you leave your house, it rains! Now it’s time for some sunshine!”