We’re constantly amazed by the extraordinariness of our customers. Here’s another wonderful person we’re lucky enough to have on our weekly rounds: the writer, editor and broadcaster Polly Devlin OBE…
Polly Devlin says she was persuaded to give Freddie’s flower boxes a go by a ‘handsome man’ who came one evening, unannounced, to her door. Of, course, she says, she ushered him in sharpish because she ‘couldn’t resist his spiel which was the opposite of a spiel.’
Polly’s always been a woman who has moved between the country and the city; growing up in a remote corner of County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, she set off for Swinging London when she won Vogue magazine’s famous talent competition – working as the Features Editor. In 1967, she moved to Manhattan where she interviewed all the megastars of the era: Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Andy Warhol and Barbara Streisand to mention just a few.
‘The minute I could, I filled my houses with flowers’
Her homes have made the pages of magazines themselves — and flowers have always been a part of them. Polly says ‘my mother wouldn’t let flowers into the house when we were small because they made a mess — it’s always down to the old rag and bone shop of the heart, isn’t it? — and the minute I could, I filled my houses with flowers.’
Her favourite flowers? Roses. Polly grows lyrical about her love of them:
I’m Irish and when I look at these fabulous flowers I think… Only the English could have taken this sultry, furled, ancient tenacious decadent flower, one which survived thirty-five million years and immeasurable changes of climates, and christened her Mrs Honey Dyson and hung her in bouncing white frothy cascades from apple trees.
Only the English could have looked deep into the enormous flat furled complicatedness of a rose carried thousands of miles from an island in the Indian Ocean and called it a cabbage rose.
Only the English, in admiring the elegant aristocratic newcomer who had been imported by the East India Company from behind the closed gates of China, could call it a Tea Rose.
She doesn’t think that all the time, she admits. Only sometimes.
‘I don’t arrange. Anything. Ever’
Polly even named her eldest daughter Rose — her other two daughters also have the sylvan names Daisy and Bay. (They’re all amazing, successful people too, by the way – Rose Garnett is Head of Creative at Film4, Daisy is a journalist and Bay is a well-known fashion stylist.)
Polly is a writer of novels, short stories, a book on fashion photography and another on conservation: A Year in the Life of an English Meadow, written with her husband Andy Garnett, tells how she and her family restored fields, made lakes and planted thousands of trees on their land in Somerset.
She’s currently writing a book about New York houses, a short story for an anthology, and preparing for one of her regular semesters teaching at Barnard College in New York.
It’s no wonder, then, that with so much going on in her life, she allows her Freddie’s Flowers to look their natural best. ‘I don’t arrange,’ Polly says. ‘Anything. Ever.’
Are you one of Freddie’s Flower People? You don’t have to be famous – we just want to see your arrangements! Share your own Freddie’s Flower pics with on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Or if you haven’t already done so, sign up for lovely flower deliveries at £20 a pop here!
Image top via BBC – Polly is a regular on the fiendish Round Britain quiz.