FLORIST Janine Sharp developed her love of flowers and gardening while pottering in her grandad’s garden as a child.
She says: “The smell of hydrangea still reminds me of him and I remember making arrangements from the traditional flowers he grew there when I was just five or six.
“Floristry is all I ever wanted to do. I left school at 16 and went straight to work at Thornbers in Halifax as a junior florist.
“I spent the next year in a dingy cellar “mossing” (before the days of florist’s oasis, rings for wreaths and other arrangements were covered in green moss) and cleaning. There’s a lot of cleaning in floristry and that’s how I spent my apprenticeship!”
It was therefore a cruel blow when Janine, the owner of The Greenhouse, formerly of Lidget Street, Lindley, received a medical diagnosis which she thought would change her life forever.
The symptoms which she had developed 17 years previously, including blindness in her left eye and later fatigue and weakness in her left side, were actually signs of the debilitating condition multiple sclerosis which affects the way the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord communicate with each other.
“I was devastated because you assume that it is the end of your life. You’re looking into a tunnel and see a wheelchair at the end of it,” said Janine, 44.
“My dad’s best friend had MS and I remembered a really disabled figure, but fortunately for me I met a lovely lady in her 80s who is living with the condition and she showed me a way forward and that life could be much more bearable.”
So, Janine, who describes herself as “tenacious” and laughs “I don’t give up” made the brave and life-changing decision which was to be her salvation and four months ago moved the business to a workshop next to her Bradley home.
After serving her apprenticeship, she started work at renowned Huddersfield florists The Greenhouse in Lindley when she was 18 and 11 years later bought the business and became the owner. To move from the building which had played such a big part of her life was a big but necessary change.
“It’s been a big wrench. My life has changed. The routine of work has changed, but the shop was too much with MS and everything else.
“I love my job. I eat, breathe and sleep flowers and even keep a notepad by my bedside in case I dream some new designs. I couldn’t give it up forever.”
Business is now, quite literally blooming for Janine and her four-strong staff from the workshop next door to the home she shares with her 18-year-old cat Nimbo and friendly whippet Tito.
The extreme fatigue, which is a symptom of the disease, can wipe her out, but she can rest now she is at home and her supportive staff help her through bad patches.
She is now enjoying regular yoga sessions to help with the weakness in her left side. Just seven weeks in she has seen a huge difference, but forgetting plant names is the most frustrating thing which she now faces.
The anecdotes from the world of floristry, added to her creative way with flowers, are why Janine is renowned throughout the town for her talks and demonstrations.
Her former students at Huddersfield Technical College were also no doubt enthralled by her tales.
One man amused staff when he ordered three bouquets of a dozen red roses with separate pieces of jewellery to be delivered to a woman, culminating in a bouquet with an engagement ring on Valentine’s Day – and then paid with the woman’s card details.
They were not quite so amused when another customer ordered bouquets for seven different women on Valentine’s Day with prices ranging from £20 to £120.
Another bouquet of red roses were wasted when they were delivered to a house and a man, not the one who ordered them, promptly accepted them and put them straight into the dustbin.
“You’re with people on their red letter days, the special times in their lives from births to marriages and deaths. You walk alongside them and guide them.
“Very few people actually know what they want when they walk into a florists. You have to guide them and coax it out of them. In doing so you become a special friend.”