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.”