Beautiful Flowers for Every Occasion
Robert Heyes my grandfather was born in 1879, the son of a tailor from Hesketh Bank. His father supported him in establishing a florist and nursery business in Frenchwood Preston in 1894 (located where the Virgin Media offices are now). He grew his own plants and flowers and sold them on the 'farmer's market' in Preston. Robert had two brothers: Peter Heyes owned 'Heyes Superior Seeds and Flowers' shop on Fishergate and Matthew Heyes was a fishmonger also in Preston. In the Victorian period florists were usually men. Flower arrangements were commonly round in shape made from dense masses of flowers and foliage without a central focal point.
This was the era of the Language of Flowers in which various flowers and floral arrangements were used to send coded messages, perhaps expressing feelings between lovers which were not spoken. Red roses still imply passionate love, white roses suggest chastity and yellow roses stand for friendship or devotion. Sunflowers can indicate respect, Gerberas innocence or purity, a daffodil regard and a strand of ivy fidelity. Fascinating!! Ladies carried 'Tussie Mussies' on social occasions. These were hand held bouquets, perhaps a gift from their lover with flowers which conveyed various messages. The posies were commonly surrounded by a white doily tied with ribbon or held in a beautiful ornate posy holder such as the example below (left). There was also a formal style of Tussie Mussies that had concentric rows of flowers with a rose or other fragrent symbolic flower at the centre. A modern example is shown below (right).
Robert Heyes' business was successful and continued to grow in the Edwardian and Art Nouveau period, undertaking both landscape and florist work for local gentry. Robert married and following 3 daughters, my father was born in 1921.
In the Edwardian / Art Nouveau period flower arrangements became lighter in style. The interest in Japanese art began to influence floral design and this led to a period where the arrangements reflected a general interest in nature and botany and consisted of a smaller number of flowers with twining undulating greenery. Edwardian style table arrangement is shown below (left) and a modern Art Nouveau style arrangement is shown below (right).
My grandfather and his family moved to live in Lower Penwortham in 1924 buying Rosefold nurseries nearby. They then moved to the nurseries at Whitestake 20 years later during world war II, I assume to move further away from Preston and the local mills which were at risk of bombing. During the war it was compulsory to turn land over to grow food and the florist side of the business more or less ceased. My father served as a driver in the RAF during the war and following his return married my mother Mary in 1950. When my father met my mother she worked at the Myerscough College branch at New Longton (the remains of the college planting can still be seen down Blackhurst Ave. off Lindle Lane). This experience set her in good stead to become a major influence in the Heyes florist and nursery business (she still is!). My father took over the family business on the death of his father in 1950 and my brother Ian was born in 1952. The family continued to grow plants and flowers to sell at Preston market. I was born in 1963 and have happy childhood memories of the plants and flowers growing at both Rosefold and Whitestake nurseries, in particular in spring when you could walk into the greenhouses and literally watch the plants grow.
The business moved into the brand new Preston indoor market in the 1970s where the florist side of the business expanded into dried flowers and crafts which were 'all the rage'.
With the growth of out of town shopping and supermarket flowers in the 1990s the market began to decline and my father and brother closed the market side of the business in the late 1990s. My father died in 2003 and my brother focused more on landscape gardening and garden maintenance, including maintenance of all the Northwest railway stations from Crewe to Carlise! He continues to grow flowers, plants and tomatoes for wholesale and local retail.
I joined the family business 4 years ago to take over the florist side of the business after 31 years as an engineer and project manager. I am thoroughly enjoying my new life and was awarded a distinction / 1st class Foundation Degree in Floral Design in 2015 from Myerscough College.