Kindred Tales | Jessica & Kipper | Gardener & Floral Designer
Jessica Stokes is a florist, gardener and artist based in Bath. Her floristry works in harmony with her gardening. Learning about different phases of growing, Jessica has chosen to grow unusual colours and varieties of flowers which can’t be bought. Along with creating gardens for her customer which support environments for local wildlife to flourish.
When Jess recently welcomed Kipper into her world, she always knew he would be destined to be a working dog. Happily sitting by her side amused by the occasional snail or sticks he finds, all while offering the love and support needed.
Tell us a little bit about work?
I am a Gardener and Floral designer. I have an art background, with a degree in textile design, but fell in love with Horticulture and working with flowers when I started my allotment, in the centre of Bath, soon after graduating. I used my allotment to teach myself how to manage, design, grow and maintain flowers. Six years later and I'm now a qualified garden and floral designer.
I create large scale floral installations for weddings and for styling work.
I also work in some dreamy gardens, designing and maintaining them on a regular basis. My floristry works in harmony with my gardening, both feed each other and are reflected by the other. Learning how to grow the flowers I use in my Floristry, has helped shape my work.
I have learnt about different phases of growing, I can grow unusual colours and varieties which can’t be bought. I can create gardens which support not only my income but create environments for wildlife and for people to enjoy for the future. I wouldn’t want to do anything else. I feel so close to the shifts in the seasons, I feel I notice the first leaf turning gold to the first blossom unfurling. It’s a privilege to do my job!
What inspires your work?
I am inspired by many things. The changing of the seasons, observing how our landscapes go from copper, to almost bare and skeletal to blossoms to greens and whites. My floral work is true to and reflective of the seasons.
My garden work too is very naturalistic. I love creating wild, untamed spaces, with colour and abundance. An orchestra of flowers, all with personalities which can be compared to people.
I find inspiration in my surroundings. But also, through old photographs, paintings, nostalgic memories, heirlooms and old books passed down to me.
I think about my grandparent’s garden often, a real English cottage garden. Which I could get lost in as a child. I keep that enchanting thought to the for front of my mind when creating gardens.
What’s your first memory of dogs being in your life?
I remember so fondly our first dog, our darling Labrador, Tom.
When I was small, my parents wanted to leave our beloved city home to move to the countryside. To help us adjust with the change, we were told we could have a dog if we moved.
When we brought him home, he was a tiny bundle of jet black fluff. He changed everything for the better. He was a loyal and loving companion. Someone to cuddle up to if you were cold or sad, someone to share your toast with, someone to talk to, someone to greet you with boundless energy after school. He was greedy, sweet natured, dopey, never so much as frowned when we dressed him up in fancy dress, and the best friend we could all have as children. He was so in tune with all of our individual and collective needs. He used to regularly escape over our garden wall, by the time we had finished making lost dog posters, he would gleefully make his return. He was such a character.
Tell us about Kipper and how he came into your life?
My husband and I had longed for a dog of our own for years and years. We have always rented our homes, and every landlord sadly said no. We felt that our life was always missing something. We loved walking, and always talked about having a little pup following us on our adventures.
One day I was working on a customer’s garden and she showed me a picture of some puppies she knew that had just been born. One stood out to me, he had little pink paws, with black white and ginger smudges, he actually looked like a guinea pig.
We had wanted a scruffy little terrier companion, a garden dog. It was a particularly difficult point in our life, where I was thick in the throes of depression. Something told me that we had to have this little dog!
To cut a long story short, we moved to a new house just so we could have him. The day after we moved to a new house, we went to collect our Kipper.
He’s been the most wonderful thing ever to happen to us, he has turned my husband from being someone not so taken with dogs, to being besotted by them.
He is the most affectionate lap dog and has such amusing little quirks.
I love being woken in the mornings by a friendly paw, Ben has a little one at his feet when cooking. He was the ring bearer at our wedding and walked down the aisle next to my youngest brother.
He has cemented our closeness as a 3 and we would never be without him. He has helped me push through a dark time in my life, we have so much to thank him for.
How does having a dog fit into your general working day?
Kipper was always destined to be a working dog. I felt that being outside all day would be the perfect job for a dog. He comes to work with me 3 days a week. My customers adore Kipper, he is so loved by them. One customer who lives in a lavish and beautiful house in Bath, lets Kipper have free reign of her home, buys him bones and even allows him on her bed!
Apart from the occasional hole he digs, he stays happily by my side while working. Amused by the occasional snail or sticks he finds.
The rest of the week he goes with my husband to his coffee roastery. He loves being there, surrounded by doting colleagues who all check in on Kipper, letting him sleep on their laps whilst they work.
If you could be a breed of dog for the day which breed would you be and why?
I would actually like to be Kipper for a day. Only to know what he thinks and feels and wants. We often wonder what he’s really thinking.
His mother, Cuckoo, is a Cairn terrier, Pomeranian, Bichon Frisée mix and his father Trevor is a Jack/parson Russell. A wonderful mix of traits and personality.
We think he has a pretty happy life with us.