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    When I was about ten years old, I was very fond of all sorts of twigs, moss and dried leaves - I brought them all home with me and set them on on the windowsill. I would take an old mayonnaise jar and hide it behind a log, pour in water and stick in some tradescantia, which was commonly found in apartments at the time. And I also remember somehow bringing home from the woods some old birch bark, which I bound with twigs and then inserted some scarlet-coloured autumn leaves which I had pressed with an iron. I thought this was a most beautiful arrnagement.

    Even when I grew up, my habit of paying attention to the wonders of nature persisted. From the steppes of Asia I brought back an unusual and quite charming prickly plant. It lasted in my home many years before getting lost in one of my moves across the world. Then I couldn't wait any longer - I got myself a branch with cotton bolls - what a miracle! It stood in a dark-coloured ceramic vase and in the northern climate I lived in seemed most exotic.

    I can't claim that this was a diehard hobby I had consciously adopted, all the more so since working with flowers at that time had no professional designation in Russia - indeed, it was not even considered a profession. It was only much later I realised that I was being drawn to what is sometimes termed 'floristics' - the unique combining of the natural beauty of flowers and plants with human fantasy and craftsmanship. It was only much later that I found out about the existence of schools of floral design in Europe, for example, as early as the nineteenth century. And Oasis floral foam, which prolongs the life of floral arrangements, appeared only fifty years ago.

   One time as I was reading about a floral school in Moscow and about how floristics is developing there, I suddenly recalled my impulses of long ago. So I dived into the Internet, the on-line telephone directory - this was in Israel - and discovered there was a course available in floral design.

    I still remember my impressions after the first class. We moved slowly, hesitatingly, just imitating the instructor's actions step by step, but still, a few hours later the arrangement began to take shape, and all at once got transformed into a finished 'work of art'. It was thoroughly correct, academic, and, therefore, no doubt cold and businesslike, but that did not diminish the sincerity of our excitement at the realisation that our process of unravelling the secrets of flowers had finally begun.

    "And it will never end," remarked the instructor of this course in Israel, Gina Enting. "I've been at this for forty years now." And Bob Ross, an eminently experienced master florist and teacher with whom I later studied at the Canadian Institute of Floral Design in Toronto, would say: "There are only a few designers in the world, but we're all florists."

    I'm really fond of this work. I sometimes regret that I'm no longer twenty years old - there's so much I could create - and 'create' is a very apt word here. But everything has its time for each individual, n'est-ce pas? Like a late-blooming love, it's something to be accepted with a grateful heart...

    I'm really fond of flowers and I get a flutter in my heart whenever I touch even a single petal - Nature's own tender creation! I'm very fond of making up bouquets and floral arrangements to suit individual tastes. I might get this from a customer, for example: "It's my mother's birthday and I want to give her roses, but in a basket, not a bouquet." Or, "I'm going to my first interview, and I want just a single flower, but I want it to look original." Or this: "I want to send congratulations to my granddaughter on leaving school - she loves everything roses."

    Well, now that we're acquainted, let me say a few words about my flower business. It's small and 'cozy' - I work out of my home. My husband, daughter and sons help me in their free time.

I shall be very happy to take care of your flower orders, to the best of my ability.