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Saying it with flowers

Noted English-trained floral designer Anne Patrick lectures at Filoli

By Jane Knoerle

Almanac Lifestyles Editor

When Anne Patrick presents her popular floral-design lecture and demonstration Thursday, Oct. 11, at Filoli in Woodside, don't expect spare arrangements featuring a single bloom or branch.

"I like arrangements to look as if they were just picked in a garden. I try to make a real mixture and hope to be able to use flowers from Filoli's gardens," she said.

For 16 years, Ms. Patrick has taught advanced floral design at Filoli, with certificates awarded to 265 graduates after an intense three-week session. She teaches classes at Filoli each spring and fall, commuting from her home in Carmel. She will also teach a fall wreath-making class on Oct. 16.

When first approached about teaching at Filoli, she asked her husband, the late Robert Reinkens, if it was a good idea.

"Of course," he said. "It will probably only last a year."

She replied: "When I'm up at 4 a.m. getting ready to go (to Woodside) I think you've got a lot to answer for."

When asked if it wouldn't be simpler to stay overnight on the Peninsula (the class is held on Monday and Tuesday mornings), she answered, "Oh, no, I have to collect more flowers." She relies on a good source in Carmel.

Ms. Patrick was truly born into the world of flowers. A native of Yorkshire, she was the daughter of a famous horticulturist, Tom Patrick.

"He was an incredible man. There wasn't a plant in the world he didn't know," she said.

Her early training was in the workshops and greenhouses of her father and at the great English flower shows. She remembers catnapping in a sweet-pea box between chores at the Chelsea Flower Show. She realized early on that she was more interested in picking flowers than in growing them.

As a young woman, she studied at the Constance Spry Flower School in London.

"She was the most incredible lady, the Martha Stewart of her day," she said of the well-known author and florist, who was also a talented cook and founder of the Cordon Bleu Cooking School in London.

After graduation, Ms. Patrick stayed on to teach at the Constance Spry School and take part in floral decorating for gala events at Covent Garden Opera House, as well as royal weddings. She recalls the wedding of Princess Anne to Capt. Mark Phillip in 1973s, using all white flowers for the winter ceremony in Westminster Abbey. A great admirer of Princess Anne, she said: "She does so much good work around the world."

Ms. Patrick's career included working on set designs for three films at the Shepperton Studios in London, including "Suddenly Last Summer," starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift. "We worked long hours, from 4 to 5 in the morning until 9 at night," she recalled.

While teaching at the Constance Spry School in the late 1970s, she met her future husband, Robert Reinkens, an American retired from the FBI. After the couple married, they moved to Carmel and opened a flower shop at the Lodge at Pebble Beach. She also traveled around the United States, giving demonstrations and lectures on flower arranging.

Today, she lives in Carmel in the same house she shared with her late husband., but has given up the flower shop. "Too much work," she said. She still enjoys teaching at Filoli and is proud that 20 of her advanced floral design students have gone on to become teachers themselves.

"It's been very exciting. I'm 74 now, but I hope to do it another year," she said.

INFORMATION

■ Anne Patrick will give a floral design lecture and demonstration at 2 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 11, at Filoli, 86 Canada Road in Woodside. Cost is $25 for members and $30 for others.

■ On Tuesday, Oct. 16, she will teach a fall wreath-making class from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Fee is $95 for members and $115 for others (fee includes instruction, plant materials and wreath rings), plus $65 for wreath machines.

■ Visit www.filoli.org or call (650) 364-8300 for more information.

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