Bride Elizabeth is blooming

Bride Elizabeth Richardson with fiance Liam Turnbull (right) and Carl Blake who runs A Secret Garden. Photographs supplied by Robert Usher Photography
Bride Elizabeth Richardson with fiance Liam Turnbull (right) and Carl Blake who runs A Secret Garden. Photographs supplied by Robert Usher Photography

AN Aladdin’s cave of colour is an apt description of Carl Blake’s spectacular flower shop.

That is how Elizabeth Richardson described his Elwick Road outlet called A Secret Garden.

The Hartlepool entrepreneur who loves to create the wow factor is once again providing the flowers for the Bride of the Year competition run by the Hartlepool Mail in conjunction with Robert Usher Photography.

On her first visit there, our bride-to-be Elizabeth, 23, said: “Everything in there is lovely.

“The right flowers for a bride and her bridesmaids and for the buttonholes, are really important on your wedding day.

“They are one of the things which make it extra special.”

Elizabeth described the excitement of visiting Carl’s shop.

She said: “It is like a hidden cave filled with lovely things. There are so many different styles.”

Mum-of-one Elizabeth admitted the excitement was growing as her wedding looms closer.

“I am already on the countdown,” she said. “It seemed so far off and now it is only around 10 weeks away.”

Carl opened his Hartlepool shop in January 2008.

He says business is even more brisk than it has ever been despite the recession affecting many other businesses.

“I think that is down to our hard work and the fact that we have good staff, he said.

“When people come here, we spend time with them. We will spend two to three hours over the course of their planning to give them what they want to create their dream.

“We don’t stand at a counter with them. We sit down and discuss things. We have wedding books and computer pictures from weddings we have been to both locally and further afield.”

Carl has already handled 130 weddings this year and has turned over £100,000 of wedding work this year.

He believes British weddings are getting bigger.

He said: “People are going American and they have bigger venues.

“And if you have got a big venue, it is pointless having a little vase of flowers in the middle of the table.”

Part of his success is the desire to constantly add to the facilities.

Carl now has a number of top-of-the-range wedding cars, does vase and candelabra hire, as well as his floristry business.

He will be providing flowers for the bride and three bridesmaids as well as the men’s buttonholes in a package worth £350.

His business is also providing the chair covers for Elizabeth’s big day when she marries fiance Liam Turnbull, 22, at the Grand Hotel in September.

The couple’s story struck a chord with Hartlepool Mail readers when we told how Elizabeth was rushed into hospital last November after developing blood clots following a routine childbirth.

Just days after giving birth to her son, Noah, the Chester Road area mum’s left leg turned completely black.

She was rushed to the University Hospital of North Tees in Stockton where she was found to have four clots on her left lung, two on her right lung, and deep vein thrombosis in her leg.

Doctors told her she could die, especially on the first night when every minute was critical.

She pulled through and said it was largely down to the support shown by the man she loved who had to look after their newborn son while she fought for life.