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Colourful creations . . . The Florist Oamaru owner Leigh Steel is relishing being back creating beautiful bouquets of flowers after spending the past 10 years as a flower and vegetable gardener at Riverstone Kitchen. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

Leigh Steel has swapped the outdoors for the indoors.

After spending more than 10 years as a Riverstone Kitchen gardener, Mrs Steel decided to return to the career she fell in love with 18 years ago and bought The Florist Oamaru.

“It’s setting myself up for the next 10 years … coming from the outside to the inside,” she said.

“It’s the customers, and re-seeing people that I saw when I left – it’s been lovely.”

She worked as a florist for Gordon Reed years ago and when Viv Laming was selling the shop after seven years, she jumped at the chance to take the reins.

The industry had changed dramatically since she left – flower orders were all through digital media, with no pen and paper in sight, and it made for a different interaction with customers.

“It’s just a different world now.”

However, she was relishing her return and said “it’s lovely to do something special in people’s lives”.

She took over the business two weeks ago and she expected it would be busy in coming months, after the wedding season was disrupted due to Covid-19.

“The end and beginning of next year there will be this influx of brides, and a lot of families can’t come over so we’re seeing a lot of orders from families.

“That’s a different thing, when people traditionally would have travelled but can’t, so it might make for a busy Christmas for us.”

She enjoyed making bouquets for her customers, who were looking for “good value, good fresh flowers and something pretty”.