As we often marvel, the world is made amazingly small by the Internet. This was a delightful surprise . . .
I've just been on the net to check the IWGS site and followed the Gateway link to Victoria-Adventure. I was amazed to see my name, Karine Belotti, in the article about Latour-Marliac (People, Places & Plants of the PCL - Chris Farmer, France). I remember when you and Chris corresponded about the waterlily names and about Victorias.
Chris and I left Latour-Marliac in 2000 indeed, because at last we realized that we couldn't live just for passion and the site wasn't and would never have been ours. I still have a lump in my throat but such is life! I haven't heard from Chris for ages.
I live now in Toulouse, a big town in the south of France and I'm a supervisor in a garden center chain called Botanic. My love for waterlilies remains and, even if I've got only a small town garden, my boyfriend Thierry built me a tiny pond for my aquatic plants.
I will start by saying fate is a great provider...I started to work at Marliac in 1995 while I still was a student in foreign languages at university in Bordeaux. One day I was at a farm market in my village buying my strawberries when I heard nearby an American woman trying to speak French to ask for a baked chicken. Off I went to help her with my English... At this right moment, my life became an extraordinary experience!
The American woman was surprised to see a young country girl speaking English to her with ease, so we talked together a bit about the waterlily nursery she and her husband bought to restore and she gave me her business card before leaving. I remember that scene as if it was yesterday. On the card was written Barbara Davies, Managing Director, Latour-Marliac. I stood there looking at this card and knew this was sent to me for a reason. I went back home saying to my mum: "I found my career! It will be in the waterlilies". It was a real revelation.
Since I was a child, I've always been in love with flowers, gardening with my mum before having my own tiny garden with my botanical labels for each flower. Then I painted them and developed a real passion for botanical plates. I also found inspiration in my countryside. I've always taken a great interest in foreign languages, in particular English, as I fell in love with England when I went for the first time at age 14. And of course you now understand that if I could work with flowers while speaking English then I would be "blooming"... and I did.
Barbara and I wrote to each other to get some fresh news about the progress of the works at Marliac and on 15th March 1995, I started to work there as a secretary, worker, translator, cashier, seller. I was working hard but I was 19 at that time and I loved my job. I was at my parents home only 3 miles from work and I was working weekends because I needed two days off during the week to finish my courses. I passed my degree and from then on I was employed on full time. My direct boss was Chris farmer, the head gardener and, with few other young English workers, we formed a real team. My investment in that group was enormous, maybe too much, but I was very passionate.
If I had to tell you all I did at Marliac, I would need a book and not an e-mail, but I remember doing a TV spot for Granada presenting Latour-Marliac with its history as well as for some French channels. I wrote some articles as well for some magazines. I still have my press book at home to show to my children to come. I dealt with public relations, gave guided tours in French or English, went to the gift fair in Paris and Birmingham for the giftshop. As part of the tourist association of our department I went to the flower show in Courson representing Latour-Marliac and Stapeley. In winter, Latour-Marliac is closed so I went to England to the mother company, Stapeley Water Gardens, to prepare all the documents for the next season (leaflets, catalogue, price list...).
I worked at Marliac's for six years. My whole life was at Marliac's, working 7 days out of 7, 8 months a year and in winter after a break, preparing for the new season. My body and my soul lived for waterlilies but it was time for a change. When I left, I was miserable and went to Nice to find work but in vain. After a short time I went back to my parents in the Lot et Garonne department. I found a job as a secretary for motorways. Then I met my boyfriend Thierry, who lives in Toulouse, and I decided to follow him to find a job. I managed to find a job as nurserywoman and in early September 2001 I became an employee of Botanic, a big garden center chain, as a receptionist first then as a manager. Since September 2003 I've been a supervisor of three departments. Now, I'm fully blooming, thanks to my boyfriend Thierry, who knows my story by heart and is proud of having a girlfriend in love with waterlilies. Let's hope our children will be born in the waterlilies!
To be continued. . . Karine Belotti