THE daughter-in-law of Mary Atherton, who created The Meeting House, has opened a florist opposite the building.

Courtney Atherton, and her husband George, opened Flora Ray in Ilminster on September 1.

Mrs Atherton set up the business in 2018 to provide flowers for weddings, funerals and events.

But after the coronavirus crisis cancelled many of these events, the couple decided to set up a shop in Mr Atherton’s hometown.

“We chose Ilminster as it’s a beautiful, warm and friendly town with community and creativity at its centre,” said Mrs Atherton.

“George is Somerset born and bred, having grown up in Horton with Ilminster being an important part of his early life.

“His mum Mary Atherton is responsible for creating The Meeting House, which in an almost poetic way, the shop now sits opposite.

“George moved away to Bristol to study which is where we met.

“We then lived in London together for eight years. During that time, we would spend as much time as we could in Somerset.

“Two years ago, we got married and decided to leave London and set up in George's home town.”

The shop offers a range of jungle houseplants, succulents, and Cacti. There is also a wall of dried flowers and botanical themed gifts.

The pair are also offering fresh or dried flower deliveries as well as a variety of workshops.

Trying to be as eco-friendly as possible, the couple are not using floristry foam and will use local growers as much as possible. They are also using glass jars or compostable wrapping for the bouquets.

“With COVID-19 cancelling nearly all weddings and events this year and isolating us to our homes, we made the brave and somewhat bewildering to some, decision to give Flora Ray a physical presence," said Mrs Atherton.

“To create something positive, to feel in control again and to be out there in the community, building relationships.

“I am the floral designer, but with everything that we do, it is a labour of love that we are joint partners in.

“George plays a huge part in the look and feel of the space. He also runs a branding and graphic design business, New Century Design.”