How We Bloom

Flower Healing with Jill Manson

September 09, 2021 Sharon McGukin AIFD, AAF, PFCI Season 1 Episode 5
How We Bloom
Flower Healing with Jill Manson
Show Notes Transcript

South African floral designer, Jill Manson, believes in the powerful energy of flowers and plants. “The ‘power of the plant’ can help us heal by offering comfort and calm,” she explains. Based in Johannesburg, Jill offers intuitive hands-on flower arranging classes called “Flower Healing”. Jill shares with her students a thoughtful blend of floral elements with spiritual elements and floral design with personal introspection. “Connecting with nature is a beautiful way to find balance, re-align to your most powerful self, heal and grow,” she continues. “It is possible to find our true nature, through nature.” Jill shares her flower-class instructional techniques with us in this How We Bloom podcast.

Jill Manson: (00:10)
Actually the gift of being a florist or a flower-arranger that delivers flowers is we are we are agents for healing.

Sharon McGukin: (00:29)
Welcome to How We Bloom, a podcast offering an oasis of flower ideas. I'm your host, Sharon McGukin AIFD, AAF, PFCI and I believe that every great success story starts with one simple idea. A challenge that requires change. We all know that change is inevitable, and that's a good thing. Change moves us forward. Challenge happens for us, not to us. It's how we grow! That's why we interview guests who dare to do things differently. People who plant seeds, grow ideas and bloom to their full potential. We listen, learn, and that's How We Bloom.

Sharon McGukin: (01:22)
Today's guest is Jill Manson of Johannesburg, South Africa. Jill hosts a TV show - FRESH CUT on the South African DSTV Home Channel. A qualified NLP practitioner for the past 21 years. Jill is known in South Africa as a floral intuitive teacher and healer. Once on a nature walk in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands of South Africa, Jill experienced an intuitive connection with a little wild flower that inspired her flower journey. Today, she shares with our ‘Bloom Community’ techniques for instructing hands-on classes that guide others onto journeys of self-discovery of their own. Using the color, form, and healing essence of flowers and plants. In Jill's own words, she says “It is possible to find your true nature, through nature.” 

Jill and I met online. She does special projects for Smithers Oasis - South Africa, and I for Smithers Oasis - North America. We were sharing information about products and design techniques. We became fast friends through What’sApp conversations. We finally met when I was invited to be a Floral Speaker and Judge at the first Johannesburg International Flower Show in 2019. That's when I learned of Jill's interesting story and knew that I wanted to share it with you. Welcome to How We Bloom, Jill.

Jill Manson: (03:03)
Thank you so much, Sharon. I've been dreaming of sitting here chatting to you the whole day today and ever since we spoke. Because, it is such a great joy for me to allow this voice to be heard on an international level and as sitting down in the far Southern tip of Africa! And it's just so wonderful to be speaking to you and thank you. Thank you for having me.

Sharon McGukin: (03:28)
Could you give us some basics of how you use Flower Healing in your classes or with the groups that you present to. How you reach out to others and help them to understand that truly flowers can be very healing.

Jill Manson: (03:43)
You know, I've been doing it for a very long time, almost 21 years now. And every time I am in a session with either just an individual person coming for some therapy or with the group - I'm humbled at the end of each sitting. Just so deeply moved again by the ‘power of the plant.’ And truly Sharon, I must tell you I have a gift. Yes. And I have been given a gift to facilitate these journeys of discovery using flowers and plants to other people. But the reality of it is, is that flowers heal. The, the botanical kingdom is in my mind a sentient thing. There is a very powerful energy I could say in plants. And I think both you and I, we experience that all the time. You know, when you make-an-arrangement of flowers. When I'm in the studio, if I've had a bad day and I'm making a bowl of flowers or a vase. Or, just get stuck in how the, the real world kind of stops for a while and we escape into this place of comfort and calm.

Sharon McGukin: (04:54)
I agree with that, Jill, one of the things that gives me such peace - no matter what type of event it is, if it's something simple or if it's a large wedding. Or, if it's a design program that I'm presenting.  When I am alone in a room of flowers, just designing, I can't describe the peace that I feel in that moment. And one of the things that I have shared with friends. When they say, “you know what? I know a lot of people who are older in their eighties and their nineties, and still working in flowers and it's really hard work. How is that possible?” And I always stop to think and share with them that flowers are so many healing things. Flowers are the base of some medicines, of creams that are healing, of aromatherapy, of different types of lotions or makeup. There's so many ways that flowers are used as healing properties. We just don't stop to think of it.

Jill Manson: (05:56)
Exactly. Sharon, it brings, it brings me back to the question you asked about how do I do this? What's the process? What happens? What, what occurs? You know what? And you know - that day in my life, when I was on the mountain and had sat down and had this interlude or this communication that happened between the flower and myself. And, I say between the flower and myself. I do believe that the communication that happened to me, that actually came from, from a divine higher source. God. My higher power. And you know, that the only message I was told was - Jill you're going to use flowers to help people communicate their feelings better to one another and to themselves. And I was like, “WHAT?” I just thought “HOW?” And, the conversation continued. The second part of it was just a simple sentence. It was, there were two … that first sentence.

Jill Manson: (06:58)
And then the second sentence in this dialogue, um, I was asked if this, if that little flower I was engaging with this tiny little purple wildflower … it’s five little petals. If, if, if I could give an answer to what feeling that little flower was, what would it be? And I answered straight away. And I said that that little flower is passion. That's passion. And then, uh, God said to me yet, “passion to you, Jill. But what do you think that little flower would represent or mean, or be to every other human in the world?” And that was all I got really, Sharon. It was just this thirty-second dialogue between myself through this little flower and God. And I,  all I could do was get up and run from that place. And I did. I ran away with this idea and these thoughts. And I mean, you know, I'd never done flowers in my life before. I was in advertising.

Jill Manson: (08:02)
And I thought, how on earth? Now this is his calling on my life to use flowers, to help people communicate to themselves better. How on earth? Blah, blah, blah. And anyway. I won't tell the whole story now, but it took two years of, uh, sitting with this idea. This little message and my own sense of self-worth I guess, to realize that I really truly had been called to do some very powerful work. And the joy of it was that it's not because of me, it's in spite of me. 

So what happens in a typical environment or a therapy session or a group workshop is - I will get a selection of fresh seasonal blooms from our local markets. And I'll make sure that there's a wide variety of form and color and texture, uh, even some with different fragrances what I might also bring to the session. And, I kind-of do this intuitively.

Jill Manson: (09:03)
So, I do a lot of prayer and meditation before I do the sessions. And I say, “Guide me, let me choose the right blooms. Let me choose the right plants for this group or this person.” I might use some pot plants or some moss, some bark. Or, you know, fern - a piece of fern or pine cone … anything. And I bring it all to the room. And, then I’m like … all our lives, we've heard about the language of flowers, Sharon. So, you say red roses are love. Yellow roses, friendship. And these workshops are slightly different. Because, I don't put my hand on someone and go, “Ooh, you're a Veronica.” And “Ooh, you're a …” It's not like that at all. All I do simply is - I get everybody into a very beautiful state of, um, connected to their selves and their body by meditation and a bit of, uh, fun stuff there.

Jill Manson: (09:59)
And then I take them on a journey where they have to choose flowers from the range that represents certain emotional, spiritual, or physical experiences, values, or states that they are currently having or being. So, for example, the first one will say, um, who are you right now? What are you? What does your life look like? What kind of emotion are you having? What's happening for you in the world? And how do you look? And, if you could pick up a flower plant from the selection, which one best describes or shows or represents your current state? You know, for some people they're just sad or scared. They're living in fear. Others are up and they feeling quite jovial and alive.  So, one lady or man, or person may come back to me with an old dry stick and say - this is me now too.

Jill Manson: (10:57)
I say, why? Because I've got nothing left. I'm exhausted. I have no hope. I don't feel growth in any way. And, then the other person might choose a beautiful Oriental Lily that's full bloom. And I say, and you will look, look at the lot opening up to receiving. And I'm there Jill, at this point in my life, I want so much more from life. So, uh, Sharon, a big lot of talking from me here, but do you see how it's actually allowing people to use the shape, form, and color of flowers and plants to mirror their current state? And, as we progress them through they get to choose sometimes three, sometimes five, sometimes seven stems or different varietals to start to tell the story of their life. And yeah, that's basically how powerful it is because you know, we all have the answers we need inside of us. Sometimes you just need somebody else to show you. Using something elsewhere to look.

Sharon McGukin: (12:04)
People, once they choose their flowers in your classes, then they create a design, a flower arrangement with those flowers. Is that correct?

Jill Manson: (12:13)
That's  correct. So, Sharon this gets like very exciting for them because now they have the five elements and each flower, or plant, or plant element has a meaning. It may be trust and forgiveness and gentleness and self-love. And, then they take only those flowers, but more of the same. And they … I allow them to just intuitively create a design in a container or a ball. Whatever it is for the day. And, they arrange these flowers together. But what they’re actually doing is - they're arranging emotion and then they finish. And, I intuitively feedback to them based on floristry design. Principles and Elements. Sharon, you know them well. Balance, uh, form, scale and proportion. And, we talk about the design and where it might be. Something might be missing. And, usually then that feeds even more into their life story. Because I might say, look, there's a big gap here between peace and love. What do you think that could be? And what do you want to fill it with? And, then they'll place another flower in that space. Then might be harmony or something. So, we keep evolving the story and eventually there's this beautiful arrangement that actually has … it's a picture of their selves. But it's what it also is – it’s a gift for them to heal from … and worth.

Sharon McGukin: (13:43)
So, you are helping them to tie together their spiritual elements along with the floral elements. So, they're learning design, but they're learning self-introspection too. It sounds like to me, Jill.

Jill Manson: (13:57)
That's right. That is true. So, they get a bit of both, a little bit of both.

Sharon McGukin: (14:02)
That's very wonderful. And if you've never experienced the flowers in South Africa … I was so astounded,  the collection of protea. It just was amazing. And, the most interesting thing to me - I have been in flowers for 47 years, in all these years of handling beautiful protea, I have never smelled that soft baby powder fragrance that the flowers have. In the shipping to the US, that is lost to us. And, I just found that so amazing. That there was this fragrance, that in 47 years, I'd never experienced. 


When I arrived at the Johannesburg airport to meet you, Jill, a very kind friend - Erica Buekes met at the gate with this big, beautiful King Protea. And then, when we were at the supplier at the flower show – I’d just never seen so many of those, those protea varieties. So, they tell me there's just this entire scape of them. And, you go into that area. Tell us a little bit about that area.

Jill Manson: (15:15)
Well, it's fresh in my mind, because about three days ago, I was walking in the Robberg Nature Reserve near Knysna. With my friend who's bought a farm there with the intention of starting to cultivate flowers for the cut industry here. And, there is this huge slope on the one side of his farm that is just famous proteas pin Christians. And you walk through these flowers that are head high, that they tower above you. And as you're walking Sharon, you pass the pink king protea, then the white king protea, then the green limelight Nairobi protea, then over there is Venus just tucked in that beautiful cerise pink Venus protea. She's the one that has that black velvet tip, you know, and then there's just, um, uh, the smaller one, the red Robin is right there. And you think to yourself, you know, for goodness sakes - the colors and the different sizes and it's spectacular, spectacular! And the fragrance, and the smell. Yeah. And that's the Mount. That truly is one of our most wonderful things about this country is our famous and our indigenous protease and that smell of it's just the best smell ever. You want to bottle it. And, wear it for perfume.

Sharon McGukin: (16:41)
I would do that. I will say that I am so envious of you for having that opportunity. That was my goal. Had the pandemic not interrupted us. I was planning to come back for the Flower Show again this past year. And, have the opportunity to go toCape town and to visit that area. Because, everybody kept telling me about how, just how amazing it was. But now you have all been very affected by the pandemic so tell us how that is affected your flower industry. I was in on a number of Zoom calls when it first began with a lot of our flower friends there in South Africa. And it was just so difficult to hear all the stories.

Jill Manson: (17:27)
Yeah, Sharon, it was very hard. A lot of my friends lost their businesses. Um, mostly, um, the very high-level event companies that weren't day-to-day florists, but they were just doing events. So, floral design and styling for events. Probably about four, five of our top, top, top. You met, you met three of them at the show, uh, have closed. They're finished, they're done. The one gentleman actually went in and he started a really lovely flower shop. He became a florist again. So, did I. So what COVID actually did for a lot of us is it took us back to our roots and, um, the way in which we survived was to start doing day-to-day flower deliveries again when we were allowed to. We were opened up, um, on level three, we could start trading again. And the biggest hits we've had, I think in terms of the business here in South Africa is how badly of flower farmers around Johannesbu,rg were affected and how much it costs them.

Jill Manson: (18:37)
And to get back on their feet again, to start to supply the huge, uh, quality, quality and quantity that we would see day to day here on the Johannesburg flower market, because it's the biggest one in South Africa. There is no market in Cape town like we have here. So, this is the main depot distributing flowers to all of our provinces. So, we saw an exceptionally big drop in quality and grade and a very high spike in prices. Oh, it was just like, just crazy. And it's been a rough ride because we … COVID has … we have been hit as well with probably the longest coldest winter here in Johannesburg for a very long time. So, it's been really hard, um, to keep our businesses going, as you can imagine. With the spike in prices and the dropping grade and quality, our margins are very much smaller. But, it'll change. I believe it will. It will. It's got to turn - the wheel. And yeah, I think with the summer that's coming and some rain and the farmers, hopefully starting to put more flowers in the ground, we will get back to where we were.

Sharon McGukin: (19:48)
Yes. I always believe ‘this too shall pass.’ And it always does. But, many times when something does pass, it leaves behind a form of change and change is growth. And, we just have to look to the new opportunities, as you said, and go along with that change. A vast number of products aren't available at the moment. And, it's been hard for our florist as well. On the other hand, it has been great for florists because - some people learned and some people remembered, that flowers can be there when you cannot. And so, it has meant a great deal of new business for florists in terms of customers remembering how important flowers are when it comes to celebrating life.

Jill Manson: (20:38)
I reiterate that. I was … it's … there were two things I wanted to say to you. The one was, what you've just said - is that my eyes have been opened again to why we do this as a business. What we are … are actually … with the gift of being a florist or flower arranger that delivers flowers is - we are … we're agents for healing.

Sharon McGukin: (21:13)
Are you wondering who's partnering with me and bringing practical solutions to you. This podcast is brought to you by Smithers-Oasis, North America. Why is Oasis investing in your business? Helping you to meet challenge with change? Smithers-Oasis, North America understands that you need fresh ideas to inspire new growth. Big ideas of innovation and inspiration. Oasis carefully plants the seeds of your success by offering a balance of traditional and on-trend products that enhance your designs. Simply visit your wholesale supplier for your favorite Oasis products. Or, view the online selection of direct-delivered-to-you products and seasonal inspiration now available from While you're on our website, check out our blog. Scroll down to the featured post section and enjoy the collection of design tips and flower ideas for weddings holidays in store or online business and lots more. After you enjoy each podcast episode, please share them with your flower friends.

Sharon McGukin: (22:34)
If you had to identify a change that the COVID challenge left to your flower industry, Jill, what would that be?

Jill Manson: (22:44)
What happened was all of our eyes opened up to how very important out industry is. How, how beautifully flowers take messages from heart to homes and how flowers and florists actually are - we have a very special role to play, we’re agents of healing … for healing.  Because everything we do is to say thank you, to say I’m with you, to say I love you, to say I'm sorry to say, uh, bless you! We have got the most wonderful job in the world. And, COVID for me - reminded me of that. It gave me great confidence that our industry will never die. It'll never die. And I don't know if you felt it, Sharon, but we came together as a community. Collaborations. I have made the most wonderful collaborations with my competition, you know, and we've, we've evolved. And we share and we’re sharing so much more. And, I believe that's such a gift.

Sharon McGukin: (23:56)
Yes, I did experience that in the, Zoom calls when we were trying to find solutions. And thank you so much for including me in those. It was wonderful to be able to, to help perhaps think through things that they could do. And again, you know, with every challenge comes change, but with change comes opportunity. And so, we just have to reach out to that. And that was one of the reasons I wanted to reach out to you, Jill, because I thought flower healing is something we haven't delved into enough. Our SAF - Society of American Florists did studies and proved that people heal faster and feel better and feel happier in the presence of flowers. So, how do you think we could use this? What would be some ideas of how our traditional florists, um, or even our freelance florist who do work via a social media? How could they use the flower healing concept in their businesses or in their classes, or how … do you have any tips for how they could share that information?

Jill Manson: (25:09)
And I think the very first step is for us as florists, as social media influences as, um, educators in the industry, is to remember it for ourselves. That when we walk into our shops every morning, that we can leave out ego mind and going to heart. And, for a moment, connect with the flowers in our shop. Look at them, admire them, um, contemplate them, be grateful for them. And, put that energy into the start of every day. And I find, I find when I do that at the shop, my days are so blessed and the truth is, Sharon, you don't, we don't have to do the work. The flowers do the work. We just have to say to our clients, look at these. Which ones do you feel for? And, maybe the client then goes and says, well, I'm, I'm really, I'm being drawn to this, this rose today.

Jill Manson: (26:15)
Oh, wonderful. Tell me a bit more about why. I don't know. Well now, maybe it's just the way it's shaped in my, for your life. But you know, that I think is the gift. Because so much of the time, it's just a quick telephone call from a corporate, uh, “Hi Jill, can you send some flowers to, as the lady at City D but she's, you know …  We've lost that connection to what it is we're actually doing. And you can't do it every way, Sharon, but you can definitely do it in certain places. And I think one is doing it herself, himself. When you are operating in your business from your heart center, as opposed to your head, it happens naturally. And your clients will be, you will attract the same kind of visitor to your door when you are resonating. That kind of energy people will come there and will feel it. It's the law of attraction.

Sharon McGukin: (27:14)
Yes. And you become more interested in serving than selling.

Jill Manson: (27:21)
There you go. And you get out of the way. And you make the flowers, the hero, because that what they are, it's not us. Yes. We can put them together beautifully, but they are the stars. So, another thing I wanted to say, Sharon, is I actually spent some time in, when I was studying the healing of flowers and there's a documentary series. Um, I've been working on for a long time. A TV documentary series. Uh, I interviewed, um, uh, the head of molecular and cell biology at the University of Cape Town. And she was given a Laureate prize for her thesis done on a plant that grows in South Africa, called the resurrection plant. This plant never dies. Even if it's out of water, it can be in the veld and it can be uprooted out of the soil and lie on the veld floor and be dry and dead for weeks.

Jill Manson: (28:21)
As soon as you put that flower back in water, it starts to come back to life. It goes green. The whole thing goes green again. And she basically, her thesis was how you could take the elements of the cellular structure of that plant and put it into the subsistence crops of the African subsistence farmers all the way through our continents. So that when they, they planted their maze and they planted the food and the severe drought came and their crops died. As soon as it rained, the crop would come back to life. Amazing. And she, she was awarded this incredible prize and I got to meet her and interview her. And she told me, Sharon, she studies, she teaches at the University and she said, her students all bring a plant to class. And they, each plant can have be the same plant in the same environment, but they have personalities. Each student will speak to their plant every day. And all these plants change according to the nature of the dialogue happening between the owner of their plant and the plant. And she said, it has been scientifically proven that flowers and plants have a vibrational frequency and energy field. And so do we, and sometimes they connect. That's when you just walk into a florist and you say, “oh, I feel for those delphiniums today.” There's a reason why that brings me to.

Sharon McGukin: (29:53)
A quote I heard from you said, “We can then say it is possible to find our true nature through nature.”

Jill Manson: (30:01)
Correct. This is the truth. It's about coming back to who you really are, your authentically true self. The one that is not afraid that doesn't think I am not enough, a powerful, powerful self. When we look at flowers, it shows us the same.

Sharon McGukin: (30:20)
And I feel we're very blessed to have the opportunity first to work with flowers. But second, to share those flowers with others.

Jill Manson: (30:28)
That's 100% right.

Sharon McGukin: (30:39)
Today, Sharon’s Shout Out goes to a collection of South African social sites. To enjoy amazing flowers growing wild in the countryside or inspiration from South African floral artists I always find surfing these sites a delight: South African Flower Union, South African Flowers, and Leon's Botanical Treasures. Check them out, let us know what you think. Be sure to tell my friend, Leon, that I sent you. If you have a shout out you would recommend, or a guest you would like to hear on our podcast, please. DM Sharon McGukin that's M C G U K I N. Or email me at

Sharon McGukin: (31:31)
Jill you're amazing. It was such a pleasure to be with you in South Africa. And I just remembered there was one thing I wanted to share. I saw a documentary about how the plants will rotate themselves around in a space. The grasses in particular. In a circle, around a smaller and smaller amount of water so that they can continue to live. And then when the rains come, they move back out again and then begin coming in closer and closer, basically pushing the water together. I actually saw a small pond where I could tell that was what was happening when we were on safari. And I thought that was the most amazing thing, because it was just like what I saw on the documentary.

Jill Manson: (32:18)
That's right. And you know, the lady I speak of that, um, did her thesis and did that research on the resurrection plant. Her name is Jill Farrant. Uh, Jill like me, but spelled with a G I'm a J. I had that question to ask her. Was one of my main questions I wanted to ask her. I said to Jill, “Can flowers and plants think? Do they think? Can they think?” And she looked me straight in the eyes and she said, “Yes, not only do they think, but they move.” I tell you I've got goosebumps right now. Right? Because as just, and I think this is what, I'm … what I want the world to know. And, you know, I know - I told you I've started, I'm trying to start … my podcast channel such as same as you. To inspire and keep doing the work. Because we have to remember how important our botanical kingdom is. Because she also said, if … imagine if … suddenly a magic wand was waived and all the plants, all, all trees or flowers or grasses disappeared off the earth gone in one second, it would take 15 minutes for the whole of humanity to die because they give us breath.

Jill Manson: (33:31)
Then they are responsible for giving us that the oxygen we breathe that are so important. And I want people in the world to remember that and to find a relationship with them. So we, we save this planet. Uh, Sharon, you know, we do the work on reminding people that the plant kingdom is alive and it's for us.

Sharon McGukin: (33:52)
And it gives us nutrition. It gives us life. It gives us beauty. There's just so many ways that flowers serve us. What's the name of the podcast you're developing at the moment.

Jill Manson: (34:03)
It's called rooted as in plant roots, it's called “Rooted with Jill Manson.” And it's about finding your true nature through nature. So, I share stories of all different South African plants and my experiences with them. Coming across them in, uh, in, uh, on my flower journeys and my wildflower hunting walks. And, the message that I received from them that I share. And also, just sharing really cool tips and facts and interesting things about that actual plant, like how it's pollinated and oh, wonderful. Yeah. So that's what it's about rooted … Rooted.

Sharon McGukin: (34:39)
Jill, you shared with me one of your stories that you will share in the podcast, and it was about a sweet potato, and I will never look at a sweet potato the same again, it was just a magical story.

Jill Manson: (34:53)
Oh, thanks, Sharon. It's been fun writing them.

Sharon McGukin: (34:56)
We thank you so much for being with us. We thank you for sharing your story and for giving us the suggestion of how we too can use flowers for the healing, for our customers, for ourselves, for flower community, and just helping us to see flowers in that healing light. Thank you so much, Jill.

Jill Manson: (35:17)
Thank you, Sharon. Thank you for having me

Sharon McGukin: (35:20)
Smithers-Oasis, North America and I thank Jill Manson for sharing her story of flower healing. We know that everyone has a story and we can all learn from each other. We can't wait to hear your story. Be sure to leave your comments and ideas. After you enjoy each episode, please hit subscribe. Then share it with your flower friends. You don't want to miss the inspired solutions our upcoming guests have to offer. 

In closing today, I'll share the words of Eckhart Tolle. “Look at a tree, a flower, a plant. Let your awareness rest upon it. How still they are, how deeply rooted in Being. Allow nature to teach you stillness.” 

Until next time. I'm Sharon McGukin reminding you to invest time in connecting with the powerful, gentle consciousness of nature. For that's How We Bloom

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