Flowerona is an inspirational blog about flowers. Flowerona covers everything flower-related including florists, artists, designers, homeware, floristry books, exhibitions, fashion, gardening, flower markets, interior design, photographers and stationery.
Native to Australia, waxflower with its beautiful citrus scent is such a wonderful long-lasting filler flower! Simply head over to the New Covent Garden Flower Market website to read my latest report about this popular bloom.
Helichrysum, also known as strawflower or everlasting flower are back in fashion! What goes around, comes around…and that’s certainly the case with this particular dried flower variety as more and more florists are starting to showcase them in beautiful designs.
Grace & Thorn recently added a new dried flower range called ‘Some Things Do Last Forever’ to their ‘Ready to Wear’ wedding collection, which features Helichrysum. The range includes a bridal bouquet, long and low arrangement, and floral crown, plus buttonholes, wrist corsages and jars.
On Flowerona, my aim is always to promote the floristry industry in its entirety, helping and inspiring everyone involved in this wonderful community. And today, I’m delighted to share with you an insight into a career in flowers, which had its foundations in one of London’s top florist shops.
A warm welcome to Simon Richards, Product Developer for Cut Flowers at retailer Marks & Spencer.
When did you first become interested in floristry?
As a career changer in my late 30s I decided to try and make a career out of my life long hobby: horticulture. Having completed the RHS General Certificate, I thought I would try my hand at garden design.
After 18 months, although I loved it the work was physically very demanding (I had pursued a design and build path). And I realised that winter was a fallow period. So I looked for a florist job to tide me over until spring.
This took me to Jane Packer Flowers, where I started to train ‘on the job’ as a complete novice. I loved it from day 1, despite the long hours and within 5 years I was co-managing the flagship store in Marylebone. I travelled to the States and Far East while working for Jane, working on some amazing events. And I didn’t do back to gardening…
How has your floristry career progressed?
After 5 intense years, I was pretty worn out from long florist days (not exactly breaking news I know!) and I needed a new challenge. I was also looking for better remuneration, something I’m sure lots of florists can relate to.
By chance, or maybe serendipity, Marks & Spencer were looking for a Product Developer for their cut flower ranges, the first time they had ever recruited externally for this role.
What is your current role?
As Product Developer for cut flowers, I work closely with the buying and technical teams to develop 12 ranges a year – 6 for stores and 6 for on-line, covering all the floral peaks: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Christmas, plus seasonal ranges for spring, summer and autumn.
What does a normal week look like?
There is no normal really…lots of meetings, reviewing the ranges I mention above, some inspiring travel to UK growers as well as further afield to Kenya, Colombia and Holland. Visiting any of our 500+ stores to look out for quality issues and display standards. Oh and spreadsheets – everything (rightly so) needs to be documented and tracked.
How do you feel now about your career change?
Before I joined Marks & Spencer, I didn’t really have a notion that there were ‘floriculture’ jobs outside of floristry itself. While I definitely miss the hands-on creativity of floristry, the delight of counting customers in the hundreds of thousands mean that I don’t regret my career swerve at all!
What is your favourite part about your job?
Directional visits to ‘centres of excellence’ which can be London, Amsterdam or further afield. You never know where the next big idea is going to come from. Also customer events and masterclasses. And of course the RHS Chelsea Flower Show! We are well ahead in planning our 6th exhibit at the moment. We have won a Gold Medal for the last 3 years, so no pressure!
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Simon’s flower journey. Do let me know if there are any other people within the floristry industry that you’d like me to feature.
I’m delighted today to feature an interview with Brigitte Girling from Moss & Stone (pictured left below), together with stunning images from her ‘A Winter Gathering Workshop’ with Kate Hargreaves from Tangle & Thyme (pictured right below), which took place last November.
How did your workshop with Kate from Tangle & Thyme come about?
Kate and I first met at the Flowerona Branding for Florists workshop a year a half ago. This course was instrumental in providing the opportunity for several of us to meet for the first time having known each other on Instagram. Claire Bowen (Honeysuckle & Hilda), Lucy Hunter (Lucy the Flower Hunter), Carol Lannigan (Painterly & Blooms), Kate Hargreaves (Tangle & Thyme) and myself seemed to gravitate towards one another and connect. We couldn’t have known, but this was the start of true friendships that have grown, developed and expanded into a really supportive, network which now includes several other wonderful florists.
Over that time, we’ve all helped each other out in various ways work-wise and got together socially. And this looks like an on-going trend that continues to strengthen. Kate then attended one of my workshops last summer and she told me all about a recent garden design course she had been on, where she was fortunate enough to gain some hands-on experience at Sissinghurst. This is a garden that frustratingly I haven’t yet visited but is top of my list! She then explained that she was now in the process of designing and creating a new cutting garden at her home in Essex. So, a visit to her lovely garden seemed a must! Over lunch, Kate told me all about her plans to grow and develop workshops in her beautiful studio space and she asked me if I would be interested in co-hosting one with her at the end of the wedding season. And so our ‘A Winter Gathering Workshop’ was born.
I feel certain that our story of friendship growth and finding ‘our tribe’ through you and your blog is not unique. There must be many other stories like this as a result of the Flowerona influence. You have created an environment through which beautiful connections can and have been made and where the ethos is not competition but support and encouragement. Our workshop in November happened as a direct result of your influence and support for our floral industry as a whole. I sense there is a new wave of positive support, collaboration and encouragement that has developed within floristry where social media, Instagram and your blog have played an intrinsic part. Long may it continue!
Where did the workshop take place?
Kate has a beautiful converted old brick stable block where she hosts her workshops near Great Dunmow, Essex. I think many of us florists can suffer pangs of workshop envy but this one really is special and was perfect for the workshop we had in mind. On the workshop day, we woke to a glorious spangled heavy frost and blue skies. It was picture perfect but oh so chilly! However, fortunately Kate’s space has a glorious woodburning stove, so quite quickly we had a lovely cosy atmosphere into which we could welcome our guests.
Who attended the workshop?
We had a wonderful group of florists who joined us for the day, all with varied experience and interests. Julie King (Peonies & Posies) who writes a garden blog and is passionate about her stunning cutting garden and using seasonal flowers, Sarah Statham (Simply By Arrangement) who holds the most wonderfully inspirational floral workshops from her ’small corner’ of Yorkshire, Ruth who once owned a beautiful hotel on the West coast of Scotland and did all the hotel flowers there for nearly thirty years, Sarah Whiting (Nettlewood Flowers) a talented flower farmer and florist from Teddington, Jen Sayers (Foxtail Floral Design) who is a skilled freelance florist from Suffolk and Helen Jackson (Petal & Pot), a lovely wedding and event florist based in Walthamstow.
What was the format of the workshop?
We wanted to celebrate the end of a busy floral year with our attendees, create some beautiful centrepieces and construct a gorgeous floral installation setting within which we could enjoy a candlelight celebratory dinner, swap stories and cement even more new friendships. We all worked together collaboratively to make our fairytale setting. Kate and I started off by talking about our design philosophies – we both prefer to use good old-fashioned chicken wire and water for our table arrangements. We feel that it allows for a more natural, garden style feel and the flowers seem to be much happier too! We also prefer to use British grown seasonal flowers whenever possible. In late November, this was of course not entirely possible but we incorporated many dry seed heads, grasses, foraged finds and branches to give a natural seasonal feel to our designs.
After a quick demonstration by us, our guests then had plenty of time to enjoy creating their tablecentres that would run down our evening tablescape. A light home-made lunch of warming soup followed before we embarked as a group on our hanging installation – a floral plank with hanging candle-lit baubles, which would sit above our table. It was lovely to see true collaboration, discussion, respect and friendships blossoming as we worked. After a welcome cake break, we broke into smaller groups to freestyle and create more organic, natural installations around the space. A tumble of my favourite foraged creeping vine, old man’s beard, festooned the stairs and wonderful branchy and brackeny creations began to creep up the walls.
Later whilst enjoying canapés and fizz, we created our floral tablescape. We then lit the candles and sat under our beautifully atmospheric backdrop and enjoyed each others company, warming food and glass of wine or two until quite late into the evening! To top it all, this lovely day was recorded by the super talented fine art photographer Hannah Duffy. Hannah and I had worked together before and she generously agreed to come and spend the day with us capturing our ideas and designs coming to life. I was so delighted with her images – a feast for the eyes!
Could you tell us about the workshops which you’re planning on holding this year?
Kate and I plan to co-host another workshop this year but it will probably be late summer once her new cutting garden is fully underway and brimming full of flowers! We will keep you posted! I really enjoy my one to one workshops and they’re available throughout the year. Guests can choose what they would like to spend the day focussing on and then we get thoroughly immersed in all the flowers the season offers.
I’m also running a series of workshops with Julie of Peonies & Posies from her glorious cutting garden in Suffolk, the first one ‘Gather & Grow Hellebores‘ took place last month. Then I’m hosting ‘The Folly of Flowers – Spring Edition‘, a rather special foam free installation workshop on May 15th with Sarah from Simply By Arrangement in a romantically remote folly in Suffolk. All are available through my website. There are other very exciting plans for collaborative workshops in the pipeline which I will add as soon as the details are firmed up. I just love holding workshops!
Kate will also be running more workshops from her beautiful space this year. Her new website is under construction but if you would like more information, you can contact her by email or through Instagram.
Thank you so much to Brigitte for all her help in compiling today’s blog post. If you’d like more details about her upcoming workshops, please visit the Moss & Stone website. And of course, do pop over to her gorgeous Instagram account to see her latest designs.
With the weather turning decidedly chilly this week and snow falling in many parts of the UK, it’s a little hard to believe that March 1st heralds the start of meteorological spring!
If you’ve got cabin fever, what better way to pass the time than by grabbing a cuppa and settling down with my latest report for New Covent Garden Market. Feast your eyes on the wonderful selection of just some of the flowers, foliage, plants and sundries available this month.
Single, Double, Parrot, French Parrot and Fringed…all different types of tulips which you can currently find in abundance at New Covent Garden Market. Simply head over to the Flower Market website to read my latest report about this popular bloom!
Last month, I had the pleasure of attending The Flower Council of Holland‘s 2018 Trends Event, ‘The Blank Canvas Project’. And here’s the lowdown on the three predictions by international trend watcher, Aafje Nijman, with stunning floral designs created by Gillian O’Brien and her team at The Flower Laboratory.
The Trend | The economy is on the up, living standards are improving. At the same time we find ourselves in a digital bubble. We surround ourselves with people and opinions that are the same as ours. Everything is extra-powerful, and this certainly applies to design. Materials are super-luxurious, shapes are full and sumptuous, colours are intense and rich. This results in decadent interior and exterior spaces.
A huge abundance of luxurious, opulent blooms including cloni ranunculus, David Austin roses and phalaenopsis orchids beautifully encapsulate this trend, combined with intricate metallic elements and plush fabrics. Glass domes encasing flower scenes add further to this lavish decorative look.
The Trend | The shift in power is oppressing our sense of freedom. We feel that we have to live by a lot of rules and are unsure about who will be making those rules tomorrow. That makes us rebellious – we want to work it out for ourselves. This combined with the hardening of society means that our living space is given a rugged and raw appearance. The colour black plays a dominant role, the materials are hard and sometimes have an almost aggressive appearance, like one big protest.
Deep red, dark burgundy and black are the predominant colours with roses contrasting with structural and spikey flowers such as anthuriums, calla lilies, heliconias and eryngiums. Plants wise, begonias take centre stage. There’s a bold edginess, almost hostile nature to the look.
The Trend: We have a more diverse society than ever and reality is sometimes confusingly complex. In order to be able to exploit all the new possibilities, we try and combine old and new elements together. It’s necessary to create a new entity, and it gives a sense of flexibility to see something made up of existing, sometimes contradictory elements. This also means that a living space starts to look like a three-dimensional collage, with products, shapes, colours and materials combined with high contrast to form a cheerful new whole.
The unusual combination of pastel gerberas, hyacinths and freesias contrasts with fluffy solidago and statice. Flowers and plants are stacked at different heights, some hanging on the walls with others spilling out of drawers and cabinets.
It was such an intriguing and inspiring event! Hearing how trends were identified was a real eye-opener. I’d never fully appreciated before how what happens in the world around us affects the flowers we’re drawn to.
And it goes without saying that I was instantly smitten by the opulent and very decorative Romance 3.0 trend! I look forward to seeing further evidence of it over the coming year.
If you’d like to read more about these trends, simply click here for links to downloadable fact sheets.
I’m delighted to let you know that New Covent Garden Market has announced this year’s British Flowers Week dates. This celebration of homegrown blooms and the people who grow them, sell them and create stunning designs using them will take place from June 18th-24th, 2018.
Now in its sixth year, the week-long event is set to raise awareness of the enviable array of flowers and foliage the UK is home to, as well as the phenomenal talent of the country’s floral industry, bringing together florists, wholesalers, flower growers and floristry lovers alike.
Last year’s campaign was a huge success, with over 35 British Flowers Week workshops, talks, pop-up shops and floral demonstrations taking place around the country. As in previous years, social media users will able to get involved using the hashtag #BritishFlowersWeek.
Helen Evans, a spokesperson for New Covent Garden Market, said: “British Flowers Week is a great opportunity to raise awareness of some of the people and businesses that continue to make the creativity and excellence in the British floristry industry second to none, with the industry worth £2.2 billion.”
So please put the dates in your diary to celebrate the very best of British blooms!
Red roses reign supreme at New Covent Garden Market this month! If you’d like to see what’s available flowers, foliage, plants and sundries wise at the market in February, simply head over to the Flower Market website, where you’ll be able to read my latest report.
I’m delighted to feature an interview with floral designer Sylvia Lukach from Cape Lily (pictured above) about a new kind of floral retreat she’s calling a ‘Botanical Journey’ this March in South Africa. The emphasis being not just on floral design but also personal growth. And the incredibly talented Susan McLeary from Passionflower is one of the guest teachers!
Read on to discover what inspired Sylvia to create this experience plus a very special offer for Flowerona readers…
What prompted you to organise the Botanical Journey?
I was chatting to friends and family last year about how unique our South African flora is and how there’s this botanical revival happening there right now – from craft gins and cordials to perfumes. I was joking and saying it’s unfair that yogis have yoga retreats and foodies have cooking classes in Italy but flower lovers only seem to have quite old-school, what I call the “granny garden tours” to Chelsea.
It was just a seed of an idea, but then I met Susan McLeary of Passionflower at a workshop and she expressed interest in doing a workshop in South Africa and I thought, let’s make this happen! I love travel and connecting people and of course flowers, so it seemed like a perfect fit for me to throw my energy into. Plus all my friends and family are still in South Africa, so it feels like I’m taking people home and sharing it with them, which is so rewarding.
What type of florist is it suitable for?
The Journey is designed for flower lovers of all levels. We tailor the design to the level of experience but I expect all sorts to join – from hobbyists to full-time florists and even people who’ve never played with flowers before but are looking for a new creative escape. The only requirements are to be curious, have a positive attitude and fully embrace the immersive nature of the experience.
When is The Botanical Journey taking place?
12th-21st March, 2018. This is a great time to be in South Africa. It’s beautifully warm but past the stifling heat of mid-summer. And of course a great time to escape colder northern climates.
1. Day 1-3: Big 5 safari at the malaria-free Black Rhino Game Reserve near Johannesburg, with 2 game drives a day, a swimming pool and private chef. This will give guests some downtime to recover from jetlag and leave their busy lives behind!
2. Day 4-7: We’ll move to a seaside villa in Cape Town and focus on botanical tourism, like foraging on Cape Point, identifying indigenous plants on Table Mountain, visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden with a local plant guide and a garden tour and farm-to-table lunch at Babylonstoren.
3. Day 8-10: This will be the floral design portion of the Journey with Susan McLeary from Passionflower and South African indigenous floral designer, Daniel Ferreira of Ecozest, (both pictured below) using all locally grown flowers. We’ll be staying at and designing at a working rose farm and will also have the opportunity to visit and get to know nearby flower farmers. The journey will wrap up with a feast under the stars, decorated by our African-inspired floral creations.
The intent is for guests to get to know each other, make friends with local South Africans and form friendships they’ll have for life. They should return home with new-found inspiration and skills they can re-invest in their business and personal lives.
What kind of floristry classes will Susan McLeary be holding?
Susan is excited to teach some of her signature bold designs using the rich textures and variety provided by South African native plants. We want designers to be able to apply the principles and techniques they learn back home, so the focus will be on bridal bouquets and centerpieces, floral wearables and large scale foam-free installations.
What type of flowers and foliage will attendees be designing with?
All the products we design with will be indigenous or locally grown, with some “fynbos” foraged directly from the bush on surrounding farms. Fynbos species like Proteas, Leucadendrons, Ericas and Restios (reeds & grasses) will take center stage with a few surprise elements like kelp and other South African treats. We’ll also source fun local elements like alliums and artichokes, and some of the more delicate cutting garden varieties like dahlias and roses.
Will there be a professional photographer on hand to capture the attendees’ floral designs for their portfolios?
Yes, all the designs created in the workshops will be styled on gorgeous South African models and provided to attendees as a reminder of that time they pushed their creative boundaries to the max and created greatness.
How many places will be available?
The experience is limited to 15 participants to ensure an intimate and comfortable travel experience. No large coaches here! Ok, maybe a minivan… but a stylish one.
Could you tell about your floristry background?
I was born to a florist mother and landscaper father in a small town in South Africa, Plettenberg Bay, and grew up “foraging” (which was not a thing in the 80s) and helping my mom with wedding flowers. I only picked it up again more seriously two years ago after a long career as a management consultant, when I was looking for more flexibility and creativity.
I transitioned to full-time flowers last year. Attending workshops and meeting other flower professionals gave me the confidence to leave the corporate safety net behind and join the beautiful world of flowers. I’m excited to provide a nurturing environment on the Botanical Journey where designers can similarly reflect on their own personal and business aspirations.
FLOWERONA READER OFFER
Cape Lily is offering 20% off the March ‘Botanical Journey’ for Flowerona readers until January 31st 2018. Please use the discount code RONA on checkout to activate.
More details about the ‘Botanical Journey’ can be found on the Cape Lily website. And you can also schedule a 30 minute call with Sylvia to learn more about the Journey. Simply click here and then choose and day and time.
Posted in partnership with Sylvia Lukach of Cape Lily.
(Images : Sylvia Lukach | Cape Lily)
Read Full Article
Read for later
Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
Scroll to Top
Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.