The scent of geraniums surrounds me as I stand by the door of my grandfathers greenhouse. Later those same blooms are arranged on a Welsh dresser. Little did I know that those precious memories would end up being my future guide.
After a professional career that took me around the world, I have come to realise that the creation of my Cheshire canal side cutting garden has been inspired by those very early memories that continue to evolve with every passing season.
I describe my floral design philosophy as wild garden style, inspired by iconic floral influencers like Constance Spry. I seek to pay homage to the past in reimagined floral designs for the future.
But what is exactly is wild garden style floral design?
After much thought and growing experience in my Cheshire flower cutting garden, I have concluded the heart of my wild garden style floral design can be described by what I am calling “the 5 Fs”.
Let me tell you more about why these 5 elements:
- Follow the seasons
so aptly characterise the absolute essence of this exciting new design philosophy.
FierceYou may be wondering about the word fierce. After all, it is far from the first word that springs to mind in the context of floral design, so let me explain.
I believe beauty is unbridled, wild, yes, even fierce. It is a curved stem that does not conform to supermarket perfect. Fierce florals are unique, each stem curated and nurtured with love. It is using foliage in a way that Constance Spry pioneered, letting each piece have it’s space and designing with it the way it wants to go.
Wild garden style floral design is about evoking the wild spirit of nature. It is about the spirited curation inspired by nature and the seasons. So rather than having angry overtones, the term fierce is about living our lives in a more authentic and fully engaged way.
Wild garden style designs are loose and emboldened. They aim to defy expectations of composition, form and colour. It is about knowing the rules to break them in creating one-off pieces of art rather than an assembly line of florals.
Foraged foliage and florals give a sense of place and sense of time like nothing else. They are not perfect. Nature is not perfect but perfectly imperfect. A curved branch of a particular blossom in spring, an abundance of unique grasses that flourish in the autumn giving both moment and texture, berried ivy cut for winter wreaths.
Nature is not perfect but perfectly imperfect.
All these things appropriately represent their season and often identifies an area of the world. Each adds a unique natural element to my wild garden floral designs. In fact my view is that dried and dead elements add depth as death is part of our living too.
Feathers are collected from the poultry lady in the market, grass is cut from my paddock, branches of snow berry in winter, all of these things are as important as the flowers to my philosophy.
FreshWild garden design floristry is about using flowers and foliage that has been picked at its peak. It is squeaky tulips or the stem of a just picked honeysuckle.
There are very few miles from my Cheshire cutting garden to a bouquet. Flowers are cut for optimum vase life, and with limited transport, it allows for a much more diverse range of flowers to be included.
Neither do these fresh flowers cost the earth environmentally. British grown flowers in fact nuture an ever growing population of bees and butterflies in my cutting garden.
FragrantScent plays a pivotal role in all our lives. It transcends our thinking mind and takes us right to the heart of our being. It is nostalgia and memory. It is the gardens of our childhood.
No perfumer however skilled can ever truly bottle that loveliness. Warm peonies on a summers day, freshly cut sweetpeas in summer or winter jasmine. No wild garden floral design is ever missing this magical ingredient.
Follow the seasonsThere is something quite precious about the blossom of snow white mangolia branches grown in my own cutting garden, or adding lilac from my own trees at the exact moment when it is flowering. Wild garden style floristry is about gathering and using seasonal ingredients to give a glimpse of a nature’s calendar - for example in the creation of a spring flower nest.
You intuitively feel it is the end of winter when snowdrops break the stone hard earth, or the start of spring when narcissi and tulips dance in the warming breeze.
Wild garden style design can be recognised using roses when they show their blousey heads in summer, or when the sweet peas reach their zenith in the autumn.
All of these things give a context of time and of place.
Flowers are often there at the notable moments in our lives, our christenings, our marriages, and yes our deaths. Wild garden style floristry uses blooms with character, a curved stem that makes you smile, a scent that makes you remember, a floral design that elicits an emotional response. What I think we’ve forgotten is that the everyday is also important, each and every moment precious never to be repeated.
The absolute philosophy for my wild garden style floral designs is about being influenced by as well as capturing all that is wild and untamed and for those designs to prompt us to want to live a life that is connected with the seasons with a conscious environmental heart. Wild garden style floristry is for living a life that is fierce.
Online Flower Class Testimonial
I felt like I was there. I just couldn't reach out and stick my nose in the flowers. It was as if I was sat in your front room watching your creativeness.
Everlasting Heart Shaped Dried Flower Wreath - Cariad Tragwyddol
A 19th century historic wharf and Cheshire canalside cutting garden is the inspiration for our wild garden style ethos. I root my floral design in every precious fleeting seasonal moment, growing and creating only ever with local seasonal scented British flowers.
If sustainability matters to you, if you care that floral creations are as kind to the environment as they are beautiful, then I am a kindred spirit.
We share our artisan florals in our live online virtual flower classes, and with our flowers, create bouquets and undertake a few intimate Cheshire weddings a year.