Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background…
I was born in Sydney in a leafy suburb where I spent a lot of time in the garden, sowing seeds and picking flowers but also making theme parks out of bark chips complete with waterslides for beetles. I'm not sure that beetles enjoyed my theme parks as much as I enjoyed creating them but there you go. I've always loved making things, I suspect it comes from watching both of my very practical parents mend and build things as needed. My mum has great drive and passion for a project and my dad has an incredible mind and hands for building things. I used to make all sorts of weird things like holiday houses out of cardboard boxes for pigeons and king parrots (I never managed to get one in the house but had an elaborate plan with birdseed and a door flap attached to a string with me waiting about 2 meters away thinking I could lure a bird friend), a paddle pop stick stable for toy horses, paper quilling, cross stitch etc. We were also really lucky to have horses growing up and I spent most of my weekends riding and camping in the bush, spending a lot of time out in nature was very influential. I fell into floristry by chance really after making it through 3.5 years of a 5 year degree in Sports Science and Nutrition. I signed up to do a one day per week floristry course at Tafe on a whim, thinking it would be a fun creative thing to do and as soon as I started going to the flower markets and meeting the growers I was hooked. That was nearly a decade ago, I've had my own floristry business for 8 years now.
I split my time between Sydney and Southern Tasmania. I started my business in Sydney and most of the events I work on are there with more and more work taking off in Tassie where we bought a house on 25 acres and are dabbling in the world's tiniest bit of flower growing (tiny height of flowers and tiny volume, I grew some anemone this year that were 3cm tall).
What influences your craft?
Nature foremost, romance, other sensory considerations like scent, touch, sound (I love the rustling sound of dried wheat or the gentle rattle of poppy seed heads so much), the amazing community of florists and flower growers in Australia and around the world.
Sustainability in the flower industry means...
Gosh that's a hard one. Honestly, sometimes I feel that it's such an absurd luxury to work with flowers for a living and to fill a space with them. When you think about the resources that go into growing flowers - land, nutrients, water, the farmer's labour, pesticides, herbicides, packaging that the flowers come in, transport to get them to market and then to the event (and there's probably a huge amount I haven't considered), it can feel like too much. I also feel incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with nature and hope to make people fall in love with the natural world a little more. I favour local flowers for so many reasons so that alleviates my guilt slightly. The reality is that to grow flowers they use a lot of resources and whilst I do what I can to tread lightly (rarely using floral foam, composting the flowers post event, using water from the flower buckets on the garden, collecting elastics from the flower bunches like a maniac) I don't think it's enough, but I'm also not strong enough to walk away from working with flowers on account of the huge demand for resources because it brings me so much joy and hopefully to my clients too. I've worked on a few events here in Tassie where I've pulled botanical elements from the surrounds to create something beautiful, the most memorable was on stunning Satellite Island for Sarah Glover and Luisa Brimble's book Wild. I hopped onto the boat heading to the island with no flowers just my secateurs and an open mind and with the blessing of the owners of the property I used what was in the immediate environment. I threaded wattle, pine and flowering gum along the table set outside and as it was a wild open space I wanted to make it feel a little intimate so I cut big branches of wattle and luckily the ground was soft after rain so I pushed the stems into the ground all around the table, making a pretty flowering wattle 'forest' around the table. It felt so right.
What is the greatest challenge within your work?
We're always up against the clock, working with fresh flowers means we have the time constraint of the life of the flowers to consider. For events we often have a lot of work to do in a relatively short amount of time but I also love that aspect of flowers. And my niggling feeling that the resources that go into growing flowers should be conserved or diverted to grow food crops (absolutely no offense intending to the wonderful flower growers who I adore and obviously flowers are an important part of ecosystems). I struggle with that a bit.
When you are in conversation with someone what do you want them to feel?
Comfortable and covered in plants.
What does the word connection means to you?
Well the first thing that popped to mind was mycelium which is the incredible vegetative part of fungus that winds it's way through soil and connects with the roots of plants to help get nutrition to the plant in a symbiotic relationship amongst other incredible feats.
Supporting local businesses is important because...
Local businesses are community and bring a unique flavor to the areas they inhabit. It would be horrific if all we had was huge faceless brands the world over.
Outside of Floristry what do you enjoy doing?
Spending time with loved ones, gardening, hiking, rock climbing, reading, kayaking, canyoning, cooking, long baths, building things, trail running, trying to identify plants.
Is there anything you’re currently working on?
All of the above! No particular goal, just always trying to do better.
When do you feel most alive?
Really all of the time except when doing admin.
I'm sure this is true of most people but most of my hobbies and work sort of overlap and I am passionate about what I do for work so when I'm working or out adventuring or pottering in the garden I feel alive.
What does community mean to you?
Supporting and encouraging each other to do things as mindfully as possible. Being kind and honest, sharing what we can.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Hannah Darkins (The Unfold)