Drop your secateurs. Hold off on the pruning. We unearth the professionals bringing floral trends to a vase near you this season
While the pot plant had its day in the 1970s – think large monsteria perched next to lurid orange wallpaper – and plastic foliage peaked in the 1990s, it is fresh-cut flowers that have never gone out of fashion. London remains wild for blooms.
This summer, Petersham Nurseries opens in Covent Garden with a homeware and garden shop, wine cellar, delicatessen and florist (two restaurants, a bar and a courtyard will follow later in the autumn), selling everything from British posies to dinner party bouquets in hand-blown glass vases.
The current exhibition at Notting Hill’s Flow Gallery, Plant Life: Pots for Plants (until 19 August), showcases vessels by a series of makers who were inspired by specific sprigs. And across London, a handful of top florists are pushing the creative boundaries with what they offer.
There is a growing trend for wild and whimsical arrangements
Take Nikki Pierce, founder of Petal & Grace, who feeds a growing trend for wild and whimsical arrangements. “My style is loose and natural and very different to what a lot of florists are doing right now,” says Pierce, who studied history of art before launching her Kensal Rise floral studio three years ago.
“The 17th-century Dutch master painters are a constant source of inspiration. I like to highlight a flower or piece of foliage if it has an interesting bend or a beautiful back.” Last year, Pierce was commissioned by Gazelli House, the South Kensington cult spa and members’ club, to make a 1.5-metre tall arrangement from pampas grasses and ethically sourced white peacock feathers. Since then, similar installations have been sought after by her clients to use as an impressive focal point on mantelpieces at home.
This shift towards extravagance and opulence can be found elsewhere. Long established florist Pulbrook and Gould offers a ‘by appointment’ design service from its Battersea showroom (the main shop is in on South Audley Street).
“Many of our clients travel a lot and to keep fresh flowers is expensive,” explains artistic director Harald Altmaier. “We go in and dress their houses, perhaps with silk flowers, which have become much more popular over the past few years, or large displays of textured arrangements: sculptural twisted goat horns in Italian leather containers, a bowl of chilli peppers or a bundle of gold leaf bamboo that makes a statement in the entrance hall. It makes the house feel loved and uplifted.”
London’s passion for blooms has led some companies to dedicate bouquets to specific areas. Both Wild Things and Paul Thomas Flowers (the latter supplies the likes of The Ritz London, Sotheby’s and Fortnum & Mason), for example, have Mayfair collections. Paul Thomas has a range of hand-tied bouquets named after a street or landmark: The Albany, for instance, is a classic combination that includes scented freesias, dahlias and summer phlox; while The Burlington is an all-pink arrangement of hydrangeas, roses and lisianthus.
This is part of another growing trend for arrangements with only one type of flower. “I tend to use lots of the same sort of flower, such as a single mass of peonies,” says Ellie Hartley, who has been the resident florist at Brown’s Hotel since 2010. Last year, she opened her eponymous shop on Dover Street.
“All flowers have a different life span so it makes sense to create bouquets where they all live for roughly the same amount of time.” ‘Single varietal bunches’ are also the mainstay of Flowerbx, the online flower delivery service that revolutionised the industry when it launched in 2015.
“After 19 years of working for Tom Ford, I found that all the fashionable people, from Karl Lagerfeld to Miuccia Prada, were sending single stem bunches of flowers,” recalls co-founder Whitney Bromberg Hawkings, who sources all the flowers from auctions in Holland.
“Also, when I was buying flowers for my own house, I was looking for stems that I could arrange myself, rather than a traditional bouquet stuffed with filler.” So whether you prefer a handful of hydrangeas or a vase of long grass, this season boasts a bloom to suit every taste.