Find your happy at home with flowers
I have a little secret to admit and I’m hoping it won’t come as too much of a surprise, but I don’t know everything about making a house a home. There, I said it! So when I want to write content but don’t feel like I have enough expertise to really help you, I try to enlist the help of a someone in my network that is the expert and can teach me few things too. I have always been very quick to admit that I am really not all that great at styling flowers. I know that when added to any room they add a tremendous amount of life and colour but how to arrange them in a pleasing way has always been a mystery to me and it’s something that I considered that many of you might struggle with too. So invited the talented Clare Oilver is here to help us all out. I met Clare at an amazing Supper Club for creative entrepreneurs which I covered previously on the blog here and when she so generously helped me in my first workshop for a creative task, I knew she’d be able to help me here on the blog.
Clare began her working life in Communications and Public Affairs, but 20 years and three children later, she decided to follow in her father's footsteps and embrace her passion for flowers (I love these career-pivot stories!). She trained with the world-renowned Judith Blacklock in Knightsbridge and set up her own floral design business in 2017. Clare's natural yet elegant style has seen her commissioned to create the flowers for weddings and events at venues such as the world famous Stationers' Hall in Central London, the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich, Blackheath Concert Halls, Chiswick Town Hall and the Wetlands Centre in Barnes. Clare is currently a preferred supplier at the Trafalgar Tavern in Greenwich, a partner florist with www.floom.com and she also runs seasonal floral workshops and events across London.
Well, let’s see what she can bring to the table in our homes (pun kind of intended)…
What do flowers mean to you and what do they bring into your life?
Flowers are very important to me. My whole family were landscape gardeners in Devon and I have very fond memories of my Grandfathers greenhouse and the careful nurturing and attention he gave his seedlings. He was a kind and gentle man. I remember hot summer days, with big blue skies and an abundance of flowers and vegetables in his cottage garden which backed onto green rolling hills of Devon. All his flowers and vegetables grew in neat rows and were all lovingly tied to bamboo frames to support their growth. I remember the warm damp smell of the soil in the greenhouse, where he would nurture the seedlings, before pricking them out, potting them up and finally transferring them to the garden when they were big enough to face the elements on their own.
How do they affect other people And what is their role in our homes?
I never tire of seeing a smile spread across someone’s face when they receive flowers. I like to create arrangements using fresh seasonal blooms in a natural and elegant style that people love. Flowers can lift your soul in the good and the bad times. I love having flowers in my home, I always make up a vase of leftovers and put in on the shelf in my hallway. It always lifts me every-time I come in the door.
What is your favourite flower and why do you think that might be?
It has to be a Peony or an English scented rose, they are just so effortlessly beautiful and they change over time, resulting in a fully bloomed flower that doesn't have to try too hard to be beautiful, it just is. English roses, remind me of my grandmother, I used to pick them from her garden and make rose water from the petals as a child.
In the client process How do you get to the heart of what they really want?
When I'm working with a bride, they usually already have a really good idea of what colours they would like, before they have even choosen a theme or their dress. So I try and fully understand the style that they like and then I can make suggestions on the types of flowers that suit their particular colour scheme and style.
In order to get to the heart of what clients really want. I like to use Pinterest to create a mood board of flowers, colours and images, which I can then recommend to to the client and to which they can then add images - so that we can get to the heart and the essence of what they love. Because flowers are so visual, I find it easier to get an understanding of what people like on that visual level.
what tips or approaches do you have to make flower styling something that we all can embrace in our homes in a mindful way?
When creating an arrangement - the right mix of flowers is vital. It’s really important to have what we call a focal flower, such as a rose or any round headed flower, a line flower which can add height and texture to an arrangement, filler flowers which literally fill the gaps and lots of lovely foliage (greenery). The right vase is also important and really helps you get a good shape. Ideally choose one that allows all the flowers some room, they shouldn’t be too crowded in a vase.
It’s also essential to condition your flowers, take off all the leaves that will sit below the water line and cut the stems at a 45 degree angle - this will give them more surface area to drink! I find the actual process of picking and conditioning the flowers quite therapeutic, as it is truly a tactile experience. You are experiencing the textures of the flowers and stems through your hands.
Another thing I love to do, is to press flowers from the spring and summer and create a beautiful arrangement in a frame which you can view all year round. It makes the summer flowers last throughout the year! The actual process of pressing and styling the flowers is very therapeutic and restful. I run flower pressing workshops and even come to people’s homes to teach a group of friends.
Anything else about interiors and/or flowers you want to add!
There is a reason that people always put flowers in their home when they are selling it - because they can lift a space and make you smile. Why not try and create that for yourself every day? Even if you just bring in a small posy from your garden to brighten your window sill, I guarantee they will lift you eveytime you do the dishes or cooking the tea!
Clare’s amazing service!
In terms of the local service I offer, I design bespoke seasonal flowers to suit any occasion, from a thank you bouquet, to a gorgeous table centre for a special party through to a scented floral garland to adorn a staircase. We are always on hand to help people say thank you or make a statement with flowers. Once an order is placed, we arrange it, wrap it, personally scribe a message and can hand deliver it throughout South East London. Prices start from £40 upwards for a bouquet of flowers. We also provide flowers for a party or dinner party and are happy to meet to discuss the clients requirements, advise on what would be suitable for the chosen venue and we even source vessels and vases. We are very happy to deliver the flowers and dress the venue too. However, because we offer a truly bespoke service and we buy all our flowers fresh to order, we do require a minimum of 24 - 48 hours notice.
How insightful was that! Thanks Clare and I’d love to add that I find special connection and joy when I bring flowers from my garden inside. It more than just the colour it adds but something about the mindful act of bringing something inside that you have noticed and gazed and deemed important or beautiful. I love being resourceful and the mindfulness of being creative. Taking those few minutes out of my day to have a little breath in the midst of the busyness and resisting the constant pulls of my attention. There is also a close connection to the seasons which reminds us that life is always in flux and that things are constantly changing (which is comforting I think). It’s clear that flowers do somehow speak straight to our souls so whether you buy daffodils for £1 from Sainburies or grab some forget-me-nots from your garden or even pressing petals to adorn your walls, getting creative with florals will always inject a little joy inside.
If you love Clare’s creative and interesting work then do please check out her work and workshops here and give her a follow on Instagram too. I’m delighted that she’s offered a 10% discount for all my wonderful readers on any flower orders placed for May and June 2019. And also 10% for any wedding booked for 2020! Really hoped you enjoyed Clare’s thoughts and would love to hear your own creative floral ideas and your favourite flowers that never fail to inject some colour and soul into your own home. Just let me know in the comments. And please send me any of you favourite flower shelfies or flower arrangements on your coffee table via any of my social media. I’d love to see them!
Yours in colour and creativity,
P.S. This isn’t a sponsored post, I just really wanted to share Clare’s insights and her gorgeous work. All photos by me except the cover image and any otherwise stated.