Just in time for Mother’s Day 2023, enjoy these tips and trends, advice and a feelgood floral hit from some of the top Irish florists …
By now you’ve heard of “The Great Resignation” – the global post-pandemic movement in which many people realised their chosen career wasn’t a good fit and resigned to follow their passion. As a consequence, did you know searches for “floristry jobs” have seen a 40 per cent increase over the last three years? It may seen an enviable career from the outside but “It’s 90 per cent hard work and ten per cent glamour,” according to one of these top Irish florists.
While, this is by no means a definitive list, each of the florists profiled have built a reputation based on the quality, creativity, sustainability and innovation of their designs.
Mark Grehan, The Garden
Founded by landscape designer and florist Mark Grehan, The Garden at Powerscourt Townhouse, Dublin 2, takes a wild and natural approach to landscape, event and floral design. Grehan’s USP? Beautiful undone arrangements (“marrying the wilds of Connemara with the elegance of Georgian buildings”) which are a hit with the fashion set with whom he has collaborated for numerous brand events. Guests at THE GLOSS Look The Business events will have noted his signature style too. Says Grehan, “Whether we’re creating a bridal bouquet, designing a small courtyard garden or building an installation for an event, we take our lead from nature and the seasons.” As for trends, he’s noted: “Clients are tending to select smaller, more specific bunches of flowers – from a handful of carnations or a simple bunch of tulips.” A classic and refined Mother’s Day bouquet is priced at €60, while the Mother’s Day Jar Arrangement is €40; www.thegarden.ie
From Co Meath, Caffrey gave up a successful career in marketing to pursue her passion of working with flowers. Having trained in London, her business has grown through her association with Avoca. She opened her first flower shop at Avoca Rathcoole in 2015 and has expanded to open stores at Avoca, Kilmacanogue, Avoca, Dunboyne and most recently Avoca Ballsbridge. Says Caffrey, “The most popular bouquets are my beautifully scented “Pastel Garden Bouquet.” Sounds divine; www.joeannacaffrey.ie
Terri Chandler and Katie Smyth, Worm
Personality and seasonality are the key pillars of Worm, a floral design studio set up in east London in 2016 by Terri Chandler and Katie Smyth, which is a favourite with fashion brands; Roksanda, Burberry, Matches Fashion, Erdem, H&M and Marks & Spencer are clients. The Irish landscape inspires many of their installations, including one called “Memories”, created for British Flower Week at The Garden Museum in 2019. “We had a little rock alter because our earliest memories of arranging flowers came from picking wildflowers for our May altars as kids,” says Chandler, who counts Constance Spry’s book How to Do the Flowers, (1953), as a formative influence. She quotes a favourite passage from Spry’s introduction on flowers breaking down barriers: “They crumble that wall of shyness that stands between so many English men and women, sometimes making their first reaction hostile rather than friendly; you might perhaps call it the freemasonry of flowers”. Worm’s organic creations always spark conversations too.; www.weareworm.com
Bronagh Harte, Gingko Florists
Armed with a degree in horticulture and over a decade’s experience in floristry, the self-confessed cactus lover is the owner of Ginkgo Florists, Baggot Street, Dublin 4. Named after the Asian tree Ginkgo biloba, it’s a little shop with a big personality. “Roses are a perennial favourite, but the trend lately is for something less formal and more natural. Our top tip? Trust your florist’s creativity, and you’ll always be rewarded with something special,” Harte says; www.gingkoflorists.ie
Owned by PR and marketing entrepreneur Louise Jordan, the Celine’s Flowers store in South Dublin has been welcoming customers for the last 30 years. A recent addition to its offering of singular bouquets was a collection of (on trend) handmade door wreaths, using the best of artificial flowers. The trend for unique containers is evolving, too. The Rustic Tuscany arrangement comes with a mix of eucalyptus, sweet avalanche and hydrangea, and includes a vintage container. Prices start from €60; www.celinesflowers.ie.
The Flower Room, Killruddery
Lady Fionnuala Aston-Ardee, with the Killruddery Garden team led by Daragh Farren, is behind the success of The Flower Room where visitors will find earthy seasonal arrangements inspired by the estate’s 17th century gardens, biodiverse woodlands and cut flower beds. To brighten up a kitchen table, hallway or bedroom, Killruddery’s oval table pot of spring bulbs (€45) is the perfect choice, one of many original gift ideas curated by Ardee; www.killruddery.com.
Originally from Banbridge, Co Down, London-based Corbett worked in television production for twelve years before switching to floristry. He had a knack of doing flowers for friends, who liked his style, and he later consolidated this intuitive approach with formal training. “My signature style is modern and colourful. I rely on local growers and cuttings of geum from my own garden and as a result my designs reflect the seasons. I work in a garage and we are surrounded by weeds such as forget-me-not which I love to incorporate.” Corbett’s career has come full circle – he now works in the media world but in a more creative capacity, providing flowers for music videos and album covers as well as teaching corporate workshops via Zoom. Corbett hopes to expand his workshops this year; www.bloomandburnflowers.com.
Originally from Latvia, Aiva moved to Ireland almost a decade ago and studied horticulture at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. She has been working in the floristry business for five years, most recently at Killruddery, Co Wicklow. Part forager, part florist, Veinberga says nature is her greatest inspiration and she often incorporates shells or feathers into her wreaths and arrangements. Her organic style lends itself to artistic events (she has created installations for the Hugh Lane Gallery and wellness spaces). Her mission? “I love to grow my own flowers and I hope to continue learning with nature and discovering new possibilities in seasonal and local floristry.” @aivaveinberga
Penelope Flowers, Belfast
Penny Hamilton started her eponymous business in October 2001 and last year celebrated the store’s 20th birthday with plenty of bubbly for customers. In fact, every Saturday afternoon customers will find prosecco on offer and jazz playing – Hamilton’s way of saying thank you for the ongoing support they have shown the business. As for this year’s floral trends, “The natural, loose aesthetic is still going strong. On colour – peaches and corals with shades of blue displayed in mismatched vases are trending, as is mixing dried flowers such as heather and stypha grass with fresh eucalyptus, delicate blooms and finishing touches of tillandsia moss or ‘old mans beard’. It’s about capturing the moment, not always about longevity of the flowers.” www.penelopeflowers.co.uk
Maria Reidy and Sylvia Abraham, Bella Botanica
Synonymous with the fabulous events curated by Maria Reidy (of Maria Reidy Events and Signature Editions) with whom she collaborates, Sylvia Abraham is the owner and creative director of Bella Botanica, Co Meath. Together they have created the wow factor at weddings, events and for fashion editorials. Attention to detail and educating clients on sustainability are priorities: “Something we both hope to see is a bigger emphasis on florists designing without the use of floral foam which is so detrimental to the environment.” As for floral trends, Abraham says: “The use of bold colours combined with textured florals is coming through. Also grand floral and foliage entrances and large hanging installations are going to feature in 2002 – large, impactful designs that can truly transform an ordinary entrance or space into something special.” Reidy has curated a special gifting edit just in time for Mother’s Day, available at www.signature-editions.ie / www.bellabotanicaflowers.com.
“It’s 90 per cent hard work and ten per cent glamour,” says Neill Strain, about his day job which might include making house visits to Middle Eastern royals, creating bouquets for Lady Gaga, Nicole Kidman, Elton John, planning a wedding at The Ritz or hosting designers such as Valentino Garavani or Donatella Versace at his boutique. Located in Belgravia’s chic West Halkin Street, (beside designer Louise Kennedy’s flagship store), it is a magnet for floral aficionados and Instagram influencers drawn by the dramatic door and window displays that have won Strain accolades and awards. Originally from Co Armagh, Strain studied at Greenmount, which offers the only full-time floristry course in Ireland. Strain is known for his theatricality and architectural style; orchids being a signature flower. A further concession of Neill Strain Floral Couture can be found in Harrods; www.neillstrain.com.
Betty Stuart, Lullabelle Flowers
Betty Stuart, director of Lullabelle, Dun Laoghaire, sources her flowers and greenery from farms in Co Wexford and Co Kerry. “We are committed to minimising our carbon footprint and all of our packaging is 100 per cent compostable, recyclable and reusable from our paper bouquet wraps to our burlap ribbon and our plant-based sellotape. We also give clients the option of presenting their bouquet in a recyclable glass vase – we actually give our customers €1 back if they return their vase to us to reuse,” she says. “We love to keep things local in Lulabelle and we can’t wait to deliver all our wild bouquets across Dublin this year,” Stuart says; www.lullabelle.ie.
Paula Lumsden, The Flowerbox
Paula Lumsden has been immersed in the floristry business from the age of 15 and, having trained with top florists in New York, Sydney and Dublin, her forte is bespoke work. High profile clients include Prada, Enya and Bono. Lumsden is also a gifted wedding florist. “I am passionate about what I do, and I feel very privileged that people choose me to be part of their lives for celebrations, losses and milestone moments. I never just to want to meet that person’s expectations, but supersede them.” Lumsden has noticed: “People are buying more flowers for themselves over the last few months as a little treat, rather than as a gift for others. Flowers are an essential part of self-care and our most popular bouquet at the moment is “Athena” – I think the contrast of the soft pinks and lilacs complements a lot of special occasions.” www.flowerbox.ie
Laura Beasley, Paper Daisy
“Paper Daisy started as a hobby in January 2021, during lockdown. I made a few dried wreaths, shared them on an Instagram page, and it all took off very rapidly from there, thanks to some amazing customers,” admits Laura Beasley. “The response in the beginning was really overwhelming, and it soon became clear this could actually become a business for me. I had been a visual merchandiser by trade, but had always really wanted to try floristry. After I completed a local flower arranging course, my husband gifted me a book about dried flowers, and I became obsessed with their delicate beauty. I really love to experiment with drying different types of flowers myself, and try to keep to a very natural, textured and colourful look, whilst avoiding painted and dyed products. I get bored easily, so my wreath designs change constantly, but I’m also always open to taking custom orders.” Beasley is leading two wreath workshops in The Grainstore at Ballymaloe House on March 26. She also plans to offer private party workshops – keep an eye on her Instagram for details; @paperdaisy.ie.
Claire Ryan and Steph Hutch, The Crate
Moving back to Dublin from London in 2016, having worked in the fashion industry for many years, childhood friends Claire Ryan and Steph Hutch, founded The Crate with the aim of making people happy, delivering little gestures of love and connecting with people. A Mother’s Day single bunch starts from €43; www.thecrate.ie.
Natalie Fulton, The Foraging Florist
Based in the pretty village of Greyabbey, Co Down, Fulton credits her aunt and grandmother for her love of flowers. “Horticulture runs deep within my family and since I was little, I have always been surrounded by lovers of the outdoors, flowers and plants.” However, Fulton pursued a career in education for many years before having the courage to follow her dreams. “I’ve never looked back and I truly love what I do. It’s a privilege to forage for wild flowers and foliage, showcase my creativity, and create unique designs that reflect the vision, desire and personality of every one of my customers”; www.theforagingflorist.org.
Jennifer Harris and Bronagh Wilkinson, Adare Manor
The five-star Adare Manor hotel is the sum of many parts; excellence in service and cuisine, with exceptional facilities (including its new state-of-the-art Padel Club) and striking decor. Setting the tone florally for guests are Jennifer Harris and Bronagh Wilksinson, who not only create all the floral displays but can make bouquets for those wanting to send a touch of Adare glamour to friends and family from a country garden mix, to a dozen premium red roses. Bouquets, which can be ordered online, start from €65 – €200. The Classic bouquet is vibrant and exotic with anthuriums, succulents, green hydrangea; www.adaremanor.com.
Lamber de Bie
Having studied in his native Holland for seven years, Lamber de Bie holds the highest distinction in floristry as a Dutch Master Florist. He describes his floral style as “Naturally classic. I love classic bouquets and arrangements created a little looser with a more natural feel to them. One of the most beautiful parts of our business, apart from working for and with different people, is the fact we are so closely connected with nature and the seasons. I always prioritise local and seasonal flowers and foliage wherever possible. Needless to say I always go for the very best quality of flowers available on the day whether it is a bouquet in our shop our a large scale wedding flower event.”
Lamber has had flower shops in both Waterford and Kilkenny city for the past 20 years, in addition to a flower studio from where he delivers bouquets nationwide and also prepares and creates event and wedding flowers. He also prepares weekly arrangements for hotels on the Mount Juliet Estate, Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, Mount Congreve in Waterford, Waterford Castle, Kilkea Castle and many more. He has a beautifully packaged and limited edition Mother’s Day bouquet available for collection from Mount Congreve Gardens, which should be pre-ordered by March 16. Bouquets are €95; www.mountcongreve.com; www.lamberdebie.ie.
The Shelbourne: One of the most spectacular and striking elements of the décor at The Shelbourne is its elegant floral display created by the hotel’s own in-house team, overseen by head florist Mary O’Reilly. For a touch of grande dame sophistication, The Florist at The Shelbourne provide bouquets which can be ordered online; www.theshelbourne.com.
The Vintage Rose Company: Looking for real roses and a farm-to-doorstep experience? Horticulturalist and rose grower Susan Lynch has been supplying florists, hotels and events with her own scented garden roses, herbs and foliage via The Vintage Rose Company, located at Oldtown, Co Dublin; www.thevintagerosecompany.com.
Appassionata: The personal elegance of Appassionata’s creative director Ruth Monahan is reflected in her sophisticated floral designs from wreaths to bouquets and installations. Order online, or find them at Cornelscourt, Old Bray Road, Dublin 18; www.appassionata.ie.
New Moon Blooms: Sharon Griffin’s modern fresh approach to flowers has garnered many fans, especially on THE GLOSS team. The New Moon Blooms flower subscriptions (from one month to a year and everything in between) are lovely gestures for family and pick-me-ups for WFHers; www.newmoonblooms.ie.
Cleggan Farm Flowers: This sustainable flower farm based in Cleggan, Co Galway provides seasonal, local and home grown flowers for any occasion. Buy direct or from the local SuperValue in Clifden; @clegganfarmflowers.
Paradiso Plants Club: The independent Dublin-based florist’s aesthetic is funky and fabulous – with bouquets composed in punchy pastel palettes. With limited flower drops every two weeks; @paradisoplantsclub.
Rosehip And Berry Floral Studio: Based outside Belfast, owners Hollie McNeice and Rachel Groves take a hip, non-traditional approach to floral designs, especially for weddings; www.therosehipandberry.com.
flowers.ie: One of the largest and most trusted and dependable online florists around the country, one of its USPs is sending a video to the sender of floral arrangements before delivery to the recipient; www.flowers.ie.
The Potting Shed, Kildare: “Owner Ciara Durham makes the most beautiful flowers to order and her seasonal wreaths are wow,” says hostess and tablescape queen Tara O’Connor. Noted! @ciaras_potting_shed
Forget Me Not Florist: Regular customers rate the quality and value of this Kildare-based floral company, whose stunning installations you might have spied when shopping at Kildare Village; www.forgetmenotflorist.ie.
Blooms & Bows Florist: Part of the Monkstown village landscape since 1985, its friendly staff (Donogh and Glenda) ensure quality arrangements that impress; www.monkstownflowers.ie.
Daisy Chain Kinsale: From miniature aloe vera in pretty pots to vibrant spring posies to table centre pieces and wedding flowers, this award-winning florist mixes humour with creativity; www.daisychain-kinsale.com.
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