Superstar florists’ Anna Day and Ellie Jauncey hatched the idea for The Flower Appreciation Society when they were working behind the bar pulling pints at The Scolt Head in De Beauvoir. Nearly ten years later and they’ve styled flowers for London’s top brands (Nike, Erdem, Liberty and Soho House to name a few), as well as writing a book, An A-Z of All Things Floral and sharing their skills via sell-out workshops. Now they’re growing their own flowers in a disused plot turned cutting-garden in Hackney. We talk to Anna, one of half of the duo about life as a London florist:
Hackney – I was born and bred around here. I love the diversity of people, things to do, ease of getting around on a bike. Specific delights are The Lido in London Fields, the Dalston Curve Garden, The Rio Cinema, the Indian restaurant on Bradbury Street, Ridley Road Market, any Turkish on Kingsland Road and strolling along Regents Canal.
What’s the most memorable event you’ve done in London?
Probably making a 10ft flower meadow wall for Liberty and a forest glade for the entrance of Sketch restaurant in Mayfair – the job was done through the night and got more and more surreal the later it got!
Is it true that you now grow-your-own flowers?
Yes, we’ve got a cutting garden just 10 minutes from our studio that was formerly a disused space. We liked the idea of growing our own, not only for environmental reasons, but also so that we could grow flowers and varieties that you can’t get hold of at the market. So we approached our landlord as he owns a lot of properties in the vicinity. He was very supportive of the idea, and asked his tenants whether anyone would be up for us taking over their garden.
What has creating the garden taught you?
Every season and year is different- what worked last year might not work this year. It’s a great lesson in letting go of control – you can’t control nature! We love the feeling of getting our hands dirty in the soil, and watching a seed grow into a healthy flowering plant is pure joy. An added bonus of using British home-grown flowers for our events and weddings is that they have much more scent than their imported counterparts. To help them last we cut them early in the morning or late in the evening and place them straight into a (clean) bucket of water.
Which flowers could any Londoner grow even if they have just a balcony/windowsill/scrap of garden?
Bulbs are great as you stick them in and then leave them to work their magic. Try tulips (our favourite as they come in so many varieties), narcissi, aliums, dahlias, irises are all great and so easy to grow.
What’s your favourite London pub?
The Scolt Head in De Beauvoir. It is where Ellie and I met (working behind the bar 10 years ago) and where the seeds of The Flower Appreciation Society were sewn. We wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for the Scolt. It’s a wonderful pub with a great outside space in summer, and open fire in winter, delicious food and a lovely atmosphere.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’m going through a real podcast phase at the moment: Modern Love, Heavyweight, Fortunately with Fi and Jane, Table Manners with Jessie Ware, and always Desert Island Discs. We are also playing Fistful of Love by Antony and the Johnsons and Til Then by The Frightnrs over and over.
As well as your own wonderful book, are there any other titles on about flowers that should be on our radar?
The Cutting Garden by Sarah Raven is an oldie but a goodie. Also Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein (Floret Farmer) – her blog is amazing too if you’re interested in growing – she’s so generous with her knowledge.
And finally, what’s your favourite flower?
It changes all the time! At the moment it’s a garden rose that Hampshire grower, Rosebie Morton grows, called Margaret Merrill – delicate blush flowers with the most heavenly scent ever.