Which part of London do you live in and why?
KG: I’ve just recently left West London and moved to Woodford. It’s such a joy to be near Epping Forest – the Autumn colours are absolutely glorious. I also love the William Morris Gallery round the corner in Walthamstow.
HT: . I’m originally from South London but I’ve lived in Tottenham for the last few years – it’s got a wonderful artistic vibe and energy that I love.
When did you first aspire to work with flowers?
KG: I grew up in the countryside in Somerset, and I’ve always been drawn to flowers and plants, and their truly extraordinary, healing, calming powers. As soon as I left school I started to train in floristry – it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do.
HT: I studied illustration and started out in Interior Styling and Art Direction. I always loved the floral side of it and when I started working with Kitten on events, I became more and more involved in the flowers themselves. We’ve worked together now for 5 years and have been on the Kitten Grayson Flowers journey together since it began.
Which are your favourite jobs of the past year?
BOTH: The Chelsea Flower Show was an amazing week – we designed a living garden with a bower of trees at the London Gate entrance to the Show, to celebrate the Royal Wedding: an English Oak and a Californian Cedar, up-planted with woodland flowers. It was incredibly exciting while also quite nerve wracking – there were some hairy moments with 6m tall trees on a massive lorry being reversed through the ornate wrought iron gates…an awesome team effort, utterly exhausting but a great honour and such fun.
KG: A highlight for me has been working on the cultivation of the biodynamic farm and cuttings garden at Heckfield Place. Alongside Jane Scotter from Fern Verrow, we have rooted through every single nursery and specialist to find the rarest and most unique English species, then planted them up and watched them grow… it has been such fun and truly thrilling, a dream project.
HT: We worked on some truly stunning parties this summer. For one incredibly romantic wedding, we created wild hedgerows outside the church and filled the venue with antique china vases overflowing with creamy roses, scented jasmine, sweetpeas and vibrant kumquats. For another, we planted hundreds of dahlias in the client’s own garden to fill the tent with a profusion of magnificent, colourful home-grown blooms.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
BOTH: Mother Nature herself! She has the best eye.
KG: Jane Scotter is a source of endless inspiration – she has alchemy in her fingertips. Also Tom Petherwick – I’m absolutely loving his book ‘Trees That Shape The World’. The Garden Museum here in London is a treasure and Babylonstoren in Cape Town (see below) for its utterly dreamy fruit and vegetable garden.
HT: I am always inspired by beautiful architecture, prints, paintings. I’m a member of the Tate and I drop in whenever I’m passing.
Which are your current favourite flowers?
KG: How can I choose! I do love the English Rose – the Queen of the Garden! And of course, sweetpeas (like a giggling gaggle of flirts, I always think), a beautiful pillowy peony (such a diva – always the centre of attention). The list goes on…
HT: I’m loving dried flowers at the moment – straw flowers, statice, helichrysum…they’re so delicate, and almost luminous in their colour.
How did you get involved in working at Heckfield Place and what are you working on there?
KG: It all started from a conversation with Ben Thompson at bwt. He told me about this incredible project he was working on and together we looked at the interiors, discussing natural palettes and raw pigments that best harmonised with the garden and landscape views in each room. This informed the vase choices, and of course the flowers that filled them; each stem has a sense of belonging, of having found its natural place within the home. We started working on creating a cuttings garden and the floral design earlier this year. The arrangements impart a unique story from the gardens and landscape beyond into each and every room.
HT: We’re now planting things for next year, planning events, conducting workshops and training, while doing the flowers and plants throughout the hotel. It is the most magical place, with so much going on – we always come away with more ideas, more things to be done than we started with!
Did you have any mentors when starting out?
KG: An incredible vegetable and flower grower in Somerset called Nicola Morter – she taught me how to propagate seeds, tend to them until they were flowering in the gardens.
HT: The floristry world is an amazingly warm and supportive network – I wouldn’t say I had a mentor per se but everyone we work with and alongside is incredibly generous, ever eager to help each other out, always offering advice and tips, sharing kit… You bump into everyone at the market and all are equal at 4am!
Who are your top 3 people to follow on Instagram?
KG: Can I have 4?!
Which websites do you look at most often?
Where do you go to have coffee/brunch/dinner?
KG: I love Petersham Nurseries – there’s so much to admire there, it’s such a serene spot and the food is completely delicious – and Jackson Boxer’s St Leonards for dinner (see below).
HT: Craving Coffee in Tottenham is a local gem for brunch, Spring Restaurant at Somerset House is beautiful and the scratch menu is always intriguing, and Mangal 2 in Stoke Newington as it’s entirely reliable, always exactly what I’m hoping for.