How did Petal & Fern start?
It was almost accidental, really. After I finished studying floristry at TAFE I started arranging flowers for friends' weddings, then the weddings of friends of friends – it just snowballed from there.
What led you to become a florist?
When I was at uni I found myself looking for a creative escape from all the reading and essay writing and studying floristry was an idea that I had stuck in my head for years. When I finished uni I finally had the time to take on a new course and threw myself into it.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of running Petal & Fern?
I'm a hopeless romantic at heart so the weddings have always been my favourite part of my work. There's nothing quite like the satisfaction of looking around a flower-filled reception space and seeing all of that planning and hard work come together.
Plus new flowers are coming into season each week and I'm always discovering new varieties of plants at the markets. There's always something bizarre or beautiful to see in the plant world, so I'm never bored!
Why do you think flowers make for such a great gift?
There's so many reasons, but for starters they're versatile and work for almost any occasion. They can say 'I'm sorry', 'thank you', 'happy birthday', 'congratulations' and so much more.
Also nothing brightens up a room like a bunch of flowers can. Sometimes people shy away from giving flowers as a gift because they have relatively short lifespans, but I think that their fleeting nature is part of what makes them so beautiful.
What is the most interesting plant fact you’ve learnt in your career? That's a tricky one because the plant kingdom is full of quirks, but I'm an absolute sucker for Victorian flower meanings. In the days before you could text eggplant and peach emojis, those hilarious folk living in Victorian England would send each other flower arrangements as a way of covertly expressing their feelings. Each flower had a meaning that the recipient would decode.
Where do you find inspiration for your flower arrangements? Do you ever see a colour combination or silhouette somewhere unrelated to flowers that sparks an idea?
Fashion and interior design are two big sources of inspiration for me – I often see and fall in love with a colour palette and then go searching for flowers that match that look. At home I have a mountain of scrapbooks filled with pictures that I've torn out of magazines over the last 12 or so years, and a new creative project is born every time I look through them. Art is another favourite source of inspiration – I really love the floral paintings by the Dutch old masters.
Sometimes I get inspired by the materials I work with – I'll find a beautiful vase in an op shop or an amazing bunch of flowers at the markets and then the rest of the arrangement just grows from there.
And of course there's Instagram; I think it's a must for anyone working in a creative field.
Do you have any distinct plant and flower memories from childhood?
For as long as I can remember mum has had an amazing garden and in primary school my sister and I often took bunches of home-grown flowers to school for our teachers (with the stems wrapped in wet paper towel and foil to keep them fresh).
My grandparents are also big plant lovers; my grandpa used to grow roses and dahlias and enter them in the local flower show, which probably explains why dahlias are my all-time favourite flower
When I was a teenager my family moved to Japan for a few years, and Japanese winters are much colder and greyer than what we experience here in Sydney, so when March/April rolled around and the cherry blossom trees started to burst into flower it signalled that spring had arrived. These days whenever I see a cherry blossom tree in bloom I feel instantly optimistic.
What goals do you have for the future of Petal & Fern?
I currently live in an apartment but my dream is to one day have a big garden where I can grow flowers and use them in my work. I'd love to be able to walk out my front door with a pair of secateurs in hand, and walk inside with armfuls of flowers just a few minutes later.