Don’t forget the festive flowers! We round up nine enchanted florists on Instagram where you'll find inspiration in spades.

The tree is up, the pantry is fully stocked, the candles are flickering and the fire is roaring. Now is the moment for the final decorative flourishes – and curiously often overlooked at Christmas are the flowers. Yet the festive seasons presents the perfect opportunity to deck the halls with romantic tendrils of cascading ivy, offset by bouquets in deeps reds, russets and oranges.

If you’re hosting, you’ll have a lot on your plate, so we’ve done the edit for you: here are nine florists creating exemplary Christmas displays to fire your imagination. Sure, some of these arrangements may be ambitious to recreate at home, but who doesn’t like their inspiration elaborate? If you’re a guest, do turn up with something lovely, festive and floral – flowers are a failsafe way to make every the most stressed-out hosts happy.

Main image copyright: Honeysuckle and Hilda

Judith Blacklock


Judith Blacklock is a veteran doyenne of floristry. From her Kinnerton Place studio in Knightsbridge, she has been teaching the professionally serious and the curious amateur for some 30 years in groups of no more than 13. The author of some 16 books, she makes regular television appearances, having taught the perennially craft-curious Kirstie Allsopp, as well as an eclectic roll call of other celebrities, including the improbable but true likes of Gordon Ramsay and Top Gear’s James May. She’s the editor of Flora Magazine, a sometime design consultant for mammoth brands like Marks & Spencer, and Topshop as well as being a keen supporter of Greenfingers, a children’s hospice charity. We enjoy her Instagram feed, which is a daily treat for flower lovers.


Aesme


That a florist should be garden-inspired may not appear revolutionary. And yet as Alex Nutting discovered when she enrolled on a floristry course, the traditional craft bore scant relation to the wild gardens that she and her sister, Jess Lister, knew as children growing up between London and the more rugged reaches of rural Wiltshire. It was 2015 and her enrolment had followed an epiphany in a Welsh walled garden on the slopes of the Tywi valley, where it came to her with an unfamiliar clarity that she must dedicate her days to making floral arrangements evoking the nostalgia of her favourite rural English idylls; her childhood; nature untamed; and tokens of her urban life too. Shaking off convention in search of something freer, she abandoned the course and together with her sister, they reached for their cutting shears, rolled up their sleeves and donned their aprons. Settling in for early starts, late finishes and harder physical work than they could ever have imagined, their first stop was Saipua, a ground-breaking florist in Brooklyn, complete with its own flower farm. Fresh from that pivotal placement, Aesme emerged fully formed as an idea.

Since then, the self-taught sisters have opened a studio in a cavernous, once-derelict Shepherd’s Bush railway arch; gained a 55,000-strong Instagram following on both sides of the Atlantic; and developed their own cutting garden in Hampshire from where they source the majority of their ingredients. They regularly host students at home as well as travelling to hold special workshops for devotees of their tumbling, cascading style, which owes more to Vita Sackville West and Christopher Lloyd than any didactic flower school. But in truth their educations began long before that as fellow explorers with a deeply engrained love of plants and flowers. A beautiful garden still pulls them toward that enchanted state, back to the magical wanderings of small girls in a dappled, leafy kingdom. The garden is where the seeds were sown. It is where Aesme will always begin and end. The winter creations are dreamlike and evocative of fairytales.

Willow Crossley


How we love – and slightly long to be – Willow Crossley. Everything that the author, stylist and florist touches seems to turn to gold, and her outrageously beautiful Instagram feed makes us sigh with wistful joy every time we check in for a browse. Of her studio, she says, ‘We like nature best when it’s barely tamed and our creations reflect that; a vibrant colour palette, intricate details, patterns and textures coming together in a unique, beautiful way.’Creating seasonally, she forages locally and in winter, she prefers to work with‘rich, earthy colours and textures.’We love her dreamy wintry table settings and loose and wild wreaths that inspire us to try and make them ourselves, even in the full knowledge that our efforts are not likely to remotely resemble hers. Still, god loves a trier.

Worm London


Founded by Terri Chandler and Katie Smyth, Worm London is on every hipster’s radar as the ultimate florist – or rather, as they put it – floral studio. Based in Stoke Newington, its only been going since 2016, beginning its trajectory as a ‘book and bunch’ delivery service; just three years on, the duo design flowers for a myriad of occasions, as well as for conceptual projects (over the summer, for example, Toast’s Oxford store’s enchanting window display came courtesy of Worm). The pair grew up in rural Ireland where they were inspired by the wildness that surrounded them, the legacy of that childhood now translated into an enthrallingly untamed aesthetic. Though eminently beautiful, of course, these are not pretty-pretty floral arrangements. What we love about Worm’s Instagram feed is the subtle hint at darkness in all that it does; scrolling through the studio’s visual diary is akin to reading a fairytale; beguiling and magical, with a nod toward something fascinatingly shadowy. Their work is, then, entirely reflective of nature: awesomely fragile, beautiful, powerful and menacing at once.

Saipua


Saipua – the New York-based florist with whom the sisters behind Aesme first trained – is a true trailblazer. Founded in 2006 by artist and educator Sarah Ryhanen, her studio was one of the first to shed the shackles of formality and use locally grown flowers as well as those cultivated at her own Worlds End Farm; it was a marked departure from the practice of using imported flowers in order to make anything available at any time of the year. Today, she holds workshops, classes and seminars, and the interested can book lunch tours of her farm in upstate New York, where they shown everything from the Icelandic sheep who graze there to the flower fields and vegetable gardens themselves. It has since morphed from a florist to a creative makers’ consortium – you can buy handmade soap, you can eat at the cafeteria – but it’s the flowers we come for. Earthy yet heavenly, it makes us want to drop everything and head stateside for Christmas – and then make directly to the farm without delay.


Moss and Stone UK


Brigitte Girling is a Suffolk-based florist, whose delight in and enthusiasm for flowers is infectious. She runs workshops all over East Anglia and has worked on editorials for a number of magazines – and no wonder. As she says: ‘A subtle detail in an arching stem, an unfurling leaf or a perfect petal all inform and influence my floral art. Expect bashful hellebores in winter, delicate blossom in spring, garden roses in summer and bold dahlias in autumn: delicious, subtle scents, twisty stems searching the light and petals that tremble on the breeze.’ Everything about her feed is exudes pure romance whilst also eschewing plastics and relying on the seasonal. She places a great deal of emphasis on provenance, using ‘flowers and foliage naturally available at their peak of perfection to maintain an honesty and enchantment for myself and for you.’ She has her own cutting garden and then adds vines, trails and foliage sourced from local suppliers. Her squares are a small slice of heaven.



Shane Connolly


What Shane Connolly doesn’t know about flowers, or how to present them exquisitely, is, frankly, not worth knowing. A Royal Warrant holder by appointment of the Prince of Wales, he founded his eponymous business in 1989 after moving to London form his native Northern Ireland. With a degree in Psychology under his belt, he eventually ducked the life of armchairs and analysis, and returned instead to his first love: flowers. It was an instinctive move that paid off; so enraptured a following has he garnered that, in 2011, he was the florist to bag, surely, the commission of the century: the floral arrangements at Westminster Abbey for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding. He is the author of five extraordinarily beautiful books, a regular public speaker and a champion of sustainability. Quite simply, some of the most painterly floral creations we’ve ever seen: Shane Connolly, we adore you.

Honeysuckle and Hilda


‘Striving to create the most beautiful flowers with the lowest possible footprint.’ That’s the mission statement on Claire Victoria Bowen – aka Honeysuckle and Hilda’s – Instagram feed. As such, the south Oxfordshire-based florist is eminently environmentally aware, and her delightful creations are tokens of the wild nature that she feels most at home amidst. Honeysuckle and Hilda are, in fact, the two little dogs who pop up regularly in her feed; as she writes, they are almost as devoted to the wild hedgerows and country walks in her native Chilterns as she is. More than perhaps any other florist on this list, Honeysuckle and Hilda is evocative of the pretty simplicity found in a quintessential English country garden. We are in love with her festive creations even while somehow, she makes us dream of spring and summer all year round.


Nikki Tibbles


The marvellously named Nikki Tibbles, the powerhouse behind Wild at Heart, is one of the country’s foremost florists. Her shops occupy three distinct London buildings united only by dint of being icons: the world-famous Liberty, the entrance to which is flanked by her extraordinary work; Turquoise Island in Notting Hill, the Piers Gough-designed public loo, and finally Pimlico Road, the go-to destination for interiors enthusiasts. She is beloved of A-listers, and it’s not hard to see why. From the prettiest hand-tied posy to full floral installations, her life and her feed is full of the most beautiful flowers to behold anywhere.

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By Nancy Alsop
December 2019