Flowers evoke a sense of wonder, keeping me connected to the seasons and what is going on in the world around me. I have had a strong relationship with nature from a very young age. It was place where I would go for inspiration and safety, and it filled me with joy. We were bought up on a farm and as children we would make things out of everything that nature offered, lots of craft, making dens and the like, fulfilling our wild imaginations which developed into craft with flowers.
It started off young, my grandmother was a painter. I would go with her to paint other people’s gardens, walled gardens, landscapes. While we played, she would paint. Then I moved onto a Saturday job working for an amazing gardener because I loved it so much. I really enjoyed putting together colours and forms of flowers in a setting. Once I had developed this I went over to America and worked on a Tulip farm for 6 months when I was 18. It was so much fun and I loved the sense of community, it was a very joyous world to be in and very tactile with all the stems, colours and flowers. After this I came back to the UK and learnt the skill of floristry.
Over the years I have become so much more educated about the industry and how damaging it can be for the environment. As florists we are in this industry because we love nature, and it was very shocking to find out how detrimental the industry can be. More and more things unravelled, the more I researched and the more I learnt and read and saw, which really affected me. I started working with organic growers on a biodynamic farm in Somerset, then I went onto work with the amazing Jane Scotter, then Heckfield Place. I really, really believe in not just growing for ourselves but also for other growers so no one is an island, but everyone is supporting each other.
Growing up in the British countryside I have learnt there is so much beauty and artistry in what we have around us. It doesn’t have to be big bunches of flowers, it can be twisted branches or small posies. Each season has its own personality evolving with the landscape. Growing my own was a natural thing that developed. I wanted to know and feel a part of the whole process, not using any chemicals, from sowing the seed to placing the stem in a vase. This meant I could nurture every single stem to get the most vibrant, energetically sound flowers.
At Kitten Grayson Flowers we work with biodynamic practices that teach you not just to work with the flowers and stems in front of you, but to also connect to forces of our world such as the lunar cycle.
The creative process of working with the seasons informs everything we do, not just in art but in our day to day routines too. It is definitely a lifestyle choice, the golden thread that runs through everything I do and what I believe in. The seasons are like earths rituals guided by the lunar calendar, this affects all aspects of our life from art to science as the elements lead the seasonal world. Biodynamic growing has challenged my way of thinking and provided a compass if you like, on how to apply that holistically to everything in my world.
Sustainable principles have a huge impact on my work. Instinctively and spiritually, it was the only option for me, I couldn’t do it another way. I feel a responsibility to leave what I do here a better place. Regenerative building and making with care and respect to the highest degree.
It has been a massive challenge to shift our methods. Our focus has been about re-educating clients. When we worked with Skye Gyngell at Heckfield Place, Skye insisted we didn’t bring any plastic to the project at all, and this hugely inspired us to do the same causing us to choose materials very wisely. We used zero plastic, and we don’t use oasis anymore because of that.
I think that taking responsibility for sustainability in your business is a choice really, you must balance it out. However we are all doing our best with what we have and our limits. At Kitten Grayson Flowers our business model is to grow and buy from English growers as much as we can. To make up quantities we do still have to dip into the big flower machine from time to time and that is the reality. It is about honesty and transparency.
We are lucky we can grow our own flowers; it is a huge privilege and educating people really helps. In our initial meetings we educate clients on our ethos and how we work. It really is the client’s choice if they want to work sustainably and if they want to buy into our style and what sits with their ethics. You can’t preach but you can take responsibility for what you are putting out there and taking from the world. Standing up for what you believe, whatever that may be, is the most honest approach you can have.
When we start a project we are very open with the client. If they show us a picture and we understand the mechanics of how to achieve that we suggest another type of design that is not going to impact the earth. I love problem solving and new questions that arise from that.
I have been so so lucky to have the most amazing mentors such as Nicole who is an organic grower in Somerset, Jane Scotter, and then Dide from Moonacre farm (a biodynamic farm in Somerset). I very much threw myself in the deep end and in between working with fantastic growers I did a lot of self-teaching. I am very grateful to have worked with lots of other incredible growers too. The people who by far have impacted my way of thinking the most is Maria Thun, Peter Proctor, and Rudolf Steiner, all who are huge biodynamic growers and theorists.
Instagram also has an amazing growing community and from meeting people through work, we have been a part of this incredible sustainable change. It has been a very interesting time in the floral culture, there has been a real growth in British grown flowers which is so exciting and really wonderful to see. It means there are lot of people feeling the same way. There is a lot of momentum and support, and Instagram is a very powerful tool for that.
We currently have lots of very exciting things in the pipeline. Like everyone, we are riding the current of the global state but we are forging ahead and growing happy healthy plants. Garden designs are something we are working on at the minute, which is really exciting to me as we can build up the biodiversity of those plots of land and gardens. I love the fact clients will bathe in the beauty of the flowers moving through the seasons.
It is important to have strong connections to what is around us and to enjoy yourself. People should build up the knowledge of what is going on in the floristry world, it would be great if people had a bit more understanding, knowledge and intuition.
I passionately believe we should support each other, buy from each other, share knowledge, be an open book and be honest. Instagram can be a bit smoke and mirrors, it can be tough and it is really hard work!
I urge you to get out into the wild, it is the most amazing healer in heavy moments such as the now. It can be our biggest soother and we can learn so much from it.