British Flowers Week, a campaign run by New Covent Garden Market, is returning for its 9th year commencing Monday 14th June 2021. The weeklong festivities celebrate the beauty and variety of British cut flowers, foliage and plants. To celebrate, we had a chat with one of our favourite florists who has recently relocated to Kent, otherwise known as the Garden of England. Graeme started Bloom & Burn in January 2016 at the kitchen table of a flat in Archway, North London. His beautiful work has featured on numerous TV shows including The Voice UK, magazines such as Elle Decoration and he has worked with many celebrity clients including Jamie Oliver, Penguin Books, National Geographic and West Elm. We have been fans of the Bloom & Burn Instagram page for quite some time and we were thrilled to see how beautifully he styled some Artisans & Adventurers products. We were lucky enough to have a chat with Graeme all about how Bloom & Burn has grown and his greatest inspirations ...
What inspires your work the most?
The flowers are the things that inspire me the most, I’m very lucky to be surrounded by amazing growers so when the seasons allow I use only British grown flowers. You are at the mercy of the weather, so you can’t get too hung up on particular flowers or plan too much ahead. If a storm takes out the perfect coral dahlias you wanted to use or its been a cold start to the season and everything is a few weeks behind you just have to pick something else. This has really helped to change the way I design, it has made me more adventurous with colour and the types of flowers I use, you pick what is available on that day and make it work.
Featuring our Soapstone Candlestick Holders
What is your favourite kind of arrangement to make / your favourite project you have worked on?
My favourite thing to make is a small bowl centrepiece, I use a pin frog and a ball of chicken wire to hold everything in place and that way you can turn anything into a flower vase. They take quite a long time to design, every stem placement is carefully considered. I can spend a good couple of hours putting one together. I’ve been searching for the perfect bowl for ages, I want something that I can gift to people that come to my workshops. I spotted one on your website, but it was a little too small for me. A quick phone call to Bee and she was able to get her artisans to make one in the size I wanted. I’m so excited to start designing with them and to be working with you all again, our paths first crossed 8 years ago when I was trying to run a pickle company, Stray Dog Pickles, and I did some pickle heavy canapés for a Christmas shopping event at the Columbia Road store!
We know you have recently moved to a new location, can you tell us a little bit about that?
My partner and I and the two dogs, Frida and Angelo have recently relocated to Hawkhurst in Kent. During lockdown we started to realise that we no longer needed to live in the city, all the things we thought we were there for, theatre, restaurants, art galleries, bars we just didn’t miss them. What we did realise was that we wanted to spend more time outside, we had a small garden and access to Alexandra Palace, Highgate Woods and Hampstead Heath but after a couple of hours you are onto your second lap. We were craving being close to the beach, open fields and countryside, accessing that from London always felt like such a big deal, getting out of London for the day was an event that needed planning. We put our house on the market in June last year, our first buyer pulled out close to the exchange date and subsequently we lost what we thought was our dream cottage in Suffolk. We found a new buyer for our place and discovered what is now our home on The Modern House. It’s perfect for us as we can still get to London easily, we are only a 20 minute drive to the beach, plus the property is surround by green fields, but only a mile away from a Village. So it’s best of both worlds really.
Featuring our Ugandan Rafia Brush & Rwandan Vase in Cosmos
You mentioned you will be establishing your own cutting garden, what was the main reason you wanted to do this?
When I first got into floristry I would go to new Covent Garden market in the early hours of the morning to select my flowers. I didn’t really think about where they came from or how they were grown, they were just another tool I needed to run my business. As my business has grown so has my relationship with flowers and the environment. The floristry industry can be pretty toxic for the environment, from the chemicals used to grow on a large scale to the floral foam that is still used for arranging. The more I started to discover how this darker side of the industry can negatively impact on the world I decide that I wanted to do as much as I could with my small business to make greener choices. When the market closed during the first lockdown, I started to buy all of my flowers from Wolves Lane Flower Company close to my house in North London and that was it, I knew I wanted to use British as much as possible and started to dream of one day being able to grow my own. I’m setting up the cutting garden as I know nothing about growing flowers, yet they are the most important part of my business. I’d love for the visitors to my workshops to be able to go to the cutting garden and select the flowers they want to use.
What has been your greatest achievement as a florist?
There have been a few things that I’ve been really proud of, getting to work on a couple of album covers, being featured in a book but I think the greatest achievement for me is finally finding a job that I really love. I had a few years were I felt a little lost work wise and floristry was just another thing I tried my hand at, so I feel very lucky that I now have a job that pays the bills but also allows me to be creative.
Featuring our Soapstone Dip Bowl
What do you most enjoy about your work?
I love how creative it is and how quickly it changes, especially when working with British flowers. There is always a new ingredient to fall in love with, a new colour palette to work with and I love how fleeting it is, you just have too keep moving as the flowers grow and bloom then fade away.
We know you love working with seasonal flowers, do you have a reason for this?
It’s all the imperfections that make them so special, a lot of imported flowers are grown under special conditions to ensure they grow dead straight and are all clones of one another. Locally grown flowers are exposed to the elements, they move around to chase the sun, the stems get wonky, the rain mottles their petals and all of the funny quirks are there to be celebrated.
Featuring our Rwandan Vase in Cosmos, Soapstone Dip Bowl & Soapstone Candlestick Holder
You run some incredible looking workshops! Can you tell us a little bit more about them?
The workshops are mainly aimed at florists who are starting out or those who want to extend their practice in a different style. They day is catered to what you want to learn, but most often we start with bouquet techniques in the morning, we break for a homemade lunch then in the afternoon we look at creating one of my signature bowl arrangements. We finish the day with a photo session and they get all the pictures sent to them after the workshop to use on their website and social media.
In the summer I will be introducing some more relaxed group classes where people can come and spend the afternoon learning lots of tips and tricks for styling flowers at home. We will finish the afternoon with a glass of fizz and you will leave with all the beautiful things you have created. I’ll be launching those on my instagram soon.
What tips would you give to anyone wishing to style flowers at home?
Have fun with them, try and think of them as a tool to unleash your creativity, like painting or baking. If you get a bouquet of flowers delivered you don’t just have to pop them in a vase and wait for them to die! Try splitting them up into a series of bud vases and spreading them all over the house, or invest in a pin frog and start making your own bowl arrangements. I have a few tutorials on my IGTV but you can find loads of good videos on youtube.
Featuring our Rwandan Vase in Cosmos, Ugandan Brush, Soapstone Dip Bowl, Ugandan Pen Pot & Sisal Placemat.
Can you name your top 3 favourite British flowers?
Dahlias have to be on top, there are so many amazing varieties and they come in so many different shapes, sizes and colours. They are a total joy to work with and something that I usually ignored before discovering the locally grown ones.
I’ve got to include the Lupin, just the most glorious flower, I love the shape of them and the way they twist around in the vase to find the best light, every time you come back in the room, they seem to have moved again.
Lastly I’ll go for Geum, not normally the star of the show in an arrangement due to the size of the flowers, but they are incredibly easy to grow in pots, I have lots out on the terrace and they seem too like being cut so you can steal a few every now and then for the kitchen table.
Thank you to Graeme for taking the time to chat with us! We highly suggest following Bloom & Burn on Instagram for dreamy blooms on your feed. You can also find more information on their website here. You can also see a previous interview with Graeme for our sister brand Hiro + Wolf here.