1 September 2017

Spring has sprung: time to meet some of Canberra's fabulous florists

| Maryann Mussared
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Spring has officially sprung. If you don’t believe me after the snow of last weekend, just check out Instagram to see how many images there are of blossom, crocus, daffodil, jonquil and other spring flowers. Despite the snow and what has seemed to be a lingering winter, I think we are all a bit excited about the arrival of spring. To celebrate, I dropped in on a few of Canberra’s floral emporiums to see what is blooming this week and to chat to a bunch of talented floral artists (forgive the pun). Everyone agreed that Spring is a very special time of year to be a florist! We talked about popular and exotic flowers: orchids from New Zealand, roses from Ecuador, Protea from the South Coast, and the spectacular and expensive Gymea Lily that some know because it grows along the road out to Sydney Airport. Then are are difficult and expensive flowers such as King Proteas, lotus and magnolia buds. We discussed floral trends and what is most in demand, and it seems everyone is gearing up for a busy wedding season too. Trends this spring are likely to be over-the-top floral arches and long-stemmed bouquets.

The Floral Society created a show-stopping floral installation for the opening of the Beauty Redefined precinct at the Canberra Centre in July.

We have come a long way from the days when flowers were often bought by the roadside or at petrol stations. OK, that was a long time ago, but I am one of those annoying people who remember Canberra in the 70s and 80s when we really did have things to complain about. These days we are spoilt for choice with quality flowers available in most suburban shoppings centres.

My first stop was one of Canberra’s long-standing florists. I realized when I was talking to Lisa from Flowers from the Garden that she not only has a real understanding of flowers but has also been involved in floristry since 1986. Flowers from the Garden is co-located with The Garden at Dickson; it is a truly successful partnership with an enormous range of pot plants, a gift shop with a strong interior design focus, as well as masses of bright fresh flowers! The flower shop is flooded with natural light and there is a central table full of fresh blooms waiting to be made up into bouquets. Lisa has a number of talented assistants and Sarah showed me some of her favourites including some very lovely yellow roses tipped with scarlet that had arrived from Ecuador, where they grow so well at this time of year.

Sarah from Flowers at the Garden at Dickson surrounded by gorgeous flowers.

Gungahlin friends recommended I head out to Gungahlin and have a look around to see how much the Town Centre has changed. I chose a very busy Saturday morning and was able to observe how work has progressed with the light rail. This was also a chance to meet Drew from Poetry in Flowers in the Gungahlin Village next to Coles.

Drew from Poetry in Flowers loves living and working in Gungahlin and is proud of his fresh and affordable flowers.

I first discovered his regular floral posts on Instagram under Poetry in Flowers Canberra and was also keen to hear how people feel about the coming of the light rail. Drew is excited and I can see why: there is no doubt Poetry in Flowers is in a most strategic location for future users of the light rail and the light rail will be warmly welcomed by Gungahlin residents. I really love Poetry in Flowers: not only was there a great selection of posies and boxed arrangements, but lovely fresh individual bunches, with jonquils starting from $5.00. Who can resist?

Bright beautiful and affordable spring posies are available at Poetry in Flowers.

There is no doubt business is booming in Gungahlin, and densification provided by the new apartment blocks will really complete the picture. And just think of all those people who will want flowers and plants for their new apartments and homes!

Sisters Julie and Joanne, co-owners of Eight Stems @ Trevillian Quay, were welcomed by the Kingston Foreshore community in May this year. They offer lots of interesting and creative choices. But Julie and Joanne are more than just florists: they are part of a rapidly expanding community that demands quality. This small florist will do well in an area of such density and is sure to attract loyal customers from further afield as word gets around.

Eight Stems at Kingston Foreshore support different charities with their tiny posies in recycled jars. These posies are very popular!

As well as the usual range of floral services, they have some lovely gifts targeting mums and bubs, terrariums and dinky little plants suitable for apartments. Julie and Joanne support a number of local charities with their special petite end-of-week posies available for a gold coin donation. Their initiative of collecting and recycling jam jars really appeals to me and I popped out early last Sunday morning (before it snowed!) to see the small posies out on the pavement. For September, they have collaborated with the ACT Fire and Rescue Service to raise money for Motor Neuron Disease research. Julie told me “We want to support the locals and small business as much as we can, so most our products are local and handmade. We would like to be sustainable so recycling jars and flowers and also using paper and natural materials – we also encourage customers to bring back old jars or vases so we can refill them with flowers.” Julie said they are always looking for more jars, so if you have some glass jars that need recycling, you can drop them out to Eight Stems on Trevillian Quay during business hours.

In a bit of a hurry? Call by The Floral Society and pick up a delightful little posy.

The newest ‘kid on the block’ is the Canberra Centre branch of The Floral Society: Canberra’s dedicated purveyors of all things floral. With a comprehensive, easy-to-use website and floral bars in Kingston and the Canberra Centre, they’ve got all your floral needs covered. The Floral Society specializes in producing beautiful bunches that won’t break the bank. They are proud of providing everything from simple floral gestures to a grand floral arch (as they did for the wonderful grand launch of the Beauty Redefined precinct in the Canberra Centre in July), to beautifully composed flowers which set the scene for a truly memorable occasion.

Freyja showed me some beautiful deep purple anemones, fragrant stock and jonquils, tulips and some perfect rosebuds.

I first came across the Floral Society in July when they took the usually staid inner city by storm with their ‘flower bombing’ for the memorable launch of the glittering new beauty precinct in the Canberra Centre. A number of amazing floral installations appeared in Petrie Plaza stopped early morning commuters in their tracks, and stenciled on the pavement in bright pink was their moniker. Inside the Canberra Centre, the launch of their new flower bar has been a great success. What I love about this small flower bar is ‘flowers of the day’ are used to create ‘must have’ $30 arrangements, and these are promoted on Instagram. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have an Instagram account: just swing by and see what is on offer and I am pretty sure you will find it impossible to resist.

Damien is from France, affectionately known as “Damo”, is an absolute wiz at conjuring up desirable floral confections.

The luscious emporium of Moxom and Whitney is right in the middle of that sometimes hectic, always eclectic Lonsdale Street, in the heart of Braddon. Moxom and Whitney was born out of a desire to bring beautiful flowers to Canberra in a way that hadn’t been done before. Lou Moxom and Belinda Whitney and their talented team of floral artists don’t over-work the flowers. They prefer a more organic and lush look to their bouquets and you will never ever see a cardboard box stuffed with oasis, garish cellophane or gerberas. Lou and Belinda say of themselves: “We are not only unique; but very honest. Why flowers you ask? Because nothing brings as much joy as creating an incredible explosion of flowers and greenery and seeing the delight it brings to anyone who sees it.” I can’t help but agree wholeheartedly and any visit to this floral haven is a pleasure.

More gorgeous Moxom and Whitney blooms in their wonderful shop on Lonsdale Street.

Moxom and Whitney get their kicks from showering Canberra and its surrounds with not only beautiful flowers but also unique, made on the premises, terrariums. For those who are interested in being more hands-on with their flowers, Moxom and Whitney offer workshops, gifts and best of all, inspiration! The morning I visited, the shop was full of the most wonderful array of flowers, and I could almost recognize them all! Although some flowers come from Asia and New Zealand, there is a strong emphasis on Fairtrade produce and the use of seasonal flowers. Moxom and Whitney provide an extremely reliable delivery service, but I like to pop in and see what is on offer: I either park in the Canberra Centre and enjoy a short walk, or if I want free parking, head over to the northern side of Haig Park where it is easy to find on-street parking.

Renee’s pretty shop faces into the sunny courtyard of the Curtin Shops, stocking a wide range of flowers and interesting gifts.

Ivy Flowers and Gifts is a long established and respected florist. Renee has owned this delightful shop for a year, after working for the former owner for over six years. Located in the Curtin Shopping Centre and near the RiotACT office, I can see why it was recommended to me. While I was chatting to Renee, a customer in somewhat of a hurry came in, needing attention. Renee swiftly created a beautiful arrangement of lilies, carefully wrapped to keep the arrangement hydrated. Later Renee sent me a photo of something she had just completed featuring a flower I have not seen for some time: soft pink David Austin roses which I mistook for peonies. Renee also has a really good range of gifts to go with her beautiful arrangements.

Renee from Ivy Flowers had just created this lovely sping bouquet with tulips, beautiful David Austin roses, stock, carnations, jonquils and magnolia leaf. Photo provided by Ivy Flowers.

Although the focus of this article was on Canberra florists with shop fronts, it isn’t possible to talk about Canberra florists without including GG’s Flowers. They are a socially sustainable florist in the ACT, employing young people with disabilities to provide meaningful employment and education opportunities. They deliver to all suburbs and can take on any project, big or small. The two “G”s are Geetha Wijewickrema and her daughter Gayana Wijewickrema, a young and vivacious 15-year-old with Down Syndrome. Together, it is their passion and dream to make floral arrangements for the Canberra community. GGs specialize in corsages, floral arrangements, gift boxes, hampers, bouquets and everything else flowers related!

Rainbow Roses are a very popular choice from GGs Flowers. Photo provided by GGs flowers.

Finally, I have put together a few hot tips to ensure you get the best out of your flowers:

  • Avoid buying cheap flowers at supermarkets and petrol stations. Flowers are ephemeral enough, but quality flowers from a good florist will last much longer.
  • After you have used the sachet of crystals from your florist, give your flowers a spoonful of sugar, or an aspirin to keep them looking fresh.
  • Change the water regularly and trim the bottom of the stems, preferably under water.
  • Make sure no leaves are left on the stems that are going underwater; and
  • Only put your flowers into squeaky clean vases as micro-organisms linger long after a vase has dried out.

What did I learn on my whirlwind trip around Canberra? Florists love their jobs but are actually more than just florists. Yes, they take their flowers very seriously, but they are also a wonderful mix of small business owners, philanthropists, recyclers, influencers, and creative mainstays of our local community. Like me, they think flowers shouldn’t always be just for a special occasion. With pretty spring flowers available, spoil yourself, a friend or a lover, and buy a bunch of spring flowers to share.

Do you have know a special florist in Canberra? What are your favourite spring blooms? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

All photos by Maryann Mussared unless otherwise acknowledged

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Peony N Pearl are my favourite florist when it comes to weddings and events https://www.peonynpearl.com.au/

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