[Florist & Micro Flower Farmer]
I was working as an Interior designer for many years, when along came our son, Finn. When Finn entered our lives, I knew this was the time I had to switch careers and start doing something that nurtured both my soul and his. I had dreamt of being a florist since about 2010. In fact, I just got off the phone from a dear friend in Melbourne and she stated how long I had wanted this career for. I made the switch to floristry without hesitation. To me, floristry and the growing of my own chemical free cut flowers seemed to go hand in hand. For as long as I can remember I have tended to a garden. I remember living in Wagga, nurturing seedlings in my parent’s cottage garden and concocting chicken poo juice to feed to the plants. I remember sitting on the back of the tractor and dropping garlic into ready-made holes on my uncle’s farm. I remember days gone by that I wandered through my pop’s vegetable patch, picking beans, tomatoes, and anything I could eat on the go. All of whom I might add, used chemical free and organic farming practices. So here I am in my first year tending to my own chemical free cut flower garden, giving it a go, and learning from my achievements and mistakes along the way.
Soon after my career in floristry started, I bumped into an old friend that was opening a pop-up store in Bungendore that ran pre-Christmas 2018. She simply asked if I’d like to be part of the space and open a temporary florist. The shop was a shared space, with homewares, clothing, and flowers. It was an enjoyable experience with plenty of positive feedback. It certainly showed me where I want to take my floristry and what I need to do to get there. It made me realise that learning from others and sharing the knowledge of floristry is important. It also made me realise just how much my garden is a part of this practice, and that I want it to continue growing chemical free flowers for not only myself, but for the community, and every little creature that lands upon my garden.
I haven't always lived in Canberra. I was born in Sydney, moved to Wagga, then Canberra. In my twenties I flew the coop and vowed I would never return. After years living in Byron, and Melbourne, and travelling overseas, I met my husband, who was believe it or not a Canberran. So here we are back in Canberra, but I can tell you I have grown to love it.
I chose to set up my business from home in Wamboin, just outside Canberra. I have a 22 month old son, and it makes it easy to spend time with him, and to pop out to the garden or to create a flower arrangement as I need. Canberra is a great community to be a part of, having contacts that are well established and like-minded people around you, helps with the flow of ideas and nurtures your dreams and aspirations.
A day in my life when I am creating generally starts with waking before my son does and sneaking out to the garden for an hour on my own. It’s honestly the only time I get to myself and I cherish it deeply. It’s also a solid hour that I can focus on the garden without little fingers or toes distracting me from the task at hand. It’s surprising with even a garden of this small scale, just how much work is involved. After lunch (and when my son has a nap) its back to either research, be it on floristry or growing flowers, and playing with flowers.
Some key processes in my work involve planning, I do a lot of planning for the garden. I draw plans which change each season with the new flowers planted. I write notes about what I enjoyed growing and what I won’t be growing next season. I also do a lot of research. That is research into cut flowers, both native and non-native varieties. And I take the time to do additional study, like intensive workshops with florists I admire.
I generally create my flower arrangements in the dining area of our home, it’s the best space in terms of natural light, plus it isn't carpeted. I have a study for computer work, and planning, but the dining table seems to be where most things happen, as its right by where my son plays while I am creating.
Balancing work and play honestly isn’t that hard for me at the moment, as I don't have a choice. Having a son, means you have to play a lot, its finding time to do the work that’s the hard part. But due to limited windows, I find I am really efficient at getting work done.
I find inspiration in my garden, whilst hiking in the bush, and travelling to new Australian destinations. We recently took a trip to NT and the flora there was truly incredible. It made me realise how much more travel I need to do in this big beautiful country of ours. I also find inspiration on social media platforms such as Instagram, I mean you’d be lying if you said you didn’t? I also find inspiration in so many of the creative friends and family I have around me.
Any form of creative endeavour can bring about a creative block. For me the only way to get passed this, is to put something down. Be it an arrangement, I just put it down, separate the stems, and come back to it. Steeping away may be for only a moment, or it may be to do something entirely different, like going for a walk, listening to music, playing with my son, or hanging out with my husband.
My latest obsession is collecting seeds. It goes hand in hand with gardening, and I have a great friend who has really pushed me to do it. Thank you Stella ;)
My future goals are to focus on building Louise Alison Flowers as a business. I plan on doing a couple of intensive workshops with florists I truly admire. I’m finishing off my Floristry certificate. I plan on growing more chemical free flowers and trialling different varieties to the past year. I plan on continuing on the path of being an earth conscious florist and producer. I’d also love to start connecting with local, more experienced florists to enable growth in my own practice. I plan on working out how to keep wombats and rabbits out of my garden. And I plan on being more connected to old friends, like picking up the phone and making that call, rather than leaving it for months on end.
I hope that through my passion and commitment to chemical free flowers I can inspire someone else to plant a few flowers in their garden at home. I’ll be honest, every chemical free bloom grown brings a smile to my face, and I know it makes for a lot of happy insects too.
For the foreseeable future I see my family and I connected to Canberra, we have loose plans to move a little further afield, but we will still have our roots planted deeply here.