Aiming to be a cut above

This article was first published in the Newcastle Herald ‘Weekender’ magazine and online on December 20, 2020. Image courtesy of Val.ent.een.

Whether it’s a gift, gesture, “just because” or blooms for a special day, flowers are guaranteed to lift any mood, event and space. We profile seven local florists, each with their own unique aesthetic, about their work and love of flowers.

Film and Foliage

“I have a huge love for flowers but ironically am a terrible gardener,” says Ashlee Wheelhouse, floral designer and owner of Newcastle-based Film and Foliage.

“As well as creating florals for events and weddings, I dabble in photography, ceramics and am currently studying interior design.” 

Wheelhouse began Film and Foliage in 2016 and works from a private studio in Merewether. Pre-COVID, travel was a big part of her work, seeing her “sprinkle floral magic” at weddings across Australia and overseas.

“Our designs are rich with colour, wild and organic, with a focus on how the flower grows naturally. We have an obsession with textural blooms, love a beautifully-dried element and can’t resist a ruffled, sweet-scented bloom.”

Wheelhouse works with local and seasonal blooms and practices an environmentally conscious approach to floristry. This includes not using floral foam (as it’s carcinogenic and made of microplastics), avoiding imported flowers and minimising waste as much as possible.

“Our product comes from the Earth and it’s important to take care of it.”

Blooms on Darby

Mother and daughter duoMelissa Hart and Natalie Hart are the co-owners and creative directors behind Blooms on Darby. They opened their “overflowing and wild floral studio” in Cooks Hill in 2015.

“We are a family business and surround ourselves with a team that adds to our family vibe,” says Natalie of their close-knit team of floral designers.

Hart says their approach to floristry is ever-evolving and reflected in a unique style, which brings together “the latest trends in the florist world, whilst adding a touch of our own personalities – timeless, a little wild, textured and always romantic”.

“Our flower menu is based on the season’s best offerings, which allows each design to be creative, fresh and beautifully-scented.”

Blooms on Darby create flowers for all occasions and service the Greater Newcastle, Hunter Valley and Lake Macquarie region.

169 Darby Street, Cooks Hill

Botanica Bird

Rachael Cullen is the owner and head florist behind Botanica Bird, which she established in 2016. Specialising in weddings and events, Cullen, this year, added an online flower delivery service to her offering.

“We are known for our saturated vision and striking designs that skillfully juxtapose colour, texture and form and venture into the realm of sculpture and design,” says Cullen of the Botanica Bird aesthetic.

Working from a home studio in Islington, Cullen sources her seasonal and locally grown blooms from the Sydney Flower Market.

“I love finding hidden, unique and rare flowers at our favourite local growers’ stands and being able to deliver and create flowers for all aspects of life.”

Botanica Bird is also building a name for itself locally for its guerrilla florals.

“On Valentine’s Day, we did an installation at Newcastle Baths, in which people were able to take flowers and, just this month, we did a flower scavenger hunt where we dropped six bouquets around Newcastle. Keep an eye out for our next guerrilla idea!”

V a l .e n t. e e n Florals

Morgan Kerr is the owner and talent behind V a l. e n t. e e n Florals. With a background in interior design and marketing, she works out of the all-female collective space Maker store & studio in Newcastle West.

V a l. e n t. e e n offers “sweet to-your-door deliveries” and “spontaneous floral spoils in-store”, alongside a range of floristry tools, tableware and books.

Describing her style as “a little wild and romantic”, Kerr appreciates “curious texture, unique shapes, and seeing a sculptural form in each individual stem”. She enjoys the “freedom, hands-on creativity and minimal use of desks floristry brings”.

“I aim to show people that flowers are for more than just special occasions and encourage the addition of flowers into the everyday as a weekly ritual.”

“There is so much psychology around flowers and the ways in which they can nourish us. I feel their beauty and scent could be used more to brighten our moods and houses, particularly now as we spend extra time at home.”  

maker store & studio

3/148 Parry Street, Newcastle West

Pushing Pansies

It was while she began working casually at a flower shop in Sydney that Morgan Clark discovered her love of floristry. Leaving behind a career in graphic design, Clark established Pushing Pansies in 2015.

The Charlestown-based business offers bespoke wedding and event florals and daily blooms that are “unstructured, wild and on-trend” in style.

“Pulling inspiration and elements from my design background and working with trending colour schemes, textural pieces, and interesting botanics, I love to bring memorable floral moments to life,” says Clark.

She says “watching the floral seasons come and go and the excitement that comes with each flower newly in season” is among what she enjoys most about her work. 

30 Pearson Street, Charlestown Square

Little Wren Flowers

Floral designer Lucy Shepherd began working at Little Wren Flowers in 2018 and has since taken over the business.

Established in 2013, Little Wren Flowers offers floral consultations by appointment for weddings and events. The business operates out of a warehouse space in Maryville alongside Crab Apple furniture hire and The Wedding Designers styling service.

“Together, we are a one-stop-shop for all your wedding needs,” says Shepherd of the collective.

She describes the Little Wren aesthetic as one that blends their “deep love for the unaffected beauty of Australian wildflowers” with a “boho vibe and free form arrangements”.

“I love flowers and the process of creating. The design possibilities are endless! Each and every flower is beautiful and, for me, it’s all about giving each bloom the space to be beautiful.”

Shepherd also runs workshops. “It’s always so rewarding to encourage the participants and bring out their creativity. I’m constantly blown away by the stunning wreaths and arrangements they make!”

7-11 Harrison Street, Maryville

Still Life – Floral Art

While Still Life-Floral Art started life as a brick-and-mortar store at The Junction in 2018, it has – in recent months – transitioned into a wholly online business.

“We offer everyday bouquets and gift hampers through our website, servicing the Newcastle region, within ten kilometres from The Junction,” says its owner and head florist Maia Fung.

“Still Life-Floral Art is also a premium wedding floral service, specialising in unique and modern floristry.”

Fung, who has a background in visual arts and sculpture, says she loves using seasonal blooms to create “bold and elegant” florals. Over the last five years, she has worked with more than 80 couples on their wedding and elopement flowers.