Lockdown, learning and peeking into people’s homes

As I write this, we are still in lockdown but I love the idea that at some point, in the not too distant future, I will be able to look back at this blog with a sigh of relief that it is over and that a new normal has been established.

For this ‘new normal’, my current self has been, well, reimagined: I am now an absolute pro at Instagram Live, proficiently creating Oscar worthy videos on social media in ten minutes flat. I saunter down the street with a newfound appreciation for freedom, feeling nothing but love towards my fellow citizens. I meet up with new industry friends introduced to me via the medium of YouTube and InstaLives. My hair is stunning, my nails perfectly manicured, and my abs… well, let’s just say, all those workouts with Joe Wicks have had the desired effect.

The Real World

Of course, that is a complete fantasy, we have a long way to go before we can safely say that this is over – if indeed we ever can. And whilst we are still in lockdown, it is, of course, the scientists, doctors, health professionals, policy makers, food suppliers and civil servants (to name but a few) who are out there working; undoubtedly feeling the pressure to both do their job and keep themselves and their nearest and dearest safe.

As florists, it won’t surprise you to learn that we aren’t considered in any way to be “key workers”, but still, like many others, we are trying to ‘do the right thing’. We have battened down the hatches and are keeping indoors. We are also feeling a bit guilty that we cannot be more useful.

Lockdown and Learning

When we were required to close the Hybrid studio in March, we needed to do something with the flowers we had left in stock and so we brought them home with no real plan for their future other than to give them away to people who we felt most deserved them. I consider myself a bit of a ‘creative introvert’ and struggle at the best of times to put myself centre stage, however after a chat with a marketing friend, Keren Lerner at Top Left Design on a Zoom call, she convinced me to bite the bullet and make a video of what we did with the flowers. So, I did (it can be found here…) and, actually, it was fun! Since then, I have encouraged others to do similar and have participated in InstaLive interviews and ‘how to’ videos.

We have seen lots of amazing initiatives within the creative industry where people have used their talent and skills to keep others entertained and enthralled; dance classes, art demos, book readings, the fabulous “One World: Together at Home” virtual concert, organised by Global Citizen. And for those of us whose creative yearning is greater than their desire to keep out of the limelight, there is unique potential here to be creative on your own terms.

I am willing to bet that those creative people who have stayed home have tried at least one new thing to keep themselves inspired and entertained and have probably shared it by the medium of the internet. We have given it a good ‘go’ and this, we think, is good for the soul. In our house we have become great fans of Channel 4’s Grayson’s Art Club with artist Grayson Perry encouraging viewers to paint whilst challenging them to do something out of their comfort zone.  Perry believes that ‘art can help us get through this crisis’ and that ‘creativity is a way of dealing with what’s going on in your life’ and we wholeheartedly agree.

During lockdown many of us have gone back to activities we used to love as kids. We have got creative with the items we have had to hand and completely embraced the idea that nothing needs to be polished and infinitely orchestrated so long as you have made a bit of an effort! But I have to admit that one of the best things about the programme is that we get a glimpse inside Grayson’s art studio…

Having a Peek!

Come to think of it we would never have had this candid peek in to these homes of people on TV before lockdown?! I’m pretty sure we are all fascinated by the live interviews on our screens that give us an insight into people’s real-life homes!

Sometimes I have to ask myself: am I watching this for what the person has to say, or because I can have a nose at what’s on the person’s bookshelf? A layer of mystery has been removed and we can see people in a new way. And for that matter we are even seeing our friends, clients and work colleagues in a new way whenever we have a Skype or Zoom call with them.

When the country first went into lockdown, Hybrid set up a WhatsApp group for our team and other floral friends and called it “Let Hope Bloom” (which has been the #slogan for the flower industry throughout the pandemic). Every day since we have shared creative ideas and images of our surroundings with each other, sending photos of nature waking up across London and the Home Counties. We have documented the rise and fall of daffodils and tulips, witnessed the stunning varieties of blousy blossom on London streets (the best place to see blossom is on a suburban street!), bluebells, lilac and clematis. We are now onto poppies, peonies and roses and each day, we admire these and share them with each other. I don’t think that we appreciated British flowers in quite the same way as we do now.

And yes in ‘old normal’ times we would spend every day with each other, completely accepting of each other’s skills and talents as florists but somehow through or our WhatsApp group we have become even more creative and got to know each other even better. We have been making things to please ourselves and sharing these (and our other talents and skills) with pictures from our own homes. And we have become so much closer as a result.

Working from home, with my children off school isn’t always easy! But immersing myself in my children’s world has provided much needed escapism! We have painted images of flowers, made floral headdresses, decorated hula hoops, filled jam jars with wildflowers, painted Easter eggs and made paper flowers (not that you require children to do any of these things!) We have rediscovered hobbies from yester-year and taught ourselves new things too.

It’s all about connecting

So, whilst we may be feeling guilty and sad that we are not in our studio right now we know we are doing the right thing. We are staying home and finding new and exciting ways to communicate with the outside world. We are sharing what we are good at whilst learning new tricks too. We are thankful that our minds are being kept occupied and we can share our creative take on floristry from the comfort of our own home.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask about arranging flowers, floristry in general or the industry, we would love to hear from you. Please also share any pictures you may have of flowers you have grown or arrangements you have created.

The Ultimate Floral Crowns for the Perfect Garden Party

For us at Hybrid Flowers, some of our most cherished memories are of working outside on wonderful garden celebrations, taking in the fresh air, admiring the scents and colours around us. In fact, research shows that spending quality time outdoors can boost happiness.

We have wonderful memories of designing flowers for drinks receptions in rambling private gardens; evening jazz cocktail parties in smart London locations and, perhaps our most treasured memory of all, working at London’s oldest botanical garden, Chelsea Physic Garden.

And so we were so excited when Candide asked us to work with them on Garden Day UK 2019. They asked us to create a number of spectacular floral crowns to adorn the heads of five prominent garden advocates and the amazing photographer, Julian Winslow (who photographed our work for British Flowers week back in 2014), was to capture our creations on this wonderfully inspirational project. To (Wellington) boot, this was to be set within the grounds of Chelsea Physic Garden.

Garden Day

Garden Day takes place this year on Sunday 12th May and is a nationwide community benefit project to encourage people to spend time outside. Gardeners are encouraged to down tools for the day and celebrate their gardens with neighbours, family and friends.

In researching our five Garden Party ‘muses’, we realised that bringing them and their individual talents together would make for the most amazing garden party ever, with the beautiful setting the icing on the cake.  

We wanted to create vibrant and striking crowns using classic British ‘garden-style’ flowers but with a twist: we wanted to make these individually tailored headdresses in epic proportions! Our aim was to make each crown representative of each model’s interests and personalities. Oh, and each crown, with every hand-selected element, needed to be made within an hour of photographing to ensure they looked as fresh as possible!  

The Ambassadors of Garden Day UK 2019, aka our floral crown models, are:

Arit Anderson, Garden designer and broadcaster; Michael Perry aka ‘Mr Plant Geek’, Garden presenter on ITV ‘This Morning’; Steve Horrell  and Sabina Ghayour, both Chefs and Poppy Jamie, Well-being entrepreneur.

Each one an expert within their own field, we would have been star struck designing a floral crown for one, let alone all of them! 

Garden Day Muse 1: Michael Perry AKA Mr Plant Geek.

Michael is not labelled Mr Plant Geek for nothing! He has an in-depth knowledge of all things horticultural and has admits to having been obsessed with plants for the past 30 years and counting!  Oh, and he has THE most beautiful tattoos we ever did see!  These detailed and colourful botanical style illustrations provided the perfect inspiration for Michael’s floral crown. 

Using tones of oranges, greens, lilacs and purples we wanted to include some unusual and vibrant varieties of garden flowers to the design. 

The ingredients for Michaels’ flower crown:

  • Orange calla lily
  • Allium
  • Phlebodium leaf
  • Fritillaria
  • Purple campanula (and to illustrate to show what an amazing good sport he is, see if you can spot the campanula florets in his beard!)

Michael’s thoughts on Garden Day:

More than ever I believe the great outdoors can help improve our well-being, and its brilliant that it is becoming more recognised. It’s incredibly easy [to celebrate Garden Day], you just need to be around some greenery. That could be a range of house plants, or just a single orchid plant on the windowsill. You will feel the benefits of connecting with nature, whatever you have access to. Garden day is completely inclusive.

Garden Day Muse 2: Sabrina Ghayour

If there is one thing we talk about in our studio more than flowers, gardens – and Michaels’ tattoos – it is food.  In particular, vibrant, healthy, beautifully presented food. Chef Sabrina Ghayour works with Persian and Middle Eastern flavours and writes about food with such passion. Her cooking gives great focus to vegetarian food, with a sprinkling of flowers. 

We wanted to recreate the feel of her delicious recipes by taking an edible flower (the marigold) and combining it with herbs and scented flowers.

The ingredients for Sabrina’s flower crown:

  • Marigolds
  • Rosemary
  • Ginestra (broom)
  • Clematis

Sabrina’s thoughts on Garden Day:

I’ve recently bought a new home which comes with an enormous garden and one of my greatest joys is to create delicious feasts and share them with friends and loved one in the garden. Anyone can take part [in Garden Day] simply by spending quality time in the garden with friends, family and neighbours.

Garden Day Muse 3:  Poppy Jamie

As a wellbeing entrepreneur and founder of Happy Not Perfect Poppy was a wonderful Garden Day muse.  We wanted to create and inspirational floral crown for Poppy which would look very natural and pretty to lift the spirits.  Soft petalled blooms were the perfect choice:

The ingredients for Poppy’s flower crown:

  • ‘Cloni’ Ranunculus
  • Scabiousa
  • Sweet William
  • Thlaspi flower

Poppy’s thoughts on Garden Day:

I am absolutely passionate about what the day represents, which is encouraging people to go outside and meet up with friends and family. This is so important as it directly impacts happiness and wellbeing.

Garden Day Muse 4:  Steve Horrell

If we weren’t already hanging out in London’s oldest botanical garden for our fantasy garden party, we would without doubt hold it at Steve’s converted barn and small holding in rural Somerset. His restaurant, Roth Bar and Grill is a rare find indeed and if you haven’t already visited then you MUST, even the Queen paid a visit this year! Steve is one of the original Garden Day advocates and was involved in the hugely successful Somerset Garden Day which has now been rolled out nationwide. 

His love of cooking outdoors, using very locally sourced ingredients, and stunning meat based dishes inspired us to create a vibrant and rich flower crown.

The ingredients for Steve’s flower crown:

  • Chili peppers
  • Olive
  • Hot orange ranunculus
  • Sweet Williams

Steve’s thoughts on Garden Day:

Everyone should spend more time outdoors and the garden is a great place to do that. We spend a lot of time in our garden at home. [For Garden Day] I will cook a spring lamb (home reared of course) on a spit, coupled with lots of different salads using rich pickings from the garden!

Garden Day Muse 5:  Arit Anderson:

From the start we knew exactly the floral crown we were going to create for the hugely inspirational Arit Anderson.  This award-winning garden designer, writer and Gardeners World presenter has a background in fashion, creative events and a passion for plants, people and places. And we were beyond delighted to have the opportunity to create a bespoke design for one of our real gardening idols. 

We created a design for her using stunning vibrant elements echoing her style of garden design:

The ingredients for Arit’s flower crown:

  • Icelandic poppies
  • Primula (in our favourite colour combination of salmon and burnt orange)
  • Ferns
  • Hamamelis Mollis (witch hazel)

Arit’s thoughts on Garden Day:

I’m supporting Garden Day to encourage people to sit back and enjoy the virtues of their hard work. So often we are ‘doing’ in the garden without just ‘being’ in the garden. There are great benefits on our wellness both physically and mentally being in nature, amongst plants and wildlife. A garden is our co-creation with nature. We get to choose the plants we love that bring us joy!

And the day of our garden party shoot was, truly, a joyful one! So much so that we couldn’t help but make stunning flower crowns for the amazing staff of Chelsea Physic Garden too.  They looked absolutely wonderful, proving gardens are the perfect place to make memories.

Don’t forget to show us your garden celebrations on the 12th May by tweeting and instagramming us @hybridflowerco and @gardendayUK as we would love to see your garden celebrations and your own handmade flower crowns. 

You’re invited!

Look out for beautiful Garden Day postcard invitations inside the May issue of BBC Gardeners’ World magazine out now.  Invitations are part of the toolkit available to every Garden Day host at ww.gardenday.co.uk/toolkit.

Visit www.gardenday.co.uk for more tips, videos and ideas for how to celebrate Garden Day. Follow us and share images of your Garden Day get-togethers with the hashtag #GardenDayUK and tag @GardenDayUK.

Candide Gardening

Garden Day was created by Candide, a new gardening app that connects gardeners with fellow plant-lovers, public gardens and plant nurseries. It aspires to be the gardener’s best friend with a knowledge base of plants, news articles, plant identification, growing tips and garden tours. You can download Candide for free on the App Store or through Google Play.

All photography by the amazing Julian Winslow. 




Our top 3 flowers in Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2019 – Living Coral

As floral designers we get rather excited each year when Pantone release their Colour of the Year however, we much prefer it if the colour is what we at Hybrid consider to be a ‘floral’ colour! For us, a ‘floral’ colour must be the colour of at least five naturally occurring, truly beautiful flowers.

This year’s Pantone Colour of the Year ‘Living Coral’, and last year’s ‘Ultra Violet’, were colourful music to our floral ears (but we have to admit we did have a bit of trouble with turquoise one particular year!).

Here are two little known facts about Living Coral that we really wouldn’t expect you to know:  firstly, it is our Caroline’s all-time favourite colour, referred to in our studio as ‘Caroline’s colour’ and secondly, it is definitely not our Alan’s fave!

Perhaps Alan’s aversion to coral has something to do with the ambiguous nature of the colour, sitting, as it does, somewhere between pink and orange which, for Alan, just doesn’t quite work. Despite being a very natural colour found in things such as well… living coral and flamingos for example it is always greeted with a sense of wonder and bewilderment; just how can nature produce something so vibrant, intense and downright bizarre!? And this is where I suspect his dislike of the colour may lie… for you see there is a commonly held misconception amongst Alan’s friends that he loves flamingos. Indeed, he has amassed quite a collection of kitsch representations of the leggy coral-coloured bird over the years.  But we can now reveal, for the avoidance of any doubt, that our Alan is not a fan of them at all (sorry to break it to you, Alan’s pals!).

For the majority of us at Hybrid Living Coral is a glorious colour, full of warmth and fun, perfect for both spring and summer florals.  We can clearly see it becoming ‘A Thing’ in the floral world this year quite simply because coral coloured flower varieties are utterly beautiful, versatile and unique.  A coral coloured sweet pea for example or even a flamingo coloured tulip will always be held aloft and admired by the florists in our studio. 

According to our good friend Karen Haller, a leading international authority in the field of applied colour psychology:

Coral is a hue that is a beautiful mix of orange and pink. You’ll be familiar with other variations with names such as apricot, peach and salmon where the orange is quite soft, almost pastel with the addition of soft warm pink. Looking at the psychology of this colour it’s a mix of orange’s fun, playful side and the soft pink’s nurturing side – when it comes to romantic colours, this is quite a sensual hue.

Living Coral looks fabulous with bold blue, pink and purple colours for a rich jewel-like palette, and it looks amazingly fresh with lime green.  And if you really want to push the boat out, why not combine coral with butter yellows and lilac tones and for a more eccentric colour scheme (in a good way of course!)?

In the same way that last year we incorporated intense violet coloured hydrangeas and anemones into party designs, and in doing so developed a renewed appreciation for Ultra Violet, we will continue to immerse ourselves in Living Coral as the year progresses and maybe even convert our Alan! We cannot wait to create even more giant vase designs full of yellow, lilac and coral coloured blooms for the ultimate bonkers party-style and we know exactly who we are going to ask to make them!

Here are our top 3 Living Coral Coloured flowers:

1. Camellia: 

Coral coloured camellias start out an intensely orangey pink and provide a much needed hit of vibrant colour in the months of February and March. They then open and turn a more faded apricot colour which looks beautiful against their glossy green leaves. 

2. Peonies:

In a similar way to Camellia, the Coral Charm peony is an outstanding variety which starts it’s colour as an intense, almost luminescent, pink and as it opens, turns into a very pale coloured peach.  It’s an absolute marvel of a flower and looks lovely with frothy acid-green Alchemilla Mollis.

3. Roses:

Coral coloured roses just sing with colour.  Whether it is the tight spiraled versions or the more open garden-style roses, these can look utterly vibrant in any party design and look amazing placed next to nearly any other vibrantly coloured summer flower. 

We are already making predictions for next year’s Pantone colour and keeping our fingers crossed it is another floral one that will match some of our all time favourite blooms.