Karen Watson of This Floral Life is Florist in Residence at Cowdray House.
Karen also nurtures the Cutting Garden in the grounds of the luxury, 22 bedroom exclusive use venue.
We asked Karen some questions, all things floristry:
- What encouraged you to become a florist?
Having worked in the fashion industry for many years and as a Buyer and Fashion Director of Harvey Nichols I was lucky enough to attend some fabulous events, dinners and shows where the floristry was always incredible. I had my own allotment at the time where I grew flowers and used to sit my desk dreaming of working with them until one day, I decided to make it happen and set up This Floral Life.
- What is your favourite part about being a florist?
I went to art school, worked in fashion and have always loved gardening and nature; being a florist marries together all my interests as designer, gardener and nature lover. I love creating unique, personal events and weddings for a variety of wonderful clients. Floristry is also about teamwork and I’m lucky to have a brilliant and fun freelance team who I have worked with for many years now.
- You run a sustainable floristry business. Could you tell us how being sustainable changes the way you work?
Sustainability is incredibly important to me and as florists we work together with nature and have a duty, as we all do, to protect it. We bought an electric van for our business (This Floral Life) two years ago as we wanted to create a truly local business and did not want to travel miles away for our work. We don’t use any green or black floral foam in our work (a toxic, bonded plastic material that is not biodegradable), we also use plants in our work where possible and we grow flowers in our cutting gardens at home and at Cowdray House.
- What are your favourite flowers and colours to work with at Cowdray House?
I love to work with the seasons. Bringing the outside in really works at Cowdray House because the gardens are so beautiful and full of seasonal colour.
- You run the cutting garden at Cowdray House. What have you planted for the year ahead?
We’ve planted foliage and flowering branches for autumn and spring next year, dahlias (they were amazing last year), jasmine, honeysuckle, clematis, lilac, verbena, scented geranium, cosmos, lots and lots of gorgeous summer flowers that we’ve planted from seed.
- What flowers would you recommend for a spring Wedding?
I love seasonal flowers and spring is a wonderful time for flowers so I would definitely recommend bringing the outside in with scented Jonquils, Ranunculus, Fritillaries, Spirea, Hellebores, Bluebells, Tulips, Lily of the Valley, Catkins, flowering branches of Magnolia, Hawthorn, Forsythia…the list is endless! It’s a great time to marry.
- What do you enjoy most about working with Cowdray House?
Cowdray House is the perfect venue. Nestled in the South Downs National Park with fabulous views from every window and with the most luxurious and beautifully furnished rooms. It is a joy designing flowers that enhance this incredible house. The team at Cowdray House are also amazing to work with. The atmosphere is relaxed and it’s literally five minutes away from my home and studio.
- What one piece of floral advice would you give to brides when planning their blooms for their wedding day?
Choose flowers that are in season for your wedding day as they’ll look so much more beautiful and natural than out of season hot house grown flowers. They’ll also be in flower every year for your wedding anniversary. I would also add some seasonal scented flowers to your bouquet. Scent and memory are closely connected.
- What do you think is the most essential aspect about choosing flowers for a wedding?
Choose a good florist whose work you love. A really good florist will work to get to know you, what you love (and don’t like!) and bring the vision you have for your wedding to life. Your wedding should be unique and utterly personal to you.