We are continuing our ‘We Love’ blog series featuring the creative floral design duo Becca and Maz from The Garden Gate Flower Company. They only use seasonal, organic flowers, grown on Becca’s family farm, and design the most beautiful arrangements that reflect the seasons. The final arrangements are always unique, individual and a little wild, as the flowers and foliage they use are either home-grown or picked from the local environment, using plenty of foliage. Their arrangements always work in harmony with the setting you find them in.
How did you first begin working in floral design?
We started growing our own flowers because we noticed how restrictive the range of flowers most could buy were very limiting. Becca and I had small children and had met at pre-school and we were looking for a way to work doing something we actually enjoyed whilst looking after our children. Becca’s family have a farm and so it all seemed like a good idea!
Please describe your floral design style
It’s very natural, loose and wild. We use foliage as much as we use flowers and we always try to include something scented. We try to only use our own flowers, and when we buy in we buy from local growers so our look is always very cohesive, seasonal and reflects the place, always. Within this range we can follow through different styles and colour schemes and work with clients’ ideas.
Has your style evolved over time? If so, how?
A few years ago we attended The Little Flower School in London. That really gave us the confidence to experiment a little with different flowers and foliage, and a skill set on which to base everything we have done up-to now. Our style has changed with the times. I don’t think many people can ignore trends in colour.
Describe your studio/workspace
We work in a row of old stone barns, with stable doors so it’s always cool in summer and freezing in winter. The light is fantastic for taking photographs of flowers. The stables are beside the farmhouse, where Penny, Becca’s mum, lives, and there is always a warm bowl of soup or cup of tea ready to warm us up. It is also right in the middle of our flower patch, so we can pick and arrange and pick again really easily. This makes our work really fit with the flowers we have growing, as we can go off and find just the right stem for the right place whenever we feel like it.
Do you have a favourite job that you’ve worked on to date?
We loved our first really big workshop. We always enjoy workshops because of the range of ideas and focus of creativity, and really love seeing how people respond to our flowers and how they put them together. At Boconnoc this May all this came together and we got to work with Ashley from Tinge Floral who was just amazing to work with. Boconnoc is an amazing venue, and so beautiful in spring. Emily Scott cooked us the most amazing lunch, we worked with a fantastic bunch of people and we really hope our attendees got as much out of it as we did. We always love to work with Taylor and Porter Fine Art Film Photography and their imagery is always a great way to record all of our work. Learning and teaching always go hand in hand and we can’t wait for our next collaborative workshop with Amy Merrick in September.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to get into floral design?
Be prepared to practice a lot. Don’t make anything too fast, and really think about each stem you place. Don’t be afraid to start again if you are not happy or pull out a stem if it doesn’t work. Focus your business carefully, and ask yourself if the aim of each job you take is taking you in the right direction. Go and learn from people you admire, stylists, artists, business people, gardeners, photographers, whoever, and take on key skills to apply to your own work.
Do you have any favourite flowers?
It really depends on the time of year, roses are always a favourite, colour, scent, shape, texture, they have it all, and they repeat flower all summer.
Do you have a favourite season for florals and why?
In Cornwall we love early autumn the best. Spring and summer in the garden are hectic, and wedding season is in full swing. By late September everything is calming down, but its still warm and it seems as if there is more time to enjoy what we do. This is the best time to forage too, as autumn foliage and fruit are spilling from the hedgerows.
Career highlight so far?
Sometimes the smallest weddings where everyone is happy and the venue looks amazing are the best. We had a wedding at Boconnoc last autumn with the most lovely couple who let us have quite a bit of freedom when it came to flowers. We used lots and lots of our home-grown roses in peaches, creams and faded pinks and beautiful foliage in shades of autumn. The whole thing looked fabulous, as we could use the vases we ken looked best with the flowers, which looked best in the garden the day before the wedding. Boconnoc is fairly near us and we have got to know what looks good where. Everything came together that day, in its own fairly understated way, and the bride and groom were so pleased, which really is all we can ask for.
Any advice for brides choosing their wedding florist and/or the style of their wedding flowers?
Choose a florist whose style and ethos is really what you are looking for. Have a good look through their website or social media to see the flowers they use seasonally. Work with your budget and your florist and have a good chat about what you can get for your money. We have a styled service and work at fairly big venues and also have a smaller ‘ready-to-wear’ service where those on a smaller budget can have the same quality of design and flowers but collect it themselves, and have fewer items. Trust your florist to decide what might work as this is their job, after all, and you are paying for their skills and experience in this area. If you have found a photographer, caterer or hairdresser you really like ask for their advice with other vendors. We often work with the same people at weddings and find that the weddings where we know the style of the food, the place or the photographs end up being the best. We often recommend photographers and suppliers too.