What were you doing before you started The Garden? Before I opened the The Garden I had set up (and still operate) a landscape and design company doing design, floral and event work and even weddings in 2006. The Garden combines all the aspects of the business into one space and is like a showcase for my work as well as a retail unit in the beautiful Powerscourt Townhouse.
What made you get into flowers? I got a Saturday job in a local nursery that grew its own flowers, so I got experience at home in the West and just began to love working with plants and flowers. We had a large garden at home so once I took an interest my parents kindly let me re-design and plant the garden – sure they were only delighted! My Dad grew vegetables and my grandfather was a keen gardener so I guess it was in the blood. I started growing some blooms arranging them for the house and enjoyed it. I join the local floral group and was the youngest member at 16, I didn’t tell anyone but it gave me an insight into the floristry world and everything that comes with it.
We love your style of arranging, what or who are your influences? My main influence would be landscape round me, the way plants grow in their natural habitats, how the different textures work together. Growing up in Connemara also helped – the landscape and its wild ruggedness inspires me, and there’s a freedom about it that lets you get lost in it.
How would you describe your style? Organic, natural and loose, not too forced. Letting nature speak for itself. I try to use what’s in season in my design work and it can be quite modern although mainly relaxed with a country feel. Again, it depends on what the client is looking for, listening to them is hugely important in order to create something special.
What do you love about it? I love creating things, whether it be a design or bouquet, using the flowers, deciding what works best. I’m happy to try a design and then pull it apart if it doesn’t work. I love the challenge each job can throw at you.
What are the difficult bits? As with any business there’s the paper work and deadlines. And times are challenging in floristry as they are for everyone else in Ireland. You have to be creative about your next idea and think ahead.
Are you noticing people spending more on flowers again – the nice things in life? There seems to be this idea that we are! I think we’ve been more selective in how we spend our few bob. People will buy flowers once a month now, instead of every week. We all deserve a treat every now and again . One thing about the last few years is that there seems to be a huge increase in outdoor activities – keeping fit, running and even growing vegetables and flowers. A lot of my customers ask me for advice on how to grow their plants and their own blooms which is great.
What’s your favourite bloom? Dahlias are my favourite flower at the moment, but I like to treat myself to a favourite flower every year! It’s what I do – one year it was Violas, this year its Dahlias.
What’s your favourite season for flowers? That’s a hard one. I love what each season has to offer. I adore autumn – all the colours, berries, seed heads, Summer’s left-over blooms, leaves turning colour, their fall and when the branches come alive. I would love to visit the East Coast of America at this time of year as I believe the colours are amazing. But our own Wicklow was amazing this year, the hills really came alive with colour.
What is in your ultimate Christmas display? I love creating a Winter garland for the table, keeping it simple with pinus, birch, cinnamon, oranges, lots of twigs, acorns and different confier foliage. The scent it creates is amazing. The table is the focus at Christmas time, so I tend to do it up and decorate in my own home in the West as well.
What will Christmas day be like for you? Are you a traditionalist? I’m a traditionalist in that we mainly do the same thing each year – breakfast quite early, then we exchange gifts and visit my father’s family. Family and friends are hugely important to me and I love how Christmas makes you grateful and makes you think of everyone around you. Both my mum and sister are chefs, so Christmas dinner is amazing and I really look forward to it. My three brothers are in Australia, so in the afternoon we’re on FaceTime, as it’s the best way to keep in touch through the holidays. I also have a niece and nephew, Eve and Aodhfin, so its loads of fun to have them around.
What’s your favourite Christmas song? Silent Night, Bing Crosby: I guess it reminds me of when we used to put the tree up at home. Mum would always play Christmas music and by the time the lights were on the six of us kids would be screaming at her to change to modern Christmas music!
Photography by Ailbhe O’Donnell