Mark Grehan is an award-winning freelance landscape designer and owner of the Dublin-based flower shop, The Garden. He has worked in creative floristry since 2003 and is no stranger to wedding florals. Here, we discover Mark’s top tips for creating the perfect wedding bouquet, his favourite flower combinations for autumn and where you can find the most beautiful flowers and foliage at this time of year.
Tell us a bit about you and The Garden.
I’m from Galway originally and set up my business 10 years ago. The Garden shop is in its sixth year of business here in Dublin. I wanted to open a different kind of flower shop staying true to nature and all that it brings, to create a relaxed environment to shop, similar to the way I approach my landscape design work.
Have you always been interested in a career in florals?
My granddad was a keen gardener so maybe it was in my blood. It also had to do with our garden and the fields around my childhood home.
Are flowers always present in your home?
I tend not to have cut flowers from the shop at home, which is bad I know. On the plus side though, it’s full of plants – from my 12-year-old cactus to a mix of succulents, foliage, and evergreens. You can never have enough plants in your home and I love the atmosphere they create.
How do you approach styling floral arrangements for a wedding and where do you look to for inspiration?
I listen to the thoughts, ideas, and requirements of the bride, groom or wedding planner (it’s one of the most important aspects of any job). I also try to draw inspiration from the season. For November weddings, I like to use seed heads and some branches to augment the florals. However, we have had requests for summer peonies in December which is possible if you are prepared to pay for the air miles.
I also draw inspiration from where the wedding is located, whether it be an old Georgian house, modern villa, or city hotel and try not to overcomplicate it.
Do you have a signature style?
My style tends to be natural, drawing inspiration from the landscape. I like to try and re-create how plants and flowers grow in their natural environment within my work. My style is relaxed, wild and masculine, letting the flowers, blooms, and foliage speak for themselves.
What are your favourite flower combinations for an autumn wedding? Are there certain colours or flowers you love to work with in autumn?
My favourite combinations for autumn weddings are using cotinus foliage with sedum autumnalis, dark flowering dahlias, and crocosmia mckenzie. I also use hydrangea autumnalis, which have beautiful green flower heads that turn a pink and red colour, as the days get shorter and colder. I also like adding some seed heads like echinacea, scabosia and poppies. In addition, roses such as piano dark red and pink add a hint of elegance and sophistication.
What tips do you have for brides when it comes to choosing their bouquets, and flower combinations?
I mostly tell brides to select flowers after they purchase the dress. It’s important to have a bouquet that suits the dress, so that its size will be in proportion to your height and style of dress. It’s also nice to try to include a flower or bloom that represents something in your life or evokes a memory.
Generally, the style of bouquet you choose will help in choosing the florals for the ceremony or reception. It’s also good not to get overloaded with ideas from the likes of Pinterest, blogs, and magazines, even though it’s hard when everything on them is so beautiful.
A good tip is to stick with the season, go with seasonal blooms and take it from there.
And finally, are there any places you love at this time of year for flowers and foliage that you would describe as a must see?
Upstate New York and the city of Manhattan around East Village in autumn. All the trees turn those amazing colours, especially in October with the first frost. In Ireland, the drive up the Dublin Mountains from Enniskerry up towards Glencree onto the Sally Gap is beautiful in late October.