The wilderness and purity of nature has captured many artists in the past decades, translating their dreams and passions into paintings, sculptures, whole movements of greenery and floristry.
Creating wild and seasonal moments of astonishment and taking our breaths away with just a pinch of lightness has become a speciality of Fiona Pickles, based in Yorkshire.
Utilising her skills, through being trained in print into imagining wild and fantastic floral artwork of intricate colour compositions made her one of the top 20 creative florists in the country.
Fiona Pickles build up her reputation through hard work and passion in an age without social media and she did it with bringing more of nature into our homes.
I had the pleasure of asking her a few questions about her career and her passion:
“What developed your unique style of floristry, besides your skills learned in fine art print?”
My style of floristry comes very much from my passion for gardening, its also where I gained my understanding of unusual flowers, plants and seasonality.
I started gardening when we moved into our first house and have been obsessed ever since. Ironically, leaving employment to set up my own business meant I ended up spending a lot less time in the garden, weddings having taken over, but a few years ago I made a conscious decision to redress the balance and i feel now i am in the wonderful position of linking my business to my horticultural passion.
“Is there an anecdote or short story that led you to choosing your grandmothers name, was she as inspired by seasonality and nature as you are?“
When i started the business I spent months trying to settle on a name and ran through all sorts of options. I quickly ruled out using my own name, rather negatively, in case of future problems.
I considered elvish type names from Lord of the Rings ( I fell in love with Legolas the Elf reading The Hobbit in my youth, their link to nature and everything they stand for really resonates with me) and I also have had a life long love of the moon and considered incorporating that somehow.
Eventually I decided to keep it personal and name it after a family member and being close to my maternal grandmother Florence (known as Flo), so i settled on that. I just liked the “Z” in the italian derivative of her name. Nana wasn’t really a gardener, or florist, but she was very creative, a keen dressmaker, cook and sweet maker, which I’m afraid I haven’t inherited!
“Having created your business pre social-media, what was it like to establish yourself as a top wedding florist and floral designer? “
Starting out in 2005, before social media and not having a shop was hard, very hard. I regularly attended networking events in the vague hope of meeting maybe one person who might need some flowers.
Each meeting meant at least an hours round trip, plus a couple of hours at the event itself so was at least half a day, often a full day. So, my advice to everyone in our sort of business is now to embrace the immediacy and ease of social media to market your business to a targeted audience, I would have killed for that sort of opportunity when I was starting out.
A good Instagram account is easy to set up, is free and with a bit of practice and understanding how it works you can build up a large following of like minded people very quickly who you can then sell to relatively easily.
“What advice would you give a young Horticulturist”?
Follow your heart and don’t feel pressured to go down a certain route for whatever reason, I did and I wonder how different things might have been if I had truly followed my heart back in the early years of the business:
For my first ever photo shoot I created a bouquet and a buttonhole made entirely from flowers I picked from the garden, all honeysuckle, herbs and roses, this reflected me and everything i loved but afterwards I worried that others would look at my work and think I was ‘playing at it’ or ‘didn’t have access to ‘proper’ flowers so i moved away from this direction and followed a more ‘conventional’ path. This thought of mine of course was ridiculous but it shows how your mind can play tricks on you and make you take a wrong route. I feel I have come back to that place now and have learned an amazing amount on the way so it probably all worked out for the best in the end!
Look after your back! Years of standing up, working on weddings and pushing myself way beyond tiredness instead of resting has taken it’s toll on my back and it now means I struggle to stand up for any length of time (a familiar tale to most, if not all, florists I suspect) .Ironically I find a good digging session in the garden easier on my back that just standing still at my workbench.
“After creating a successful business and being one of the Top 20 creative florists in the country as well as being featured in Vogue do you have any future plans and dreams you would like to realise? “
I guess there are always things I would love to achieve, some modest and ‘doable’ some (one in particular!) ridiculously over ambitious and highly unlikely to ever come off (it’s so ridiculous I wouldn’t have the audacity to breathe it out loud, but if it ever happens I will be the first to share it with you!!!).
The thing I think I love the most is travelling around the country , seeing new places and meeting new, like-minded people - my favourite part of weddings was (and still is) setting up day - heading off to often unknown places, down tiny country lanes, over dramatic hills or even just down the motorway - I get a huge rush of excitement and anticipation. My future plans will possibly/probably extend this to travelling abroad - maybe for overseas workshops or collaborations, I remain open minded and just relish the opportunity to get a kick out of doing something I love.
With a new year beginning and a new floral season slowly starting to emerge, we are looking forward to new magical creations and stories from Fiona Pickles.
One pinch of nature at a time.
If you would like to find out more about Fiona and her business then follow the link to her website:
Or follow her and her creations on social media.
Find out more about the Photographers that have captured Fiona´s Work:
Melissa Beattie: https://www.instagram.com/melissabeattiephotography/
Nicola Dixon: https://www.instagram.com/nicoladixonphotographyco/
Holly Rattray: https://www.instagram.com/belle_andbeau/