Blog:Horticulturist

Sarah Diligent from Floribunda Rose

Gyan Gurung Photography, 2019

Gyan Gurung Photography, 2019

Since it´s launch in 2014 ”Floribunda Rose” has become a well established business and recognised brand in within the contemporary floral world. Sarah Diligent has created a sustainable business unlike any other.

Not known for its exotic arrangements but for its love to all things wild and seasonal. Including any techniques used.
With sustainable issues currently arising within the floriculture industry Sarah acts as an advocate for considered floral-design embracing the absence of floral foam, the greatly reduces use of single use plastics and taking care of the carbon footprint by using the best high quality florals available in the country: British Grown Flowers.

Gyan Gurung Photography, 2019

Gyan Gurung Photography, 2019

As part of the floral revolution she creates for brides and events as well as working creatively on floral installations. Her creations are of abundant and natural character and often complemented by foraging finds from the British countryside.

In 2018 she created a floral installation for the garden museum in London to celebrate British Flower Week inspiring the crowds with seasonal beauty and considered floral design.

Sarah is besides creating hosting and teaching workshops and events in her Floribunda studio as well as talking about her floral revolution at events such as the RHS Malvern Autumn Show.

I had the pleasure to ask her a few questions about her path, her strong eco-friendly values and her upcoming projects.

Gyan Gurung Photography, 2019

Gyan Gurung Photography, 2019

Have you always had a connection with Horticulture? 

Yes, I’ve always loved flowers, plants and trees. From eating gorgeous juicy strawberries in my grandfather’s garden to watching bees and butterflies drift toward and away from the Buddleja x weyeriana 'Sungold' as I lay in the garden at home in the long summer holidays, I’ve always felt happiest in nature, whether in the garden or wandering through the woods looking out for snowdrops, bluebells, ferns, or shiny brown conkers.
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How did you become a floral designer/florist? 

My first foray into floristry was in 2012 at Green and Gorgeous in Oxfordshire, I learned how to make a bouquet and a buttonhole as well as a tea cup arrangement using beautiful home-grown British flowers and got to look around their beautiful flower farm.  I loved the whole experience and was interested in the possibility of arranging some of the flowers for my own wedding so embarked on a floristry course at Merrist Wood College where I learned traditional floristry techniques designing in floral foam, wiring and making hand tied bouquets etc.  

I went on as many courses as I could find which used British flowers after that as I found it really challenging to attain a wild and natural feel when working with imported flowers (and wasn’t a fan of the carbon footprint either).

The more floristry I did the more I wanted to do (and that’s still the case now).  The more I learned, the more I realised I needed to learn.  

It was just completely obvious to me that with flowers I had found my ‘thing’, that is, I found that I could say with flowers that which I couldn’t say in any other way.  

I wanted more and more of that, having a creative outlet that was so satisfying and to be able to make other people happy too, well that was intoxicating.

I found a converted garage to rent as a studio and a florist who was willing to train me. She set me ‘real world’ challenges, giving me set times to make 20 buttonholes etc. rather than a whole afternoon as had been the case on courses… 6 months later and feeling more than a little nervous I launched Floribunda Rose. 

I made plenty of mistakes along the way, each time something didn’t work though instead of throwing in the towel I learned, pivoted the direction of my business and amended my business plan. I vowed to do better and to make it work.  

Almost 5 years down the line (in April) I’ve just launched another floristry business with a talented designer which has a different vibe and I think the two businesses will work beautifully alongside one another.  I’m incredibly excited for all that Floribunda Rose has in store and for Purgatory Floral too.
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Is there a story behind choosing Floribunda Rose as your business name? 

I loved Latin as a child and adore fragrant garden roses, so when I was thinking about names for the business, I kept coming back to Floribundus (flowering freely) and Abundas (copious or generous) and with my love of Roses I had to include them somehow and decided upon Floribunda Rose. I wanted to be known for natural, abundant indulgent floral design. 
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You are a clear advocate of considered floral design - What does this mean to you?

To me this speaks of considering every element.  Thinking about each and every ingredient. Considering which textures, fragrances and colours of florals and foliages to use and to taking into account the provenance of every element. By using British flowers, I know that every stem I use will be both seasonal and sustainable.   Not using elements which cause harm but keeping my carbon footprint low through using home grown flowers and foliages and not using single use plastics is enormously important to me.
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How can florists nowadays be more considered in their daily work?

I have looked at what I can do, provenance and waste are issues I’m keen to address… and the more I do, the more I find I can do.  I’d hate to tell anyone else what they should be doing though.  Hope that doesn’t sound like a cop out! 
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What has been a highlight in your career so far? 

Well there have been so many! A huge highlight was launching the Floribunda Rose Flower School last year and holding the career change course that I wish had existed when I was starting out.  I also had a fantastic time at Chelsea Flower Show with Flowers from The Farm where we won gold! It was an honour to be asked to exhibit and give a talk at the Malvern Autumn spectacular too.  The thing that I’m proudest of though is the feedback that my clients and students give, my team and I work our socks off and the thank you letters really do buoy us up on long hot (or freezing cold) days of prepping, making and installing flowers.  
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What has been the most difficult part of your journey in establishing a successful bespoke business that relies on British flowers and foraged foliage?

Sourcing flowers was a massive challenge initially, the discovery of Flowers from The Farm was a total game changer though… suddenly I was aware of a multitude of wonderful growers. Finding GB Foliage at New Covent Garden Flower Market was a huge thing for me too, as they have a multitude of interesting and beautiful British foliages which I simply wouldn’t have the time to forage myself.  Now that I have a great network of fantastic growers that I know and trust (they work so hard to ensure that their flowers are of a high standard as well as beautiful, they really do pour their hearts and souls into growing great flowers) life is more straightforward but working with a perishable product is always going to have its challenges.  
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Where do you see you and your business growing to in the future? 

I’d love to see Floribunda Rose go from strength to strength. To see students come to the flower school and learn eco-friendly techniques using British flowers fills me with joy so I’d love for the flower school to grow.  Wedding flowers will always be special to me and while I take on fewer weddings than I did these days I still love each and every one.  Purgatory floral is not a typical floristry company, we create one off, hyper seasonal installations for interesting people and I’m excited to see this grow too! 
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What advice would you give to a young horticulturist?

Well I’m not sure I’m in any place to advise a young horticulturist but… The advice I’d give anyone who wanted some would be:  follow your dreams, keep learning, work your butt off and be the very best you can. 

Emma Pilkington Photography, 2018

Emma Pilkington Photography, 2018


And if you want to follow Sarah´s floral revolution have a look at:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/floribundaroseflorists/

or

Learn how she creates wild beauty without floral foam and flown-in produce:
https://www.floribundarose.com 


Why not support her latest venture of writing a book all about sustainable floral mechanics:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/sarahdiligent/a-guide-to-floral-mechanics/description


Photography:

Emma Pilkington: https://www.instagram.com/epilkingtonwed/

Gyan Gurung: https://www.instagram.com/gyangurungphoto/