Lucy Hunter is well known for her spellbinding captions and brilliant floral designs capturing her vision and empathy for nature throughout the seasons as “The Flower Hunter” on Instagram.
Besides creating seasonal magic and sharing witty stories from her daily endeavours in life she is running a successful Landscaping Company under her name.
Having created several award winning designs at RHS Shows emphasising her passion for atmosphere and her bold modern planting she has made herself renowned in the field of Horticulture as well as Floral Design being published by Couture Flower Magazine and having a spread in the brilliant floral book “My Floral Affair” by Rachel Ashwell.
I had the pleasure to ask her about her influences, her path to success and her passion:
How has creating “little gardens” as a child and growing up with a grandmother who gardened shaped your ideas and inspirations translating them into landscape design?
Memories of spending time with my grandmother in her garden are very peaceful ones. I grew up in suburban south east London. It was busy. There wasn’t much space. Her garden wasn’t huge but I loved it. I became totally absorbed in creating a small story. It taught me to look closely at and consider every element that I took from the garden and how that had a place on my little story board. I seem to have carried that with me and now still instinctively design gardens and landscapes that have the threads of the surrounding landscaping woven through. I’m drawn towards images and indeed try to create images that are authentic in their narrative. I am obsessed by detail.
What is the story ofmoving froma fine art degree to becoming a landscape designer and how was they journey like from being a renowned landscape designer to a cherished floral stylist?
It really didn’t occur to me to become a gardener when I left school. I knew I was creative and I knew I felt most at ease when outside in large open spaces but other than that I was an 18yr old without much direction really (something I have to remind myself of when I worry about my teenage son now). So, I went to university and embarked on a Fine Arts degree. I wafted around with a paintbrush for 3years trying to find a direction and purpose. Then I meet my husband. We started a family and moved to a tiny cottage in Cheshire with a garden. I rediscovered the pleasures of spending time outside with a small child in a pram. A few years later with my son at school I went back to college and studied Garden Design. Finally, I had a direction that made sense and consuming passion for flowers. Over the years my business has grown into a company and the jobs become bigger the kudos of running a multi-million-pound projects also brought with it the serious side of running a business though and I could feel my passion burning out. Rather than having time to stop and notice the authentic details that are so important to me I was spending time looking at spreadsheets, calculating vat returns, scratching my head over lighting plans and trying to understand the complexities of running an entire irrigation system off two newly constructed 2 acre lakes for a client. I needed to stop and stare again. I needed time to be able pursue the perfection that I continually strive for and yet seems to allude us all. I needed to just shift the focus and direction slightly and flower design and styling has given me that.
What inspires you most in an English Landscape garden and do you have an aspirational Garden Designer from the past?
I am hugely drawn to and inspired by landscapes that is quietly unassuming and draws from its surrounding narrative. We are very lucky to have had incredible landscaper designers in the past that have actually made the English landscape what it is today. England would be a very different place if we hadn’t had Brown and Repton changing the horizon. I adore the red books Repton constructed for his clients. I’m not sure many clients would commission this amount of work these days but visuals are still so important in selling the spark of an idea. The books of Arne Maynard fill my bookshelves as do Axel Verdoodt and Hans Bloomquist providing inspiration that links the past to the present day.
Is there any highlight in your career as a landscape designer and/or a floral stylist?
I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing clients over the past 17years and while it nearly killed me at the time turning 27acres of potato fields into a landscape for a client was a defiantly a hi-light. To know that some of those trees that we were planting then will be around in 150 years is a huge responsibility and privilege. I wasn’t sure how I would ever top that but then the world of floral design and Instagram beckoned and that throws up new interesting opportunities every week, it was a delight to welcome ‘Rachel Ashwell’
into our home last year and be featured in her new book ‘My floral affair’. However, the pinnacle was possibly been asked this year by the RHS to create a floral display for their letters for the Chelsea show. I’ve visited Chelsea every ear for 25yrs so to be apart of it was a dream.
Who is your secret (maybe not so secret anymore) floral-design crush?
I admire a large number of people in the floral design world but I think if had to choose one person then it would probably be Gabriela of ‘La Musa De Las Flores’. Her work is so thoughtful and considered. She gardens and adores flowers, colour and authentic detail and this shines through in her arrangements. She is also completely down to earth and very funny. She makes me laugh.
Having won RHSMedals for show gardens as well as winning “Designer of the Year” twice howhas the experience differed at this year’sChelsea Flower showcreating the blooming RHS Letters?
I adore creating show gardens. Its total theatre and the finished result is a fleeting snapshot in time; a bit like one of my still life images that I create for IG….but bigger. To win a gold medal at an RHS show it has to be horticulturally correct. You create and submit a brief and within that the planting must be viable. Placing shrubs that thrive in a moist woodland situation next to a shrub that loves to bake in the sun is not going to win you a medal of any colour. The same obviously applies to a clients garden. Get it wrong there and you’ll end up with an unhappy client and very unhappy garden. Arguably floral design is more theatre. Anything goes. Its more about texture and colour and if you want to create drama by placing tropical Anthurium’s next to Geum’s then no one will pick you up on it. But I need my floral design to feel authentic. So I approached the letters at Chelsea as I would a show garden. We mixed planting and cut flowers.
Are there anymisconceptions when it comes to building a show garden?
Well Its not glamourous in anyway whatsoever and very little wafting goes on!
Besides designing landscapes and creating floral arrangements you wrote a fewarticles in “Concept for Living”. Has being a garden writer and plant expert been one of your dreams?
I really don’t think I’d ever call myself a plant expert. The more I learn the more I realise I really don’t know. I do enjoy writing, though it certainly wasn’t on my list of things I thought I would ever do. I’m not very good at sitting inside or still.
What great project comes next for you and your two businesses?
I have a few large and extensive landscapes on my drawing board at the moment which are going to need quite a lot of my time and attention over the next year.
I’m also designing a show garden for Chelsea RHS in 2019 that combines garden design and floral styling and will be busy looking for a sponsor for that. Otherwise I’m enjoying the sometimes-unexpected journey that this flowery world is taking me on.
What advice would you give a young Horticulturist?
Read, read, read books on gardening, plants or anything that inspires and fires the passion in you. I adore the writings of Dan Pearson and the late Beth Chatto. Get up and get your hands dirty. Feel the soil under your fingernails. Really study plants and understand where they have originated from. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and enjoy the changing seasons.
You can follow Lucy and her brilliant anecdotes complementing her work as a designer at her:
and dive into her magic on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lucymhunter/
Or have a look at her stunning website if you can’t get enough of Lucy´s storytelling: https://www.theflowerhunter.co.uk