Saturday, October 31, 2009

I'd like to introduce you to.........Paula Pryke

A modern day Constance Spry.

Her book, The New Floral Artist (published 1993) was the first flower book I ever bought (1997). And I never looked back. I fell in love...fully and completely.

What fabulous textures and colours -- all of autumn in one wreath !

You see, prior to flowers, I had worked in the really rough world of politics. I had studied Political Science at university. And as you might well imagine, I wanted to see change in the world. So with the arrogance of youth on my side I embarked on a career in the political realm. Ohhhh, how naive I was. Without going into any great detail, suffice it to say, politics was not my calling.

This epitomises summer and romance for me.

Soooo,  in 1997 I was living in London (working for a politician) and one day I found myself in Paula Pryke's flower shop in Islington. I don't know why I walked in as I had never been in a flower shop before. Flowers didn't interest me. I thought it was a trivial waste of time and felt there were more important things to do. 

But somehow I was drawn in. Maybe it was the glorious window display. But I suspect it was more likely my stressed out state of mind. I needed to relax and not think about work. It was Christmas and the shop was so incredibly beautiful, overflowing with flowers, exquisite bouquets, breathtaking wreaths and sumptuous garlands. The florists in their black aprons were wrapping flowers in the most elegant manner with the prettiest tissue papers and ribbons. My head literally spinned in this grotto of beauty.

On one of the consoles was the book, the one that would change the direction of my life. I purchased it, went home and read it, studied it and then reread it hundreds of times over the next few months. I memorized the ingredients to all of the arrangements, the flower names and the histories Ms. Pryke told of this wonderful world of flowers. The styling, the colour combinations, the containers.

Detailed description of how to create a painterly floral still life.

Isn't this exquisite ?

A fantastic bouquet of delphiniums in an antique pot !
Paula Pryke has written many books since, but this was my bible. I literally learned all about flowers and flower arranging from this modern day Constance Spry and The New Floral Artist. She has certainly influenced a generation of florists.


  1. Amazing--both the book and your story. I so loved reading how you came to find your calling, especially since it was that glorious shop and book that started you on your journey. Her work is, indeed, breathtaking. These images were the perfect way to start my day! xoxo Gigi

  2. The beautiful flowers can be placed at home for decoration. Besides this, they can be gifted. There are few service providers like that provide affordable flower delivery services.

  3. I remember only two flower shops in London: one that was part of Liberty and one that I recall as being an outdoor stand attached to Bibendum, a smart restaurant housed in a former Michelin plant (no pun intended there).

  4. Hi Gigi,
    As always, thank you so much for visiting. You
    definitely are a flower gal!!!

    Hi there Miss Cavendish,
    In fact the one at Liberty was Paula Pryke at Liberty. It's now Wild at Heart at Liberty (I worked at W@H). And yes, I believe it was John Carter flowers at Bibendum (another wonderful florist). Thanks for checking in by the way. I always enjoy your blog !

  5. I love this post. I too come from a more "conventional" background and experienced a crack in my creative and vocational world opened when I came across the entire collection of Bloom Magazines at a friends house in Hawaii. 2 years later, I'm getting ready to launch my own floral design studio here in Victoria BC. Thanks so much for your wonderful stories and inspiration!



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