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Interview: Making Arrangements

Posted: Jun 05 2016

If you haven’t been lucky enough to have already met our newest member and friendly face ‘Caroline Miller’, we thought we’d give her a little introduction here on the blog… a little bit about her and her floristry skills, as well as some handy tips for styling and keeping flowers fresh in your home! Caroline brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from the floristry industry which can be applied to decorating and styling your home. She'd love to meet you all so please pop into store to say hello on Sundays and Mondays in Huskisson!

Caroline, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, what inspires you and life on the South Coast?
I have always had a keen interest in what nature produces.

There is something very special about watching the cycle of life - a seed becoming a seedling becoming a flower and then become a seed again I never get sick of watching that. Being brought up on a dairy farm in Berry has a lot to do with my passion for nature and in particular flowers.


I moved to Sydney for a few years it was an intense time of learning all about flowers and floristry. During this time I worked for a well-known florist Saskia Havekes at Grandiflora. It was here that I found a fire for flowers and I just knew I would be surrounded by flowers for the rest of my life. After a few years the yearn to moved back down the south coast finally got the better of me, and that’s when Flowers On the Mill was established.

 Flowers On The Mill was established in 2015 just last year.

I am lucky my great uncle Gus who is 91 this year almost loves flowers as much as I do has allowed me to use part of his house as a flower studio. Gus has lived in the house his whole life and before that it belonged to his parents he loves to watch and see all the action that takes place in the front section of his home. It’s given the house a new life and it gives Gus a good excuse to spend time at home instead of spending all his days at the dairy.
 
Everyday in the studio is always changing, flowers come in and flowers go out it’s a great place to get lost in time. To be intertwined with so much of nature is a great thrill of mine. One of my favourite things to do is sit in the windowsill and look over the paddocks watching all the cattle move from milk shed to paddock with all my special flowers around me, Its in those glimpses of time life feels perfect.

I normally go to the flower markets 2-3 times a week to pick up supplies for my corporate clients, for all those special gift bunches, flowers for house installations and weddings. On these market mornings my day starts early, I try and get out the door by 1.45AM to ensure I get a good car spot and enough time for a coffee before the roller doors open at 5AM and its all systems go from there.

A lot of inspiration comes from the markets; the thrill of finding that one off bit of nature and the excitement of the start of a new season is what makes the early mornings worth it for me.

What's a quick arrangement to pull together if your pressed for time?

If I'm on a deadline and pressed for time an element like flowering magnolia or a blossom branch creates an impact and has a great natural shape. That's the trickiest and most time consuming part of creating an arrangement- Its developing that shape. Once the shape or the "bones" of the arrangement are there its like colouring in the blanks with the flowers of your choosing. A combination of romantic nude roses and soft coloured cymbidium orchids are a few favourites of mine right now. The key is to keep the flowers loose and natural just like nature intended.


What are some of your favourite vessels to put flowers in? Are there any household items you've repurposed?

Right now for me its all about marble and copper. I find a simple cylindrical style best. It’s a rare occasion my marble hurricane From Few and Far is without a bloom or two!

I have a very eclectic style. I’m forever daydreaming about a table setting for a special party or wedding where the guests sit at a long natural wood table with lush moist moss, maiden hair ferns and purple pansy plants combined with all types of exotic specimen flowers such as dark purple vandal orchids, coral and crimson open peonies, and rosemary en masse  in Brass lassi cups and dusty pink peacock tumblers. Its making my mouth water, This is my idea of heaven...

I do love to re-purpose. I have a collection of containers that once held scented candles and I'm forever saving old jam jars. There my go to for a cluster of open garden roses these vessels are the perfect size for the kitchen window sill or bathroom counter top.

Do you have any tips for making statement arrangements on a budget?

Flowers are similar to fresh fruit and veg, its more economical to buy flowers in season. Ask your local florist for there recommendation on whats good value and beautiful. Flowers en masse or in the same colour tone always makes a statement.

Greenery cut locally from either your backyard or a friends place always looks really effective also, weather its a bunch of camellia or a few stems of monstria leaves it looks great and lasts well.

What are your favourite flowers?

That's a tricky one its constantly changing I'm such a flower lover i can never really choose i guess it depends on the seasons and what looks most fresh at the markets. In summer I'm a sucker for Large heads of strong hydrangeas, scented garden roses and Coral charm peonies. Autumn brings colourful poppies and unusual shaped cymbidium orchids. Winter is one of my favourite times for flowers there are so many beautiful things scented Daphne, flowering magnolia branches and sweet pea are couple of the winter winners and finally with spring comes ranunculus, anemones, pink waratahs and lily of the valley.

How do we keep our arrangements looking fresh and lasting longer?

Rule number one is to cut the stems and change the water every second day this is important and it really does make difference to the longevity of the flowers.
Try and keep the flowers out of the direct sunlight where possible and keep the flowers as cool as possible. Try and restrain from putting them too close to a heater or fireplace in the cooler months. To keep them looking great for longer remove any petals or leaves that have aged quicker then other blooms. This will keep the whole arrangement looking fresh.
Photography by Sam Riles Photography.

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