A couple of days before sitting down to write this, we posted a bouquet by Essex florist Nicki Hedin – aka Flowers From My Garden - on our Instagram page. The dahlias and zinnias burst from the square frame in lustful shades of red and purple, bobbing above a sea of country-green foliage. Someone in the office, a city-dweller all their life, said it felt like looking at the country garden they’d always dreamed of as a child, distilled into one tight bundle of twine-wrapped stems. Someone else said it’s rich colours and subtle wilderness made them think of a naughty romp on a sun-dazed afternoon, stretched out across some rolling hill with only the odd bumble bee for company…
…Which was weird because no sooner had those words left the mouth of this particularly deviant member of the Floom team, a comment popped up under the Instagram post from one of Nicki’s bee-keeping countryside neighbours, saying that her wards always buzz on over to the cutting gardens where Nicki grew these very blooms. A rather more wholesome image I think we can all agree, but also one that offers an insight into just how special Nicki’s floristry is.
You see, unlike many florists, who make the twilight pilgrimage to a trusted flower market each week in search of the finest, freshest flowers, Nicki – with her bucolic gardens - is all about cutting out the middle man. Except the idea of ‘cutting out a middleman’ is gross business-speak that would never cross the mind of someone who made floristry her life in the most (vague pun warning) organic of ways. That’s probably obvious though. For starters there’s the wonderfully shrug-of-the-shoulders name, and then Nicki immediately states that, “floristry started as a hobby and as a way to pay for my plants. I would pick a few bunches to sell at the gate.”
floristry started as a hobby and as a way to pay for my plants. I would pick a few bunches to sell at the gate.
Nicki quickly fell in love with the whole process – “from seed to finished bouquet” – and the fact that the joy she got from creating them would be transmitted to the person who received them. “I love the colours and the way they can change each other when put together,” she says, elaborating on her feelings. “I love it when you find that one special flower that just makes the whole bouquet zing. I love watching the plants grow from seed to early March into small plants ready for May and then it’s such a thrill to see them burst into colour and provide such abundance. Then at the end of the season they provide me with seeds for the next year and so it goes on…”
It’s easy to lose yourself in Nicki’s dreamy eulogizing, which is of course also the case for her showstopper of a garden. There is an order to the two gardens that Nicki tends to, of course, yet somehow the gloriously ramshackle beauty of nature finds a way (as it always does) to thrust itself to the foreground. As Nicki strides with purpose around the beds that house her floral wards, each stem sways gently in the Essex breeze, scattershot bursts of colour dotting the backdrop of rolling hills like splashes on an Impressionist’s canvas. A gentle brook splish-splashes it’s way between the two gardens, around which Nicki forages for twigs and pine cones in the winter (“for wreaths”).
A gentle brook splish-splashes it’s way between the two gardens, around which Nicki forages for twigs and pine cones...
Surveying the abundance of her kingdom like the most benevolent of custodians, Nicki smiles when we ask her what flower she would be if she were one. “An achillea,” she says. “They can be a rainbow of colours. They are also a long-lasting and reliable flower.”
Words by James Darton
Photography by Christina Wentworth