Celebrating British Flowers with Hazel Gardiner
Hazel Gardiner is a floral designer, gardener, teacher and broadcaster who creates unexpected visual stories from single vase arrangements to large installations. We always look forward to the masterclasses and workshops Hazel hosts at Daylesford.
Hazel shares her thoughts on the floral arts, seasonality and her favourite natural materials.
What do you love most about British flowers and why is it worth seeking them out?
The flowers available commercially from the Holland wholesale auctions, although plentiful, cannot be compared to flowers purchased from independent British growers. Exported roses, for example, have their fragrance extracted to prolong longevity for transit.
Independent British growers have the freedom to grow unusual varieties, such as unique garden roses with heady fragrance and beauty. As a floral artist, the opportunity to use these blooms with such natural movement, depth and wild beauty fits the aesthetic style and sustainability values of Hazel Gardiner Design perfectly.
Seasonality is a major focus for you; what are your favourite varieties of British flowers throughout the seasons?
Working with a continually evolving and ephemeral material is one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of running a floral business.
Spring reenergises with the gentle re-emergence of flowers; tulips in their abundant array of shapes and tones are perpetually exciting to work with.
In summer, you are rewarded with bountiful choice. We love towering varieties such as delphiniums, larkspur and foxgloves. As a grower I love “cut and repeat” varieties that add delicacy, such as sweet peas and cosmos.
Autumn is all about dahlias and winter is where the stems we’ve dried throughout the year come into their own and we use British evergreen foliage in ingenious and unexpected ways.
How do the seasons influence your eye-catching tablescapes and floral arrangements?
We always start with the emotion or feeling an event or installation needs to convey. A romantic intimate dinner requires a different approach to an energetic, celebratory lunch. We then look to the best of the season to inspire us. Flower availability changes weekly and can be joyously unpredictable, so we prefer not to commit to exact flower choices. This freedom allows us to use our creativity and expertise to select the best flowers available. We use the seasons as our first and foremost guide, a process we love to surrender to. Whichever season we are in, we try to bring it authentically into our designs.
Sustainability is one of your core values, just like Daylesford. How do you approach floral design sustainably?
Sustainability is within the full cycle of our business from packaging, mechanics, working with local producers, to drying and composting used stems. As in our approach to gardening, we promote the use of natural structures and supports such as willow and hazel branches. We don’t use synthetic floral foam and introduce living plants into our work where possible, which enables our natural materials to live on or be donated. Both of these approaches were used in our exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show this year (Hazel Gardiner Design was invited to design the iconic RHS letters). We used fallen and foraged branches with medicinal, edible and decorative plants, following the “four Rs”: repurpose, re-use, recycle, re-home.
What can people expect from your Daylesford workshops?
It’s an opportunity to be fully immersed in a mindful, calming and multi-sensory workshop. You’ll learn how to elevate your table designs to create memorable gatherings using both plants and cut flowers. I’ll be taking you around the abundant Daylesford cutting gardens, sharing my professional tips on selecting and harvesting flowers. I’ll also demonstrate how to create a memorable tablescape from linens, ceramics to decorative flourishes. For me floral design is transformative. It’s a moment to nurture your creativity in the beautiful surroundings of Daylesford Organic, explore the natural offerings of the season in a joyful way.