A revolution is taking place across the florists of Melbourne’s inner suburbs. Gone is the brightly coloured cellophane, green foam and lurid ribbons. Modern floristry is all about local produce, sustainable practices and a contemporary aesthetic that allows the beauty of the flowers to speak for itself.
Casa Verde Flowers
Casa Verde on Errol Street in North Melbourne is so new the florist’s signage still bears the name of its predecessor, North Melbourne Florist. But with its quirky display of old-school genie bottles in greens, browns and blues sprouting seasonal arrangements, the business is already attracting the locals’ attention.
Owner Sarah McDonald bought the business after a trip to South America and there’s a hint of Latino throughout the shop – from its Spanish name, which means green house, to the South American music playing in the background.
McDonald loves to tell stories with her arrangements, using second-hand acid bottles, teacups or old crystal to display a mix of native and garden flowers. “Any vessel can be used and I love giving people ideas. It’s these little stories that draw people into the space,” she says.
The use of incidental found objects is a trend across the new wave of florists, all of which reflect the city’s love affair with typography, vintage and quality visual merchandising.
40 Errol Street, North Melbourne
Fowlers Flowers on Queens Parade in Clifton Hill opened in February, and quickly gained popularity thanks to its distinctive footpath and window displays, and its shrewd floral selection.
Over a beer with partner Tom Crowe, owner Lauren Bieber came up with the idea of opening a florist next door to their cafe, Mixed Business. And it’s obvious from the café’s flourishing courtyard garden, with its blend of tactile and colourful plants and flowers, that Bieber has a flair for visuals.
Stepping into Fowlers is like entering a cosy vintage clothes shop and a retro garden shed all at once. Bieber and her two florists display produce sourced from the local flower market in simple Fowlers jars-cum-vases, milk pails or buckets atop stacked wooden milk crates and workbenches. “We like to let the flowers speak for themselves,” she says.
The logo, with its strong blocky type and bold design, is inspired by the vintage preserving jars collected by Bieber. It was finessed by Crowe, a trained graphic designer as well as chef, and is as characteristic as it is simple. Simplicity and a strong environmental conscience seem to be the hallmarks of the business, which is run based on principles of sustainability.
“Nothing goes to waste. If flowers start to look a bit tired we use them in the café,” Bieber says. “I buy all of the flowers from the market myself, and it’s heartbreaking to see the flowers dying. So I try to use everything properly.”
Gertrude Street’s Mr Lincoln is a basic, pared-back space. The dark silhouette of a pine forest painted on the walls not only acts as a blackboard, it allows the pink, purple, green and white shades of the flowers to really stand out. A wooden workbench sits in the middle of the shop, laden with silver pails and black plastic buckets filled with flowers.
“I wanted the shop to look like a workroom. It’s got an organic, back-to-basics feel. I like that,” says owner and florist Sarah Nolan, who, like Bieber, has takes an eco-friendly approach to floristry, buying local, seasonal produce where she can.
Nolan says her favourite flowers are “anything with a really good smell”. It’s no coincidence that her store smells incredible – like a nanna’s garden in full summer bloom – and that she’s named it after the most beautifully scented of garden roses, a deep-red variety called Mr Lincoln.
Mr Lincoln’s calling card is bouquets wrapped in calico squares, not paper or plastic. “Wrapping is like labelling for florists,” says Nolan. “And it’s often paper and plastic, which goes straight into the bin and becomes landfill. That waste really upsets me.”
Instead, Nolan stamps her fabric with a ‘reuse or return’ label. “People return the fabric, which is really important” she says, adding that many of her corporate clients seek her out because of her sustainable stance. Just as reusable keep cups are transforming the café scene, perhaps this is the start of a similarly environmentally conscious trend in floristry.
Tucked away at the end of Scott Alley off Flinders Lane in the city is White Moss. Look for the wicker-basket bicycle covered in plants and follow the single-potted orchids on each white stair, like a trail left by Hansel and Gretel, to the first-storey shop floor. Arrangements are displayed by colour on white shelves in silver buckets and glass vases.
Walk along Brunswick Street from any direction and it’s hard to miss the bright yellow sunflower-shaped tin windmill that sits atop Fitzroy floral institution Vasette. Established in 1989, Melburnians have been flocking to this floral mecca for years.
The space is cool and dark, with nothing to detract from the flowers that take centre stage on the shop floor. Eye-catching, tiered displays of flowers are arranged by colour, with a good mix of texture and variety. The store also stocks a selection of glass vases in various shapes and sizes to complement arrangements.