Comparing a typical high-end flower arrangement to one of Kieran Birchall’s creations is like comparing a garden of manicured hedges to the wild Australian bush. It’s the unpolished charm of his creations that has made Birchall’s Friday flower delivery service, My Flower Man, so popular with offices, cafes and homes in Sydney.
When we visit, it’s Friday evening – the end of a hectic day of deliveries. A lone vase of enormous magnolia branches is propped against the white brick wall of Birchall’s industrial Chippendale apartment. An obsession with aesthetics, clear in this simple space, is what led Birchall to pick up the secateurs despite already having a full-time job.
“I don’t look like a typical estate agent,” says Birchall. “Working in real estate, things became repetitive and straight to the point. To have a day during the week when I’m using my hands and creating something – for at least part of the day – is a big outlet. I’m not sitting at a desk looking at a computer screen, I’m cleaning vases and getting dirty.”
On Fridays Birchell arrives at the Flemington flower market at 4.30am. He gravitates towards the more random growers who stock one-off seasonal flowers. By 6.30am he’s back at home to prep flowers before he heads to work. It’s 9am when he arrives at the office, where he looks after tenants for the rest of the day. After that he returns home, bundles up his blooms and heads out to deliver them around Sydney.
He has orders rolling in from H&M and Brickfields Bakery, and Birchall attributes My Flower Man’s rapid growth and success to Instagram. “I think 100 per cent of my clients find me through Instagram. People order and say, ‘I like what you did for that person three weeks ago’, and for quotes I send screen shots,” he says.
Each My Flower Man bunch accentuates contrast to create off-kilter beauty; from soft peonies surrounded by eucalypt leaves, to sprays of wattle nestled beside dead tree branches. “I’ll never do a floristry course,” says Birchall, who has no desire to emulate the perfection of professional bouquets.
He has coined the term “street flowers” to describe his blooms. “They have a rugged look to them. They’re not perfect, and they don’t have to be. They can be scrambled and a bit wild,” he says. It’s a style he has honed using the rule of thirds. “I place one type of flower on one side, a different type of flower on the other and add a third that brings them both together,” he explains.
“A lot of the natives I am using are growing in my mum’s garden,” says Birchall. It’s perhaps the simplicity of his arrangements, not too far removed from the trees growing untamed in our own gardens, that makes them so appealing.