Flower arranging classes have been on the upswing in London for some time, as the UK’s burgeoning DIY culture of makers continues to flourish. We may not be a generation of home buyers, but boy can we decorate them.
The flowers adorning our homes are also different. Traditional, tight bouquets and prim arrangements have been eclipsed by overflowing, happily haphazard bunches, incorporating unlikely ingredients like pampas grass and succulents.
Leading this change is the London Flower School, a bustling den of creativity housed in a renovated warehouse space near King’s Cross, founded by Helen Dyson and Wagner Kreusch.
Dyson, a teacher by trade, met Kreusch by chance on a creative course and together they recognised the need for a space in London that champions modern floristry, while also properly teaching the mechanics of the subject with a scholarly approach. “We began the school with the tagline, 'artistry not mimicry'," comments Dyson. "While we do not use this anymore, it is still our fundamental philosophy."
The work and spirit of Constance Spry sits at the heart of the school; a pre-war female icon, who famously pioneered a new stylistic freedom in floristry. Her unorthodox, sculptural displays drew inspiration from the work of 17th and 18th century Dutch Masters and mixed humble herbs and garden foraging with roses and orchids.
London Flower School has a two-day course named in Spry’s honour, alongside a curriculum that ranges from one-day classes to four-week career courses. “We are open and honest about every aspect of starting a new business. We made mistakes on our own journey and therefore want to offer the best advice to others that we can.”
My two days at the London Flower School are an absolute joy. Tutors are encouraging, immensely knowledgeable and skillful not only in floristry, but in teaching too. I am joined by a Korean florist, who has travelled specifically for the course; an art commissioner seeking a little light relief amid a stressful project and two further trainee florists, hoping to hone their craft.
“We are less surprised than we used to be about the diversity of our students,” comments Kreusch. “They range in age; background and culture. Our classroom is often filled with languages from all over the world, which is a complete delight to us. What they all have in common, however, is their love of flowers – a truly unifying characteristic."
Immersed in foliage, wild branches and seasonal blooms, I learn how to create two Constance Spry-inspired centrepieces; a loose calla lily bouquet and a vast plinth arrangement, which I am encouraged to make as ‘wild and tall as possible.’
There are certainly no wallflowers at the London Flower School.
The Constance Spry course is priced at £550; London Flower School, The Generator, 16-20 Wharfdale Road, London N1 9RY, londonflowerschool.com