Paul is one of the leading luxury florists of his generation, sought after for his sensational signature designs. Here he provides an insight into his inspiration, a look at some of his favourite flowers, and a behind the scenes glimpse into the spectacular work of the Paul Thomas Flowers team.
March 2017: In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb
I love this saying about March. It’s such an exciting month as everything starts to wake up in the garden. The month starts with the last grip of winter, along with its freezing cold air and wind, and ends in warmer spring sunshine.
Spring moves into full season as Narcissi flower with abundance and most exciting of all, it’s blossom time! There can be nothing more lovely in the floral world than to decorate with blossom. Last year we decorated an entire staircase with blossom for the Kate Halfpenny wedding show at The Ritz.
26th March is Mothering Sunday – a very busy time for florists all over the country. We have a beautiful selection of bouquets that can be delivered nationwide. One of my favourites is the ‘Maddox’ bouquet from our Mayfair Collection; a delightful combination of tulips, lime green gelda, Miss Piggy roses and candy pop scabious, arranged amongst beautiful sprigs of mimosa.
This year, the end of the month brings an edge of sadness and nervous anticipation for the florist community. Our wonderful flower market, which opened in 1974 after the original Covent Garden market was relocated from Covent Garden to Vauxhall, is re-locating a few metres down the road to a compact but much needed updated building. It really will be the end of an era and certainly a time of great change as we say goodbye to a few wholesalers that aren’t making the move. Though the old building could never have been described as beautiful, it has been the floral hub for all London florists and a place of enormous inspiration, with an overwhelming choice and selection of flowers and foliage from all over the world. We are hugely privileged to have this amazing resource so close to our studio, and I very much hope there is a smooth and successful transition when the new building opens its doors on April 3rd.
What I love most about the market is the people who frequent it; a particularly special breed who often start their day at midnight and are still going 12 hours later. Our very own Peter Baldock (5th from the left in the black and white photo), who has worked for us for several years, started out as a boy in the original flower market in Covent Garden and was 17 years old when it moved to Vauxhall. I’ve known Peter since 1982, when I started at Kenneth Turner and made my first visit to New Covent Garden market. There is nothing he doesn’t know about flowers and the market, so he is a very valuable member of our team. Peter has so many stories about the characters you’ll find within its walls, many of which are quite unrepeatable!
We wish all our friends at the market the very best in their new home, and we can’t wait to welcome it come April.
February 2017: Love in Bloom
Though as I write this it is still freezing cold, we have the promise that Spring is around the corner, heralded by the sudden flowering of snowdrops. I love these flowers, for their humble, gentle appearance belies their great strength as they force their way through hard frosted ground.
Spring has certainly sprung in the flower market with colourful anemones, ranunculi, tulips, mimosa and hyacinths everywhere. I adore the Italian anemones with their luscious colourful heads surrounded by a pretty frill of green. I have featured these as part of our Valentine’s Collection in the ‘Scarlet Anemone’ bouquet – arranged en-masse with no added greenery, just the beauty of the flowers nestled amongst their own foliage. The other spring flower that always stops me in my tracks is the French ‘Cluni’ ranunculus. These stunning flowers, though more expensive than the normal ranunculus, are breathtaking in their size, more reminiscent of a beautiful peony. As they age, they grow in size and open with their petals becoming like tissue paper. I chose them for the ‘Blush’ bouquet, another of our beautiful bouquets from our Valentine’s Collection.
All our Valentine bouquets can be ordered online, and for anyone who orders before midnight on Thursday 9th February we would be delighted to give you 10% off the price, using the promo code ‘EARLYBIRD’ online or by quoting it when calling the shop direct on 020 7499 6889.
Looking beyond Valentine’s Day, we are excited to have started meetings with brides, discussing their forthcoming weddings this year both in the UK and abroad. We were thrilled to recently have been featured as a ‘Top Supplier’ in the Tatler 2017 Wedding Guide and also be ranked amongst their 15 ‘poshest florists in London’.
We very often meet brides with a wedding or event planner, as there are just so many aspects to think about and organise for the perfect day. We were delighted to team up with Bruce Russell, the highly sought after wedding planner, in an article in The Mayfair Times featuring our top tips for the best flowers for all events.
Next month will be an exciting one for all London florists as our beloved flower market is moving. It is not moving far away, however it will be smaller than what we are all used to. Let’s hope it will be a smooth transition and a positive one for all involved. The good news for Paul Thomas Flowers is that it will be even closer than before, literally two minutes away. Now that can’t be a bad thing.
January 2017: Beginning the New Year
A New Year beckons with all the hopes and promises of a clean start. Resolutions made (and broken). After all the business of December, I rather like the quiet days of January for the chance to take stock and start planning.
I had my first day out in the garden, trying to finally get in all my spring bulbs I just couldn’t get in before Christmas! Even now in this bleak dark month, I was surprised to see the small grey shoots of snowdrops pushing through the ground. I was also delighted to see pure white hellebores starting to flower amongst the fallen leaves, such lovely signs of hope and promise.
I love to use white flowers in January. In the Ritz, we fill the hotel with white flowers after the night the Christmas decorations are cleared. They look so clean and refreshing after all the rich reds and golds.
January to me is represented in flowers by hellebores and paperwhite narcissi, the first of all the narcissi. I have chosen to use these in the ‘Spring Paperwhite’ bouquet with birch twigs and English Ivy berry to echo the woodland. They look perfect amongst the ivy berries and smell amazing.
Keeping with white and staying lovely and simple, what could be better than a bouquet of just white parrot tulips, in our imaginatively named bouquet ‘White Parrot’. They are one of those flowers that get better and better with age as the green turns to white.
While walking around the flower market there are two other kinds of flowers that continually catch my eye this time of year. The first are the wraps of ‘Cluni’ Ranunculus. Grown by specialist growers these flowers are much larger than their normal ranunculus cousins. Amazing peony-like flowers, which only seem to get better and better with age as their papery petals almost turn to gossamer. We have used them in our ‘Blush’ bouquet, though the colours range from white, blush and yellows to rich dark reds and mauves.
The other flowers are anemones, celebrated in our ‘Bright and Beautiful’ bouquet. The best anemones are grown in Italy with strong stems and large blousy colourful flowers bringing a real spark of colour into a gloomy month.
In January we are always excited to hear from brides planning their wedding (often following a Christmas engagement)! There is nothing we enjoy more than working on flowers for a wedding, from the conception of a design to the final creation. If you happen to be planning your big day, please have a look at the wedding section of our website. For any further information, contact Fiona on 020 7355 1876 for a consultation.
Oh well, back to sorting out and packing away all the Christmas decorations. Have a good January and, if I’m not too late to say it, ‘Happy New Year’!
November 2016: Autumn Inspiration
The nights are drawing in, the smell of bonfires is in the air and it suddenly feels a lot colder. What’s more, there’s an ominous feeling of Christmas looming…
There is much talk of winter trends in flowers, and though we keep abreast with what’s current and on-trend, I have always just wanted to let nature do the talking. She knows best, so where better to look for inspiration?
The hawthorns, apples and rosehips are very heavy with fruit this year, which suggests a cold winter ahead in gardener’s law, but how beautiful they look, particularly on a bright sunny day.
Crab apples are a real favourite of mine, and look stunning with just a few branches in a vase. Our gorgeous ‘Autumn Bounty’ bouquet includes these lavish fruits in their amazing colours.
As the first frosts come, we lose the brilliance of colour we have enjoyed, as we say goodbye for another year to dahlias and garden hydrangea (which I am particularly fond of). This is now the time for invention, to look further afield and enjoy the beauty of ornamental cabbage flowers, wonderful rose hips and amaryllis flowers. Of course we are so fortunate to always have the hot house stalwarts available to us, such as roses, which combine so well with anything to give us colour.
November kicks off with the festival of All Saints, celebrated more in Europe by decorating the churches in memory of loved ones. Then we have bonfire night, not an event often celebrated with flowers, though the orange ‘newton’ flowers (used in our Autumn Bounty bouquet) always remind me of fireworks exploding in the sky. And for those of us that live in the countryside, the clambering trails of ‘old man’s beard’ growing in hedgerows always reminds me of the smoke of bonfires.
There follows Remembrance Day, a day we mark with poppies. We change the flowers in The Ritz for that special weekend, creating displays with (artificial) poppies arranged amongst masses of wheat. Isn’t it wonderful how flowers can gently remind us of such important days?
For us, November means full steam ahead for Christmas, estimates for Christmas trees, fluffing up garlands, wiring…and more wiring. Heads down now, and let’s get ready for December!