In The Hothouse With Marianne Slater

In The Hothouse With Marianne Slater

To mark British Flowers Week (26th – 30th June 2023), we are joined In The Hothouse this month with Peak District flower grower, artist, writer, photographer and podcaster, Marianne Slater.

Marianne’s book ‘Cut Flower Growing’ offers practical advice on growing,
harvesting and creating with cut flowers and, since its publication in 2022, she has
been developing her workshop repertoire, encouraging people to slow down and
focus on prioritising creativity in their lives.

From growing and arranging flowers to photographing, painting and writing about them, read on to discover more about Marianne’s floral journey and why she’s so passionate about homegrown blooms.

Photography by Marianne Slater and Kathryn Taylor.

Marianne photographed by Kathryn Taylor in a Derbyshire meadow.

Tell us about how you became an artist, flower grower, florist and photographer polymath.

What a question – I think it started in childhood, as many peoples’ creativity does. Art classes and creative writing were my favourite lessons at school but I also loved playtime, inventing games and building dens in the garden – I loved being outside and that’s where my love of nature began.

I went to university to study Art and Design Interdisciplinary as I wanted to do a bit of everything and wasn’t satisfied to specialise in one artistic pursuit. After my degree I became a little stuck as to what to do next, I’d still not honed down my artistic practice during the time at university. I began working in retail in the interior design sector and fell in love with using my creativity and eye for colour to help clients realise their dream spaces. Around the same time I attended a hobbyist flower arranging class and felt like I’d finally found something where I could really express myself – Frances & Rose, my floristry business, was born shortly after.

“In childhood… I loved being outside and that’s where my love of nature began.”


Soon after launching my business, I fell in love with British flowers, mainly through curiosity and experimentation with the blooms in my mums incredible garden and I’ve never really looked back. I joined Flowers From the Farm, began buying from local growers and trying to grow my own (with the help of my green fingered mum). Soon we had a larger plot of land and a thriving wedding business which kept us busy throughout the summer months.

Marianne surveying the sweet peas in her cutting garden.
Arranging homegrown flowers in her Peak District studio.

Tell us about your book ‘Cut Flower Growing’. How did that come about?

In 2020 everything changed. Weddings were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and my business, like so many others, ground to a halt. With that came a period of quite reflection, of pivoting skills and of facing some harsh truths about what I’d been building and what it was all for. With no work on the horizon I decided that I would make my own luck, I would write a book! I released the first ebook version of my book ‘Cut Flower Growing’ in April 2020 and it changed the trajectory of Frances & Rose forever.

“I now class myself as an artist first and foremost, rather than a florist – sometimes my medium is flowers, sometimes paint, sometimes photography.”


Since that moment I have gone through a huge period of creative and personal growth, feeling my way back towards my creativity that I think I had lost on my route to ‘wedding florist’ success. I now class myself as an artist first and foremost, rather than a florist – sometimes my medium is flowers, sometimes paint, sometimes photography. I grow flowers, I have recorded a podcast, I run creative workshops and I’m still writing new things. 2023 Frances & Rose is completely different to its 2013’s beginnings. It’s been a real rollercoaster of a decade, but it’s finally starting to feel like it’s going where it was always meant to go.

What inspires you in your work?

It’s always got to be colour. Whether I’m creating with blooms, photographing them or painting from them, I’m forever drawn in by colour. It might be the varying shades of green in one small patch of garden or the juxtaposition of a bright orange calendula sat next to a bold pink rose. Colours sing and support each other in the most beautiful way. I feel like my job and the very purpose of my craft is to capture the energy of those colours.

A perennial inspiration: colourful blooms, in this case dahlias, in Marianne’s cutting garden.

What do flowers mean to you?

When I am feeling my most peaceful and calm, my most creative and vibrant, it is when I am working with or surrounded by flowers. They are like the colours in my paint pallet and they just seem to allow me to extend the creativity within me to outside myself – might sound a bit farfetched, but they are an extension of me as an artist – they are my muse and my medium all in one.

Do you have a favourite cut flower to grow and why?

I will never bore of Dahlias. There is some magic in the late summer that brings these gems to glow in the flower field. As you might be able to gather, I am passionate about colour and there is nothing more incredible than the colour palette of the dahlias. It’s almost as though they are fore-signalling the colours of autumn, but with their saturation dials turned up a notch – never dull, always beautiful.

Marianne cutting dahlias in the flower field.
Arranging homegrown stems in the studio.

Tell us about your involvement with Flowers From the Farm.

I’ve been a member of Flowers From the Farm for 8 or 9 years now. When I joined, there were a couple of hundred members and now we’re at about 1,000. I’m co-chair of the Diversity Action Group within the organisation, where we’re on the cusp of offering our next scholarship programme, supported by the RHS. It’s a fantastic initiative with the aim of guiding new growers into jobs within horticulture and floriculture, who might not have access to education and spaces within the traditional framework of the industry.

I try to be an active member of the organisation and have been lucky enough to participate in RHS shows, winning a medal at RHS Chatsworth and creating a display at the famous Strawberry Hill House Flower Festival as part of the collective. The sense of community and the connections I have been able to make over the years have been invaluable to me.

Why do you think British Flowers Week is important?

I think we desperately need to showcase British flowers to anyone who is even remotely inclined to buy flowers. People only know what they see online and in the media and they buy what’s available and convenient. British Flowers Week shines a light on what’s in season and what amazing things can be created without air miles. This super exciting week plays a vital role in supporting local flower growers, promoting sustainability, embracing seasonality and inspiring individuals to celebrate and value the natural beauty that surrounds us. The whole week is a positive and celebratory move towards a more vibrant and sustainable floral industry.

Tell us about what is coming up for you during British Flowers Week.

I’m really looking forward to hosting my first Open Studio of the year. I usually run a closed shop, by appointment only, but I want to show people what a joy it is to be surrounded by flowers and how letting yourself be creative with blooms can be healing and powerful. I’m making a bit of an event of it with tea and cake and lots of flowers – lets hope the sun shines as well! I’ll also be using my social media platform to shout about amazing flowers and growers – I can’t wait!

Marianne harvesting cosmos in the cutting garden.

What’s next for you that you’re able to share with us?

I’ve got a lovely programme of summer workshops coming up over the next few months, exploring some of my favourite ways to arrange flowers as well as a few new exciting things with sketching and botanical dying to really get that creativity flowing.

Later in the year I’m thrilled to be moving into a new studio fully dedicated to my artistic practice, something that has felt like its been a long time coming and a change I’m really ready to embrace. I’m also writing things, there are always a lot of words in my brain so we’ll see where this next lot of scribblings take me… that’s a ‘watch this space’ kind of answer.

Quickfire questions:

Neutral or colourful flowers?

Bright and colourful.


Neat or wild arrangements?

Always wild.


Pretty, dainty flowers or big, showy blooms?

I like a mix, wild and meadowy with a few statement blooms is the sweet spot.


Favourite section, image or arrangement from your book Cut Flower Growing?

The Spring Projects are my favourites in the book.


Favourite piece from the PAUL THOMAS Summer Collection?

It has to be The Dickens – those grasses had me at hello.

Marianne’s book ‘Cut Flower Growing’ in print.
The Dickens - her pick from the Paul Thomas Summer Collection.

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