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In The Hothouse with Robin Lucas

In The Hothouse
with Robin Lucas

In The Hothouse… is a monthly feature where we delve into people’s relationships with flowers and find out how nature permeates their life and work.

For our Easter edition, we were delighted to interview artist, gardener and designer, Robin Lucas.

Read on to find out about Robin’s love of nature and how flowers and the changing seasons inspire his work.

Photography by Robin Lucas

Do you have a favourite flower and why?

For me, this definitely changes with the seasons and my enjoyment of flowers is really dictated by context; it is impossible to choose just the one!

 

 

How do you like to display flowers around the home?

I usually bring in pots of bulbs or just a few stems of things from the garden and dot them around. A bunch in the bathroom is always lovely.

Robin’s potted bulb display.
A spring flower arrangement of narcissus and forsythia in his Lancashire home.

Do you have a favourite vase or place to put flowers and what’s the story behind it?

Where to begin! I rarely leave a junk shop without a vase. I recently found a trio of nineteenth century corn on the cob majolica jugs and they look great in the kitchen.

 

How did you first become interested in flowers and gardening?

I suppose my first love is nature and plants in their natural setting. I was fascinated by finding wild plants growing as a child and was encouraged to observe and appreciate the change in seasons and landscapes.

I then went on to study Biology at Oxford which cemented my love of nature. This is tragically something that we are losing as our connection to the natural (real) world seems to be getting ever more estranged.

“My first love is nature and plants in their natural setting. I was fascinated by finding wild plants growing as a child and was encouraged to observe and appreciate the change in seasons and landscapes.”

ROBIN LUCAS

What kind of flowers do you like to send as a gift? Do you have a signature bouquet?

I think something seasonal, fresh and homegrown is perfect, even if that is a small bunch of narcissi or a few dahlias.
 

 

What kind of flowers do you like to receive?

I suppose that bulbs and plants are really my dream gift; an unusual snowdrop, a division of a lovely iris or even a seed of something special. Something I can grow and remember the story of the event.

Robin has been dividing and moving snowdrops in his new garden.
A selection of Robin's watercolour paintings of wildflowers.

What flowers do you associate with Easter and how do you like to use them to decorate your home?

Easter is variable both in date and weather, so each year feels different and special. This year the narcissi and pulmonaria are in full bloom, maybe with some forsythia and a little early blossom – anything fresh and truly seasonal.

 

What flowers do you like to grow in your garden to bring indoors as cut blooms?

Really, a huge range of things, many of which one wouldn’t really think of as ‘cut flowers’. For example, kale and chard make beautiful foliage, but of course I also grow all the standard cut flowers such as tulips, dahlias, roses and suchlike.

 

Tell us about what you’ve been doing to keep busy during lockdown.

We recently moved house so I am very busy working on the new garden. There are so many different areas which each have their unique personality and challenges. This year the front beds are being restructured so it currently looks more like a building site than a garden! 
 

 

What are your key learnings from everything that’s happened over the past year? Or a good piece of advice you’ve been given that you live by generally?

Slow down and think more deeply about your influence on the world. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to open space, pause and observe the nature around you. 

“Slow down and think more deeply about your influence on the world. If you’re fortunate enough to have access to open space, pause and observe the nature around you.”

ROBIN LUCAS

Any tips for flowers when entertaining at home post-lockdown?

Keep things simple! A collection of small bottles and vases scattered down the table with a few beautiful stems in each. This way each bloom can be appreciated.

 

What projects are your working on at present?

I am currently working with Shane Connolly and the Garden Museum on an exhibition celebrating the life of the legendary Constance Spry. The exhibition starts on the 17th May and will be well worth a visit.

Robin’s Easter table display of grouped bud vases.
Constance Spry adds the finishing touches to a banqueting table decoration for the Queen’s coronation, 1953.

Quick fire questions:

 

White or colourful flowers?

Colourful.

 

Exotic or native blooms? 

Native.

 

Neat or wild arrangements?

Wild.

 

Petty, dainty flowers or big, showy blooms? 

Dainty.

 

Three words to describe your style? 

Seasonal, honest, natural.

 

What are your favourite bouquets from our Spring Collection?

I love colours of The Armitage.

A colourful arrangement of garden flowers in Robin’s home.
A detail of The Armitage from the Paul Thomas Spring Collection.
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