In The Hothouse with Samantha Cameron
In The Hothouse… is a new monthly feature where we delve into people’s relationships with flowers and find out how nature permeates their life and work.
For our inaugural, Mother’s Day edition, we were delighted to catch up with inspirational mum, businesswoman and former Downing Street inhabitant, Samantha Cameron.
Read on to find out how the Founder & Creative Director of British womenswear brand Cefinn lives her life with flowers.
Do you have a favourite flower and why?
Yes, peonies because I love all the different colours – oranges, reds and pinks look lovely in a vase all together.
For my birthday last year my husband bought me some peony plants and dug me a cutting bed at the bottom of the garden so I can grow my own year after year. This summer will be the first year they flower, so we will see how well it has gone!
What do flowers mean to you?
I love the delicacy of flowers and the way they add another layer of colour and texture to your home or an event. They can really bring a space to life.
“I love the delicacy of flowers and the way they add another layer of colour and texture to your home or an event. They can really bring a space to life.”
How do you like to display flowers around the home?
I like to choose flowers that will bring out and complement the colours in the room. I also love wild, delicate arrangements. We grow roses and sweet peas in our garden in the summer, which I pick and display in small vases.
Do you have a favourite vase or place to put flowers and what’s the story behind it?
Over the years, I seem to have collected a lot of coloured glass, so I have many stem vases, both clear and coloured, which I’ve picked up in antique shops over the last 20 years.
Is there a connection between flowers/gardening/the natural world and your work?
Definitely. Some of my love of texture and colour comes from my experience growing up in the countryside and my love of nature. At the weekends I like to run cross-country and I choose not to listen to music as I enjoy the peace and quiet and the natural sounds of the birds singing – it is a great time for thinking.
What’s the most memorable occasion that you were given flowers and how did it make you feel?
When I won Celebrity Bake Off in 2016, the team gave me flowers at the end of the show and my immediate thought was that it was the first time I’d been given flowers for something I’d achieved myself, as opposed to supporting my husband at a political event – it was a proud moment.
What kind of flowers do you like to gift? Do you have a signature bouquet?
I like to gift mini orchids so people can put them on their desks and enjoy them for a few weeks.
What kind of flowers do you like to receive?
I love getting a small house plant as they last longer but otherwise something that is quite wild and not too formal looking.
Do your children give you flowers for Mother’s Day or other occasions?
Yes, often something they have picked from our garden in Oxfordshire – daffodils inevitably on Mother’s Day.
Tell us about how you balance being a mum whilst running a successful business, especially during lockdown?
I am an early riser which means that I have a bit of me-time first thing before the day gets busy. We have tried as much as possible to keep routine and structure to our day and we have been enjoying eating together every lunchtime, which we wouldn’t normally be able to do.
We also bought some eccentric pure-breed Bantam chickens at the start of the first lockdown, which have become our obsession and have been really bonding for us as a family. They ensure there is always something to talk or laugh about!
“I have been doing my best to stay optimistic and I think it’s good to have shorter term goals so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.”
What are your key learnings from everything that’s happened over the past year? Or a good piece of advice that you live by generally?
Being very flexible with the business has been really important – you have to try to live for the day as it’s not possible to plan ahead. I have been doing my best to stay optimistic and I think it’s good to have shorter term goals so that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Any tips for flowers when entertaining at home?
Smaller posy-like arrangements with tea-light candles can make a dinner feel really special. Lower arrangements on tables work well as everyone can see each other. An arrangement in the hallway can also feel really welcoming.
Quick fire questions
White or coloured flowers?
Neat or wild arrangements?
Pretty, dainty flowers or big, showy blooms?
Both – but not together! Apart from peonies I would probably go with a pretty, daintier arrangement.
What three words describe your style?
I think it would be elegant, effortless and timeless.
What are your favourite bouquets from the Paul Thomas Spring Collection?
I think The Brontë is beautiful.
And your favourite floral pieces from the current Cefinn collection?
Cefinn’s full Spring 2021 collection is available on their website now.