We love the romantic arrangements Nicolette Owen created for our spring 2011 Flower Show, so we asked her to tell us more about herself, her style, and her experience as a floral design teacher.
What is your first floral memory?
As a child I spent a lot of time in the garden with my grandmother. She had an enormous section of lilac along the side of her house, and I adored it when it was in full bloom. We would cut armfuls of the sweetly scented blooms and bring them inside and share them with friends and neighbors.
How did you get your start in the floral industry?
After a few years of working in the commercial photography industry in New York City, I decided to move to California for a change of pace. I knew that I wanted to either work in a flower shop or as a gardener. After a few weeks of searching for a job, I was overjoyed when I saw a “help wanted” sign in a sweet little flower shop. From the very first day on the job, I knew that working as a floral designer was exactly what I wanted to do.
You’re now also a teacher. How did you connect with Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua to teach floral arranging classes for the Little Flower School?
Sarah and I met a few years ago online. It was a flower blind date of sorts! Sarah emailed me after she saw some of my bouquets on a blog and suggested we meet up sometime. We became great friends and decided to collaborate on teaching classes, and Little Flower School was born.
What advice do you give to students arranging flowers for the first time?
I suggest taking inspiration from how you see plants and flowers growing in nature. When selecting flowers, look for a few different shapes and textures. Think about leafy material, a showy face flower, and then maybe some wispy, delicate elements. Try to highlight the natural gesture of the flowers and foliage you use by giving them air to breathe and grouping similar flowers together for a more overall visual impact. Don’t be afraid to cut your flowers at different heights—having depth and variation will give your arrangement an airy and natural feel.
I see that you have some Little Flower School classes on fragrant flowers. What’s your favorite aromatic flower?
That’s such a hard question. I do really love the sweet scent of tuberose. But I also love sweet peas, gardenias, lilac, and garden roses.
Fragrances aside, what flowers do you gravitate toward for spring arrangements?
I am eternally in love with ranunculus. I really look forward to flowering branches like dogwood and apple blossoms, too. And I love Fritillaria persica and bleeding hearts, as well. It’s so hard to pick just one flower.
What kinds of containers do you like to use, and can you share any sources for them?
I’m constantly searching for interesting vessels at flea markets and thrift shops. I tend to gravitate towards urns and footed compotes—classic, elegant shapes.