Profiling British florist Sarah Statham of Simply by Arrangement

Tell us about your British Flowers Week window design

“This window was done in Yorkshire in our neighbour’s barn. It was raining cats and dogs, as usual, but that didn’t stop me and Jill Shaddock making a few things that we think would look good in any window.

You’ll see we used a range of vessels: a jam jar, a soup bowl, a charity shop bowl, a handmade ceramic bowl (made by Jill) and an antique leather fire bucket. The idea was to show folk that flowers really can be put into anything. All you need is something that holds water.

The flowers here were all those that had been used by the guests in classes that week. Many of them were grown by us here in the garden or on the small allotment. The cow parsley came from John Kennerley at Grown & Made (Cheshire) because ours wasn’t yet out. The amazing golden/rust/orange ranunculus were from Carol Siddorn (Carol’s Garden, Cheshire)  and the honeysuckle, the sweet rocket and the Argentinian forget-me-nots were from Rachel Bradley of The Yorkshire Flower Patch who supplies us with flowers every week.

The photos of me were taken by Jill Shaddock. I’m at my happiest with a sweeping brush in my hands and I know a lot of other florists will agree with that.”

Photographs by Sarah Statham and Jill Shaddock

Photographs by Sarah Statham and Jill Shaddock

How you became a florist

“Floristry was the thing I loved doing at the weekend as stress-relief from a busy professional career. On a Friday night I would call in at the florist and arrive home with a car boot full of work and bucket full of flowers. I took floristry courses and friends asked me to do weddings. Once I’d started to think I needed to look for a different job, because I loved flowers so much, I thought I would make it my job. I took a year-long career break and never went back.

My style is strongly influenced by the garden. You are always learning as a florist, and during my career break I visited lots of gardens. My favourite garden is Great Dixter. I love that it doesn’t follow any real trend, it just fits the place and the buildings and has just evolved over time.

On the same level, I love Cambo gardens in Scotland. That is paradise. Cambo is a walled garden with woodland and a walk down to the sea. It has everything you want in a garden. I love the structure and the planting and the movement, and the prairie style planting of delicate flowers. If you have ever stepped through the gate at Cambo, it’s magical. However stressed you are, it seeps away as you set foot in the garden. I have held classes there. Cambo is a garden that soothes the soul…”

Photographs by Sarah Statham and Jill Shaddock

Photographs by Sarah Statham and Jill Shaddock

Tell us about your business

“I am a florist who grows. I mainly run workshops and I do a limited number of weddings every year. When I started out in 2013 my husband suggested I grow my own flowers because it made economic sense. I didn’t realise it was about to become a big trend. More research led me to Flowers from the Farm, which was in the early stages and met Gill Hodgson (founder).“

Photographs by Sarah Statham and Jill Shaddock

Photographs by Sarah Statham and Jill Shaddock

Why do you choose to work with British flowers?

“I have always used British flowers. I prefer to use them –  not exclusively but predominantly. Each individual flower has its own character and that’s not what you get from a mass produced flower. Plus I like to know where every single flower has come from. I could look at a photograph of my work from years ago and tell you where each individual flower came from! I know because it has been picked with me or my job in mind, and because I photograph everything I make.

Students come to me because they want to learn to do that style of floristry. They may not understand that it’s because it’s British. It’s not me but the flowers that make the arrangement. It is the selection of the flowers that makes it sing and tells a story.  You have to understand them but once you do and once you can get the right flowers, you can make something beautiful. If I had the wrong flowers, I wouldn’t be able to do anything with them.

British flowers tell a story. The story is that someone has grown that flower, how it started off in a notebook or as a bulb, why someone else has chosen to use them and what they are using them for. Every single arrangement has a story. All my students create very different arrangements with the flowers. I have my own story about them and the further story of watching people make something they never thought they were capable of making. I watch them go off and transform the way they are working.”

Simply by Arrangement - Videos and images by Sarah Statham and Jill Shaddock 6.jpeg

Photographs by Sarah Statham and Jill Shaddock

Why are you a member of Flowers from the Farm?

“I am a florist who grows. I grow only for my own work. I am a member of Flowers from the Farm for the community, the network of suppliers and all the people you know. If you are travelling up and down the country, there are people who could supply you if you need flowers or support you if you have a problem. The social aspects are really important to me too, and I have made great friends through Flowers from the Farm. And the amount of information on the closed Facebook Forum you have is second to none. “

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by British Flowers Week Team