Sourcing A Proper English Bouquet

As part of our recurring Bouquet of the Week series, Garden Collage continues to present a weekly inspirational bouquet that incorporates intriguing new elements into the traditional practice of flower arranging. This week, Garden Collage Founder Daisy Helman teams with London-based author Jill Shaw to design an elegant bouquet sourced from the city’s charming Notting Hill neighborhood.

When it comes to bouquets and finding a way to make them truly unique, England is a playground of creativity. The English are some of best gardeners in the world: from classic institutions like Kew Gardens to the community emphasis on impeccably-styled window boxes, walking around the streets of London (or anywhere in the rural countryside) is an endless source of inspiration.

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Jill Shaw, a former high-powered executive-cum-author (she penned The Second Half of Your Life and is now working on a followup) lives with her family in a fabulously-chic house in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood.

I’ve known Jill for several years now, so when Garden Collage took a trip to England earlier this month I thought she’d be a perfect feature for our Bouquet of the Week series– she’s a real decision-maker with great taste (“London’s weather can be a challenge so flowers are a must,” she says).


Notting Hill is a lovely area, so we decided to wander down Portabello Road in order to pick up flowers for her bouquet while taking in the neighborhood. We stopped at all of Jill’s favorite venders– hole-in-the-wall haunts where locals sell cured meats, various olives, and yummy raw cheeses the likes of which we sadly cannot get in the United States. We soon found a mother/daughter-run flower shop full of spring blooms, and Jill was very decisive: she picked her favorite plants in about 5 seconds! In her short deliberation she settled on Blue Iris, Delphiniums, Solomon’s Seal, and two enormous Hydrangeas (they are just bigger in Europe for reasons I cannot explain…each blossom is 12 inches around).

Jill is also a ceramic collector and as such picked a super-cool vase in which to arrange the bouquet. After styling the blue and green flowers to her taste, she placed it on a small table in front of floor-to-ceiling windows that look over her yard– a perfect compliment to the greenery of the landscape beyond.

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