Ruthie Abel

Sourcing Local, English-Grown Flowers With Juliet Glaves

During the frenzy of Chelsea Flower Week Garden Collage attended a party celebrating interior designer Trica Guild, where we met the elegant and instantly likeable Juliet Glaves, who stood out amongst the crowd in a vintage Afgan dress. Soon, she told us her story: Glaves held jobs as a fashion designer (she studied at Central Saint Martins in London) and a producer for the BBC before she gave up both of those careers to live on a farm growing flowers. It’s a story many people dream of but simply cannot pull off: going back to the land, and spending her days picking wildflowers in the rolling English countryside.

The whimsy of this vision is not to suggest that Glaves is anything but driven and accomplished: in fact it’s quite the opposite. Years ago while filming a documentary on the dearth of local flower growers in England’s cut-flower industry, she was inspired to fill this gap in the industry herself. She and her husband bought a piece of land that used to be a pig farm in Shropshire, England, and she began growing wild and seasonal flowers including peonies, ranunculus, foxgloves, and dahlias, raising over 200 varieties of blooms, grasses, and other foliage that she now sources directly from her land for events throughout England.

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Rather than selling to a florist, she became a florist herself, and soon won renown for her ethereal, earthy wedding bouquets. Compared to the offerings that persisted on the market at the time, her designs, as one Vogue writer put it, continue to have a “just-gathered-from-the-garden, wild feel. It could be compared to the difference between eating a homegrown heirloom tomato and one bought from the grocery store… her technical skills making clothes have served her well.” Indeed, even the casual observer can ascertain that Glaves is as skilled at arranging as she is at growing and managing her own cut-flower farm: her bouquets are natural, seasonal, and effortlessly beautiful.

Glaves has a novel, organic approach to flowers that is rare in the era of international shipping. Since she sources her flowers seasonally, she’s had to master the art of creativity. We spoke about the challenge of doing a weddings and events in the winter months when the flower choices are limited, and her eyes light up at the possibility of this constraint: there are so many wonderful things you can do with dried flowers, seed pods, and branches, she tells us.

A few days later, Garden Collage visited Juliet at her pop-up shop in the garden of the Designers Guild home store on King’s Road in Chelsea. The space was decorated with walls of blue-and green-glazed pottery that was filled with yellow ramp and allium, masses of frilly pink and red ranunculus, and parrot tulips. Glaves’ love of the material was evident as she spoke with us while arranging a gorgeous series of bouquets, with a big smile and abundant energy in tow. She touted the virtues of using even the simplest flowers, like the lowly ramp, in her creations, and it was lovely just to see her put these visions into action. Her bouquets are stunning, but the fact that they are sustainably-sourced makes them even more beautiful. We love her style and approach. What may now seem old-fashioned is actually quite modern and extremely appealing: using local, 100% seasonal flowers to create personal, unique bouquets.

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