Ahead of our Winter Yoga & Floristry Workshop on the 9th of December, we thought we'd re-share the interview we did with King-Wey Hii of Alright Petal Flowers about her love of flowers and why she feels they are such a powerful tool for wellness...
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT FLOWER ARRANGING?
From a personal point of view, I have always found solace in flowers. They have always had the ability to make me cheerful and to forget about those silly things in life we all stress over day to day.
Working with a product that is at the same time so magnificent and completely natural really grounds me. I don’t believe I can make anything more beautiful than nature, but I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of arranging flowers and foliage in a way that makes them sing, and that shows off their ‘personalities’ in their best light.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, I believe that the fleeting beauty of flowers serves to remind us to make the most of the moment we are in and to truly appreciate it.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SHARE THIS SKILL WITH OTHERS?
For me, being a florist is all about evoking the emotion behind the flowers, allowing them to connect with people in a meaningful way. I enjoy letting the flowers speak to the personalities of the recipient, whether that be for a bride, new parents, or even for a brand or a party to celebrate a particular special event.
I feel lucky to have found something which I so fervently care about, and which brings me fulfilment at the same time. Seeing the genuine happiness that flowers bring to people is beyond rewarding. Not only to my clients and lovely brides, but just seeing people’s faces light up along the street as I’m carrying a crate full of flowers to or from my car reminds me every time why I do what I do.
DO YOU SEE A CHANGE IN PEOPLE WHEN THEY ARE ARRANGING FLOWERS?
Absolutely! Every time I teach a workshop, without fail, someone will tell me how therapeutic they found the process, how they managed to focus their thoughts only on the task at hand and shut off everything else. I love hearing this, as it is the exact reason why I fell in love with flower arranging. I am a great believer in art therapy, and how engaging in creative activity, or in fact engaging in any new activity outside of your everyday routine, can really serve to empower us.
At the same time, a lot of us tend to tell ourselves and others things like “I’m just not a very creative person”. The truth is that we are all naturally creative, but it seems the older we get, the more we tend to opt out of being creative. We develop a fear of not wanting to do things we think we may not be good at. However, anyone can arrange flowers, I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way, and no matter what your style is, any floral creation has the ability to bring joy to someone else. This is why I think the practice can help to boost self-confidence and increase overall levels of happiness. I just love seeing how chuffed people are with themselves when they have made their own floral masterpiece. Their smiles make my day!
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT IS THAT PEOPLE RELATE TO?
Above and beyond all the benefits already mentioned, I think we all have an innate desire to connect with nature. Especially today in our busy urban lives, full of distraction and worries, there is a part in each of us that yearns for simpler times. Working with flowers, whether you’re doing it for a living or in a two hour workshop, makes us stop to smell the roses as it were! Just being close to such beautiful things that have come from nature speaks to all of us. Who doesn’t like flowers?! Flower arranging requires that we use our bare hands (I never wear gloves, and my chapped fingers will be testament to that!) to handle the flowers and foliage, to really look at and examine their colour, form, shape and texture in order to decide where in your arrangement to place them. This instinctively forces us not only to do what we do with great intention, but also to notice the detail and the unique character of each flower or plant that we may not have seen before.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FLOWER AND WHY?
How to choose?! I can be quite fickle in nature, so the fact that flowers change so quickly with the seasons is perfect for me! In winter, I won’t be able to get enough of Hellebore's and in Spring I’ll be totally in love with Ranunculus. As we move into Summer, in May I will be obsessed with Poppies, but by the time July comes, it’ll be all about the Cosmos. Autumn is probably my favourite of the seasons, but I’ll be more focused on the beauty of the turning leaves of Oak and Japanese Maple. And all this can very much change with each year!
If I had to choose, I’d probably pick the Dahlia, an amazing Autumn flower that comes in lots of different colours and varieties. Their intricate, geometric form blows my mind every time. I mean look at them!
WHY DO YOU THINK A FLOWER’S FRAGRANCE IS SO IMPORTANT?
Smell plays a large part in the overall sensory experience of flowers, and is another way in which they connect with people. Even though we as humans may react more quickly to visual cues, it is often said that smell and taste have more longevity when it comes to memory. It is always one of the first things people do when they come into contact with flowers - they’ll give them a sniff!
The sad thing is, because many of the flowers we get today are imported from flower farms built to grow flowers in huge numbers, many flower farmers sacrifice the scent of the flowers in order to grow at a faster rate. The result being beautiful flowers that are hardy enough to travel, but they have little character when it comes to their shape and they are often scentless.
Because of this, more and more I try to use seasonal British grown flowers. I love seeing local flower farmers’ passion for their work - and it is no easy task with our temperamental British weather! I personally feel that British flowers are far more interesting, and they almost always smell divine. In addition to this, I like to use aromatic herbs such as mint, rosemary and sage in my designs. Although British flowers and foliage may be less consistent and harder to source, my brides always remember and comment on the perfume of their English garden roses, and the fragrance of the home-grown herbs in their bridal bouquet. I think the scent memory this evokes for them on the morning of their wedding day is totally worth it!
PART OF THE WORKSHOP IS YOGA, WHY DO YOU THINK THEY GO TOGETHER SO WELL?
I think what I’ve mentioned about groundedness, intentionality and self-empowerment really resonate with the values that I glean from yoga. From a personal point of view, this all goes hand in hand with the mission to lead a more mindful life, to focus on what makes us happy and brings us peace. I couldn’t think of a better prequel - coming out of savasana feeling relaxed, focused and accomplished, ready to exercise your creativity!