Lady Larissa is the inhouse florist for Pollen and BOOKPLATE. We sat down with Larissa, the lady herself, to discuss all things from pollen to petals.
How did the name Lady Larissa come about?
I had always worked for other people and I never really knew what to call my own business so I struggled to come up with a name.
The name Lady Larissa came from my personal Instagram account, which started off as a mixture of my own private pictures and some of my floristry work. The name stuck as my flower portfolio grew and so I deleted my personal photos and that’s how people got to know Lady Larissa.
How did you get into the floral industry in the first place?
I didn't know what I wanted to do. When I was 15 I did work experience at a florist, which turned into my first job. I worked full time for a number of years at various florists in Manuka and later Canberra City while studying Floristry at TAFE. I fell into floristry quite organically.
I then freelanced in London for 2 years and when I returned to Australia I thought it was time to start my own business.
I turned 30 this year, so it’s been a good 15 years, which is quite scary!
Do you have a favourite floristry tool?
You can’t operate without a good pair of cutters – they’re not quite secateurs and not quite scissors. They’re a bit more heavy-duty which enables them to cut through thicker stems.
But my favourite is a toolbelt. It’s kind of like a cowboy and it's just so easy when you’re working on the go! It’s handy when your tools are on your hip because they are within reach, otherwise I might leave a pair of scissors on the bench and be working on the other side of the room. The toolbelt keeps you mobile.
Does floristry have trends?
It definitely does. When I first started, the trend was more of a traditional style of floristry. This is when I first learnt everything was symmetrical, neat and compact. Certain flowers would be grouped or clumped together. Now the trend has moved away from being super formal and structured. Its more about the organic, wild and messy composition. It’s a much easier style to grasp because you don’t have to be perfect and it's almost like the messier, the more beautiful.
With weddings, the trend was to arrange mixed roses in a dome. Now, as an example, it is more likely to be a garden bouquet with trailing foliage and mixed field flowers. A lot of pastels and deeper tones like dark plum contrasting with soft peach are a huge trend at the moment.
Do you think you have a signature style?
I think I do. Maybe I’m naturally going with the trends. I look at some old photos of my floristry and find it horrific! It’s almost like artists – when you start out, you can see over the years how you transform and adapt.
I guess I’m influenced by English flower arranging. When I was over there we used a lot of textured foliage and mismatched florals, we made arrangements look quite wild, like a beautiful English garden. However here in Canberra, because of the climate and the flowers that are available, I mix in a lot of Australian natives which also helps them last longer. Australian natives contrast beautifully to the soft romantic and rambling English flowers, adding interest and texture.
I can describe my style as quite tonal - I steer clear of really bright vibrant colours. I like more pastel, earthy and natural colours. However, as a florist, it always depends on the job and the client!
What is your favourite floral or foliage to display at home and why?
I like to go with the season, so in Spring I love to display a giant vase with a cherry blossom branch. I don’t really like tall and straight foliage that has too much structure, I like things to be twisted up with plenty of character.
My preference is to have the same type of flower in a large elegant vase, like a giant bunch of peonies or garden roses at all at different heights. It looks a lot like an old painting.
If you want longevity, Australian natives are definitely the longest lasting, along with tropicals. I’ve fallen back in love with cymbidium and phalaenopsis orchids because they’ve got beautiful big heads and can often last longer than a month and they look striking.
What do you do in your spare time?
I am a real social creature. I love spending time with friends and family and have recently rekindled a relationship with my grandma so I enjoy spending time with her. I also really enjoy my down time and I’m a real café lover – so I love checking out the latest vegan and health food cafes in Canberra, taking trips to our coast house or exploring nature.
What tips or words of advice do you have for people wanting to arrange at home?
Buy flowers when they’re closed because then they will open up in the next few days and ultimately last longer!
Pop into Pollen or BOOKPLATE to see Lady Larissa's work on display.
Follow Lady Larissa on Instagram as @lady_larissa or stay up to date via her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/LadyLarissaFlowers/