This month we visited Marisa Martin of Flowers With M at her workshop just outside Penryn, where she was preparing for a wedding.
Q. How did you get into floristry?
A. Flowers have always spoken to me. Growing up, I never failed to notice how mum placed her flowers in vases, they were thoughtfully placed around the house, so in almost every room you would smell or see flowers. This is where the seed was planted. When I started to arrange flowers for myself, I started to realise I could really make a business from this. Working with flowers is the most passionate I have ever been about something so I couldn’t help but go after what I love. The business officially started out with making Christmas wreaths in 2015, with the flowers I carefully dried in the autumn. This naturally grew into making bouquets for friends and local businesses and now the business is almost 100% weddings.
I try to keep things loose and spacious, not too tightly packed. I think of a bumblebee, being able to fly around easily, with enough space between each flower.
Q. Are you influenced or inspired by anyone in particular?
A. The things that really influence and inspire me are the natural things around me. Gardens, botany and greenhouses really stretch my thinking. If I need to step away from things, Kew Gardens has to be one of my favourite getaways, it really is incredible and every time, I learn something new. I could read naturalist Joseph Dalton Hooker’s tales all day long. Narrowing things down and thinking more specifically about floristry, there are two or three florists who keep me on my toes and I make a point of checking in on them from time to time. Gregor Lersch is doing some incredible things within the world of floristry. And of course Falmouth – we have the sea, beaches, rivers and gardens, all on our doorstep. If I’m looking to get inspired, all I really have to do is walk out of my front door.
Q. What process do you go through to create an arrangement?
A. For wedding flowers, understanding the bride’s vision, her favourite colours, and the feeling she wants to give her guests is the first part. The next step is discussing the flowers that could achieve the look she wants. I find flowers incredibly personal so I really like to make it a collaborative process, I always ask the client what they like and discuss their vision for the arrangement, this often starts the creative process, giving me an idea of what flowers I need to source.
In making the actual arrangements, I break it down into three parts;
1. Sourcing the flowers, which can be especially rewarding when working with local growers. I think of what’s in season first and who can provide me with the best flowers possible. The flowers for this bouquet are all UK grown, they arrived last night.
2. Once the flowers arrive at my studio, I take pride in conditioning each one and getting them ready for their big day! The flower heads are usually all droopy when they arrive, so I cut all the stems and give them fresh water and flower food, and fresh water again the next morning. This prolongs the life of the flowers.
3. And finally, putting it all together and making the arrangement, the most therapeutic part!
When I’m creating arrangements I turn the radio on, light a scented candle and normally have something tasty from my local bakery within easy reach. My focus is always on shape and colour as this, for me, is what creates a good flower arrangement. I try to keep things loose and spacious, not too tightly packed. I think of a bumblebee, being able to fly around easily, with enough space between each flower. And I also think about how the bride will hold the bouquet; as I add things in I check regularly in the mirror that the shape is right, and it’s not going to drown her.
Q. What kind of clothes do you prefer to wear when you’re in the workshop?
A. I get cold quickly, so I don’t leave the house without a wool jumper on. In the summer I like loose shirts and jeans. I’ve become very practical with my clothing – it has to be warm, loose and comfortable.
My favourite way to relax is to take my canoe with my fiancé and head to the Helford River!
Q. How much do the seasons influence your work and your choice of flowers and foliage, do you grow or gather your own flowers?
A. The seasons are a huge influence, trying to keep colours as close to what is coming out of the ground is a great place to start. When foraging I always think of it as borrowing from the plant, not taking from it, so it’s important to do it properly and to only take flowers and foliage from the right places. Overall I prefer not to forage.
Q. What drew you to Cornwall, and what do you enjoy most about living and working here?
A. Falmouth is my home and I really do love the people, especially some of the characters and creatives who run businesses here. I loved growing up with Falmouth University just around the corner from me on Woodlane, it’s such a creative hub. I’ve been lucky to live in homes with views that look over the harbour towards Flushing and the view never gets boring. I love popping into Espressini, Provedore and Stones Bakery and having a chat with the business owners, they’ve always inspired me.
Q. How do you gain inspiration, relax and re-energise?
A. I go to my studio and I look through all my floristry books that I’ve been given by my family and friends. I also find Ikebana fascinating, it’s the Japanese art of flower arranging. My favourite way to relax is to take my canoe with my fiancé and head to the Helford River!
Q. Your wreath-making workshops last year were such a success. Do you plan to run more workshops?
A. Yes, I do! This August I’m running two flower drawing workshops from my studio with two incredibly talented botanical artists. I’m looking forward to the simplicity of working with pencil and paper which will be a change from the buckets of living flowers needing attention. In December I will be running my wreath workshops again and giving tutorials on how you can make your own natural bases with a local willow weaver. So there’s lots to look forward to this year, anyone who’s interested should go to my website to follow the latest events and be sure to sign up to my newsletter.
Marisa is wearing her Chywoone Dress, Sailor Shirt and Beachcomber Boots in our photos.