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Michelle Mason’s Flower Market

May 12, 2019
by the gentle author

As you know, I always go to Columbia Rd Market each Sunday to buy a bunch of flowers. And I often pop in to visit Michelle Mason who has been running a shop there for several years and complements her displays with flowers from the market.

Growing fascinated by the changing varieties through the seasons of the year, Michelle began photographing her arrangements and now she has written a beautiful book, FLOWER MARKET, Botanical Style At Home, which is full of inspiration to create your own imaginative floral displays.

Michelle will be demonstrating how it is done at Townhouse Spitalfields on Tuesday 21st May at 6:30pm as past of the Chelsea Flower Show Festival Fringe. Click here for tickets

“Summer show-stoppers include blowsy Peonies, Roses, Foxgloves and Lupins and as the season unfurls through the warmer months of June, July and August the variety of flowers and foliage reaches its most glorious peak. This is, no doubt, the most productive and creative time for growers and florists as they prepare for summer weddings and other events.”

“I love the scent of early summer Stocks and the gorgeous apricot variety I used here filled the entire room with a sweet clove-like fragrance. Using an old glass jar I added white Anenomes, coral pink Freesia, zesty Ranunculus and a peach tea Rose for a romantic garden feel and set it against a botanical wall chart with illustrations of Sweet Peas. This scene was inspired by flower paintings from the Dutch Golden Age of the late 1600s, when still-life paintings depicting exotic botanicals became popular.”

“As we reach May and June, the flower market comes alive with colour and variety, ranging from Peonies the size of saucers to Roses in every shape and shade, exotic oriental Poppies, Delphiniums, Cornflowers, Phlox, pear-scented Snapdragons and so many dainty and delicate meadow flowers such as Forget-me-Nots, Fennel and Mustard flowers. The choice is overwhelming.”

“This botanical illustration from the twenties sets the tone for a delicately faded scene. The caramel-coloured Rose was the starting point for the flowers and I added the fragrant cream double Daffodils with a buttery yellow centre, aptly named ‘Cheerfulness’, with Hazel twigs, white Freesia and pearly butterfly Ranunculus.”

“This palette of spring colour, randomly arranged on a metal table, includes soft pink Primroses, Tulips, Grape Hyacinths, orange Ranunculus, yellow and blue Hyacinths, cream Freesia, Snowdrops and white Wax Flower.”

“Using old fabrics is a way to layer pattern and colour, and I especially like to use hessian, hemp and plain linens to add tone and texture, such as this sugar sack. The worn, faded cloth, stamped with Tate & Lyle, makes an attractive backdrop to the pale floral arrangement of white Lilac, Tulips with honey-coloured centres, cream Narcissi and palest pink Viburnum.”

“Winter displays need not be limited to evergreens and dried leaves. November offers colour like these caramel-coloured Ranunculus, Anemones and rosy apricot, peach and yellow late-flowering Iceland Poppies.”

“Beautiful, sweet-smelling Peonies are the quintessential summer blooms. They range from the ruffle- feathered pink blush variety ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ to the deep burgundy ‘Rubra Plena’ and the white ‘Alba Plena’, all of which have large velvety double flowers. ‘Coral Sunset’, a little less full-flowered but equally pretty, with a gold and apricot centre, reminds me of my grandmother’s garden.”

” In April and May the larger peony-like, fuller-flowered tulip varieties come on to the market in a blaze of colour from scorching hot reds to ballet-slipper pinks, yellows and ivory streaked with peach. ”

“Traditional flowers such as Forget-me-Nots, trailing Honeysuckle, wild sweet Briar, Lily-of-the-Valley (symbolising happiness), Lupins, Larkspur and Foxgloves make dreamy summer bouquets and add unusual elements to wedding flowers.”

“Little posies of peony Ranunculus, pink Viburnum blossom and Ammi Majus (a form of cow parsley sometimes known as Bishop’s Flower) in a collection of glassware from cloudy eau de vie bottles, chemists’ bottles, inkpots and an old jam jar.”

Photographs copyright © Michelle Mason

Click here to buy a copy of FLOWER MARKET by Michelle Mason direct from Pimpernel Press


BEE URBAN, between 2:30-4:30pm Saturday 18th May

The beekeepers who tend the bees on the roof of the National Theatre and the South Bank Centre will be displaying a mobile observation beehive. (No booking necessary)

THE BETHNAL GREEN MULBERRY, 6:30pm Wednesday 22d May

The Gentle Author tells the story of the campaign to save the East End’s oldest tree. (Click here to book)

EDIBLE LANDSCAPES, 12:30pm Thursday 23rd May

Jo Honan talks about how to identify edible plants and trees, including, lovage, saltbush, jostaberry, medlar, calendala  and allium. Lecture includes a light lunch of edible plants. (Click here to book)

5 Responses leave one →
  1. Jill Wilson permalink
    May 12, 2019


  2. Helen Breen permalink
    May 12, 2019

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, Michelle Mason’s lovely flower arrangements make such a deliciously appropriate subject for Mothers’ Day – at least it is celebrated today as such on this side of the pond.

    They are all beautiful and so thoughtfully arranged. My favorites: the first one with delicate shades of pink and green (love the foxgloves!) with the green underlined by adding a lime and an artichoke. Also the arrangement channeling the old Dutch masters’ stilllife style against a lovely botanical print.

    Wonderful pics!

  3. Pam permalink
    May 12, 2019

    Mother’s Day bouquets for those of us living where nature is just waking from a long, very cold winter. Thank you.
    Ontario is looking forward to warmer times when our blooms will greet us. Pam

  4. May 12, 2019


  5. Ria permalink
    May 13, 2019

    Gorgeous flowers and displays.

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