Plant Life Balance

Book Club #2: What we’re reading in May

A bounty of books that feed our soul, help us grow, and plant us firmly in the moment.

Words: Maggie Scardifeld

Hellebores. Gypsophila. Ranunculus. Privet berries. Whimsical names aside, I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of flowers. And 272 glossy pages of Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design has reminded me why.

This book is far-out, forget-me-not, breathtaking. Released in March, the hardcover charts a decade of floral design: from awe-inspiring, high-end fashion editorial and styling, to lush, sculptural wedding installs, post-office pop-ups and bedside-table blooms. The work of more than 80 contemporary florists from around the world is included. There’re plenty of Australian trailblazers in the mix: Melbourne studios including Cecilia Fox, Loose Leaf and Hattie Molloy, for starters, along with Sydney’s Seed Flora, Flowerdrum and Jardine Botanic.

Have you ever seen flowers suspended in ice? What about hydrangeas, orchids and irises launched into space? Japanese floral artist Azuma Makoto has done both (the latter, in 2014 from Nevada via helium balloons).

But Blooms isn’t all jaw-dropping gestures and grand, architectural arrangements. The quieter moments are well documented, too. Tiny bunches of berries, fruit, foraged wild herbs and foliage straight from the garden to the table, for example. Or a simple vase of blush-coloured Persian buttercups and begonia leaves by New York’s Ariel Dearie. Sophia Parker of Wife NYC, meanwhile, turns elephant-ear leaves into kites and photographs them mid-flight.

The artists were nominated by an international panel of tastemakers which included Sydney’s own Saskia Havekes of Grandiflora, perfumer Jo Malone,  and London fashion designers Erdem (no strangers to a floral print).

Each page reveals another distinctive style, like floral artist Lewis Miller and his guerrilla displays called Flower Flashes. Under the cover of darkness in Manhattan, he’ll arrange floral sculptures around bus shelters, garbage bins, traffic signs and at other unsuspecting locations to help bring colour and joy to the daily commute. The book touches on other sustainability initiatives such as #nofloralfoam, with many of the designers tackling environmental issues in their work.

Fine art, fashion and food tend to be charted more often than floristry, so I love the deep-dive Blooms takes into the art form. It celebrates the beauty of plants in all their life stages, and I’ll certainly be pulling it from the coffee table next time I reach for the secateurs.

Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design
Phaidon, hardcover, $69.95
Available now from

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