In Conversation with Jess Blume

In Conversation with Jess Blume

What is true seasonality and why is it important to you?

Accepting the nuances and inevitable unpredictability that each season brings - especially with our climate changing so much. It goes against so much of our modern-day instinct and need for control, and takes practice, but it's wonderful once you make peace with it. It's an important part of practicing being more present in general and our ability to respond to challenges and unexpected situations more calmly. Looking forward to certain moments in the calendar - like English cherries, strawberries and probably my absolute favorite - Tulip time. It makes us more attune to the natural world and that, in my eyes, is always a good thing. 

What is the biggest misconception about the floral industry in Britain?

There are quite a few! I think one of the real difficulties is people understanding the true cost of British cut flowers, as Supermarkets have really messed this up for all of the UK growers trying to compete. Flowers in supermarkets are usually sold as loss-leaders, so you pick up a bunch care-free at the end of your shop because they're a bargain. This means when a highstreet florist is charging a fair price, in order to make their business work and pay their suppliers properly, the instant reaction from shoppers is that they're too expensive. Flowers are a luxury, and their value should be reflected in their price - anything too cheap will mean that there's someone (or multiple people) along the supply chain coming out at a loss. 

Also - top tip, a lot of people seem to think that the flower market is actually IN Covent Garden - it's not- it's near Battersea, on Nine Elms. Confusing name, but still - can you imagine a huge flower market next to Sephora and Starbucks? The market also stocks a very minimal amount of British blooms, as everything there is imported from Holland and further afield.

Why are flowers important to you in your self care?

Flowers are always there to remind me to slow down. The resilience of certain varieties, especially those that bloom in the earliest days of Spring, like snowdrops, is humbling and helps restore hope when things in the world feel dark. 

What are your favourite british flora that are under utilised? 

I absolutely love gorse. It's so spikey though, it literally can't be touched! But the yellow swathes that cover the cliffsides and hills always fill me with joy. I'd love to make something out of it one day! Squeeze the petals between your fingers and it smells like pina coladas in the Spring!

Who inspires you in the industry?

The growers and farmers, all of them! They deserve their own national holiday. Those who protect the land they grow on, and make this central to their every day practice, are the most inspiring to me, and they do this whilst bringing so much beauty into the world simultaneously.

What’s the most exciting initiative/project you’ve seen in growing or floristry recently

An incredible initiative that's been running since before the pandemic is the charity Bread & Roses. They use floristry as a tool to help refugee women settle and get them into work by building their confidence, communication skills through a series of workshops. 
I also have to mention the 'Why buy Roses in February' campaign run by SSAW Collective, of which I am co-founder with two brilliant women Lulu Cox and Liv Wilson. We've been running this Winter campaign since 2020 to raise awareness of the complexities and problems arising from consuming food and flowers out of season. The rose in February is a perfect example of how our consumer-driven society has become completely out of touch with our natural cycles.

What is your self-care ritual and what does it mean to you?

I run. And if I can't run, I go outside for an hour at least. Swimming in the sea has also been something i've started doing more of, and it's the best thing for the mind and soul! It's that snippet of time carved out every day to be alone, it sets me up for whatever's happening next, clears the cobwebs and means I'm a nicer person to be around for the remainder of the day! 

What advice can you share to make the most beautiful Spring bouquet?

Let go of it being 'perfect'. 
Create dimension through height and texture. 
Place your stems as though you were marking out a clock face. 
Lean into the naturally occurring interest or oddities in the flora.

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