Nestled in a sweet spot on Haji Lane, Shop Wonderland is a cosy enclave filled with warm lighting and streamers hanging from the ceiling. A café sits on the first floor, below the retail and workshop space where all the floral magic happens. Upstairs, creative director Melissa Wang welcomes us and explains the mechanics of flower arrangement. It’s important to condition the flowers, she says, which means to prep them by stripping away rogue leaves and thorns. She went on to tell us how to care for the plants, the difference between species, and how to buy them at a nursery.
Part-demonstration and part-guide, the class allows for a free flow of creativity, where each student gets to try arranging seasonal flowers. As we attempted to craft a centrepiece with seven types of blossoms, including roses and peonies, we learnt how to pick a ‘hero’ flower and use that as the starting point to ‘tell a story’, as Wang instructs. Think about colour, texture and differing heights, she adds.
And so we did, starting over a couple of times when our bouquets don’t quite make the cut. Our fingers and arms ache from the weight – who knew pretty flowers could be so heavy? – but we press on, adding more and more buds to our growing bunch. Almost two hours later, exhausted but proud, we gaze at our beautiful bouquet feeling quite accomplished.