Sydney florists and flower shops
After 25 years in the business, Saskia Havekes is considered a rock star in the floristry world. She’s garnered international success from her series of books, including the 2015 Flower Addict, and her fragrances are stocked in 50 stores in Italy alone. “I love the magnolia grandiflora so much I just wanted to bottle it,” says Havekes. “I had an impulse to somehow lasso that flower; its beauty never fails to please me.”
What was once a Lawrence Dry Cleaner is now filled with tall pots of sculptural stems and dramatic, oversized flower heads from whatever’s in season at the time. The central station, dominating the small space, has been there since the beginning – as has Havekes’ addiction to her work. Even now, as the head of a busy flower business, Havekes still visits the Flower Markets herself three times a week.
“Once I’m there I think I wouldn’t miss this – just to be around my growers. To have that relationship with my growers is essential. It’s truly like family.”
Enter into the bright warehouse space on the northern end of Dowling Street and you’ll find roses, peonies, chrysanthemums and orchids alongside native flowers and hanging fronds. As operations manager Ashley Ryan explains, Hermeica doesn’t do “shy” bouquets.
“When our arrangements come into a room, you notice them. It’s about that initial moment of emotion and reaction,” she says. “We also create a very ornate wrap and people often come to us for our coloured work. We do lots of really gorgeous colours.”
Bouquets of roses start from $60, while the vibrant collection of glorious native Australian flowers and foliage starts from $100. They’re so dedicated to delivering a memorable experience that Hermetica even has a resident calligrapher, Sam Pauletto.
“The card is the one thing that lasts forever, so we want it to be beautiful,” he says. “Small gestures like hand-written notes make a big difference – it makes the whole experience more personal and meaningful.”
Sisters Sarah and Sophie Kelman opened Wild Forager in Freshwater in 2016, but the siblings “didn’t just want to be a flower shop.” The flowers are certainly the first thing you notice, but their ethos is to work with ethically-sourced brands, so they also stock carefully chosen homewares from across the globe (the ‘forager’ side of the name).
It’s a business with services from everyday bouquets to wedding arrangements and consulting, but Sarah maintains Wild Forager’s priority is “trying to create beautiful, kick-arse flowers.”
The fiddle leaf is the best-seller on the plant side, retailing at around $45 depending on size and, if you’re after flowers, the ‘Soft and Pretty’ bespoke bouquet is a winner. Featuring the finest blooms the season offers, it’s typically between $80-$100.
There’s something about the Art Deco, blue-tiled exterior of this florist that makes it feel like it’s always existed on Macleay Street in Potts Point. Director Ed West bought the business in 2015 with former co-owner Dan Scala. Before Poho he’d worked at another Sydney institution, Hermetica (now in Woolloomooloo), and he ran a concierge business.
“Typically we wouldn’t use more than three or four elements in a bouquet. Maybe we’d add something extra, like a pop of something metallic, or a beautiful leaf. You can always tell a Poho bouquet, as we make ours front facing. And the thing that’s most recognisable is the blue paper.”
In fact, Poho’s customers were crestfallen when the store once used white wrapping instead of blue. They are, generally speaking, a discerning bunch: “Our regulars will ask for flowers from particular growers – people will ask for Bob’s roses, for example – and that side of it is amazing to me.”
An unlikely start grew into a career calling for Rococo owner JJ Phan. Convinced by his mum to go into business together, Phan decided the closest he would ever get to a bouquet was to deliver them. Then, one day, he tried his hand at an arrangement and things blossomed from there. Twenty years later, the kid who once didn’t know a poppy from a poinsettia is the owner and creative force behind Rococo Flowers in Surry Hills.
“We don’t follow trends as such; we’re more interested in creating something beautiful,” he says. “People tell us what they want and we’re able to take those words and turn it into a vision.”
Bouquets range from $90 to $200, with wine and Champagne available for those wanting to add a little extra.
“We’re there at the big moments: births, weddings, anniversaries, as well as at the other end of life,” he says. “No matter what the occasion, when someone gets flowers from us, we want them to feel loved.”
The Glenayr Avenue boutique has delivered gorgeous blooms to the 2022 postcode and beyond since 2012. Serving some of Sydney’s favourite designer boutiques, including kaftan queen Camilla and hip hotels like QT Bondi, owner Jenni May has built a name for herself as one of the go-tos for all things flowers in the Eastern Suburbs.
“We’re about gardeny, wild and whimsical bouquets,” says May, which you can see in the cavalcade of succulents growing at the front of the store, and buckets of sweet peas (Jenni’s favourite), long-stemmed pastel poppies, balls of hydrangeas and fringed tulips inside.
Flowers range from a $35 bunch of simple tulips to $65 for sculptural phalaenopsis orchids. There are also hand-arranged Florist’s Choice bouquets for $50, and colourful stylised bunches for $65-$160.
Wild Lotus is run by father-daughter duo Jess and Kel Bernauer, who have a reputation as one of the most personable teams on the Northern Beaches. In an area where community is everything, the pair have built a loyal customer following, and many fill their homes with Wild Lotus flowers year round.
“Our style is lush and full,” explains Jess Bernauer. “We like to use lots of different tropical foliage and interesting textures. In the city you see a lot of bouquets that don’t have much foliage, they’re quite minimalist.”
The front window at Wild Lotus is a great representation of the store itself: a big, unique spirit that dominates a rather small space. Right now the display is full of silk cotton-tree branches and native wattles with hidden gems like their winter peach blossoms on show at the back – one of the owner’s favourites.
A decade ago, former town-planner Jane Lampe launched Floreat as an online business out of her North Bondi garage. Since then, it has flourished into a vibrant expression of Lampe’s country roots in the narrow streets of Darlinghurst.
Floreat’s arrangements are elegant and modern, with roughly 95 per cent of the flowers originating from local growers. Lampe believes in using native flowers as much as she can, for their distinctive character, and it’s part of her commitment to a more environmentally conscious business.
“At the moment I’m really loving the Daphne. It’s got a beautiful scent,” she says, but Floreat’s popular arrangements vary with the seasons. “We do what the flower’s telling us to do,” she says. “We like to make things look really unique and modern, with a bit of an organic, rustic twist.”
The narrow shop on Annandale’s busy Johnston Street is run by long-time florist Jodie McGregor and her husband Stu White. The pair opened the store 20 years ago – the same year they were married – and in that time they’ve remained dedicated to providing the preferred blooms of their much-loved customers.
“We’re not flower snobs at all,” says White, who traded his former commute to a CBD finance job for early mornings at the Flower Markets. “We like working with sculptural things like gnarly natives, and then putting them with a floral element as well.”
On our visit, we saw golden-green nests of dryandras, dusty pink Geraldton wax flowers from Western Australia, flame-red grevilleas and all their cousins, plus freshly perfumed branches of eucalyptus among the more delicate petals.
“We try to be customer focused, that’s how we started the business – a small shop, Jodi knowing everyone – like Cheers, where everyone knows your name.”
White House Flowers is something of a Manly institution, having served the Northern Beaches for more than a decade. Founder Kye Carqueville was just 19 when White House started, and remains as creative director to this day.
“Artistic, sculptural and dramatic” are the three words used by florist Mel Anderson to describe the White House style. Arrangements are built on texture and volume as well as colour and beauty, and this is borne out in the range of bouquets available to buy in store and online.
The guiding principle of White House is passion – it’s the word Mel uses most often when describing the people she works with and how they approach what they do. Many of the White House staff don’t come from traditional floristry backgrounds; former butchers, bakers and architects have all taken the leap into the floral arts.
As for what flowers you’ll likely walk away with, Anderson says cymbidiums, also known as boat orchids, are a big seller in the winter months. Themed arrangements, available online, start at $60 but for the true White House experience, it’s best to swing by their cute corner store and speak to the experts.
You can pick up a tailored posy for around $35, a larger native arrangement for $60, or grab a fragrant bunch of daffodils for eight bucks at this gorgeous white terrace building in Redfern.
“We have a pretty exotic range too, like cymbidium orchids – they’re supersized – vanda orchids, and incredibly rare things like slipper orchids,” florist Chris Saban says.
But there’s a lot more to the store than flowers. There are shelves of ceramics, hanging vines and ferns, plus everything you might need to plant a small forest at home. They’ve got all the hot-to-trot houseplants like fiddle leaf figs, rubber trees, devil’s ivy, and Swiss cheese plants, with well established ferns going for $70-$110.
Together with his small team, Saban runs weekly workshops in flower arranging to terrarium classes, sustainable weaving and making Japanese kokedama moss balls. These are run as private masterclasses as well as group activities, with as many as seven classes per week.
What first captures your eye at the Flower Room is their painstakingly curated window display. On our midwinter visit it was very autumnal-chic: bare bones branches, dried natives and a family of odd bunch pumpkins littering the floor.
Step inside the high-ceilinged King Street store and you’ll find a more tamed selection of categorised flowers. There are paper daisies and native foliage in one corner next to a wall of pastel roses, bulbus chrysanthemums and impressive kale flowers. Across the room you can browse an elegant display of colour coded orchids in front of shelves filled with succulents and bonsai plants.
A hefty handful of banksias and proteas will set you back $35, but there are also bunches of bright semi-double chrysanthemums and carnations for $15. After a bit of a statement posie? There are tightly packed fiery roses, golden daisies and sculptural budding blooms for $55.