By Megan Murray
Milli Proust's dream-like images of her Sussex flower farm nod to the life of someone raised in the countryside. But, in fact, it was six years ago that she swapped her Hackney house share for a cottage on the edge of a remote forest and learnt to 'live in the rhythm of nature'.
'I used to paint and write, but the building anxiety I felt in the city stemmed my creativity,' she explains. 'After moving to this isolated, beautiful part of the world, I became so in tune with the seasons and my ever-growing garden became my muse.'
After learning to grow her own impressive crop of colourful blooms, which she harvests for wedding and events styling, Proust believes that anyone - whether they live in the city or country - can become green fingered. It's in her new book, From Seed To Bloom, that she shares how we can all grow and style flowers at home.
Proust will be speaking at Soho.Home.Studio on the King's Road in London on Wednesday 11 May, but for now here is an exclusive project to try at home for spring.
How to create your own ‘warmth of spring’ centrepiece
'I like to think of my centrepieces as miniature gardens or little universes in a bowl, full of a corner of nature and reflecting the very best of what's in flower,' says Proust. 'They can be any size. Here, I'm starting with a petite design to practise the techniques in a simpler form.'
What you'll need
Snips | Chicken wire | Wire cutters | Pot tape | Pin frog | Putty | Low, wide vessel
Pansy 'Vanilla Sky': seven stems
Narcissus 'Sir Winston Churchill', 'Erlicheer', 'Katie Heath', 'Rainbow of Colours' and 'Bell Song': 22 stems
Anemone 'Black and White': one stem
Blossom branches: nine stems (I used plum, pear and cherry blossom)
Spiraea cinerea 'Grefsheim': two stems
1. Pick a low, wide vessel; this can be elevated with a foot or simply be a bowl from your kitchen cupboard. Add a pin frog and some chicken wire, secured with two strips of tape.
2. Choose a couple of flowering branches, or if it's a different season, something that can offer an interesting shape and structure. Arrange the stems at either side of the bowl at different angles to create your lines and form. Think of these first elements being placed as an expression of how tall and wide the design will be; one reaching up and the
other reaching out, like arms giving a gesture of dance. If you're using woody stems, cut the ends into points so that you can push them more easily into the frog.
3. Next, choose a filler that can act as a soft, pillowy backdrop for your focal flowers. Bear in mind that these will dictate the colour palette and provide the dominant hues for supporting the leading stars of the arrangement. Working from the outside in, place them at different heights and levels to create dynamic waves as a base full of movement.
4. Add the focal flowers, focusing on pattern and rhythm, placing them at different levels and using varied spacing between them. Have some tucked back and some coming forward and out of the design to create the sense of space and dimension. I used pansies here, letting them look as though they're falling through the design.
5. Add some delicate, textural elements as final flourishes.
Book tickets here to see Milli Proust at Soho.Home.Studio on the King's Road on Wednesday 11 May.
Photography credit: ©Éva Németh