So it might be January and you might be feeling blue but we have a little something to brighten up your day. In December last year we snuck out of Edinburgh to East Lothian to hang out with Pyrus Botanicals a.k.a Fiona & Natalya. As with so much these days I discovered their amazing and varied work on Instagram. They work on weddings, installations, photoshoots, and events so they’re not your typical florist. They also work from an enormous walled garden in East Lothian where they organically, and sustainably, grow the majority of their flowers. I absolutely adore their work and love their natural but considered creations. I am someone who even struggles to even plonk some flowers in a vase so I am in awe of their creativity and originality. It was such a pleasure spending time with them and their team and we caught them just before a busy wedding weekend so the studio was in full bloom! I’ll stop waffling and let you enjoy the interview below, you can also click through on any image to shop the Rosie Sugden accessories that Fiona & Natalya are wearing. All photos by the ever wonderful Ciara Menzies.
Tell us a little about yourselves.
We founded our botanical studio and flower garden in 2011. With backgrounds in fine and applied art we shared a passion for seasonal, British grown flowers and using botanical material as a medium for our studio practice. We have worked together as PYRUS ever since, expanding to a three-acre Victorian walled garden in 2015 where our vision to create a self-sufficient flower garden, wholesale business and creative studio is slowly taking shape.
Where is home?
Home for us is between Edinburgh and East Lothian, in Scotland. Our studio and garden is just a thirty-minute drive from Edinburgh city but feels like a thousand miles away; it is such a special, secluded spot. We really enjoy the balance of being part of a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with beaches, hills and forests on our doorsteps.
How did you discover floristry?
For both of us, floristry was something we found after finishing our art degrees; we met while working in the same flower shop, in Edinburgh. Although neither of us had worked with flowers before, we soon became hooked on using natural materials that change seasonally and have so much scope as a creative medium.
What inspires you and your work?
Where do we start?! We are inspired by so much: the living landscape that surrounds us in Scotland, poetry, clouds, environmental art and bee culture. We recently released a print series with photographer Gabriela Silveira ‘Consummation’ which was inspired by the cleansing nature of fire, and concerned with the ephemerality of plants and life cycles.
Describe a typical week.
Like most creatives, there is no such thing as a typical week for us! We divide our time between the studio, flower garden and office; however, this very much depends on the time of year and our diary. An ideal week would begin with emails, proposals and client meetings before spending time in the garden mid-week. Generally, the end of the week is studio based work; perhaps installing on site at weekends. It is a busy schedule, particularly through the summer months when the garden is in full bloom and event season is upon us.
How would you describe your floristry style?
Our style is ever-evolving but there are aspects of our work that represent our creative practice; we have always embraced a naturalistic style and love working with texture. Our aim is always to represent nature as closely as possible, and let it speak for itself. We are drawn to flowing shapes and movement in plants which lends our installation work a sculptural feel and we really enjoy small, subtle details that otherwise might be overlooked.
How do you divide the work between you?
As the business grows we have increasingly divided the workload to play to our strengths and that which we individually enjoy most. We separately oversee the garden and project research/proposal elements of the business, however we are equally involved in hands on studio work. We work well as a team and can take on more ambitious projects or larger concepts together.
This is an incredibly difficult question to ask someone who loves flowers! Our seasonal favourites are always changing, and part of the joy of growing our own flowers is to see the new crops coming through the ground and blooming throughout the year. However, there are a few staunch favourites that we never tire of: the delicate beauty and incredible patternation of bearded Iris and the garden rose is also hard to beat, with its soft velvet petals and intoxicating scent.
Natalya: I adore winter; the landscape laid bare, the muted tones and palette, the sculptural nature of the trees and plants.
Fiona: It has to be autumn when the plants give us seed pods of treasure and the trees a final fiery display; the world starts to slow down, muffled sounds in the wood and long light in the sky.
Favourite Edinburgh or East Lothian places to eat/drink/walk/see?
There are lots of fantastic small, independent businesses in Edinburgh that we love to support: Timberyard, Gardener’s Cottage and Norn to eat, Good Brothers for wine, Bramble for the best gin and tonic, and Lovecrumbs for cake. In North Berwick you can’t beat Steampunk coffee or the Lobster shack. We both have dogs and walk a lot, the beaches and coastal woodland at Tyninghame in east Lothian is a favourite spot, along with Pressmennan Wood. As plant lovers, we can lose a day easily in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, there is so much to see all year and the Victorian palm houses are welcome respite from the Scottish climate.
Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment?
During the cold months of January and February we take a winter break, while the garden sleeps. This is time to recharge, research and think about the season ahead. We are also busy ordering seeds, Rose and Dahlia plants, planning our crops for the year and thinking about the next stage of garden development.
Favourite project for 2017?
We were lucky enough to work with some fantastic creatives throughout 2017 and travelled throughout the UK working on projects with Wedgwood, The White Company and Laboratory Perfumes. The stand out for us was exhibiting a botanical installation and our print series ‘Consummation’ in 13 Floral Street, Covent Garden as part of the Rakes Progress pop up. Rakes Progress is an independent magazine that showcases every aspect of contemporary horticulture, it was a privilege to show our work alongside other artists in a gallery environment. The pop up continues until February with a rolling programme of events, talks and exhibitions; you can also see our prints in the current issue of the magazine.
Thank you Fiona & Natalya!