Find indeed

At Here Among the Wild, the whimsical foraged ingredients aren’t told who’s boss – they’re allowed to have a say. And we like the way they think.

No two bouquets created at Here Among the Wild’s Herne Bay, Auckland store are ever the same – how could they be, with co-owners Yolande Palmer and Chantelle Rodrigo at the helm? The pair share a love for the serendipitous and are content to let the flowers’ form dictate the construction of their arrangements, though that’s not to say they don’t also inject their own touch of the unexpected. “We’re about poetic expression,” says Yolande.
Since opening their flower shop late last year, the talented twosome have gained a reputation for creating abundant displays made with unusual botanical ingredients. So much so that locals frequently turn up at their door with their own interesting finds, from storm-blown branches to wild hops.

When did you begin working with flowers? YOLANDE: I’ve always worked with flowers and had bunches in whatever spaces I live in. What propelled it even further was living above a flower shop in France. I’d go in after work every night and admire the flowers until finally the florist offered to teach me how to create arrangements. It worked really well with my background as a sculptural artist. When I came back to New Zealand, I noticed a lack of the wild and beautiful arrangements I’d seen in Europe and I wanted to bring that here.
CHANTELLE: I come from a family of DIY-ers, so if we could make it, we did. I remember family weddings where all of us, young and old, would be gathered at a table like a mini-factory making little floral takeaways for guests or centrepieces for the tables. But I attribute my love of flowers to my sister Nedra, who would often point out various plants, name them and tell me what they could be used for. That really sparked my curiosity.

How would you describe the spirit of the store? C: The inspiration for the space is in the name. We wanted to create an escape from the city where people paused their busy lives and experienced something organic and wild, instead of structured and concrete.

And what words would you use for your aesthetic? Y: Untamed, green and soulful. We try to maintain an organic environment with very few artificially cultivated flowers. Our aesthetic tends to be a bit dark, with natural colours and asymmetrical shapes, and we follow natural lines, rather than control them. We have a love of curves and strange forms, and enjoy experimenting with different materials such as bark shavings, hops and moss.

Where do you look for inspiration? Y: We love two artists in particular: florist Lewis Miller and floral designer Wona Bae. They have very different styles, Miller’s being more opulent and inspired by Northern European still-life artists, and Bae having a very fresh and contemporary style using mainly greenery that demands to be hung in minimalist architectural spaces.
We also take inspiration from the countryside, which results in more raw but magical arrangements and window dressings. Although they’re influenced by international artists, our arrangements maintain a New Zealand feel simply because of the flora we find here that isn’t seen overseas.

What would your dream project be? Y: To collaborate with other florists and create arrangements influenced by masterpieces at the Auckland Art Gallery – mainly because we’re so inspired by art ourselves.

There can be a lot of wastage in floristry – how do you get around that? C: We love working with flowers but we’re also aware of our environmental footprint. With that in mind, we ensure that all cuttings go into the compost to feed our garden, which we’re currently trying to turn into our own little flower farm so that we know the whole cycle from seed to bouquet and how our flowers are sourced and treated. We hang any leftover flowers upside down for drying and they eventually become part of a dried arrangement that can be kept for years on end.

You also hold floral workshops – can you tell us a bit about what they involve? C: Many people find working with plants and flowers intimidating, so our workshops are a way of helping them become more comfortable with getting their hands dirty. We also serve wine and cheese, so most people find that combination pretty irresistible!
The workshops cover everything from making wild floral arrangements to creating a green space, and are usually held on Sunday afternoons because we find it’s the perfect time for people to unwind and get into a creative headspace before their work week starts. Afterwards, attendees get to take home what they’ve made, so it feels doubly rewarding.

Go wild

Yolande tells how to create an arrangement using foraged finds
and market flowers.

A vessel of your choice. We used a 30cm terracotta jug to create a tall, wide arrangement
Secateurs or sharp snips
For the framework: willow and wintersweet branches
For the feature flowers: chrysanthemums
As fillers: tulips, phylica, dried statice, stems with dried berries (we used some from an Idesia polycarpa tree) and a single orchid stem (we used an Odontoglossum uro-skinneri)

1. Create the framework in the vase using the willow and wintersweet branches. Let the natural fall of the branches dictate the overall structure of your arrangement; here they create a ‘Y’ shape. You might like to use a mirror and create your arrangement in the reflection – it can be easier to judge positioning when looking at it in reverse.
2. Position the chrysanthemums slightly off-centre – it’s more pleasing to the eye.
3. Build up layers of filler flowers, starting with the tulips. Strip most of the leaves off the tulips to remove the bulk from the stem. Layer with the phylica and statice, filling the spaces between the branches but keeping it light and airy. Look at the arrangement as you woulda painting: the feature chrysanthemums are like the foreground and the fillers are like the background.
4. Position the dried berries at the front of the vase, so they break over the rim and add interest. Insert the orchid stem for further texture.
5. Use the secateurs to carefully remove any excess foliage that makes your bouquet look lopsided or too dense, but don’t try to tame the overall effect too much by making it 100% even on each side.

Styling Yolande and Chantelle collect unusual vessels and like to repurpose vintage objects such as gravy boats and silver jugs. And it’s not just about the flowers and the vase, but the setting as well. Yolande’s inspired by 17th and 18th century Northern Europe and Dutch still-life paintings. For a picture-perfect result, try placing your arrangement among bowls of fruit and nuts, or your favourite books or curios.
Anchoring Think about the height of your vase and the size of its mouth in relation to the flowers and foliage you’ve gathered. If your vase is tall and narrow, prevent it tipping over by adding river stones or a florist’s flower frog to anchor it. If the vessel has a wide mouth, make a lattice of clear adhesive tape over the opening so your blooms will stay in place.
Blending Make something extraordinary by mixing bought flowers and foliage with foraged finds. Often the best time to forage is after a storm or high winds.
Balancing “We usually work with fairly muted tones,” says Yolande. “This arrangement would look too pretty if we were just working with pink and green. To us, beautiful includes a touch of ugly or something that’s a bit challenging, which is why we included the berries here, for something a bit moody.”
Sculpting Cut stems and branches at the joint for a natural look. And don’t overdo the trimming – arrangements often look more interesting when something’s slightly ‘off’.

Floral styling Yolande Palmer
Photography Michelle Weir
Words Lisa Morton

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