Jardine Hansen: Wild, loose and beautiful

White Edit favourite Jardine Hansen is a self-professed “plant fanatic,” who spends most of her spare time at nurseries and “peeking over the fence at other people’s gardens.” Here she opens up about her favourite things to create for brides, what she wishes they knew when it comes to choosing their wedding blooms and why 32.9K Instagrammers and countless couples love her signature “slightly unstructured, wild, loose” arrangements.

Speaking with Jardine Hansen of Jardine Botanic Floral Styling, you’d think she was destined to become a florist. “My nan was a great gardener and used to take me around and teach me flower names. She also taught me how to plant seeds and how a handful of seeds can hold remarkable potential,” says Jardine. “I think she was quite instrumental in encouraging a reverence for plants in me.”

And then there’s the fact her parents actually ran a flower shop in Woollahra in the late 80s and used to take Jardine to the markets with them as a child (she cites a happy snap of her, “at the market on Dad’s shoulders, in a Hello Kitty jumper, grinning like a maniac”). But she never considered floristry as a career. Instead she persevered dutifully through three and a half years of a double degree in exercise, sports science and nutrition before dropping out to work in a teashop. It wasn’t until a co-worker mentioned she was studying floristry at Tafe, that the seed was planted. “It seemed strange and interesting to me,” recalls Jardine, who enrolled and promptly “fell in love with the weekly flower market trips.”

But not everyone shared Jardine’s unique approach to floristry. “I didn’t find Tafe particularly helpful,” she confesses. “My teacher always told me my floral choices weren’t right. I remember her asking me to justify why I’d brought in dried wheat and I said, ‘Because the scent reminded me of horses and I liked they way the golden wheat sounded when you touched it, like a series of tiny clicks.’ She said I’d have trouble finding clients who would appreciate those details.”

Thankfully Jardine didn’t let that discourage her and instead found “more exciting inspiration” from two talented women in Nicolette Camille and Sarah Ryhanen of New York based, international teaching project Little Flower School. “They came to Sydney about three years ago and I spent a few great days seeing flowers through their eyes,” says Jardine. “It gave me courage to start my business.” And we’re so glad she did.

Interview continued under gallery…

Photo Gallery Ç

Describe your signature style…
Slightly unstructured, wild, loose arrangements. I aim to create romantic, nuanced arrangements that echo the garden. I like to incorporate interesting botanical specimens and scented flowers/foliage. I think it’s so important that arrangements strike you in a visual and olfactory way. I also love feeling foliage in gardens, so I like to incorporate interesting textural elements like velvety peppermint geranium, hoping someone will go about touching the leaves and enjoying that.

What excites you most about each of the seasons?
Everything really. Working seasonally means the markets are always changing and options are endless. The way spring flowers are so delicate, scented and new growth can have such light, subtle movement to it is very exciting.
Summer tends to be characterised by the big, lush flowers: hydrangeas, peonies, water lilies, and full garden roses. It’s big, showy and bountiful.
Autumn tends towards interesting textural things with foliage colouring, branches holding fruit, berries, and beautiful hydrangeas gaining their slightly haunting colouring.
Winter is all about hellebores, cyclamen and magnolias on the bare branches; pared back, quiet beauty. I adore all the seasons but find spring and autumn particularly pleasing.

What do you love to create for brides?
Interesting tablescapes with flowers and fruit flowing across the table. And I dearly love making bouquets with long trailing ribbons. I enjoy getting to know the couples; finding out what is meaningful to them and trying to figure out how to work that in.

What’s been your favourite memory or moment creating the flowers for a wedding?
I have been so lucky with clients. Many of them have allowed me a lot of creative freedom, which is so wonderful. Doing flowers for friends’ weddings is so special.
One I adored so much was my friends’, Ali and Hugh, who were married on Hugh’s parent’s property, which used to be owned by the Historic Houses Trust. They wed in an old olive and stone fruit orchard and we did a floral arbour. It was lovely.
I also tend to enjoy the intimate weddings, like one I did in autumn last year for two lovely people called Ronnie and Josh; about 40 guests. We did the tables with lots of grapes, figs, plums, flowers and autumnal foliage with brass candlesticks. It was so much fun.

What advice do you have for brides when choosing their floral arrangements?
I think it’s our role to talk couples through what’s available seasonally and what will work with their ideas. It’s best when couples find a florist whose work they admire and seems to work with their personal style.
It’s also important to chat through what it means to work seasonally, and that working with nature requires a little flexibility. If the week before their wedding there’s lots of rain and say the roses are all marked, the bountiful rose arrangement plan might be out the window. But there is always something beautiful that can be used instead.

We love your unstructured approach to botanical design, which comes from taking inspiration from nature. What do you love about that style and why do you think it’s so popular with brides right now?
I think it’s popular now because there has been a shift towards appreciation of nature in general. Wild, loose floral styling appears less contrived than some of the tight, perfect orbs of flowers that were around in the 80/90s.
Constance Spry popularised this interesting garden style in the 30s. Trends seem to repeat themselves. I suppose the tide will turn at some point but I hope it heads to thoughtful, sparse ikebana-esque arrangements before going back to tight spheres of flowers because I don’t think I’ll have it in me to remain relevant if that happens anytime soon.

You’ve got a huge following on social media with 32.9k followers on Instagram alone. How did you build that? Would you say the rise of social media and us being more digitally connected has helped or hindered your business?
I post things I enjoy making. I think I’m just lucky that flowers are something people enjoy looking at.
Social media has definitely been pivotal for my business. As I don’t have a shop front, I operate through word of mouth and social media. It’s a great tool for connecting florists and clients. I have met and stayed in touch with so many wonderful people through Instagram in particular.

Jardine Botanic Floral Styling is based in the Blue Mountains but can also do weddings and events in Sydney, the mountains, the Southern Highlands, the Hunter Valley and beyond. Take a look at more of Jardine’s stunning work in White Edit Directory and enquire about her services on the official website.