The sun is more reliably out, Vancouverites are walking the streets in packs and the flowers are on brilliant display. Be they bedding in gardens, fronting shops or glamping in bouquets, our flowers are in glorious bloom.
Which flowers are people clamouring for these days? Amy Hu, owner and floral designer at the gorgeous Garden Party Flowers, has been watching local floral trends for 16 years. “Coral peonies, Peach Juliet garden roses and Blush Café au Lait dahlias are super popular now!”
Hu got her first job working at Vancouver Airport Florist while she was at university. “I fell in love with arranging. We started our own business in 2009.” Garden Party Flowers opened on West 4th and Alma and grew so rapidly that they were having to create their displays outside at the back of the store. It was time to find a new space.
Hu and her Garden Party Flowers team found “a beautiful studio location” on Industrial Avenue. “We have 2200 square feet to store our flowers in a huge walk-in cooler, spacious working stations and a private consultation room.”
These days, Hu spends much of her time on weddings and special events. “One of my favourite projects was designing the wedding florals for Aurora Buchanan of Alicia Keats Weddings + Events.” We see the gorgeous results of that collaboration in our header and final photo here.
“This year, we also had a chance to design a floral dress – for the Fleurs de Villes Real Flower Dress Showcase – with our team. We won the best in show!”
Hu is delighted to be working in such a creative field. “I love my work: from processing the stems to designing each arrangement. I enjoy chatting with wedding couples and bringing their visions to life.”
There are challenges, of course, particularly in managing a large team who together must realize design dreams with real flowers. “Sometimes it’s hard to communicate everything. We use our wedding task template to help us to delegate the design.”
Hu and her Garden Party experts offer public workshops, such as last month’s Afternoon Tea in a Peony Garden. Small groups – bachelorette parties, birthday celebrants – will also book out the store and its designers for private events.
One thing Hu notes – and it is something we have heard from other successful floral designers in Vancouver – is the collegiality in the Vancouver flower design industry. “The support from industry colleagues who own other flower shops is amazing. We did not expect that and are grateful for their support, encouragement and pushing each other to improve.”
What advice would Hu offer to artisans who want to distinguish themselves creatively from others in the field?
“What helped us grow,” says Hu, “was to create good work, put it out there and not worry about someone else copying. It may not have been perfect, but we just tried and kept trying, which I think helped to grow our online presence.”
Written by Elizabeth Newton
* All Photos – Garden Party Flowers
* Header & Final Photo – Lucida Photography.
Aurora Buchanan & Alicia Keats – Alicia Keats Weddings & Events.