Floristry Advice From Nicholas Minton Connell
When you meet Nicholas Minton Connell he’s like many other great artists I’ve known - effusive, interesting, chatting happily away you can see him working ideas into words that will later translate into floral visual extravaganzas and he’s generous to a fault in sharing his invaluable floristry advice.
From a life in visual merchandising for Selfridges where Lady Diana was his valued client, to four years living in Hong Kong amongst fireworks, dragons and the changing of a colonial outpost to what in essence appeared to be an occupied Chinese military presence, Nicholas decided to move back to Australia and began forging his business Pollon. Located only metres from the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Lane, near the church, you can’t miss the store because it’s so beautiful.
For girls getting married Nicholas warns, “don’t ever add elements into flowers that aren’t natural like diamantes or fake feathers. If you want to attach an heirloom to your bouquet make sure you have it pinned upon the stem – never build your bouquet around this trinket. Granny will find out later that her brooch was in your hand – it doesn’t need to be displayed to the whole congregation!"
The idea of rounding out flowers into a perfectly shaped bouquet-ball is an anathema to Nicholas.
He gives this critical advice to girls who think the ball-bouquet is ok. “Flowers are imperfect and they have to be put together in an imperfect arrangement, this allows them to flow.” When flow is achieved your wedding photographs are going to be far more elegant, with the flowers making only part of the statement in the photo – which is how it should be.
“Don’t complicate things.” Weddings are supposed to be wonderful affairs and Nicholas believes they can be, if brides can refrain from stipulating that they want this type of flower, and this type of flower and this type of greenery! Nicholas loves real butterflies but if he sees one more fake flutterer trying to make their way into a conversation let alone a bouquet – he says it’s potential for murder!
Simplified is his rule and he assures us that ironically, simplicity always makes a bolder statement.
Nicholas tells brides if it’s elegance they’re after they can’t go past David Austen roses which photograph beautifully with their delicate, feminine open faces. If it’s peony season of course he recommends these, but he reminds everyone that peonies need to be blended with other flowers to make a bouquet work.
For table arrangements Nicholas has some great ideas not only for weddings but for your casual dinner party.
The best value in flowers for your home are green goddesses – these are lilies to those of us not in the know. Leave them in 1cm of water, with the tips just covered and these lilies will last up to three weeks.
No coloured rocks or gels should ever be lurking at the bottom of any of your vases – this is not negotiable.
Nicholas Minton Connell hates rules and he hates that florists who are “professionally” taught often come restricted by guidelines. For him to have become the magnificent floral artiste he is today Nicholas never adopted conventions, he works without license to create the best arrangements in Melbourne.
At home Nicholas says foliage is key, you can fill vases all with the same foliage, but in different sizes, for example you might take something like blue or spiral gum and then in another vase arrange it with hydrangea leaves, which he might marry with an oval shaped vase with floating water lilies. In this way by combining three elements – the harsh masculine gum alongside the other two feminine foliages – you’re creating a theatre that interior décor relies on.
On New Year’s Eve Nicholas and his team created a forest at the Port Phillip Estate on the Mornington Peninsula with trees atop their tables which ensured this party looked like one hell of a fun, fairylike place to be – and let’s face it we’re all after something a little special on New Year's.
Everyone needs a relationship with their florist, because if your florist knows you, they’re always going to deliver what they know you’d be proud of, they’ll send your clients the right message, they’ll design your party in the way you want it styled, they’ll go the extra mile. It is dangerous to trust global giants for your gift giving, as they often send whatever they have, versus what you ordered. If you have a good relationship with your florist ring them next time you want to send flowers overseas or interstate and ask who they’d recommend - your florist will help you with their preferences which can take lots of the angst out of it for you.
Nicholas is loving the Catalya orchid at the moment, but his phases like all artists are varied and change and evolve rapidly. Next time you think flowers think Nicholas Minton-Connell.