December 13,
florist willow crossley

Tell us about your journey with flowers.
I was writing my second book and began writing a chapter on flowers.  At the time, I had two small boys, was doing interior design, fashion styling, personal shopping and writing books and feeling very thinly spread.

Working with flowers made me so happy that I decided to give everything else up and focus solely on flowers. My husband Charlie sent me on a week intensive flower course for my birthday, and I’ve never looked back.  The first job I ever did was one of my best friend's weddings.  I did it with my Mum who is an incredible painter and gardener. We had no idea what we were doing but it was May, so a heavenly time for flowers. We had huge buckets of peonies and foxgloves and lots of beech and oak branches from her garden—and it just worked.

At the same time, my book ‘Inspire, The Art of Living with Nature’, came out and Anthropologie helped me launch it.  They were amazing and helped me hold workshops and talks, and it all took off from there.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Literally everywhere. The garden, the woods, the supermarket, the beach, book shops, the clouds, driving in my car.  I look at colors, shapes, proportion and scale. I can find inspiration anywhere on earth.

Can you share your creative process? 
It depends on the size of the job, really. If it’s a big installation, we often have a few months to plan. For those, I do a lot daydreaming and Pinteresting, a lot of research, I go to museums and then often come to a decision the moment before the deadline when the client needs a detailed proposal.

You advocate for sustainable practices in floristry.  Can you tell us more about that? 
Historically, floristry isn’t very eco-friendly.  There’s a lot of air miles, a lot of single-use plastics and a lot of waste.  I won’t use green flower foam anymore which is terrible for the environment. We use chicken wire and metal pin holders instead. I try and buy locally grown flowers as much as I can and re-home flowers after using them for events.

What’s your universal advice for anyone making their own floral arrangements?  Any must have tools? 
Invest in a good vase collection, some chicken wire, pot tape and floral pin holders ( also known as frogs!). Find a local grower that’s close to your home.  Start with small arrangements rather than a large showstopper.  Try  to find a local grower so you can use seasonal flowers. They’re always much more beautiful. Think about the proportion of the length of the stems to the height of the vase. You want the stem to be 1.5 times the height of the vase.

What are your favorite ways to incorporate florals into holiday decorating? 
I make lots of wreaths with big velvet bows. I fill them with evergreens that will last a good month.  Lots of garlands up the stairs and swagged over the fireplace filled with dried fruits and seed pods. I put fairy lights everywhere, a Christmas tree covered in feathered birds that I’ve been collecting over the years, and lots of our velvet bows.

aerin rose de grasse rouge

Tell us about the arrangements you specially made that were inspired by AERIN Rose de Grasse Rouge fragrance.
I was initially led by color and wanted lots of pinks and reds.  I wanted them to feel very soft, very romantic and ultimately just very beautiful. I used lots of different types of roses and peonies, sweetpeas, orange blossom, the most divine clematis called Princess Kate, and a few other wispy bits I picked from my garden.   

What is your approach to beauty and fragrance?
I love nothing more than a delicious fragrance.  They make me so happy.  I’m very drawn to light, floral scents, rose, jasmine and orange blossom. So the work with AERIN was a dream for me.

What’s your favorite holiday gift to give?
Pajamas.  I love giving a beautiful nightie or pair of pajamas.

Meal to prepare?
My husband Charlie is always in charge of Christmas lunch—it’s my favorite meal of the year.  We have roast turkey, roast potatoes, bread sauce, red cabbage, gravy, spinach, cauliflower cheese, and mini sausages wrapped in bacon.

Inspired by Crossley’s floral arrangements? Below, she shares how to create a holiday-inspired table arrangement just in time for seasonal decorating.

willow crossley holiday floral table arrangement
How-To: Creating a Holiday-Inspired Table Top Arrangement

Florals: I try to buy British whenever I can but it’s quite a limited choice at this time of year, so some of my flowers are from Holland. Look out for mistral anemones – they come in every color and last for weeks. I also love ranunculus. Or try plants— they last longer and are more affordable. A long line of terracotta pots or bowls with cyclamen, hellebores, paperwhites or hyacinths, mixed in with tall colored taper candles along the length of the table is beautiful.

Height Matters: Make sure your table decorations aren’t so tall that you can’t see your guests across the table. But also avoid keeping everything the same height—it adds interest when the decorations form an undulating line along the table. Introducing both tall taper candles and some tea lights is an easy way to add different heights. 

Get creative: I love scouring charity shops. You can often pick up cut-glass vases for 50 pounds. Bonne Maman jam jars make great vases, as do glass pickle jars for bigger arrangements. Think about natural items you can sprinkle on the table to decorate. I have oyster shells that a seafood restaurant gave me which I painted gold and now hold salt and pepper or guests’ name cards. Mini fir cones, gold chocolate coins, sugared almonds and tangerines with their leaves on piled up in bowls all make great finishing touches.

Take your table from day to night: If you’re hosting people throughout the day, there are quick ways to differentiate between your lunch table and your evening table. I don’t bother starting again from scratch unless there’s been a big spillage on the cloth. Instead, I might use different plates, but keep the same cutlery or switch from colored glass to clear glass (or vice versa). I always add in a lot more candlelight for evening. Changing the color of the candles can make a big impact too.