CHARLOTTE PUXLEY IS like a postcard heroine in a Jane Austen novel. The florist speaks with a crisp British accent, moves like a swan, and wears a floral embroidered bohemian top with hair pulled back into a loose bun.
The leading lady’s workplace is equally dreamy — she’s a floral atelier, housed in a post-war building in Singapore’s heritage estate Tiong Bahru.
The floral wonderland is replete with flowers and foliages. In one corner, there is reedlike pampas grass in tall vases. Dusty pink roses are scattered on the wooden tabletop, waiting to be handcrafted into one-of-a-kind bouquets. A small hill of leafy greens are strewn on the floor, a sign that it’s peak business hour.
Like a true blue English lady, she offers me tea as I sink into a comfortable sofa in the studio. Sipping on Genmaicha as I listen on to her speak, she spews quotable quotes straight out of a paperback.
The temporal beauty of flowers is what made her fall in love with blooms, she says.
“I love the fact that flowers are temporary. It dies, which makes it quite momentary. But there is such a beauty in there. The appreciation of them is not constant, you can’t put it away in a cupboard and bring it out later. It’s to be appreciated in the moment,” says Puxley, who grew up in a Georgian redbrick house in the English countryside of Lamborn.
After a first consultation, the designers will take a couple of weeks to come up with a couple of sketches. “Usually, there are two or three permutations of what we’ve discussed, something that we know the client is certainly after, and then something that is a bit more daring and pushes her out a bit of her comfort zone,” Swee says.
She moved to London at age 21 where she worked weekends at The Real Flower Company at Selfridges, while studying for an art history degree at Oxford Brookes University.
Then she relocated to New York for a taste of the glitzy fashion scene, doing public relations for Anya Hindmarch in 2009. “I did fashion PR there. And then I realised I was really bad at fashion. I probably just like buying clothes,” she says self-deprecatingly.
Flowers, she realised, were her calling. She returned to London in 2011to work for the capital’s preeminent florist Scarlet and Violet. She was part of the team who put together Kate Moss’ wedding flowers later that year.
Puxley moved to Singapore in 2014 to be with her boyfriend. They got married and she set up Charlotte Puxley Flowers in the same year.
The floral designer practises an omakase style — like a sushi chef who decides the menu — of creating blooms. She handpicks fresh flowers daily from a wholesaler who imports the blooms from countries such as Holland and Taiwan.
“When you order from us, you order an idea or a creation. We tailor make our bouquets. When you order online, you choose from a pastel, a bright base to pick from. You can request if you particularly want peonies, or you don’t want lilies. Then we will take whatever that is best in the market, from there we will always create something different,” says Puxley, whose delicate features bears a resemblance to a young Julia Roberts.
“Therefore it never gets boring, it’s putting different colour combinations together. It’s already original from the start because it’s up to us to decide what is best. It’s always up to the florist to decide what is best, given the information and also knowing what is good in the market,”
The seasoned florist shares with Keyyes how you can up your creativity quotient when gifting flowers.
Leave Out The Lilies for Business
Perplexed over what flowers to order for your new client? Flowers come down to personal taste, but don’t worry if his secretary doesn’t know his preference.
“You may not know the person, but you know the intent behind the gift,” says Puxley. “If it’s signifying a new business venture, you can opt for flowers with an optimistic feel. Brighter greens represent spring, new beginnings.”
Causing a sneeze fest is the last thing you’d want to do. To be safe, leave out the lilies. Flowers with strong aroma tend to induce allergies.
The once-tacky carnation is now in vogue. Not just any carnation, but carnations in the pretty shade of oat pink.
“Flowers are just like fashion, they have floral trends too. The pale pink trend on the runway is reflected in the world of flowers too,” says Puxley.
Carnations are surging in popularity thanks to new varieties in the market. She says: “Dutch carnations are coming in beautiful, pastel colours. Carnations are making a lovely comeback. There have been some brilliant colours that have come out. “
Stay In Season
Whenever in doubt, choose flowers which are in season.
“The bouquet should reflect the season, it’s a key base to choosing flowers. Because that’s what is going to be the best in the market. They are going to be at their strongest,” says Puxley.
What’s in season now? “It’s a good time to buy Dutch peonies. They are a summer flower. I’m talking about European summer. In October, we will get another influx of peonies from New Zealand.”
Rev Up Roses
What’s the deal with red roses? The once-popular roses are now the anti-flower. Dare to gift a dozen roses to your beau and risk getting called hackneyed, cliche, or boring.
“Red roses are a funny one, I almost feel like a lot of people try to buck the trend these days. They are probably not into red roses, because they feel it’s too obvious,” says Puxley.
But the seasoned florist begs to differ. The failsafe classic can be cool.
She says: “Red roses can work in a kind of funky way. We tend to pair pink hydrangeas with it, add a little bit of texture with smoke bush. It’s about the form and adding a little colour, texture. It’s kind of like getting dressed. When you take a top that is really cool, it is actually what you match it with that will make it an outfit.”
Create With The Receiver In Mind
To make a bouquet truly bespoke, the florist designs with the recipient in mind.
“I often ask them to tell me a bit about the girl. Does she love her food, or like to party? Does she drive a yellow car or have a cat named Muffin. If not the person, then the interior of the office or the company’s logo,” says Puxley.
“If I have an idea of the receiver that I am making it for, it really helps. It’s piecing together, building flowers to fit in that person’s life.”
For instance, what would make the perfect bouquet for an architect who is a minimalist dresser?
She says: “She should have some quirky foliages such as Indian Hawthorne. I would match it with quite a clean base, smooth flower with sharp architectural lines. You want the flowers to play to her architectural side in her, that would like a phalaenopsis orchid and a hydrangea.”