For my Florist Friday blog post series this week, I’m delighted to feature an interview with Martin Bakker of Martin & The Magpie.
Could you tell us what prompted you to become a florist?
Where I grew up in Holland, we were surrounded by flower growers. It seemed natural to get a weekend job helping out at a rose growers. I learnt all about the growing, cutting and packing side of the business and eventually I got interested in the artistic side…how to arrange and display beautiful flowers, not just cut and pack them. I got a job in a florist which offered a day release so I could attend college for the techniques and worked in the shop to gain masses of practical experience.
How has your floristry career progressed?
In 2006, I moved to Amsterdam to work for a high class city florist which offered more experience in event floristry. I got to work in some amazing venues such as The Rijksmuseum, prestigious city corporations like Gassan Diamonds and Merrill Lynch, and top hotels like The Hilton. After meeting Emma (now my wife and business partner), I moved to England. Firstly I worked in an Interflora florist to see how things were done here, but quickly moved to London florist Pulbrook & Gould. It was here that I really embraced the English country style of floristry and again worked in some wonderful places like The V&A, The British Museum, The Wallace Collection and Hampton Court Palace as part of their event team.
When did you start your business and where are you based?
Martin & The Magpie was opened in 2010 in the beautiful market town of Hungerford, Berkshire. The shop had been a florist for twenty years but it had closed six months before and was standing empty. We had decided to look for a place in the country to live and fate seemed to take a hand and 120 High Street was there waiting!!
What kind of floristry services do you offer?
Martin & The Magpie is a family run business (myself, my wife Emma and my mother-in-law, Kay) offering all aspects of floristry. Not only do we sell cut flowers, but we also cater for weddings, funerals & events. We supply corporate clients and have regular contracts with private houses. We do think that these days you have to be different. So apart from flowers, we also sell an eclectic mix of vintage pieces of furniture and garden items as well as plants, containers and other quirky items that take our fancy. It means the shop is constantly changing and evolving.
Where do you get inspiration for your floral designs?
I’m hugely inspired by the paintings of the Dutch Masters (we have run courses with this theme!) and the English countryside around us. Also, being pretty addicted to social media, I find inspiration every day through Instagram. I follow and am followed by a lot of national and international florists and think it’s amazing to have this global network of incredibly talented people to tap into.
How would you describe your style?
Our style is romantic English country garden with a dramatic twist. We love the use of colour and try to keep things pretty seasonal. We also adore using seed heads, twigs, berries and unusual foliage at this time of year.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2013 and 2014?
We have big plans! 2013 saw us take on an old Victorian walled garden to grow British cut flowers in. So Martin & The Magpie Homegrown was born. We plan to continue planning and planting this one acre garden over the winter. So in 2014, we will have our own scented roses, peonies, sweet peas, anemones, ranunculus and cottage garden flowers……the list is endless! This way we’ll have a much broader range to offer our customers, and especially our brides. We also love the fact that the flowers only travel two miles to the shop. Our website is currently being redesigned and once finished will include an online shop for delivery locally and nationwide!
What is your favourite flower?
I can’t pick one! I adore French tulips, English garden roses, the cosmos we grew this year in the garden, anything slightly unusual like magnolia blossom, angelica or malus branches. But today it’s probably the most pristine white tuberose…the scent is something else.
Thank you very much to Martin for all his help in compiling today’s blog post. To see more of his beautiful floral designs, please do pop over to his website.
Social Media Links
To keep up-to-date with Martin’s news, here’s where you can find him on social media:
(Images : Martin & The Magpie)