For my Florist Friday blog post series this week, I’m delighted to feature an interview with Natalya Ayers & Fiona Inglis of Pyrus.
I’ve admired their work for some time now, have been intrigued by their company name and as I have a Scottish mother (which explains my name Rona), have even more of a soft spot for these very talented ladies.
Read on and I’m sure you’ll enjoy their inspirational floral journey…
Could you tell us what prompted you to become florists?
Natalya: After finishing my Art degree I walked into a beautiful coastal flower shop situated in an old fisherman’s cottage. It was painted in an ice cream palette with a resident cat asleep on a cushion. It was filled with the most incredible garden roses and that now familiar florist’s smell. And that was it, I was home.
Fiona: After graduating from art college I wanted to find a creative part-time job. I’ve always loved and been intrigued by nature, so trying for a job in a flower shop made sense. I landed a job in one of Edinburgh’s best flower shops. It was perfect. All the girls who worked there came from an arts background and it was in that shop that I fell head over feet in love with flowers!
Could you tell us how your floristry careers have progressed?
Natalya: I had absolutely no practical experience when I started. I badgered my favourite flower shop and persuaded them to take me on part-time, which quickly progressed to full-time then managing a successful, busy business. I had achieved a lot through passion and sheer hard work but eventually became a little disillusioned with the lack of seasonality, individuality and scent in the Dutch flower industry and wanted to do something different, leaving to focus on British flowers and botanical installations. That’s when I joined forces with Fiona (we had worked together previously) and established Pyrus.
Fiona: I enjoyed several years in the flower shop but couldn’t understand why all our flowers came from Holland. A local market grower used to supply us with garden roses and dahlias. They were heavenly!! In comparison, the Dutch roses seemed a bit ‘Pamela Anderson’, a bit unreal. I heard about an organic farm in Fife that grew a small crop of flowers so I applied for a job, packed up and moved to the countryside to learn to grow flowers. There, I started to offer a local wedding flower service, with great feedback and an obvious gap in the market, I set out to find a walled garden to grow in around Edinburgh.
When did you start Pyrus and where is it based?
Pyrus came about in a car journey after a wedding we worked on together. We had similar ideas, passion and goals, so it made sense to pool our resources. And in October 2011, after much discussion, we took on a disused walled garden on the Colstoun Estate outside Edinburgh, also home to our studio. On a cold, grey day we lifted tonnes of turf in the pouring rain to expose our new plot with the help of friends. It was a baptism of fire, but well worth it!
The word Pyrus comes from the Latin for a wild pear tree and there is a legend at Colstoun House about a magical pear given to the family by the Wizard of Yester. Choosing our business name has been one of the hardest decisions so far. We went through all kind of ideas from poetic and romantic to quirky and funny, finally settling on Pyrus (with the help of a few glasses of red wine). It is short and simple and doesn’t have too many associations which was important to us as a young creative business brimming with lots of ideas.
What kind of floristry services do you offer?
We take on all sorts of creative projects but the main part of our business is weddings and events, travelling throughout the UK (and beyond when asked!). We specialise in local, British flowers and top up our own flowers with blooms from other British growers. As we both have creative backgrounds, we’re particularly interested in botanical installations and opening up the realm of floristry a little to include sculpture, immersive installations and collaborations with artists. We also teach botanical based classes and do styling and set dressing work.
Could you tell us about your flower courses?
We teach all kinds of different classes ranging from foraging based courses on the Colstoun Estate where we take our students cutting before they make their arrangements, to shorter classes at Edinburgh Arts venue, Summerhall. We also teach a few more unusual practices such as Kokedama (Japanese String Gardens) and are quite ‘anti-rules’. For example, we love weed arrangements! Encouraging individual creativity is important to us and our classes are informal and fun. We love meeting new students and giving them some practical skills to take away and use at home.
How would you describe your style?
We spend lots of time talking about this in the studio! It’s a tricky one because every brief and client is different. But overall we would describe our style as naturalistic and romantic with an emphasis on seasonality. We love painterly colour palettes, textural accents and the little botanical treasures that we forage are what make our work different. We’re influenced by everything from taxidermy, artists, Ikebana and fashion and we see our style as constantly evolving and progressing. We’re really just at the beginning of our Pyrus journey. A wonderful writer and blogger, The Silver Fox, described our style as ‘seemingly ramshackle but with serious intent’ and we’re quite happy with that.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2013?
This year has been so busy and the pace is showing no signs of slowing! Apart from putting the garden to bed for the winter and planning next year’s crops (always an exciting process), we have lots of projects lined up: creating an indoor Highland landscape for an Atmosphere screening of Brigadoon with Scotland on Film and New Media Scotland; several beautiful wintry weddings; a very exciting and special Santa’s Grotto and a series of festive classes in collaboration with Lovecrumbs (our favourite cake shop). We’ve also got projects in the pipeline with the Scottish Poetry Library and are in the midst of preparing for our first overseas installation which is taking us to Saudi Arabia in January. So lots to look forward to!
What are your favourite flowers?
Natalya: There is no easy answer to this question! Call us fickle but we love all our flowers so much that we have our own ‘flower of the week’ award in the studio, which means our favourite changes all the time. If pushed I would have to say that garden roses are hard to beat…the most historical and evocative of blooms. The fragrance is just intoxicating and leaves a scent memory that for me is an instant smile and a flutter of the heart.
Fiona: It changes through the seasons. Garden roses, however predictable, are always in my top five. I’m in heaven when my nose is in a garden rose. I have a thing for black flowers (our black hollyhocks were super sexy). Passionflowers always blow my mind. The Queen of the Night flower is just incredible. It opens its massive bloom to release its layers of petals and heady scent for one night only, when the moon is just right. But currently number one position goes to the conker. I seriously LOVE conkers. Followed closely by the spindle berry.
Thank you so much to both Natalya and Fiona of Pyrus for all their help in compiling today’s blog post. It’s really interesting to see what seems to be a growing trend of people with an art background entering the world of floristry…
Social Media Links
To keep up-to-date with news from Pyrus, here’s where you can find them on social media:
(Images : 1., 6. & 11. Nic Rue, 2. Lera Grant, 3. Alix McIntosh, 4. Mary Overmeer Photography, 5. Chris Scott, 7. & 8. Photos by Zoe, 9. DN.Anderson, 10. Edmund Fraser, 12. Caro Weiss, 13. Claire Penn Photography)