How does your concrete grow: Creating a field of flowers at Clerkenwell Design Week

When we were invited to help make something beautiful to delight and surprise visitors at London’s Clerkenwell Design Week, between 23rd – 26th May this year, we only had one question: when can we get started?

This little corner of London is said to hold more creative businesses per square mile than anywhere else in the world, and for one week a year it opens up its many doors to showcase the bundles of talent usually tucked away behind them.

From exhibitions and talks to house tours and walk-throughs, this one week manages to pack in quite the programme, and people come from all over the world to explore all there is on offer.

So, what could we add to this smorgasbord of design delights? It didn’t take us long to choose the look we wanted. Given that so much of the exceptional work being showcased at Clerkenwell Design Week was structured and streamlined (think impressive architecture, sleek interior design and shiny new technology toys), we plumped for something that would offer real contrast and make us stand out – because we’re show offs like that.

Set amongst an urban backdrop we would grow a wild-looking patch of early summer blooms, right up from the pavement, and call it our Urban Meadow. 

We began our planning back in January when we first teamed up with our friends at Clerkenwell Design Week. Despite the natural look of the finished installation there was a lot of planning involved (kind of like when you want to look effortless but it’s taken you hours to make your hair look that natural, you know?)

As with anything we do, we wanted to make sure each detail was perfect. This meant several site visits by the bloomon gang to pick the best spot for our made-up meadow, and lengthy meetings weighing up the various virtues of all kinds of buds and blooms. Our most important question: Could each chosen one stand up to the famous British weather?

We’re in team ‘the more the merrier’ when it comes to most things (which equally means we’re rarely in the school of thought that says ‘too many cooks’ FYI), so the success of our installation was a true team bloomon effort. From the brand experts and floral stylists to our production and logistics guys, everyone had a hand in polishing up our project. 

The result was a garden that appeared to grow from the pavement, made with 10,000 stems in 11 different varieties. To make sure each flower looked fresh-faced for their big moment we had our growers in the Netherlands send their wares directly to us in London.

Now, they say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but perhaps those fellas just needed our help. To create our very own floral empire 18 of us started at seven in the morning and worked tirelessly through for ten hours to get the final look we wanted before bedtime.

With the sun already starting to show we got to the most important job first, soaking 60 boxes of oasis in water. This clever foam, as you may well know, traps water and is soft enough to thread flower stems into, while being strong enough to keep a design upright and in order. This cool base was essential to keep our flowery friends feeling fresh and hydrated for the days of admiration ahead of them.

For oasis to work effectively, however, the centre needs to be soaked right through to its core. Like with most things in life our flowers needed a solid foundation, so we spent four hours non-stop soaking the green sponge-like oasis with ten buckets of water and a hose before we could get started with fitting our florals in place.

Finally the fun could begin. We used the height of towering spears of glorious Gladiolas in rainbow colours and majestic rows of Delphinium flowers in deep blues to build an impressively tall back-bench.

In order to add depth and breadth we used Italian Ruskus and hoards of other foliages.

To pack in a good smack of sunshine we used fluffy, yellow-topped Solidage, bubbly Mimosa stems, cheery yellow-throated Alstroemeria in all sorts of candy-colours and pom-poms of Craspedia.

Finally, more dainty levels of detail were added in splashes of pink and purple from Lisianthus, bells of beautiful Campanula, clouds of snow-coloured Gypsophila, as well as waves of classic Carnations, delicately scented Roses, and everyone’s favourite flower of the moment – white peonies – right in the front and centre to draw the eye down.

In bold, beautiful colours the flowers stood tall and bright against the city skyline and the final effect made it seem like our glorious garden grew straight up from the concrete beneath.

You might be able to tell we were pretty proud of this one, but it’s not just us who thought it was a great idea. The bold colours and beautiful perfume attracted hoards of the best kinds of visitors – bees and butterflies. And we like to think they know a good garden when they see one.

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