Julie Carmichael runs the floral design studio, Velvet Peony, in Farndon and is one of Monument Meadow’s trusted suppliers. She talked to us about what she loves about floristry and her work.
“I had always harboured dreams of becoming a florist. I have very fond memories of going to flower club with my mother as a child growing up in Warwickshire. I loved the creative aspect but I was also into science at school. That’s how I fell into my first job, as a pharmacist.
“My family moved up to Farndon in 1998 when the children were small. They’ve grown up now but Farndon remains a very special place - it’s so friendly. I opened Velvet Peony in 2019 and I’ve developed my own rustic style, working with my brilliant colleagues Louise and Jan.
“I’ve had instruction from some wonderful florists over the years and firmly believe floristry is about finding your own style and doing what comes naturally.
"There’s a movement amongst florists to use more sustainable materials. We often work with natural materials, such as moss for the base of a display, wrap bouquets in brown paper and use chicken wire in displays.
“I love country flowers and often take inspiration from the landscapes around the village. It drives my husband mad on dog walks when I keep stopping to take photos on my phone of tree-moss patterns!
“Our small team designs both bouquets and arrangements from my studio/shop in Farndon village. It’s a real local business and most of my work comes from within a 15-mile radius.
“Working with Monument Meadow Natural Burial Ground has pushed us to think differently about our designs - something that is especially important when considering farewell flowers.
"We are creating more sustainable farewell flowers, continuing the ethos of this stunning natural burial ground. This may be a hand tied sheaf of flowers and foliage to lay on top of the casket, or a beautifully delicate garland around it.
"Each design is bespoke to the customer, some of whom will provide ideas in terms of a favourite flower or colour. It always feels such a privilege to create flowers that mean something to the family at this sad time.
“A lot of thought goes into each flower we choose, depending on the season. I particularly love working with roses, hydrangeas and eucalyptus. Most of all, however, I love peonies — hence calling my business Velvet Peony. They’re big, beautifully scented, English garden flowers.
“I source as much as I can through a local supplier in Cheshire and I also order through my Dutch suppliers. I often work with recycled or vintage bowls and vases as they can make a striking and unique display. I recently made an arrangement with ceramic vintage jelly moulds and have even arranged flowers around a violin.
“It was my mother who inspired my love of flowers and I think she would be proud I’ve built my own florist business. In fact, I keep a favourite picture of her in my shop.”