Sensational Spring Florals For The Home

Luxury event florist Simon Nickell on sensational spring florals and elegant English style

Spring has officially sprung and with it brings delightful daffodils, cheerful tulips and fragrant freesias. TOAST chats to luxury event and wedding florist Simon Nickell about his Cornish roots and his elegant English herbaceous style, plus his top tips for creating sensational spring florals at home.

I don’t think that I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t love flowers. With their beautiful colours, natural shapes and sweet smells, flowers are an inspiring example of the true wonder of nature. We are all encouraged to ‘stop and smell the roses’ as the saying goes. Having a vase filled with fresh flowers at home brightens up any room, or placed on a dinner party table adds instant style. Giving a bunch to a friend and watching their eyes light up is always a treat, and to receive one yourself? Even better! Somehow, flowers always make us feel good.

“One of my clients summed it up perfectly when I had dressed an event – they said, ‘I was feeling really grumpy before I saw these flowers, they’re like little pots of happiness’!” explains luxury event and wedding florist Simon Nickell,

“I think that people love flowers because they relate to them on an emotional level - throughout our lives, flowers are present at some of the most important moments that we experience. From a simple ‘thank you’ to a final farewell, the beauty of flowers touches us deeply.”

Often referred to as one of the most revered and watched florists in the UK – which Simon charmingly describes are both ‘humbling and embarrassing’, event and wedding florist Simon Nickell is based in London, but his great love affair with flowers actually began in the beautiful setting of his native Cornwall.

“My first foray into flowers was at the age of 19 when I was working as a guide for the National Trust at a house called Cotehele in Cornwall. The house has a beautiful cutting garden, and I asked if I could help to do the flowers each week.” Simon explains. 

“After a while I was encouraged by the head guide there, Maureen King, who said one day - ‘Simon needs to be taken in hand by a wild London florist’!”


Heeding Maureen’s advice, Simon took action and left for college in Plymouth where he undertook formal training, passed his City and Guilds exams before moving to the big smoke in 1994 to work with some of the capital's leading floral designers.

“Going to college was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I’m still in touch with Maureen who has followed my career ever since.” Simon explains fondly.

“My dream project would actually take me back to my Cornish roots, back to where it all started for me at Cotehele. I’ve known this glorious ancient manor house since I was six years old, and I would love to go back and fill the house with acres of flowers and foliage, to complete the circle. I wonder if the National Trust would let me?!”

Thanks to it’s wet, sub-tropical climate Cornwall is home to some of the UK’s very finest floral-filled gardens, so it’s no wonder that Simon has an exceptional eye for English herbaceous style. His natural design ethos is to let the flowers take centre stage, and his fluid and natural approach is often characterised by his use of seasonal flowers and sweeping foliages. Despite being renowned for his dramatic floral installations, Simon still describes himself as a florist, as opposed to a floral designer.

I suppose I’m rather old fashioned!” he laughs. “But I’ve worked with flowers for 27 years and I’ve always called myself a florist. Although someone did call me a ‘petal worker’ once!”

Simon Nickell Wedding Florals

From weekly contracts and private clients, lavish weddings and large-scale corporate dos, Simon works his floral magic at a multitude of events across the UK. His work is bespoke in every sense of the word, from a simple chic interpretation to the wildly exuberant and sumptuous.

The most memorable events are those where clients trust me enough to give me free reign and run with my ideas,” explains Simon. “Two that really stand out for me were a fabulous autumnal 50th birthday party in a helicopter hanger, and a wedding in Cornwall where the reception tables were dressed with enormous vases of foliage and flowers, stretched 100 feet from end to end!” 

Simon Nickell Greenery

Simon Nickell Reception

Simon Nickell

When Simon isn’t busy on site, be it a helicopter hanger or a stately home, like many of us he relishes the downtime; is something that might become more of a rarity once wedding season well and truly commences in June…

“I absolutely love being at home with my husband and our dog, and enjoying those precious quiet times,” he explains. “But one of the great joys of what I do is that no two days are ever the same. I don’t think I ever have an average day, and I don’t think I’d want one either!”

With such a variety of work Simon needs to be adaptable, flexible and constantly inspired. Flowers of course change by the season, but also by the occasion, the venue and the all-important client.

I don’t have a set floristry style, because I believe that as an experienced florist I should be able to provide what the client wants, rather than impose what I think they should have,” he explains.  

“I draw my inspiration from all sorts of random sources, including social media, but many of the accounts I follow aren’t necessarily floral. Art, architecture, lifestyle and interiors all have a big influence on me.” 

At this time of year spring flowers are a joy. Not only are they symbolic of the fact that winter is over (hooray!) and the summer sunshine is just around the corner (double hooray!), they are also abundant, affordable and can make simple but beautiful arrangements. We are all familiar with daffodils, tulips and hyacinths, but are there any secret spring florals we should know about? 

“I do love Fritillaria, or Crown Imperials as they’re also known. Long stemmed stately flowers with bell like flowers, which come in green, yellow, orange and rich chocolatey brown. Beware of the smell though, like over boiled cabbage, they really are the Marmite of flowers!” Simon laughs.

“If someone was to give me a bunch of flowers…it would have to be roses, particularly climbers and ramblers. I love their unruliness and refusal to do what you want them to! My father planted a beautiful coppery pink rambling rose for my mother when I was little called Albertine; it has the most hideous thorns but stunning scent and takes me right back to my childhood.”

Cabbage-scented Crown Imperials and sweet smelling roses aside, what does Simon think that the big trends in event flowers will be this year?   

“Large statement installations are very popular at the moment; foliage heavy archways, ceiling decor, garlands and entrances - anything that makes the perfect backdrop to an event.” he explains.  

“Having said that, I’m not actually a lover of trends! Many years ago I was told that I wouldn’t be a leader or ‘trend setter’, but I had the potential to become a virtuoso. I’ve spent my whole career as florist trying to be the best that I can, and if I can encourage anyone to do the same then that’s more than enough for me.” 

Simon Nickell Archway

Simon Nickell Fireplace Florals

Simon Nickell Rustic

Simon Nickell Table Setting


Simon's Top Tips for Sensational Spring Florals

Every home should have flowers, so here are some of my tips for bringing the spring indoors! 

  • Blossom

    It’s all around us at this time of year, and it’s fleeting beauty heralds warmer days to come. The wonderful thing about blossom is that you don’t need much of it to make an impact. A simple branch of cherry or apple blossom in an elegant vase makes a beautiful statement.
  • Use colour

    Spring is one of the few times I like to have yellow in the house, because of its freshness. It’s such an uplifting colour that it brightens even the darkest corner. From cut daffodils to potted primulas, there’s plenty to choose from.
  • Get creative with your vases

    Some spring flowers like primroses, muscari and bluebells are quite small, making them perfect for dainty vessels like milk jugs, bottles and even egg cups. Delicate arrangements with flowers like these are perfect for a bedside table, windowsill or next to a favourite photograph.
  • Go Wild

    Easter is traditionally the time we all start to think about our gardens, usually to catch up with the weeding; but it’s also the perfect time to bring those flowering weeds inside. I love making the most of what I can cut from my garden, and it’s a great way to keep on top of what’s out there.
  • Keep It Simple

    One of the pleasures of having a garden is doing the rounds each day to see what’s happing. It’s also the perfect excuse to cut something for the house. It doesn’t matter what you cut, a single first-flowering rose, some mixed greenery or perhaps some tulips; the joy is bringing something into your home that will enhance your living space.

To find out more about Simon Nickell's creations and to get in touch with Simon Nickell Design, visit his page in TOAST’s Little Black Book. 


Posted in Spotlight

by Sophie Farrah
on on 14 April 2017

  event flowers, floral design, florist

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