Autumn Florals With Kitten Grayson

The beauty of autumn with floral designer, stylist and horticulturalist Kitten Grayson

Autumn is one of our favourite seasons at Toast.Life as not only does it give us a reason to entertain at home indoors, wrapped up and warm, but because it's full of beautiful, rich colours of copper, orange, reds and purples. Today we chat to leading floral designer, stylist and horticulturalist Kitten Grayson to hear more about her incredible event floristry work, and what this glorious season has to offer.

John Keats famously and beautifully described autumn as ‘the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’. From rusty brown leaves to bright orange pumpkins, there is so much texture, colour and cosiness to be found in the autumn months. Yes, summer may be filled with rainbow hued scented flowers and sunshine drenched brightness (sometimes…), but autumn is when nature really goes for it in terms of colour and choice.

Autumn is such a glorious, abundant, colourful and generous season!” enthuses floral designer Kitten Martin (née Grayson). 

“There is so much to choose from in terms of flowers, and dahlias are some of my favourites – such velvety, jewel-like treasures. They are fabulous from late summer into autumn, always packing a punch with their vibrant colours and distinctive textures, yet delicate and romantic at the same time. And I also love the tawny branches of Autumn – they create some spectacular sculptural arrangements.”

Kitten Grayson Autumn

Kitten Grayson Flowers is a London based studio that creates unique floral installations for luxury events, weddings and bespoke commissions. The studio’s distinctive work is heavily influenced by Kitten’s almost synesthetic relationship with nature and a commitment to sustainability. Their client list includes Vogue, Alice Temperley, Dom Pérignon, Channel 4, Moët & Chandon, Marks and Spencer and Perrier-Jouët to name just a few, with Kitten’s talents ranging from creating breath-taking arrangements for parties and fashion shoots, to designing fabulous gardens. Her creations are born of nature´s treasures, and always inspired by the gifts each new season brings.

I try to bring the romance and energy of nature into people’s lives, be it through a garden, flowers for a wedding or an event, or an installation” she explains.

I grew up in the countryside in Somerset – it’s where I really feel at home. I’ve always been drawn to flowers, plants and trees and I’m endlessly amazed by their extraordinary – almost magical – powers to strengthen and heal”

Kitten Grayson Archway

Kitten first started working with flowers when she was 18 and trained under some of London’s top florists. After her stint in the big smoke she moved back to her native Somerset where she trained as a gardener, working with landscape architect and horticulturalist studio Urquhart & Hunt, as well as influential Dutch landscape designer and author Piet Oudolf on the perennial meadow at the prestigious Hauser & Wirth Gallery  in Bruton. But the city called once again, and Kitten returned to London in 2015 and set up her own events, design and floral business – Kitten Grayson Flowers.

I’m happiest getting my hands into the soil and tending to plants – I feel as though they’re my babies, each one an individual with so much vitality and mystery about to burst out! I love getting to know the characters of the flowers and exploring new and interesting ways of illuminating their unique personalities. And I love the energy and optimism that beautiful flowers bring to people” she enthuses.

“The main challenge is in creating as light a footprint as possible. There is a horrifying amount of waste in the floristry industry, with flowers discarded after events, endless packaging, plastic, air travel, use of chemicals. By focusing on our own growing, using plants rather than cut flowers, and silks rather than fresh, we try to work as sustainably and respectfully as we can, but there is still much work to be done to truly change things.”

Kitten Grayson Florals

Kitten describes her signature style as abundant, whimsical, colourful and varied, always attuned to and reflective of the seasons. She is warm, passionate about her craft and incredibly modest, considering that she is currently one of the most sought-after florists in the UK, and beyond.

We work on all kinds of events – but always ones that have a slightly quirky, creative challenge. We see every project as unique, creating an utterly bespoke design for each, be it creating huge hexagonal metal structures for table centres or building a huge wishing tree from scratch. We always try to incorporate live plants into our designs, so that they can be replanted to live on and thrive in our clients’ gardens, window boxes or pots after the party has ended” she explains.

We like to think of ourselves as visual storytellers, who can bring to life a world through flowers and plants, evoking all the senses for a rich, vivid and inspiring experience. We have an original aesthetic, which creates a sense of hyper-reality, pumped up colour, illuminating nature at its most brilliant, fantastical and dramatic.”

Kitten Grayson Imagery Hallway

Her distinctive and completely beautiful installations have graced the most luxurious and exclusive of events and parties; along with her team she has dressed tables and created theatrical floral installations for major fashion and beauty brands, as well as a number of art galleries and private weddings, and this year Kitten Grayson Flowers designed the iconic London Gate entrance to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, and to great acclaim.

“As it took place just after the Royal Wedding, we decided to create a celebratory bower of trees to welcome visitors to the Show, featuring an English oak for Prince Harry and a Californian cedar for Meghan Markle, each surrounded with native flowers and plants, and coming together over the gate in a canopy inspired by Botswana, a country held dear by the couple” Kitten explains.

“We wanted to create a romantic scene that lived on – an eternal garden that would thrive after the Show. So, we exclusively used live plants and everything was replanted afterwards at Heckfield Place in Hampshire. It is a magical place that is rooted in nature and the seasons, so it felt just the right place for the next stage of the journey”

Kitten Grayson Chelsea Flower Show Gate Another memorable project, Kitten tells me, was a spectacular, fairy-tale wedding at Vaux-le-Vicomte just outside Paris a couple of years ago. Kitten and her team used hundreds of pale pink silk roses to create an enchanted flower forest with an adorned horse and cart, decorated statues in the grounds and a magnificent dining table surrounded by blossom trees and cascading wisteria. They had a team of 13 florists working flat out for four days – “it was a truly memorable project” Kitten recalls.

Kitten Grayson Brides  

“One of my favourite projects was working with renowned landscape architect Piet Oudolf on his Perennial Meadow at the Hauser and Wirth Gallery in Bruton, Somerset” she adds.

“Stunning sculptural shaping and planting is softened by a variety of delicate varieties, to create a truly charming and contemporary experience. It is the most glorious celebration of nature and the seasons, really beautiful all the year round. It was a great pleasure and an honour to have been a part of”

Sanderson 5

Sanderson Ceiling

When it comes to events, flowers undoubtedly add something special. Whether it is a few simple vases on the dinner table when friends pop round, or a show stopping installation around the arch of a doorway at one of life’s bigger celebrations, beautiful flowers not only add colour, scent and style, but Kitten believes that they create a narrative for guests.

I think flowers have a vital role in the storytelling at an event – they serve to enhance and illuminate the characters at the centre of the party. Not only that, they create atmosphere and add to the immersive experience” she explains.

I absolutely love the creative challenge of large-scale installations – it’s so exciting to be able to create a world that draws people in.  We use the same process as with any project – a totally bespoke approach and a bucketful of imagination, finite attention to detail and planning, always delving into our little black book of creative experts – set designers, illustrators, artists and so on - for help delivering the vision.”

Kitten Grayson Mantlepiece

Kitten’s work is undeniably unique and completely beautiful; her abundant, other worldly installations and floral creations are filled with romance, nature’s magic, and a creative and organic style that seems almost effortless. They are incredibly special, luxurious and they look - to risk being crude - expensive. 

There are always ways of creating scale and impact in ways that aren’t hugely expensive. We’ve created glorious canopies of foraged foliage for several weddings – they’re often the most fabulous ones of all! I often think that simple arrangements – one or two ‘hero’ flowers used en masse rather than several varieties – is much more high impact and stylish, and it is also a cost-effective approach” she reveals.

“Having said that, I would say that it is always worth investing in good quality flowers and plants – we are scrupulous about where we source ours from, as it makes a huge different to the colour, scent, strength and durability.”

Kitten Grayson Table Bouquet

Chelsea Flower Show Blooms

Kitten recently appeared at Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Fair at Hampton Court Palace  where she ran a series of workshops on techniques for painting artificial flowers, and last month also saw the opening of Heckfield Place, a new, über luxury hotel in Hampshire. Designed around nature and the seasons, Kitten Grayson Flowers have been involved in the floral design throughout the hotel as well as the cultivation of a biodynamic cuttings garden, from which they will source all the flowers for the house and restaurants. They will also be running a series of sessions that will invite people to enjoy the gardens and get their hands into the soil, which doesn’t sound too far off Kitten’s ‘dream project’. 

Creating a series of beautiful gardens designed to inspire a sense of tranquillity and peacefulness, transporting people and connecting them to nature in a fun yet calming way, would be a dream project for me” she explains.  

“I am a huge believer in the healing powers of flowers and plants and I would absolutely adore the chance to share that with people by creating a restorative and therapeutic experience that would take away some of the angst and stress that so often bubbles beneath the surface”

And on that note, I am off the mulch the garden.

Kitten Grayson AW

Isle Of You Kittengrayson

Kitten’s Top Tip For Indoor Autumn Arrangements

“Try planting up a beautiful container of late flowering plants such as echinacea, Japanese anenomes and helenium. You will create a wonderful indoor arrangement to enjoy over the Autumn, and it can be simply replanted outdoors in the Spring. Perennials can be replanted for next year and annuals can be made into compost to enrich the soil”

If you’d like to work with Kitten Grayson Flowers you can find their contact details and more information on their page in Toast.Life’s Little Black Book.


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