You know someone’s doing something right when their flower shop becomes a regional destination – not only as a source for stunning arrangements, unique plants and other amazing products (The Sage Soap Company, anyone?), but also as a place to hang out. Because it’s so darned beautiful. And their staff are such rock stars. TOQUE correspondent Sonia Preisler recently sat down with Blooms + Flora’s Robyn Maude to find out what all the fuss is about.

Tell me how Blooms + Flora started.
Blooms + Flora started from a desire to work with my hands, to have control over my career, and to have the flexibility of being at home with my kids.
We started as a private floral studio in 2011, focused solely on wedding and event florals, and then we opened our first brick and mortar retail store in 2015 in Downtown Guelph. In the Fall of 2017 we expanded into our current space on Woolwich, giving us a bigger and brighter home for our plants and more space for hosting workshops and carrying out large-scale wedding design.

What would you say is the best part of your job?
The people I work with. My crew are the most creative, hilarious, and kind folks you have ever met, and they work so hard and we spend so much time together. They’re my second family. I’m always striving to improve my craft and learn from other floral designers as well. The flower community in Southwestern Ontario is very strong and I am so grateful for all my fellow florist friends.

What is your most important tool?
My knife. With the fast-paced environment of our shop, speed is key. I can’t design without it and you’ll definitely hear me complain if I can’t find it.

Your favourite flowers to work with?
That’s like picking a favourite child. Anything grown in my garden for sure – like phlox, veronica, roses and delphinium. Other than that, hellebores, Japanese anemones, and nigella would be in my top three.

What would your dream arrangement include?
It would be full of flowers and foliages grown by my flower farmer friend Joanne of La Primavera Farms. It would include local garden roses, foraged greenery, unexpected elements – maybe some fruit, grasses – and lots of colour.

Is there an underrated element that really ‘makes’ an arrangement?
Negative space. Allowing flowers to have their space within a vase or hand-tied bouquet without being cramped by other blooms is key.

What is it about our relationship to flowers that is so extraordinary?
I like to think that we have an instinctive connection to flowers and the remarkable experience of giving and receiving them. After all, the act of giving and receiving flowers dates back to Ancient Egypt and spans many cultures. Flowers convey so many sentiments, and their fleeting beauty makes them all that much more special.