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Unit 7 Bridge Court 12 Cook Street
G5 8NJ
UK

Beautiful natural floristry inspired by the Scottish landscape for weddings, events, gifts and home. Glasgow based covering Scotland

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Travel Diary

A travel diary by team Little Botanica

Barcelona Part 1 - A Catalan Love Affair

Little Botanica

Whoever said “never meet your heroes” obviously had the wrong heroes.

The Barcelona florist superbrand Bornay have been my flower heroes way back since I was lucky enough to embark on a floristry career back in France in 2010. Since then I have been in awe of their work, scouring over their social media accounts regularly. So when the Instagram pops up about them opening a shop I just gotta go... to Barcelona... 10 days before Christmas!

A £10 (!) flight and a few metro stops later I'm standing outside a converted garage in the Sants Montjuic neighbourhood.

Inside the red brick facade is an enormous light filled space with palm trees growing out of the dirt floor. Enormous wooden benches hold an array of Bornay's signature arrangements and bouquets.

I soon got chatting to Fatima who introduced me to Joan. I was truely touched at how welcoming and hospitable they were; making me coffee, showing me around their whole workshop, giving me a chair centre stage to watch Fatima put together a bridal bouquet and buttonhole, giving me reccommendations for places to go later. I watched as the team put together wreaths for Burberry and saw the cactus wall they had installed for a Hermes event.

After two hours I felt completely inspired all over again, their passion and creativity is so infectious.

Here’s to those who inspire us and don’t even know it

Ibiza Part 2 - Eat the Table

Little Botanica

You know something is afoot when the evening begins with a convoy of blacked out Range Rovers arriving through the electronic gates. Cue a high speed motorcade to Hard Rock Hotel for cocktails before jumping back in the cars to be driven a matter of metres around the corner to an insignificant white door.

 

Upon entry to the heavily floral perfumed lobby we were given  an edible ticket and a delicious shot containing hibiscus and cardamon. A two way mirror changed to reveal an entire squad of happy smiling chefs led by the two Michelin Star Chef Paco Roncero. After munching our way through our tickets we were led into a blacked out lift and transported to an intergalactic dining chamber complete with personalised transportation pods. 

First stop on our journey was 2050 where cocktails that mixed themselves before your eyes appeared on the Tron-esqu table. 

To the sounds of French swing bottles of champagne descended from the ceiling and Faberge eggs of oyster and cavier were placed in front of the 14 diners in perfect unison by a team of glamourous waiting staff dressed head to toe in white.

For the fish course the room changed into a virtual aquarium complete with sea salt scent, fishing nets and light up sea urchins. An illuminated conch shell filled with a ceviche of shellfish was accompanied by free flowing champagne.

The waves made way for the Provencal countryside and the table was carpeted with grass. Out came three completely edible potager gardens. Mini pickled vegetables and micro herbs nestled in an olive tapenade soil.

Following this our host Hannah in a jaw dropping lime green dress demonstrated the augmented reality course. A set of Samsung Oculus Glasses showed us a virtual demonstration of the preparation of the delights contained within the numbered boxes. Following this we were given the opportunity to play on the spinning chairs wearing the glasses. The journey took us around the world from sitting on the beach in Honolulu to flying over snowcapped mountains to a gondola in Venice.

Augmented reality made way for a virtual seat on the Orient Express where we were served Vichyssoise whilst the countryside passed us by from the dining carriage. Next up, (a Little B favourite) a wood slice was placed in front of diners and a warm toadstool filled with a concoction of foraged fungi was revealed.

With a Willy Wonka style golden ticket the room transformed into a carnival. Hot air gallons with baskets of pizza, candy carts with savoury parmesan ice cream, foie-gras toffee apples, pop-corn mousse and aniseed candy floss were just some of the extraordinary molecular gastronomy delights on offer. 

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The fun continued with 70's flower power beach party, baskets of groovy glasses, colourful wrist bands accompanied the individual hot plancha steaks.

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With the course number progressing into the teens it was time for the first dessert. With the table as a palette our squad of waiting staff became real life artists. With exacting precision the food was painted, dabbed and placed to reveal a very accurate lemon cheesecake representation of Gustav Klimt's The Kiss

In true Ibiza style the party began with Wally Lopez taking to the decks. Levitating spinning decks appeared in front of us with mousse filled bonbons.

As a final finale the entire chef and waiting team paraded in for an exceptionally del deserved round of applause accompanied by tunes from Scotland's finest Annie Lennox.

An incredible once in a lifetime experience never to be forgotten and incredibly hard to be believed!

Ibiza Part 1 - Going to the garden centre

Little Botanica

Yip, you read that correctly - so while most people come to the White Isle to party, in true Little B style we come to Ibiza and go to a garden centre (don't worry we've managed to squeeze a little bit of partying in too) Like a moth to a flame after spotting the cactus garden upon arrival we made a beeline for it. And it didn't disappoint; from tiny 1€ pots up to thousands of euros for well established specimens every variety of succulent and cactus imaginablibe was housed in two large polytunnels.  The temptation was too great and we made a couple of purchases, whether we get them home intact remains to be seen; we'll keep you posted...

Highland Holiday

Little Botanica

Being a Scottish lass born and bred, I feel I have not explored my homeland to it's full potential. For the risk of being soaked every time you leave the house here, I have always opted for the more sunnier shores of Europe when holidaying. However, with a little encouragement from the fiancée and the prospect of bringing the dog on holiday, we packed our waterproofs and headed for the Highland Hills for our summer vacation!

On day one we found ourselves in Arrochar slowly rambling over the rocks up the steep incline of Ben Arthur. With it's thick covering of luscious forestry we were too consumed by green to see any of the views. Although slightly overcast with a mix of (expected) sunshine and showers we enjoyed being on the look out for the native and rare red squirrel as bold birds of prey swooped over our heads.

After a good three hour climb......we made it to the top! Well almost!

Day Two found the three of us foraging through the nature trails in and around Ardgarten, Loch Long and the Crianlarich Community Wood with a quick trip up to The Falls of Falloch. On our journey home we realsied for a short fee we could have based jumped from the Falls....maybe for the best considering the weather and having old pup Pippy with us.

On day three the sun finally came out, so we jumped in the car and headed for the best view point at The Rest and Be Thankful. Spoiled for choice with mountains to climb we opted for Ben Donich, as it was recommended for the less experienced climber!

The mountain is so steep the incline is short- however you do feel it in your legs the day after. The views were spectacular and we could see for miles. When we reached the top we spotted wild sheep and in that moment, being predominantly a city gir, l I fell in love with our country and felt then I had really embraced and appreciated the real Scotland.

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Poznan Part 1 - Jungle is massive

Little Botanica

It's safe to say that when it comes to holidays the typical package deal to a Spanish Costa isn't really my cup of tea. Cue a mini summer break (between weddings!) to Poznan in the west of Poland. Having been before in the depths of winter when the temperature barely rose above -10C and the oppressingly grey skies made the Communist statues all the more domineering exploring the city in 25C sunshine was a delight. Armed with my trusty mapping app we made our way on foot to Poznań Palmiarnia (Palm House)

Poznan Palm House

One of the largest public glasshouses in Europe and more than double the floor area of the Kibble Palace it boasts over 1000 different plant varities split into 9 pavilions.

Visiting on a weekday morning we hardlly saw another soul making the space all the more awe inspiring.

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The palm house also boasts the oldest aquarium in Poland with 170 species of fish and throughout the glasshouses there are various other contained wildlife

And a cute little tropical cafe with wine :)

More Poznan adventures coming soon

Bordeaux Part 1 - Wine, Roses and Barrels

Little Botanica

A bit more of a plant related trip to France…. we are allowed to class wine as a plant based trip, right? OK…. Let’s call it research for our new venture Marchtown, a little wine shop coming later this year 😃

Bordeaux is a gorgeous city, bursting with history and lovely architecture… a buzzing restaurant and cafe scene.. and of course, delicious wine!

The plan was to visit some Chateaux, learn a bit about the production of wine and taste the result!

Every trip has a centre around flowers and the natural world… I can’t help it, it’s in my blood! I’m pretty sure if I was a super hero I'd be a friendly version of Poison Ivy! 

Roses…. I quickly noticed that every sprawling field of vines had little splashes of roses at the end of each row…. what a beautiful way to signal the condition of the vines… if the roses are happy, the vines are happy.

When we reached Chateaux number 2 (of 5!) I became increasingly interested in the barrels…. yip, the barrels. Every chateau we visited had hundreds of French Oak barrels, they use these barrels for a limited amount of time to mature the wine and then sell them on to other businesses including whiskey, sherry, beer and other wineries.

 

My interest was founded out of a concern about the number of Oak trees that they are chopping down to produce such a large number of barrels….. I did a bit of surface research, the French are apparently very good at sustainability of their forests, dating back to the 16th century. Pretty much down to the volume of wood required in the wine industry. 

I remain keen to do some more research into this….. Next trip…. the french oak forests…. which I think might be somewhere near the Champagne region 😉

Before I go… a wee shout out to two highlights of the trip… Chateaux Pape Clement with the amazing glasshouse where we had some lunch, built by Mr Gustave Eiffel!…. and the amazing restaurant La Tupina, best steak ever!

Amsterdam Part 3 - Dutch Detail

Little Botanica

One thing that the Dutch do so well is detail! From the perfectly placed lemons in the fruit bowl of our Air B&B reflecting the 16th century still life paintings at the Ruks Museum, everything we encountered in Amsterdam seemed to be so well executed.

With fresh bread on our plates baked every morning at our favourite breakfast joint Vlaamsch Broodhuys, we were ready to discover the cultural and cullernary delights of (our new favourite city) Amsterdam.

Breakfast at Vlaamsch Broodhuys Vondel Park

Breakfast at Vlaamsch Broodhuys Vondel Park

Too many to choose from......

Too many to choose from......

Dinner at Meract down at the Amsterdam Docklands

Dinner at Meract down at the Amsterdam Docklands

Throughout our entire trip we felt completely embrased by the laid back, creative lifestyle that Amsterdam oozes. Having an entire townhouse to ourselves helped the sense that we had all been adopted by the city and had a real home from home.

Our amazing house

Our amazing house

 Although we were looking forward to heading back to Glasgow and throwing our new found inspiration into Little Botanica HQ, a big bit of our heart stayed in Amsterdam and always will. This city has so much to discover, so much so we are already looking at plane tickets back!

Amsterdam Part 2 - Into the Wildernis

Little Botanica

I found my happy place - it's a shop called Wildernis in Amsterdam. Whenever things get a bit stressful I'm going to imagine I'm there. It's essentially an indoor urban jungle, full of the most beautiful house plants, plant pots, seeds, plant hangers, botanical prints, jewellery, books and more all available to buy. They've even got a few tables and chairs to sit down, have a coffee, flip through a magazine and generally immerse yourself in the peaceful surroundings. They run workshops too, everything from 'Painting with Flowers' (using flowers to dye fabrics) to Ikebana Floral Arrangements to Grow Your Own Micro Vegetables to Composting in the City all inspired by their mantra

www.wildernisamsterdam.nl

“We are on a mission. Amsterdam must greener. More green at home, in the (mini) city garden, on the balcony and on your roof. Green is beautiful, healthy and good for everyone.”
— www.wildernisamsterdam.nl

Welcome to the (Urban) Jungle

Amsterdam Part 1 - The Flowers; from seed to bloom

Little Botanica

Hi guys! We just got back from Amsterdam - what a trip! Four jam packed days full of flowers, markets, Kings Day celebrations, architecture, inspiring shops and cheese! We love this city and being only 1.5hr flight from Glasgow it's do-able in a day. With so many photos and experiences to share we've broken the post down into a few parts. The main purpose of our trip was to see where all our flowers come from so I'll start there. Rene from our Dutch wholesaler was our guide for day, picking us up from the train station at Leiden Centraal then driving us all over the place to visit plant nurseries, flower growers, markets, answering our endless questions and finally for lunch. We saw the whole flower process from germination, growing, cutting, auctioning to wholesale (where we buy our flowers). Here's the story

Lisianthus seeds are bought from Japan

The seeds are purchased and shipped from Japan

The seeds are germinated under glass and heatlamps at the Nursery

The seedlings are sorted by size by a crazy robot machine

Kept upder glass for 14 weeks

Kept under glass for 14 weeks

Until they are this size when they are sent to the grower

They spend the next 8 weeks at the grower in this enormous greenhouse (52,000sqm - equivalent of 8.5 full size football pitches!)

Every week 600,000 stems of Lisianthus are sent from here to auction, and another 600,000 plants brought in. By growing under glass and heat means Lisinathus is available every week of the year. This farm grows about 12 variety/colour variations constantly

After harvesting they're bunched and transported to the auction

After harvesting they're bunched and packed for the auction

Flora Holland is the largest flower auction housed in the largest building (by footprint) in the world selling approx 20 million flowers a day!!

Our wholesaler buys the flowers at auction, sorts, photographs them, makes them available for us to order. When we press the button here in Glasgow the order is processed immediately 

Via the flower roller-coaster! Then on to a van, through the Channel Tunnel and all the way up to our door in Glasgow overnight

Flower School: London Edition!

Little Botanica

Covent Garden Academy of Flowers: Advanced Bridal Course

When you are given the opportunity to study at the Covent Garden Academy of Flowers you book the next train to London straight away. I was lucky enough to be given a place at the wonderful Four Day Advanced Wedding Course to learn how to nurture my floristry skills and learn new techniques just in time for wedding season.

Day 1 was filled with creating bespoke hand tied bouquets (my favorite).

"Everybody loves a hand tied bouquet!" exclaimes Gillian Wheeler, the co founder and principle of the Academy, and don't they just. With a vast array of wonderfuly fresh flowers and foliage to choose from we were asked to make a hand tied bridal bouquet that displayed our personality. Of course my bouquet was big, bright and bold.

Day 2 was terrific as we were asked to imagine what we would like for our centerpeices at our own imaginary wedding. As a bride to be myself I found this day liberating and created my own dream table center with fresh lisianthus, fragrant waxflour and eucalyptus.

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Day 3 saw me venture into the wonderful world of wiring. Although I may not find myself wiring very often at home, I found it a great skill in helping me think outside the box for future corporate flower displays and head pieces.

Day 4: At my final day of school we were asked to make a bespoke bridal bouquet with endless varieties of fresh flowers and foliage. After a hard days work, we said our goodbyes, bouquets in hand and I headed for the train. 

Los Angeles Part 2 - Excess baggage

Little Botanica

Our trip to LA wasn't all work; we did manage to pack in a fair bit to our flying visit...

The Flower District

Okay, okay so it's still sort of work related but LA has a whole flower district; six blocks consisting of 200 wholesale dealers; it was just too good not to check out!

The markets are open to trade early in the morning then from 8am until 2pm they open their doors to the public for the pricely sum of $1 entrance fee. Fresh cut flowers wrapped in newspaper, an abundance of potted plants, succulents, sundries and everything floristry related is available (including a moss covered stetson, because - well who knows!) The rose varieties were staggering; sourced from every corner of the globe (Canary Islands, Chile, Kenya, India and South Africa) Carpe Diem, Cherry O! and Blueberry were some of my personal favourites.  Buckets and buckets of beautiful foliage, tray upon trap of succulents and trollies piled high. With a smattering of trendy little cafes it's clearly the place to go on a sunny weekend morning (it's just a shame about the 11hr flight and excess baggage)

Los Angeles Part 1 - Chasing Amy

Little Botanica

Last week we had the incredible privilege of attending an Amy Merrick floral workshop in a converted historic old factory in LA's Arts District called The Unique Space. The whole experience was probably the most inspirational day of my life. From day one of my floristry career I have been a worshiper of Amy's signature beautiful natural style, firstly in her work at Brooklyn's Saipua and later in her own business. Amy is not only a gifted story teller but also remarkably down to earth considering her talent and fame. 

Brunch was provided by the city's hottest catering company Heirloom LA and we were lucky enough to be joined on the course by Tara, the co-owner of the company. Not only did the spread look magazine worthy everything tasted as awesome as it looked. 

The Unique Space is exactly the innovative, creative environment you couldn't help but be inspired by. High ceilings, timber floors, white washed brick walls and the dappled Californian sunshine provided the perfect surroundings. I left with not only the technical skills to replicate Amy's beautiful style but also a re-ignited passion, enthusiasm and confidence. Immense thanks to Amy, Siri, Tara and the team at Heirloom LA, all the other students who made us feel most welcome and Kim for giving me this incredible once in a lifetime opportunity. 

New Zealand Part 1

Little Botanica

Last summer we made a new and very fabulous friend who spend the summer with us trying out our Scottish way of life!

This January I returned the adventure, I packed my jandles and made my way to New Zealand to spend some time with Katherine at Wishing Well Flowers in Hawera, Taranaki.

I had an amazing time seeing how they do it on the other side of the world.... ;)

Katherine's shop is gorgeous! She is an amazing inspiration.... and not only the way she puts her flowers together.... she is the most hard working and dedicated person we have met in floristry! She lives and breathes creativity and beauty..... I can only hope that I have brought back with me a little bit of the specialness that comes so naturally to our Katherine.

So.... I may have taken quite a lot of photographs of Katherines shop..... so em..... put the kettle on and have a chocolate biccy while you enjoy these............ The pop on to the next blog and have a look at the amazing scenery we seen in NZ!