Waitrose and Partners Weekend Issue 579

42 25 NOVEMB ER 2021 Photography: Issy Croker WEEKENDING The wonder of wreaths Festive foliage doesn’t need to be green to be gorgeous. Sarah Barratt meets the florists giving a Christmas classic a contemporary – and colourful – makeover The tradition of brightening gloomy days with greenery spans millennia, its roots stretching back to themidwinter festival of Saturnalia, when Romans would adorn their homes with branches. Two-thousand years later, we still bring the outdoors in during the darkest months, to lift spirits and connect with nature as our lives move back inside. Last year, the custom felt particularly poignant, when thousands of kitchen-table crafters cheered up an overcast Christmas by fashioning flourishing garlands. The #wreath hashtag amassed almost threemillion posts on Instagram, as shades of gold and green shone out fromour screens. But there’s more to festive foliage than in a nod to classical Christmas colours. But, in a fashionable twist, they incorporate powdery pink, too. For a final flourish, flu y bunny tails and feather-like stipa are woven throughout, resulting in a playful, textured design unlike anything in a traditional florist’s. Available for delivery, they fly o the shelves. “This year we hope to sell a thousand of them,” enthuses Romy. These colourful crowns o er an insight into the distinctly Sage style. “We’re known for our unusual combinations, textures and colours,” explains Iona, expertly arranging miniature bunches of frothy pink flowers, before securing them to themetal base. Their work o ers an alternative to the pared-back, naturalistic aesthetic which has reigned supreme in recent years. “At themoment, floristry is divided into two key categories: our style, which is about colour and contemporary design and the other, which is more naturalistic. But the two worlds are coming together more andmore,” says Romy. The duo are also on amission to diversify the industry, having set up FutureFlowers, a free floristry course for people of non-white ethnicity, last year. “Flowers are for everyone, and we believe it will be amore exciting and creative industry if all backgrounds can participate,” they say. Relative newcomers to the scene themselves, the pair set up Sage in 2018. “Neither of us studied floristry, which means we don’t abide by the rules. We don’t even knowwhat they are,” says Iona, who previously worked in hospitality. Meanwhile, Romy was a biology graduate working in holly and ivy – just ask IonaMathieson and Romy St Clair. The founders of London- based Sage Flowers – whose clients include Rihanna, Glossier and Gucci – have given the humble wreath amodernmakeover. This year, their airy Peckham studio is a pine-free zone. Instead, opting for a base of dried gypsophila, dyed brilliant burgundy ‘Think of it as art, through the medium of flowers and foliage’