Imagine if you could fill your day doing the flowers for a beautiful Irish country house where you source everything from the expansive gardens – both walled and wild.
Well this is what Iona … gets to do for the iconic Ballymaloe House in south west Ireland.
This is sustainable floristry at its best. The flowers travel metres not miles, they are picked when they are ready, and are used immediately.
Iona is tasked with styling the whole house once a week including the 7 dining rooms, the 30 bedrooms in the main house and the reception areas. She has complete creative freedom most days and it’s all about what nature is offering up on the day.
“I come down and see what the garden’s going to give me today. Sometimes you come out and something you thought would be ready is just not and something else is saying ‘Hi, I’m here what about me!” Iona chuckles.
Iona works closely with the head gardener, Mags, for planned plantings and Iona picks from wherever she needs to in the garden always ensuring the garden is left in good health, cuts for length and gives feedback to the gardening team if needs be.
Her style is wild and whimsical and her arrangements are completely reflective of the gardens and the seasons right outside the door. Even in terms of her approach to arranging.
“I find when I’m flower arranging, what grows well together tends to work together well for arranging,” Iona said.
It does sound very idyllic, but it is Ireland and Iona admits sometimes she must brave the hail, wind, rain for picking which isn’t much fun.
“But most of the time it’s a laugh,”she says. “I think everyone should do flower arranging!
Iona runs workshops a few times a year and Ballymaloe runs a fantastic garden Festival each year in September.
Here’s a few snaps of the stunning grounds and gardens at Ballymaloe.
Iona’s absolutely favourite aspect of this gig is decking the house out for Christmas. It’s such a big job, that the house has to shut it’s doors.
“Christmas is the one time I’m allowed to go slightly wild in the house.”
Stay tuned for part 2 of this story – Christmas at Ballymaloe House….