This week's Living National Treasure is royal florist Shane Connolly – and while he might be based in Britain, he's in demand around the world. He spoke to Tessa Waugh; portraits by Richard Cannon.
‘Flowers say a lot about a person,’ says London-based floral designer Shane Connolly, who’s been producing arrangements and schemes for parties and weddings for more than 20 years.
Mr Connolly prides himself on remaining impervious to changing fashions, choosing instead to work with a close adherence to the desires of his clients.
‘I love it when I feel we’ve listened and interpreted a very blurry brief and, afterwards, they tell us “that’s exactly what I wanted”,’ he admits.
Although the business has grown rapidly – it provides flowers for events all over the world – Mr Connolly has remained hands-on.
‘I nearly always do the first sample of anything for a party,’ he says, ‘and I’m often at the market with my team because I feel as if what I do is like good cooking – if you have beautiful ingredients, you can’t go wrong.’
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The company sources its cut flowers from New Covent Garden Market, along with smaller growers and artisans, all the while focusing on sustainability.
‘Our leitmotif is that we are, as far as possible, English and seasonal,’ Mr Connolly explains.
He’s famous for incorporating living, whole plants into his arrangements. For the wedding of the The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, for example, he lined Westminster Abbey with statuesque maple trees and the flowering lily of the valley that had been dug from the grounds of Windsor Castle, and which was returned afterwards.
Mr Connolly won’t be drawn on whether he will be providing the flowers for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in May. However, as he already holds a Royal Warrant, he must be the odds-on favourite.
See more of Shane Connolly’s work at www.shaneconnolly.co.uk