Grace & Thorn: The London Florist Breaking All The Rules by Tash South

Last week I visited Grace & Thorn on Hackney Road, owned by Nik Southern – a florist with a difference – and her off-beat and naturalistic approach has caught the eye of the Fashion Set. Using lots of different flowers, clashing colours, foliage and texture in asymmetric arrangements – she’s breaking all the floristry rules.

Grace & Thorn's Hackney Shop

The shop itself is an instagrammer's dream! I couldn’t help myself – photographing every little corner and detail. No wooden crates on display here, it’s all concrete, sleek pots, jugs and vases holding the gorgeous collection of plants, flowers and cacti.

Nik Southern, the florist breaking all the rules. Image Credit: Grace & Thorn

Gorgeous textures and foliage inside the shop

How and why did Nik become a florist?
Nik spent 13 years working in IT recruitment, but quit after taking a psychometric test which told her she should be a florist. Not really enjoying her current career, she booked herself on to a short floristry course and was bitten by the bug.

An Instagrammer's dream! The Christmas tree hung on the ceiling? Why not!

When and where did Grace & Thorn start?
Grace & Thorn was started in 2011, Nik was working from home at first, but then quickly outgrew it and needed more space. They now have three London shops in total, the first shop was opened on Hackney Road about three years ago, they also have one in Soho and another on Brick Lane, as well as a large studio in Essex.

I just loved this quirky guy!

What's a typical day like in a Grace & Thorn Shop?
We have to be up really early! The day starts at the flower markets, then comes the prep – stripping down the stems so that the flowers are ready for arrangements and bouquets. We then start fulfilling orders and contracts, and deal with walk-in clients throughout the day.

Hydrangeas are at their best this time of year – just before Christmas

A huge collection of tiny cacti

What skills do you need to be a top-notch florist?
You have to be creative, have some artistic talent and have an eye for colour.     

Get some green in your space - just some simple houseplants can be striking

They hold a wide selection of cool pots in the Hackney shop

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Obviously we take most inspiration form nature, but fashion and design provide inspiration too! Most of the florists here come form a design background of some description.

The stunning window display

How would you describe your style?
Wild, natural and off-beat. We use a lot of asymmetry and lots of different flowers.

Foliage plays a huge part, we use a lot of greenery in our work, we play with tones and textures, creating a green statement. We’ve done weddings where we only use foliage – no flowers at all!

Grace and Thorn's Keeping It Green shows how foliage can make an impact all on its own. Image Credit: Grace & Thorn

On display – the wide variety of flowers that Grace & Thorn use in their arrangements

Your arrangements are stunning! Where do you even start?
We start with the foliage, then add just a few large flowers and work around that – adding smaller flowers like ranunculus or even berries around it, making sure to maintain the wild asymmetrical feel that Grace & Thorn are known for.

An arrangement by Lucy - one of Grace & Thorn's florists

More quirky animal pots

What’s popular right now?
Hydrangeas, because they are in bloom right now, asparagus fern, and fiddle leaf fig trees – and succulents are still having their moment!

Asparagus Fern

Succulents are still extremely popular

Great texture and colour on this plant and pot combo

I manage to kill plants, most of them, even cacti. It’s like the more I try, the more they die – any tips? I hear you have a book coming out on the subject next year. When will it be available?
For house plants – water and natural light are the most important, and how much water depends on the type of plant. Delicate ferns, for example need regular watering and misting.

For cacti, do not water directly (this is where I have been going wrong!) only mist once every couple of weeks and even less in the winter.

The book is called ‘How not to kill your plants’ and will be out in June 2017

Grace and Thorn Hackney Shop

More of the great selection of pots

My blog is on urban interiors, and I love the Organic Modern look – which I think your style fits really well, can you give us a super quick and easy arrangement that we can make at home?

1 Start with a bunch of foliage like eucalyptus of asparagus fern, and arrange in a vase or jar

2 Add just one or two large flowers – like a rose or hydrangea, keep the arrangement ‘free’ and asymmetrical

3 Add a few smaller flowers (or berries, now in season) to the arrangement

OR just stop at step 1! A vase or jug of various toned and textured foliage can look stunning just as it is – simple, relaxed and beautiful!

Lucy showing me how it's done!

Feeling inspired after my visit to Grace & Thorn, I decided to try out an arrangement at home. They made it seem so effortless, so I picked up a bunch of eucalyptus and a gorgeous hydrangea to experiment... my efforts below! Not quite as stunning as their work, but a beautiful and easy way to make an impact in a room. Try it! Much better than just shoving a bunch of roses into a vase!

My attempt at a Grace & Thorn style arrangement - I think it probably needs a lot more foliage!

If you’d love to learn more about making your own arrangements, you can check out Grace & Thorn’s workshops, they host terrarium making classes, and just in time for Christmas, they have wreath making workshops throughout December – complete with G&T or prosecco!

The workshops would make a great gift.
Santa, I'll be putting one on my Christmas list this year!


Many thanks to Lucy at Grace & Thorn Hackney Road for your time and showing me around.

All photos by except those credited.