Meet Florist, Nga Bui
Like a loose, just-picked look for the home-grown flowers in your house? So do we! We are thrilled to announce new Sunday workshops so we can all learn the art of arranging homegrown flowers. Here we meet one of our favourite Sydney florists Nga Bui to chat flowers.
Interview: Robin Powell
What were you doing before flowers?
Working in banking and finance. I did the typical things parents expect of you - work hard and be in something stable with career opportunities. When I travelled to London, like everybody does, I worked as an assistant in a flower shop and loved it, but when I came back I went back into banking and finance and did my masters. Finally I wanted to do something more creative and I felt this call to flowers. I did a diploma at TAFE then wanted to learn more, so did a masters degree at Boerma Instituut near the biggest flower market in the world at Aalsmeer in the Netherlands.
You try to use only local flowers in your work, why is that?
We have a choice to either support local growers and pay a bit more, or choose cheaper imports. People are starting to ask how their flowers are grown, in the same way they want to know where their food comes from. With imported flowers you don’t know the environmental impacts, the condition of the workers employed, but you do know they've flown a long way, and they’ve been spayed and they don't last as long as locally grown. So I find that when I explain to customers why I don't have roses in winter, they appreciate what I’m doing.
Are there aesthetic reasons as well?
The big trend in flowers, coming out of North America, is for a natural, just picked, garden-fresh look. You just can’t do these looser, more naturalistic styles using commercially-grown, stiff roses. You need something that looks like it was grown in a garden.
Do you have your own garden?
I sweet-talked my brother into allowing me to grow some of my flowers in his yard in Cabramatta. I think maybe he first thought I would have a little patch - now he doesn't have a lawn! He’s loving it actually and getting my nieces involved. He grows lots of Vietnamese food so it’s a lovely vegie patch and flower garden that we’ve established there.
What’s blooming for summer?
Roses, dahlias, chocolate and Queen Anne's laces, achillea, and a lot of cosmos, about five different varieties. That’s something my dad grew 20 years ago. I would pick it to have on my desk when I was studying, never thinking I’d take up flowers professionally.
Collectors Plant Fair will be running Sunday workshops in the art of homegrown flower arranging at the Collectors' Plant Fair this year. We'll keep you posted for booking details.