Hid­den bower

A NEW CON­CEPT STORE IN BER­LIN IS IN­TRO­DUC­ING EPHEMERAL FLO­RAL AR­RANGE­MENTS FROM SYD­NEY. BY GISELA WIL­LIAMS.

VOGUE Living Australia - - In Store - Visit marylen­nox.de; the­stores.com. VL

INCE CHILD­HOOD, RUBY BAR­BER’S favourite book has been The Se­cret Gar­den, the clas­sic chil­dren’s story by Frances Hodg­son Bur­nett. “Of course I didn’t re­alise then how sig­nif­i­cant that book would be­come for me,” says Bar­ber, sit­ting on a low couch in Ber­lin’s chic new con­cept bou­tique, The Store, at Soho House. Just four years af­ter mov­ing from Syd­ney to Ger­many’s cre­ative cap­i­tal, Bar­ber over­sees a flower stu­dio in a light-filled cor­ner of the sprawl­ing space that also in­cludes a pop­u­lar cafe. The Store, in Ber­lin’s Mitte district, is scat­tered with racks of Ann De­meule­meester and The Row cloth­ing as well as hand-carved wooden bowls, vin­tage de­sign books, and Ae­sop prod­ucts from Aus­tralia. Bar­ber named her blos­som­ing com­pany Mary Len­nox, af­ter the main char­ac­ter in the iconic novel who finds a ne­glected gar­den hid­den be­hind over­grown walls and even­tu­ally brings it back to life. The story is ap­pro­pri­ate for the am­bi­tious 27-year-old, who has stum­bled into Ger­many’s still very in­dus­trial flower in­dus­try and har­bours plans to rev­o­lu­tionise the way Ber­lin­ers see fresh, cut flow­ers. Un­like in Syd­ney, where it was a pre-dawn race to the flower mar­kets each day to chase down the best lo­cally sourced branches and blooms, the whole­sale mar­ket in Ber­lin is dom­i­nated by im­ports from the ››

‹‹ Nether­lands. “In Aus­tralia it’s all about the strangest thing you can find. Here in Ger­many, Ecuado­rian roses are still fash­ion­able.” Bar­ber’s first year in Ber­lin was spent nav­i­gat­ing the mar­ket and sourc­ing lo­cal grow­ers. She then sent in­di­vid­ual bou­quets to lo­cal blog­gers and cre­atives with whom she wanted to con­nect. In her sec­ond year, she opened an ate­lier and be­gan ex­plor­ing Hol­land. “I had to work out how to make those im­ports work for me,” she says, be­fore adding, “For­ag­ing here can be pretty good.” She also be­gan grow­ing her own edi­ble gar­den. “My apart­ment is filled with plants,” she en­thuses. Her boyfriend, who works at the Ber­lin night­club Tre­sor, con­vinced the owner to al­low them to cre­ate a gar­den out­side the club. “Now Tre­sor has our cherry, pome­gran­ate and lemon trees as well as some rose bushes,” she says. “It would be nice if we could in­spire peo­ple to turn aban­doned city plots into flower farms.” The de­ci­sion to move abroad came when Bar­ber, hav­ing slowly built up her rep­u­ta­tion in Syd­ney by cre­at­ing un­usual flower ar­range­ments for brides and a small but im­pres­sive group of lo­cal clients, was ap­proached by Alex Ea­gle — a Bri­tish stylist and cre­ative di­rec­tor of The Store. They dis­cussed a col­lab­o­ra­tion with the re­tail con­cept to cre­atively en­liven its walls and cor­ners with plants. “Alex wanted the space to be re­ally green,” says Bar­ber. To­gether they com­mis­sioned a beau­ti­ful cop­per flower bench from the ar­chi­tect Sig­urd Larsen, which Bar­ber loads with lovely bou­quets ev­ery day. She jokes, “I am re­ally learn­ing to love the flow­ers from Hol­land,” then adds, “I just want to work with new and ex­cit­ing flow­ers all the time.” Bar­ber is cur­rently col­lab­o­rat­ing with var­i­ous Ber­lin-based artists, such as pho­tog­ra­pher Amira Fritz, to cre­ate art in­stal­la­tions or still lifes that fea­ture flow­ers and plants. “I want to pur­sue projects around flow­ers that are not nec­es­sar­ily how a typ­i­cal florist works,” she says. Mary Len­nox is also de­vel­op­ing a line of seeds that pro­motes the con­cept of in­ter­crop­ping, a hor­ti­cul­tural term that means the prac­tice of grow­ing two or more crops in the same space that will mu­tu­ally ben­e­fit each other. “That’s how I like to work as well, col­lab­o­rat­ing with those who sur­round us to cre­ate some­thing even bet­ter.”

“That’s how I like to work as well, col­lab­o­rat­ing with those who sur­round us to cre­ate some­thing even bet­ter”

PHO­TOGRAPHED BY SI­MON MENGES. RUBY BAR­BER IS PHO­TOGRAPHED EX­CLU­SIVELY FOR VOGUE LIV­ING IN BER­LIN, GER­MANY.

right: Bar­ber be­side some of her flo­ral ar­range­ments; her Balenciaga top is avail­able from The Store. be­low: a vi­brant bou­quet of or­ange and yel­low Ice­landic pop­pies, David Austin roses, Ital­ian ra­nun­cu­lus, pur­ple sweet peas and mauve scabiosa.

clock­wise from left: Bar­ber at work. The ex­pan­sive re­tail space. Black vases by Chris­tine Roland. Pas­tel vases from Tor­tus Copen­hagen. Vases avail­able from The Store.

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