It took count­less ca­reer changes be­fore Bron­wen Hughes could truly wake up and smell the roses. Re­porter spoke to the florist about life in the flower trade.

Jess Lee

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

An unas­sum­ing site tucked away be­hind the Kings­land train sta­tion is bloom­ing with flow­ers.

But the florist re­spon­si­ble for bring­ing colour to the ur­ban space never set out to have a ca­reer in the flower trade.

Bron­wen Hughes stum­bled upon the shop by chance more than a decade ago, while look­ing to add an­other skill to her ev­er­ex­pand­ing CV. She took over the lease and Ur­ban Flow­ers was born.

Hughes has a colour­ful list of past ca­reers.

She once worked in ra­dio and tele­vi­sion be­fore join­ing the po­lice, then there were st­ints as a store de­tec­tive, an abor­tion coun­sel­lor and some time in a car yard.

It wasn’t un­til work­ing at a home­ware store that she dis­cov­ered her knack with flow­ers.

‘‘It was an ac­ci­dent,’’ she says. ‘‘I started buy­ing flow­ers for the store on Fri­day for the week­end be­cause I thought it would be nice and then peo­ple started look­ing for them dur­ing the week,’’ she says.

‘‘I de­cided I would move to a lit­tle shop and just sell flow­ers but I hadn’t in­tended to be a florist.’’

Hughes ad­mits she hadn’t been that keen on flow­ers be­fore that.

‘‘I know it’s re­ally weird but now I love it. I love the flow­ers and creat­ing beau­ti­ful bou­quets be­cause it gives peo­ple plea­sure – it’s a lovely thing to do.’’

She soon picked up the tricks of the trade with some help from her ex­pe­ri­enced staff.

‘‘It took at least 12 months – but I never stop learn­ing. My style keeps evolv­ing. I’m lucky I have a nat­u­ral eye for colour and that’s re­ally im­por­tant.’’

First you have to learn how to spi­ral the stems of flow­ers around each other so they stand up in a vase, she says. Once you’ve mas­tered that, it all falls into place.

‘‘In a bou­quet you need to be con­scious of colour and tex­tures so that it looks in­ter­est­ing, so not ev­ery­thing is the same shape and tex­ture.’’

She makes three trips to the flower auc­tions in Mt Welling­ton each week.

Roses are still the most pop­u­lar flow­ers for wed­dings and hy­drangeas have made a come­back in other bou­quets.

All the trends for colours and tex­tures are cycli­cal, she says. Valen­tine’s Day and Mother’s Day are still the busiest times of year but there is a rush around Christ­mas time as well.

Then there are wed­dings, charity events and jobs for Eden Park.

Each week Hughes gath­ers up any un­sold flow­ers and de­liv­ers them to Auck­land Zoo for staff to put on the grave of Kashin the ele­phant who died in 2009.

This will be the long­est that Hughes has ever stuck at one ca­reer, she says.

‘‘I get bored eas­ily but you can’t get bored with flow­ers and I love my cus­tomers.’’

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