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.
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.’’
Blooming trade: Kingsland florist Bronwen Hughes loves working with flowers.