Interview: Florist Joseph Delarge

Award-winning floral designer Joseph Delarge wanted to create a flower shop with conscience, and in 2009, the eco|stems florist shop was born in the Corktown area of Toronto. As the owner and creative director, eco|stems reflects Joseph’s personal values of environmental and social sustainability, using local, organic and fair-trade certified flowers and plants. We spoke with this certified Toronto Master Gardener as he prepares to participate in the Gardiner Museum’s fundraiser, Spring Awakening, on from April 25-27, 2014. The fundraiser will showcase spectacular floral installations by some of Toronto’s top floral designers and offer workshops to inspire your own arrangements.

House & Home: What are some of the big trends in floral design?
Joseph Delarge: “My designs are taking on a more natural look with the addition of wood, branches, bark, fungi and mosses. These more natural elements are then contrasted with bright, vibrant eco blooms. I’m not always sure what the trends are. I just go with my instinct and make something beautiful using flowers. I figure if I find it beautiful, others will too.”

H&H: What are your favourite eco-friendly flowers?
JD: “This spring my favourite eco-flowers are local anemones, viburnum, tulips and Cymbidium orchids. We can’t wait for the local peony season and our local and organic flowers to start this summer! We are always getting in lots of unusual fair-trade blooms in as well. Some of my favourites are artichokes, pincushion protea (or Leucospermum) and kangaroo paw.”

Cymbidium Orchid

Pincushion Protea

Kangaroo Paw

H&H: What are some tricks for making a big impact with arrangements?
JD: “To achieve big impact with any arrangement choose one flower type, or one colour. This will make a big difference especially if you’re a floral design beginner, or have a small budget to work with.”

H&H: Are there some flowers — carnations spring to mind — that look dated?
JD: “Here at the shop we like to say we don’t discriminate based on flower type! A lot of the time flowers look dated because of the design they are used in. It’s not the flower’s fault. You know you have a great designer when they’re able to successfully design something modern with any flower type.”

H&H: Do you have a favourite bloom (it can look amazing on its own, or elevates any arrangement)?
JD: “During spring my favourite bloom would have to be local viburnum (above). It elevates any arrangement and screams spring!”

Read more exclusive interviews here, and browse a gallery of easy flower arrangements.

Photo sources:
1. Orchid from Flower Wallpaper
2. Pincushion protea from Chasing Jessie blog
3. Red kangaroo paw via Wikimedia
4. Viburnum from Grasslands

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