Cassandra in Conversation: Floral Alchemy with Shane Connolly in aid of Horatio's Garden

On Tuesday evening Cassandra invited celebrated florist Shane Connolly to the Sloane Street store to give a fascinating masterclass on floristry, sharing their mutual love for growing and nurturing flowers and their memories from a friendship that has spanned many years.

As a true 'floral alchemist', there were many interesting parallels between Shane's passions for flowers and Cassandra's devotion to jewellery, all intertwined with respect and reverence for the natural world.

Shane's message that "the cornerstone of sustainability in floristry is seasonality" echoed throughout the evening, as he arranged flowers from Cassandra's garden and nearby hedgerows and displayed his fondness for nature taking over in his creations, as well as the importance of only using biodegradable resources. With nature the only trend he adheres to, Shane recreated the depth and layering of gardens in his numerous arrangements, without any fear of gaps, revelling in that sense of freedom and surprise when you allow beautiful things to speak for themselves.

Mirroring a jeweller's sensibility, floristry also flourishes through artistic and sculptural storytelling. With this in mind we learned about the importance of unexpected vases, from clusters of delicate glass bottles to vast containers. No matter the size, Shane stressed the importance of simplicity and being guided by the shapes of the flowers and branches, whether the long elegant stems of tiny Narcissi and Lily of the Valley, complimenting the curves of simple small glass vases, or larger green Magnolia branches boldly arranged in a 'bough' vase.

Sometimes you have to admit that nature is cleverer than you.

When it comes to bespoke creations, there was also a mutual understanding between Cassandra and Shane of the delicate nature of a client's taste meeting their own artistic predilections and expertise. Just as Cassandra's bespoke designs bring together precious metals, the beauty of natural gemstones, and clients' special memories, so too does Shane marry the natural world and emotionally moving arrangements together with an artist's conviction.

The evening shone a light on the transformative ways in which flowers and the natural world can support our wellbeing: the ethos that grounds the incredible work of the Horatio's Garden charity, which was founded in honour of Horatio Chapple. Creating beautiful and vibrant garden sanctuaries within the heart of NHS spinal injury centres, this charity is on a mission one garden at a time to support people rebuilding their lives following a spinal injury.

For the first time, they'll have one of these immersive gardens on the Main Avenue of this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show before it relocates to Horatio's Garden Sheffield at the Princess Royal Spinal Injuries Centre, so we would encourage anyone visiting London to take a visit.

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