Florally festive, naturally

Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for florist Caine Crossley so when it comes to decorating his own home he likes to keep the trimmings simple and fuss free.

There’s not a single piece of tinsel or a jolly Santa in sight. Instead, as you would expect from someone in the trade, the house is filled with fresh flowers and foliage.

The elegant, natural arrangements are restful on the eye and they’re festive too thanks to the seasonal red berries and twists of ivy.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“For my own home I prefer a simple scheme, something that looks like you’ve just gathered everything from the garden and done something with it. I don’t like lots of colour or clutter. I think you can get easily bored with colour,” says Caine, who runs Caine of Harrogate.

His Christmas table includes large storm lanterns that don’t block the view across the table and mirrored cubes filled with hydrangea, hypericum berries, eucalyptus, twisted willow and Grand Prix red roses.

“To stop the roses wilting, cut them short and support the head with lots of greenery and make sure you buy well. The best roses and those with longevity have a thick stem,” he advises.

For extra impact there’s a big bold display on top of a kitchen cabinet featuring hydrangeas, eucalyptus, twisted willow and skimmia steadied in an oasis and placed in a large silver wine cooler.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The sitting room is sensational with ivy hoops and a mirror decorated with a door ring. He prefers to call them rings and hoops as “wreath is too funerial”.

The sideboard is a mass of candles and ivy interspersed with votives filled with single white roses, while the coffee table has a door ring in the middle of a silver platter, glass cloches and white orchids, though the star of the this display is the 1930s statue from Chris Holmes Decorative Interiors, Harrogate.

Scented candles are everywhere and they are all from Harrogate-based Neom.

“They are totally organic and made with flower essences and they don’t have paraffin in them which causes the black smoke when you blow them out,” he says.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The only artificial element he has allowed this Christmas is the tree, a fake fir, set in a cast iron urn. But even this has twisted willow and fresh ivy threaded through along with eucalyptus that gives off its scent when heated by fairy lights.

The tree is decorated with mercury glass baubles available to buy from his shop. In fact, almost everything he has in the house is available to buy from Caine’s.

“The shop isn’t like a traditional florists. It is set out like a living room so people can get ideas and just about everything is for sale,” he says.

Most of it is from suppliers he finds at the annual Paris giftware show and a particular favourite is the distressed oak furniture, which features in his home.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It adds character to the newly-built house in Harrogate that he bought in August.

He moved for more space and because he thought he wouldn’t have to decorate or “do anything”.

However, the best laid plans were ruined by his perfectionist streak and eye for detail and he couldn’t settle until he had redecorated the magnolia walls with Fired Earth Cook’s Cream, replaced skirting boards that were crooked, changed the flooring and added granite worktops. He also opted for blinds instead of curtains.

“I like curtains that pool on the floor but they collect dust and I like things to be clean,” he says.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Still, the low maintenance of a new-build has been a bonus and means he can devote all his time to the business he established 10 years ago.

“I always loved plants and gardening so I did horticulture at Askham Bryan College and there was an option to do floristry. I really enjoyed it and can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s like going to work to do your hobby. Each day is different and I love the interaction with people. It makes life interesting,” says Caine, 38.

He is now busy with the Christmas rush and with plans to offer a nationwide delivery service from January, which will see his own flowers sent by courier.

Although he shuts up shop for a festive break, even that is a busman’s holiday.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I’ll probably have a trip to London to pick up ideas for the shop. I like to completely revamp it every two or three years,” says Caine, who will also be re-thinking his flower orders thanks to new trends. “Old-fashioned garden roses, peonies and hydrangeas have been popular all year as have pinks and muddy browns but I think the trend for vintage is waning in favour of sharper design, especially for weddings. Recently people have been asking for white and green and I think next year we are going to see both neutrals and also vibrant colours like pink, orange and yellow, but it will be hot colours on tasteful flowers.”

For gifts, one of his favourites is what he calls “a big wapping”. “I have men ringing up asking for a dozen red roses or a bouquet on Valentine’s Day and I say: ‘What’s her favourite flower?’ If it’s daffodils, I advise them to get £40 worth. It’s a big wapping and it has real impact. It’s thoughtful, different and works every time.”

Caine’s of Harrogate is on Johns Street. From January it will offer a nationwide delivery service, www.caineofharrogate.co.uk, tel: 01423 528695.

Related topics: