Natural holiday flairPublished on November 24, 2010

  • Joanne Plummer. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • A wise man found at Mill Street Florist. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • Branches and boughs work perfectly to display treasured ornaments. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

  • Traditional greens & pillar candles, mixed with red flowers, combine to create a festive mantle display. (Photo by Mark Holleron)

Joanne Plummer, owner of Mill Street Florist in Manotick, is living her dream with a flower shop just off the main street of the small town where she grew up.

She lives there still and her family home sits on a spectacular piece of property looking onto the Rideau River.

The florist and her husband Andrew purchased the home from her mother, who was given the property by her parents, after they had lived there and farmed the land from the 1820s to the 1970s.

When the farm was sold Joanne's maternal grandparents dedicated a park next door, so she has deep roots in the community, the land and her business.

As a talented woman who has not only created one of the most successful flower shops in the Ottawa area, but was also inducted into the American Institute of Floral Designers and is one of only a handful of accredited Canadian AIFD Designers, it seems only fitting that Joanne should live in a home that is completely surrounded by natural beauty.

Large floor-to-ceiling windows provide the backdrop for an interior that embraces a mix of all of the natural elements. It comes together beautifully to create a unique ?decorating style that fits with someone who works with nature's gifts all year round.

Ottawa At Home spent time talking to Joanne at her Manotick home about her style and her work.

Your home is set on a magnificent property. Has this influenced your decorating style? Yes, to some degree, I think it has. One of the great things about this property is that it is really quite private, so we don't have to worry about using drapes to keep the neighbours out. We love the fact that every room has amazing views of the river, and being able to leave the windows undressed makes a huge difference to how it feels inside.

As a florist, are you always bringing home new plants and floral arrangements? I am a total fresh flower addict. I cannot imagine a home without fresh flowers and plants. One of the best things about my work is that I can experience the beauty of nature's bounty all day, and, when I find something new, and fresh and exiting, I can't help myself. I just have to bring a few blooms home with me to play with. Every job has its perks!

In your home you mix all of the natural elements. How you make it work so well? First, I try to be consistent in the choice of materials. Everything is natural; no plastics, no polyesters, and no trinkets. I try to always bring the focus to all the natural elements - wood, stone, leather, natural grass cloth, living plants, fresh flowers. The trick to making them all work together is to pay attention to texture and contrast. For example, an old wicker chest that is a bit rough, with a petrified piece of wood that has the texture of glass, sitting beside a huge natural grass root that is brutally unrefined. Or, the well-worn leather couch - so smooth and cool - with stainless steel legs that are hard and precise, mixed with soft, inviting velvet cushions accented with tiny glass gems for a touch of bling.

What are the key elements that go into making a perfect floral arrangement? Colour, visual balance, texture, rhythm, line and form. Any beautiful floral arrangement should have interesting textures, appropriate colours, interesting form, consistent lines, and repetitive use of materials. Think of it the way we think of music - a beautiful floral arrangement must bring all these things together, to create a pleasing visual - sort of like how a choir brings all the voices together to create a beautiful piece of music.

How do you decorate your home for the holidays? We always put up a big, freshly cut Christmas tree. I prefer to find a tree that has never been pruned - that way, the branches are spaced further apart, the way nature intended. Fresh garlands and boughs of evergreen and magnolia are draped over railings, along the fireplace mantle and piano.

I love the scent of white pine and the colour of Peruvian thuja . . . the grace of Oriental spruce, and the diversity of English boxwood. Of course, every room is filled with fresh flowers - Amaryllis, Gloriosa, Gerbera, Paperwhites, Viburnum, Hydrangea - pretty much any flower that strikes my fancy that week.

I also love to include lots of crimson curly willow and berries everywhere, because they last so long, and have a very natural, untamed feeling to them.

Candles everywhere . . . pillars on the hearth, votives on the tables and bowls of floaters accented with cranberries and fresh limes. Tucking a few small pillar candles into a bowl filled with fresh coffee beans fills the house with a delicious aroma.

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