Review: The Flower Hunter

Seasonal flowers inspired by nature and gathered from the garden

The Flower Hunter
All Photography by Lucy Hunter © Ryland Peters & Small 2021

I am smitten by these words by Lucy Hunter, included in the pages of her new book, The Flower Hunter: “I am always trying to recreate that wild, utterly romantic and gloriously untamed corner of the garden in an urn, and so I deliberately seek out flowers, that kink and curve, reach for the light yet have space to breathe, look relaxed and contented, and fill the house with scent and joy.”

Those words could – no should – serve as the guiding mantra for gardeners, flower farmers, and floral designers everywhere. It’s the “scent and joy” that got me. Please don’t tell anyone, but I am that person who finds absolute joy in a dreaded dandelion.

Page 101: Urn of Plenty, featuring Rosa ‘Gentle Hermione’, ‘Champagne Moment’ and ‘The Lark Ascending’, along with Calendula officinalis ‘Touch of Red Buff’, Dahlia ‘Cornel Brons’ and ‘Wild Eyed Jill’. A stem of dried Limonium gmelinii and Humulus lupulus complete the vignette

And this insight for everyone who has gardened themselves into a frenzy: “I want to be able to enjoy the time I had in the garden rather than resent it.” Amen, sister. Lucy Hunter created a small cutting garden including roses, dahlias, sedums, tomatoes and herbs, narcissus, and tulips. She goes to a flower farm when she needs large quantities of blossoms for events. I could have used this advice 20 years ago.

Lucy creates masterpieces from the smallest pots and plain-ish clear vases, some surprisingly simple and some almost haphazard. She intentionally leaves her roses unpruned, so they reach for the sky, stretching out softly. Hellebores that have gone to seed, tulips growing and drooping in grace, and rosehips from last year, all are admired and perfect candidates for the “garden in the urn.”

all in the detail
Page 41: Take a moment to enjoy the simplicity of a bunch of tulips and daffodils rescued from the garden and popped into a glass vase

Thankfully, Lucy also includes inspiration and instructions for elegant living sculptures and everlasting bouquets for your walls. A fallen tree branch dressed in moody autumn leaves is brought inside to be admired for a few more days. Rangy lengths of Virginia creeper are tucked into floral water tubes and hung from the ceiling. Yes. Virginia creeper as wallpaper. Dying, drying, and the creation of journals of dried flowers, and dyed fabric samples are included. Essentially, Lucy takes readers through a year in her garden, giving us her particular insights and sharing her love of the garden in all its imperfection, as nature will have it.


And last but not least, bear with me, reader, as I tender my love letter to Lucy Hunter:

Dear Lucy,

I am supposed to be writing a book review of your luscious volume, but I want to thank you a million times over for your words.

From page 31, A Curious Mind

“…my inner voice had kept me safe, turning over and then rejecting my ideas. The creativity that had come so easily to me as a child had been replaced with overthinking and a belief that art was something I should do in my free time as a hobby. By following my instincts and saying yes to opportunities without knowing where they would lead, I found friends who would inspire, places that opened my eyes, and a belief that my creativity was of value.”

Those words brought tears to my eyes. I was raised to believe art was a class you took, and anything I made would scarcely be considered worthy. I have since said yes and found those friends and places, and my creativity has led me to a vast new world of artists and supporters. Thank you for saying what I was not able to articulate until now.

Your admirer,

Mary Ann

The Flower Hunter, By Lucy Hunter

Ryland Peters & Small (November 9, 2021)
Order: and Amazon

Mary Ann Newcomer

Scribe-Scout-Speaker A daughter of the American west, with great grandparents who homesteaded in Idaho, I tagged along with my grandmother and grandfather as they gardened in the tiny town of Latah, Washington, just across the Idaho state line. I have developed a fierce passion for all things GARDEN. I grow, scout, and write about gardens. My expertise is in the Intermountain West, but I have written for Rocky Mountain Gardening, Country Gardens, MaryJane’s Farm, Fine Gardening, Leaf Magazine, the American Gardener, and newspapers across the region. I’ve designed public, private, and commercial landscapes, and gardens for flower shows. I love encouraging gardeners to get down and dirty. When not tending to my garden, I volunteer my time weeding or planting or doing garden design work at the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise.

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Slow Flowers Journal is brought to you by Slow Flowers is an award-winning online directory created to help consumers find florists, studio designers, wedding and event planners, supermarket flower departments and flower farmers that supply American grown flowers. Founded in 2014, the site has grown to 850 members across the U.S.


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