Living Locally #9 Libby Spencer, Botanica Floraemmapatterson
There are some new kids on the block here at 187 Lords Place! Of course, we are talking about none other than Botanica Flora owned by the lovely Libby Spencer.
Botanica Flora initially started out at the boutique nursery ‘Anything Grows’ on Summer Street, previously owned by Libby and her husband Ren. Ren also runs Botanic Landscapes, so it’s plain to see that this power couple really love their plants! Their floristry business has grown so much over the past few years that they recently packed up their plants and moved over to help us form THE COLLECTIVE – and we couldn’t be happier. The space that Libby has created is a real treat to the senses – full of life, bold colours and the sweet scent of those freshly cut seasonal flowers!
Libby has a beautiful gentle, warm nature and is quick to greet you with a bright and beaming smile! I can tell she has a real passion for the plants and flowers that she works with and loves her family dearly. I recently managed to catch up with Libby after the chaos of moving business settled, to chat flowers, family and fashion.
Your designs are beautiful! What got you into floristry?
I feel very lucky that I get to play with flowers everyday and walking into our new space at ‘The Collective’ is amazing – it’s our happy place! I have always loved flowers, art and design so floristry was a natural evolution for me. It’s been five years since we started and it’s a dream job.
Are there any new avenues you are heading down now that Botanica Flora has moved into a bigger space?
Yes, we will start our workshop program again soon which is exciting – stay tuned to our insta, facebook and website for more details. We also now have enough room for more indoor plants, and have expanded our range of Maison Balzac candles and added a beautiful selection of books on flowers, design and food (three of my favourite things!).
I grew up in Orange and then left to travel, study and work. It’s been great returning home to ‘nest’ and raise our children in Millthorpe – the public school they go to is fantastic and only a block from our house. Orange has developed into a food, wine and coffee mecca and there are so many fun and inspiring people who live here. We are so lucky!
Your floristry has a distinctive ‘vintage’ style. What are the biggest inspirations for your designs?
I find inspiration is everywhere, especially in nature. The amazing colours of the flowers are one of the biggest inspirations – I love grouping colour and using lots of textures in our work. We love adding surprising elements such as cumquats and magnolia branches as well.
Libby wears Keepsake Bridges Lace Top, Keepsake Morning Rain Pant and Christian Paul Mesh Watch.
What’s your favourite flower to work with?
That’s tricky! Can I have more than one? Peonies, perfumed old-fashioned garden roses, Lotus flowers, tulips (especially feathered ones and parrots!) – the list goes on and on but they are a few of my faves. One of the best things about floristry and the style of work that we do is that it changes with the seasons – we have different favourites depending on what time of year it is.
You specialise in wedding floristry, what is the most rewarding thing about this?
Weddings are so special and we feel very lucky to be asked to create amazing floristry for our gorgeous couples. We love hearing that the flowers were a highlight of the wedding and love seeing a Bride’s reaction when we hand over her bridal bouquet.
Orange and the surrounding area has a lot of great wedding venues… what are some favourite venues you have styled?
Tonic is fabulous in Millthorpe – they have a heritage-listed former picture theatre beside the restaurant which is beautiful (and the food is incredible!); The Old Convent in Borenore – Josie is amazing to work with and the venue is perfect for a garden ceremony followed by a beautiful reception in either the old Church or a marquee; and Racine on Lake Canobolas Road is also a big favourite.
We’re still trying to work that one out! Having worked for ourselves for the last seven years it’s always a challenge. My mum and dad, Anne and John live in Orange and help a lot which is fantastic. Sass and Tully also often come into Botanica with me on the weekends and during the school holidays and are great helpers. Sass has grown up watching me play with flowers and it seems to have rubbed off – she’s a natural!
When you get some down time, where would we most likely find you?
We live in Millthorpe and love taking our little French bulldog puppy, Lenny for walks in and around town. Visiting gorgeous Patty for a coffee at Millthorpe Providore (which is two doors from our house!) is also one of our usual hangouts. We are coffee fanatics so visiting Ricky & Carlie at Bills Beans East Orange is a must as well! We also love taking Lenny to Lake Canobolas for a walk and grabbing brunch from the Lakehouse – Ben and Sammy were one of my first Bride and Groom’s!
What inspires your fashion style?
I love finding classic pieces that are timeless. I lived in McMahon’s Point in my twenties, near an antique store and the owner had a fabulous vintage wardrobe collection. I bought several pieces from her including a 1950’s pale pink silk jacket from Hong Kong. I love mixing my classic, vintage pieces with new additions to my wardrobe. There are lots of pieces in my wardrobe that have a story and fond memories attached to them – like old friends!
What is your favourite label from Belle Armoire and why?
There are so many! If I had to pick a favourite it would be Spell & the Gypsy Collective from Byron Bay. I love their fabrics and how easy to wear the pieces are. It’s so exciting every time they release a new drop! The Fifth Label and Betty Basics are also great for day to day. It’s dangerous walking through Belle Armoire everyday – so many amazing things!