To describe Parisian florist Mathilde Vial’s tiny shop on the Rue du Vertbois in the 2nd arrondissement as under-the-radar is putting it mildly. If you walk by, you will almost surely miss it. With no storefront sign, On the Sunny Side is more of an atelier than a boutique; Vial’s reputation spreads by word of mouth and many of her customers are longtime loyalists.
But for anyone who wanders in, the shop offers a selection of seasonal bouquets (many featuring flowers Vial grows herself), and an eclectic collection of planters and pots, many from small French producers. Since starting the business in 2013, Vial also has offered floral design workshops. Here are 10 ideas to steal from the casual elegance of her arrangements.
Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista.
Pick a Palette
Vial often creates bouquets based on a simple palette, using one or varieties of flowers and one or two colors. Tip: green blooms such as those on the Amaranthus shown above, are particularly useful because they serve both as foliage and flower.
What is Vial’s favorite flower? “It is very hard to answer that question because there are some many flowers I adore! I particularly like les anémones,” she says.
Think About Texture
Vial likes to work with flowers that have stiff silhouettes—such as the zinnias, Crespedia, and statice shown above—because they add structure to a bouquet and have long-lasting blooms.
Skip the Vase
Treat flowers as you would a bunch of herbs, tying them with ribbon or twine and suspending the from a hook or doorknob. It’s an especially effective way to display flowers that like to flop over, such as the purple Amaranthus show above; upside down, it has a sculptural, waterfall quality that would be otherwise be lost.
Put It on Repeat
Instead of getting one houseplant, get three or four that are identical; en masse make a more powerful visual statement. In Vial’s shop, four identical potted vines hang in a row, creating a curtain of foliage to catch the light.
Make an Angled Cut
Before you put flowers in a vase, make a sharply angled cut on each stem to increase the surface area to draw up more water. (See our favorite florists’ shears at 10 Easy Pieces: Floral Scissors.)
Embrace ‘Blushing Bride’
Serruria ‘Blushing Bride’ (shown above) is a flowering evergreen shrub native to South Africa. A popular flower for wedding bouquets, it is a florist’s friend; its soft pink and cream hues complement a range of colors from purple to yellow.
Keep It Simple
When in doubt, pare down. With its strong, geometric lines, a single succulent in a small planter can make as much of an impact as a larger bouquet.
Extend the life of your favorite blossoms by pressing them to create dried flowers.
Think Like an Artist
On strips of muslin or linen, you can mount pressed flowers with strips of tape (or a few well-placed stitches) to create botanical art.
Office supplies are your friend; Vial suspends botanical banners from oversized metal clips.
Keeping a Low Profile
N.B.: For more of our favorite simple floral arrangements, see: