Inside Willow Crossley’s sunlit studio in Oxfordshire, England, frayed tulips, frothy sweet peas, and fragrant lilacs sprout from jugs on a wooden work table. Beyond the flowers, rustic shelves are decked with a medley of blown-glass vases, leafy ceramic pitchers, and blue and white pots.
If this seems like a great place to find respite from the stressful times we’re living in, well, it is.
“If I’m having a bad day,” Crossley says, “I will get outside and put my hands in the soil.” The 38-year-old mother of three, who grew up in Wales surrounded by nature before working as a fashion assistant and beauty writer in London. Now, she endeavors to help other people find similar solace in the natural world.
In 2017, Crossley began teaching private floristry workshops at her studio. Last year she started offering a virtual Guide to Floristry course, through Create Academy, for those who can’t make it to the Cotswolds but would still like to cultivate an English countryside aesthetic.
Across 24 episodes, each ranging from 10 to 20 minutes, the online workshop explores the basics and mechanics of growing, sourcing, and arranging flowers.
Throughout the course, the mostly self-taught Crossley who has styled flowers for British brands such as Jo Malone, Mulberry, and OKA, as well as for The Bull Inn, the charming pub with rooms in Charlbury that she owns with her husband—describes how nature can nurture one’s mental health and emotional well-being.
“I think, as humans, we are programmed to be outside,” she says at the beginning of the first video. “I hope during this course I will be able to instill this need we have for nature.”
Indeed, one of the most appealing aspects of the course is the calming effect of watching Crossley forage for budding branches or sprinkle compost over newly planted seeds. Even the way she talks to her “leading ladies”—among them her beloved Santa Claus dahlias and the cut flowers from her Solomon’s seal plants is soothing. “I think you have to be kind to your plants and flowers,” she says.
On a practical level, the curriculum explains the tools of the trade.
Demonstrating the various uses for implements such as flower frogs and chicken wire. Along with styling techniques for both simple home bouquets and lavish celebratory centerpieces.
Each lesson comes with a downloadable workbook of floristry tips and tricks. Plus it includes useful terminology, such as “conditioning” – the process of extending the freshness of cut flowers. All of which ensures viewers get the most out of their arrangements.
Above all else, Crossley’s relaxed demeanor and unpretentious approach will help budding florists bring a little bit of the outdoors into their houses.
“I want things to look like they would in nature,” she says. “Nature isn’t perfect, and we want our arrangements to kind of reflect that.”
Next Up: Buy in Brick City