Award-winning Southsea florist Jo McNamara is our go-to for flowers in Portsmouth. Though she’s busy preparing for Valentine’s Day, Jo took some time out to chat to me about her favourite flowers, offering useful insights for anyone looking to surprise their loved ones!
What are your all-time favourite flowers?
Definitely viburnum roses, tall delphiniums, and beautiful big peonies.
What did you go for on your wedding day?
I had sweet avalanche roses, white hydrangeas, and pale pink peonies!
Your ultimate Valentine’s Day bouquet?
My ultimate Valentine’s Day bouquet would be lots of lavender roses, plenty of pussy willow, and assortments of pale blue hydrangeas.
Best flowers for gifting friends?
Hmmm... for gifting friends, I’d say tulips. The colours are so beautiful, and you can make such a simple flower look so stylish with beautiful wrapping. Oh, and it suits any décor!
Do you give flowers to men?
Yes, men love flowers too! I think it’s wonderful when someone comes in to buy flowers for a man, and I’m seeing much more of that in recent years.
Okay, so how about absolute no-nos?
Flower no-nos? I don’t think so — I love them all. They all have their place. But I have to be honest and say that I despise dyed flowers. They’re so beautiful in their natural form. Why spoil something so breathtaking and real?
What are the most popular stems right now?
Hydrangeas and lilies, for sure.
How about scent? Which flowers have the best?
Roses, always. Or oriental lilies. Or hyacinths and lilies of the valley!
What’s the rule when it comes to numbers?
There’s this rule that you should stick to odd numbers, like, 13, 21, 25, etc. I don’t adhere to this rule — most creative florists around Europe don’t, either. We mostly work by look and feel, and do what seems natural.
Do you style flowers differently in various rooms in your house?
Yes! Always. I have shorter, more scented flowers in the kitchen, like hyacinths. For the lounge, it’s all about long-stemmed flowers such as hydrangeas and roses, and little spring-scented pots like freesias.
What are your thoughts when mixing colour?
I think it’s fine so long as you have a good eye for colour. Personally, I love muted shades mixed together, but brighter shades like oranges with cerise pink can look breathtaking too.
What would you take to a dinner party?
Anything lovely and hand-tied and a touch over-the-top. Because I’m a florist, they’ll be expecting something really special, and anyone cooking me dinner deserves the best.
Okay, the big question: on Valentine’s Day, what’s a great alternative to red roses?
A great alternative to red roses is, well, I hate to say it, but there isn’t one. Valentine’s Day equals red roses. They represent love, passion, and romance. I do offer an alternative, of course, but I hope one day I do a Valentine’s Day where there’s only red roses in the shop. My roses are long, beautiful, indulgently red, and packed with passion.