A Simply Perfect Garden
It might have been an early morning for us, but Alexis MacLeod of Simply Perfect Flowers had been up for hours tending to her dazzling garden. Every Morning she rises with the sun to spend time in her garden and then heads to her shop in Downtown Abbotsford. She describes her time outside as a soothing escape, and during our time with her, we began to feel it too. There was no need to lean in close to smell a flower, the delightful scents hugged the atmosphere and followed us as we wandered through the rows. The aroma and brightly coloured flowers that stood out vibrantly against the rich green environment and overcast sky, left us in awe of our surroundings.
TFV: Tell us about your Floral Shop and why you love what you do?
AM: I have owned Simply Perfect Flowers since Sept 2004 and we relocated in the heart of Old Downtown Abbotsford in 2016. We love to be unique and creative with our work. We have a European look, which I love. I have always had an appreciation for flowers, I think it has been passed down from my Mom and Grandma's. The enjoyment of seeing the smile on people’s faces when they receive flowers is the most amazing feeling. I have been in the industry for 30 years and I feel very passionate about my business. I still get giddy when the seasons change and the different varieties of flowers emerge. I love colour, texture and playing with new ideas and sharing that with others.
TFV: Your flower farm is beautiful; tell us a bit about it?
AM: Well we have only just started. The flower farm is at its infancy. John and I purchased the property with my brother Ron and mom Judy. I have dreamed of growing flowers for years and having a family that works together has allowed this dream to begin. We are working on a five year plan and this is our second year of growing. Our plan is to hold 1–3 day workshops, possibly hosting small events and growing to sell in bulk to florists and event companies.
TFV: How did you get into gardening and floral arranging?
AM: Gardening has been passed down from my Mom that was passed down from her Mom. My Dad’s Mom was also an avid gardener that always had a cutting garden. As for becoming a florist, I needed a job and a friend of a friend needed a designer. I was trained by a very talented designer for two weeks and as they say, the rest is history. Once I knew that I loved this job I started doing workshops to teach me all of the techniques and mechanics and design styles. I still do workshops especially if there is a European Designer teaching.
TFV: What has been your biggest learning’s as a business owner in this industry?
AM: The learning curve is large. I would say a few of my biggest learning curves have been working with and mentoring creative people, learning how to purchase appropriately (perishable product) and making sure we are fulfilling the needs of our clients.
TFV: What’s the most interesting floral piece you’ve created? Tell us about it.
AM: There are so many to choose from, but one of the more recent pieces was using a live model with extremely long hair that we worked into branches. My vision was to create an artistic version of a tree. It was for the Fall Opening of The Reach Art Gallery in 2016. The theme was based on surrealist artist Hieronymus Bosch’s piece called, "The Garden of Earthly Delights". I wove branches and berries, wool and flowers in fall tones throughout the branches of hair. Jen stood up on a pedestal and moved and poised in treelike fashion. My idea in my head had become real.
TFV: During our visit, you mentioned moving and downsizing into the storefront you have in Downtown Abbotsford. Could you tell us why you would never look back?
AM: We have the perfect space and location. The vibrancy that is all around us in Downtown Abby, has made this our forever home. We love all of the other businesses and their owners that surround us. The clients are so excited with the transformation of this area and the excitement is contagious. It reminds me a little bit of my trip through the streets of Paris, as it is starting to have a more European feel.
TFV: What motivates and inspires you?
AM: Nature, People, Life.
TFV: Pink or orange? Coffee or tea? Shoes or barefoot?
AM: Orange, Coffee, Barefoot.
TFV: What would you tell yourself 20 years ago that you wish you knew then?
AM: Work smarter, not harder and go to Europe to work with a Master Designer. Once children arrive that goes on the back burner.
TFV: You have a few cats that were wandering about during the shoot. What are their names?
AM: Gus, Levi and Stanley.
TFV: What is your favourite thing about living in the Fraser Valley?
AM: The beauty, agriculture and close proximity to Vancouver.
TFV: Where do you find your retreat in the Fraser Valley?
AM: On my deck overlooking the fields and mountains.
TFV: If you were a destination, where would you be?
AM: Overlooking the ocean on the Sunshine Coast.
TFV: One thing you would tell first time visitors to the Valley?
AM: During certain times of the year you may have to put Vick’s under your nose. Also, take in the beauty. I am always wowed when I come over the hill at Mt Lehman on a clear day to the view of Mt Baker. Breathtaking!!
During our time in the core of the flower rows, we captured Alexis as she carefully selected flowers for an arrangement. Watching Alexis's creativity play out as she cut each flower, then strategically place it into her bouquet, reminded us of what amazing artists florists are and how she is truly a master of her craft. After wowing our community with the flower wall she recently created for Yes Chef's opening, we are eagerly waiting to see the masterpiece she'll create next!