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Candide Personality of the Week: Carolyn Dunster

CandideUK
Published on May 18th 2021
7

by Helen_Allsebrook. All rights reserved

A close up of a flower
Carolyn Dunster is a botanical stylist, planting designer and garden writer. She trained at the Inchbald School of Garden Design and creates planting schemes for small urban plots. She grows as many flowers as possible in her own tiny garden in north London, which she uses in her cut flower work. In her first book Urban Flowers, published by Frances Lincoln in 2017, she shows readers how to do this themselves.
Regularly working with the RHS, Carolyn staged a small cutting garden at Hampton Court Flower Show in 2016. That year, she won a silver medal and the RHS People’s Choice award. Following the launch of her new book Cut & Dry, just published by Laurence King, she'll speak about how to grow flowers for cutting and drying.
You can buy her new book here! Find out more about Carolyn on Instagram (@carolynrdunster).
A vase of flowers on a table
Pictured: Carolyn's new book.

1. What first propelled you into cultivating plants?

I had a bit of a wake-up call when I started working as a florist. I realised that lots of the flowers I loved to work with were imported commodities and had travelled halfway across the world in cold storage before they reached my hands. I decided to reduce my carbon footprint and start growing my own.
A close up of a flower garden in front of a house
Pictured: Carolyn's garden -- photo credit: Sarah Cuttle

2. Describe your gardening style in 3 words.

Wild, loose and free – as much as it can be in a small city space.

A vase with a purple flower
© Ida Riveros -- Images taken from CUT & DRY: The Modern Guide to Dried Flowers from Growing to Styling by Carolyn Dunster, published by Laurence King at £17.99

3. What is your favourite gardening memory, moment or triumph?

My favourite gardening memory is winning the RHS People’s Choice Award for staging a cut flower garden at Hampton Court Flower Show – the most stressful but most rewarding thing I have done professionally. It raised awareness for the charity I was working for and led to my first book deal.
A group of pink flowers on a display

4. We know that when it comes to helping the environment, small actions can make a big difference! Do you have an eco-friendly gardening tip you’d like to share with our readers and us?

My eco-gardening tip is to grow some annual flowers – if you fill a tiny space with lots of colourful plants, you will change your environment. Flowers attract insects, insects attract birds and other wildlife, and you can quickly transform a dull, empty space into something beautiful and alive with just a few pots and a packet of seeds.
Plants on a wooden cuttingboard
© Ida Riveros -- Images taken from CUT & DRY: The Modern Guide to Dried Flowers from Growing to Styling by Carolyn Dunster, published by Laurence King at £17.99

5. What’s the next plant, accessory, tool or gadget on your wishlist?

Top of my wishlist is a greenhouse – every windowsill in my house is currently lined with trays of seedlings. It would be nice to be able to nurture them in their own separate space.
A close up of a tree
© Ida Riveros -- Images taken from CUT & DRY: The Modern Guide to Dried Flowers from Growing to Styling by Carolyn Dunster, published by Laurence King at £17.99

6. What's your favourite nifty gardening tip or plant fact?

My gardening tip is to save your seed. Firstly, as flowers go over, allow the seed head to form. There are many beautiful seed heads, including Nigella, Poppies and Honesty, worth keeping and drying for indoor displays. You can then collect the seed from the flower heads and sow them in the next season!

Poppy

Papaver spp.

Honesty

Lunaria spp.

Love-in-a-Mist

Nigella spp.

7. If you could choose any holiday destination to visit right now, where would it be?

I’m dreaming of going on holiday to Greece – specifically the island of Tinos. It was the inspiration for my new book, Cut & Dry – everywhere you go, there are displays of dried wildflowers.
Plants hung up on string
© Ida Riveros -- Images taken from CUT & DRY: The Modern Guide to Dried Flowers from Growing to Styling by Carolyn Dunster, published by Laurence King at £17.99

8. If you had to choose, what would be your top 3 gardening essentials?

My gardening essentials are a pair of cutters, a pair of secateurs and a pair of flower snips. I keep a pair of secateurs in my handbag.
Shop flowers perfect for cutting in our collection!

You can find out more about Carolyn and what she does on her Instagram.

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