May 23, 2014
In a constant state of awe, florist & founder of Mary Lennox Ruby Barber has an eye for the beauty behind every little corner in the streets of Berlin: “I nearly crash my car or fall off my bike at least once a day, distracted by something beautiful growing on the side of the road.”
All I knew about Berlin before I came here two years ago was that people liked to sleep in and go out late. This is unfortunately the exact opposite of my schedule: I wake up at 4am and go to the flower market, and by 10pm most nights I’m exhausted, so I really had no idea what I was going to like about living here—if anything at all! It turns out that this city is very enchanting for a florist. Of course I immediately fell in love with the grand parks and the botanical gardens, but most of all I love the un-manicured beauty of the overgrown gardens, the abandoned lots and the small green spaces that seem to be lurking around every corner. I decided to stay indefinitely and re-open my flower studio, Mary Lennox, here in Berlin.
It’s so easy to talk about why I love Berlin in the Spring months. I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia where the weather is predominantly warm and the change of seasons is unremarkable.
In Sydney you can get good, locally-grown flowers all year round and in the dead of winter most trees are still green. Witnessing the seasons in Berlin, particularly Winter to Spring, has changed me forever. Berlin showcases Spring so beautifully. Almost every single spot in the city has its moment; first it’s the blossom, then the magnolias, the lilac, the tulips, the chestnut trees, the roses!!! I nearly crash my car or fall off my bike at least once a day, distracted by something beautiful growing on the side of the road.
Until I moved here, I had only seen my favourite flowers for sale—cut—at the market. Occasionally I would visit a flower farm and it would blow me away. In Berlin I get that feeling every time I walk down a new street. I feel so much more in touch with the produce here, I know what’s in season because I see it as soon as I leave my house. My apartment’s closest playground has a dog wood tree, lilac bushes, roses, cherry and apple trees and quince bushes. For an Australian florist, this is extraordinary! The whole city carries a soft scent and all I want to do is be outside walking around, mapping out where my favourite things are growing. I am a passionate advocate for locally grown flowers and Berlin presents a unique opportunity to encourage the use of more sustainable flowers in a market that is flooded with imports (any berlin-based flower growers out there looking to sell their produce, email me – I’ll take it!)
The winter months are obviously challenging but I am lucky enough to have a second home in Sydney and Summer wedding work there, so my time with winter is fairly brief. Also, the short break from the sensory overload in the spring, summer and autumn can be a humbling experience and it gives me some time to reflect and anticipate what will happen next.