Mistletoe Maker: Florist extraordinaire Gemma Hayden Blest on Christmas decor

Gemma Hayden Blest has been a part of making Hong Kong beautiful for nearly seven years now. Hailing from the UK, the floral designer built up a not-too-shabby resume working under brands such as Alexander McQueen and Burberry before finding her true passion – flowers. We took a stroll with Gemma down the streets of Central, and had the floral connoisseur give us tips on how to make our Christmas budding with beauty.

Flowers GHB

Gemma Hayden Blest

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work…

I work as a floral designer. My work ranges from events to shop installations to editorial. I specialise in communicating ideas through flower power, creating a mood or ambiance through flora or using them to help create a concept.

You studied fashion design; so, at what point did you know you could use that experience and expertise to channel it into floral designs and arrangements?

I love fashion and a huge amount of what I do stems from my fashion background. I think I found the lag times in fashion frustrating and prefer the speed that’s required for flowers. They have to be designed, created and enjoyed in the moment.

Gemma Hayden Blest
Arrangements by Gemma Hayden Blest

Since the holidays are typically a time of indulgence, can you give us suggestions on how to incorporate eco-friendly arrangements in decoration?

Definitely. There is no need to be excessively plastic with your designing. Invest in good-quality products that can be stored each year. The beauty in flowers is that it’s so easy to make a set of vases of candle holders look completely different each year. Pine, berries and eucalyptus are pretty long-lasting, so a few sprigs can last a few weeks.

How do holiday arrangements in Asia differ from say the UK, where you’re from?

We’re lucky to live in HK where imports are easy to get. I struggle with the loss of scent though. Boxed-up goods just never smell like freshly cut pine from the garden. I tend to give imports a helping hand with scented candles or room mist. Jo Malone does a beautiful Pine & Eucalyptus candle that helps bring back the aroma.

Gemma Hayden Blest
Arrangements by Gemma Hayden Blest

What flower is the most popular around Christmas time with your clients, and what is your personal favourite?

The Queen Amaryllis is always a popular favourite. Grand and colourful, there’s also a lovely anticipation in waiting for the bulbs to bloom that reflects the anticipation of waiting for Christmas day to arrive.

What tips can you give our readers about Christmas decorations?

A running element throughout your home will hold everything together – maybe it’s a type of ribbon or floral element or focal colour. Also a wreath on your front door sets a lovely welcoming tone for what’s inside.

Thank you.

Interview by: Bailey Atkinson
Image courtesy: Gemma Hayden Blest