I'm an experienced corporate communicator and editor with an eye for interesting events and an attachment to my trusty Oxford dictionary.
Published February 28th 2014
Flowers, cake, tea, coffee and perfumed serenity
I often wonder about things like who was the first person who decided to pop a fluffy marshmallow into a steaming hot chocolate, or the studio boss who recognised that the dancing talents of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were a match made in heaven, or the breakfast aficionado who was inspired to fry some bacon to accompany the morning eggs. Whoever they were, I'm sure all these pioneers of togetherness must have had a moment where they thought, "These things are just made for each other. Why hasn't someone thought of this before?"
On a recent shopping trip to Paddington we came across one of these original thinkers in the form of florist, Francesca Petherbridge, whose cheery and stylish establishment combines the beauty of flowers and floral art with the palate-pleasing delights of coffee, tea and cake. It was my turn to ask, "Why hasn't someone thought of this before?".
Francesca's Flowers occupies a lovingly restored, smart, grey Queenslander on Latrobe Terrace. It is warm, airy and fresh throughout, from the bougainvillea covered bower at the entrance to the comfy verandah, the flower-filled retail area, the light-filled cafe room, the relaxed workshop room, and the cute-as-a-button children's play space. This is no ordinary florist shop and Francesca is no ordinary florist.
The verandah at Francesca's Flowers. Images taken by writer
When we arrived we were shown in to the lovely cafe room. This is not a traditional cafe, but offers a selection of tea, cake and coffee. The cakes looked divine and my daughter selected the passionfruit butter cake with butter icing and passionfruit curd, while I couldn't go past the chocolate sour cream cake spread with white chocolate ganache and dusted with lilac sugar and silver pearls. Francesca recommended teas to accompany our selections; for me the flavoursome 'Stockholm' blend and 'Morning Flower' for my daughter. We sat on high stools, admiring the stylish design touches in the room, while Francesca prepared our order.
The cakes, supplied by Jocelyn's Provisions, were delightfully dense and moist, and our teas soothing and fragrant.
Francesca herself, just like her establishment, is welcoming and friendly. After our morning tea she showed us around and told us a little about herself. Only four short months ago she took a major leap of faith, giving up her administration career for the unknowns of operating her own business. She hunted for the perfect place and when she discovered it, she even bought some power tools, put together the shelving and completed other fit-out jobs herself.
A qualified florist, she decided that offering cake, tea and coffee would be the perfect extension to her floral design work and would provide an opportunity for visitors to linger in the colourful and fragrant environment.
Francesca has a large, simply but stylishly adorned workshop room where she teaches floral art classes. These range from learning how to make vintage posies or the art of Ikebana to making floral centrepieces or seasonal arrangements. You can check her Facebook page for more information. The 3 hour workshops cost $95 per person, which includes the flowers and equipment, cake and tea or coffee. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
Images taken by writer
The shop is filled with many lovely design touches and carefully arranged colourful vignettes. Francesca also displays art, craft and photographic works by local creatives, and they've found the perfect home in amongst the floral artistry and perfumed atmosphere. She makes gorgeous floral arrangements for any occasion and sells flowers, too. We couldn't resist buying a beautiful bunch of lilies before our departure, and we're going back to select a brightly-coloured apron that we know will brighten up the cooking duties at our place.
Francesca loves the sense of community and belonging that comes from sharing her floral passion, a good cuppa, cake, and the calming, serene ambience. You will love it too.