North Norfolk gardener and floral designer Indra Jones grew up with a love for flowers and now gets to work with them. We discover how she uses flowers in a holistic sense and to tell stories – something she is very proud of.

There are few people who are lucky enough to find and continue working in an area they love, from a young age. Indra Jones is one such person, having fallen in love with flowers as a young girl. Originally having set her mind towards art college and with a natural flair for creativity, Indra was devastated when she didn’t get in, despite the encouragement of her schoolteachers at Aylsham High. The school careers advisor suggested she then study horticulture and floristry at Eastern College, which Indra went on to do, discovering a natural talent and confidence for floristry. ‘I’d always adored flowers and used to help my mum in the garden as a child. I got a job working at Swann’s Florists of Aylsham after school and fell in love with it immediately.’ She clearly also had a great deal of independence, resilience and determination, hopping on her bike twice a week with a whole lot of gear, and pedalling from her rural village to catch the bus to Norwich and on to college over the course of five years.

Great British Life: The work of floral designer Indra Jones of Wild Designs. Photo: Sonya DuncanThe work of floral designer Indra Jones of Wild Designs. Photo: Sonya Duncan

With a passion for a wilder style of floristry, Indra’s college teachers weren’t so confident in her innovative style, suggesting she do less of the wild and stick with the more staid, sensible arrangements that were fashionable at the time. She wasn’t put off. ‘I’ve always loved the more natural, wild look.’ After finishing college, and reaching her early 20s, she decided to launch her own business with some help from The Princes Trust as ‘The Natural Florist’. The Trust were keen for her to open a shop, but she stuck to her idea of being mobile and took only the smallest amount of money, even when they offered more. ‘I’d hop in my van and drive to London at the crack of dawn. I was in Covent Garden twice a week, selling out to all the Japanese and Americans, who loved my wilder style.’ Over the next ten years Indra developed a name for herself in both the local and wider community, and soon realised she needed a workshop for her creativity. ‘It was a large shed really and was fantastic. I could hang all my dried flowers and have my aromatherapy alongside it. I love being around scent and incorporating that into my flowers. I’m so inspired by the woodlands and north Norfolk coast – all the smells and the experience. It really helps me come up with new creative ideas. I think I’m a little bit of a trendsetter, but I move on quite quickly when I see everyone else is doing it!’ Indeed, her enduring love of dried flowers (now a huge trend) and using them in a holistic sense is one Indra is very proud of. Bouquets hang upside down around her cosy little workshop, which looks out into dense golden woodland at the foot of her garden in a sleepy idyllic Norfolk village near the coast, where she is regularly visited by the odd inquisitive deer and plenty of pheasants. ‘I love working with dried flowers; seedpods and honesty with trails, tendrils and wispy bits. I include good quality essential oils in them so there’s a fragrance that feels good in the home and lasts from six months to a year.’ Her handmade door garlands (as they’re suitable for any season) are heavenly and completely biodegradable. Using contorted hazel as a base, wild clematis foraged from a woodland nearby, hydrangeas and hops (amongst other things) are woven into wild sprouting romance and scented with deep floral or fruity oils, the perfect statement design for the home or a party, for a wall or door, manor house or tiny cottage. ‘I do a lot of weddings and I grow some of my own produce, sourcing the rest as locally as possible. Most of my brides are people who want something a bit different. I’ve done a lot of everlasting arrangements for weddings, where people get to keep the flowers as a memory. My little dried corsages work brilliantly as a keepsake.’

As well as being a professional gardener and having an ongoing popular presence at all the good local craft fairs, such as Back to the Garden, Erpingham Festival of Arts, and Mannington Hall's Little Vintage Lover Fair, Indra has also done some challenging stage designs, including Lady Windermere’s Fan at the Hostry, Norwich Cathedral, where unperturbed, she (quite literally) climbed to great heights to achieve the desired results.

Great British Life: Floral designer Indra Jones of Wild Designs. Photo: Sonya DuncanFloral designer Indra Jones of Wild Designs. Photo: Sonya Duncan

Indra is keen to do more workshops, inviting people to come along and see how she operates and is interested in taking on an apprentice in the coming year. The door garlands are popular and can be designed to the style desired, whether it’s for a shop front or private home, and some made in early December with moss bases will last until Easter.

Indra’s designs are all about storytelling with nature and given the more conscientious and difficult times we’re in, people want and need this kind of comfort and aesthetic more than ever.

‘It’s like therapy for me and it’s nice to have a smile on your face when you go to work! Hopefully it gives people some happiness as well, through their enjoyment of what I’ve created.’

Favourite flower?

‘It’s probably a bit Victorian but I really love old English roses - the colours are amazing when dried. I also love hydrangeas; fresh anemones and I love zinnias, which are great for cutting and last for ages.’

Has climate change impacted you?

‘Definitely - especially in growing. The seasons have changed, you'll see roses blooming in November now. Last year summer was later, so everything was much later. I try and dry as much as possible and have lots of herbs for the pot pourri I do (with blends of lavender, frankincense, bergamot, neroli) which is great for womens' health as well.’

Favourite view?

It’s got to be looking from East Runton along the coastline towards Cromer Pier. 131490/ Instagram: @indrawilddesigns