BB at the Table

Meet the colourful, energetic, sustainable florist of Newcastle

Flowers aren’t quite what they used to be – now, expect to see all kinds of colours, arrangements, sizes, and shapes. Anything goes in the world of floral design!

But one local business in particular has caught our eye with her bold creations, exciting local projects and bubbly personality.

We just had to catch up with the local flower lover, floral designer, and all-round beautiful human behind Botanica Bird to hear about how her brand came to be and where she gets her inspiration from.

Meet Rachael Cullen of Botanica Bird – creator of the most playful floral arrangements in town.

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Originally from Mudgee, Rachael has been involved in the creative industries since day dot, including pursuing a degree in Creative Arts, dabbling in botanical illustrations, and of course, floristry.

“I went overseas and continued drawing. I would be at the park or botanical gardens and spend hours just drawing. When I came back, I didn’t know what I was going to do so I decided I was going to study floristry at Sydney TAFE.

“I had to go to the flower market to get my flowers, whereas at Kurri Kurri they provide the flowers. It gave me that little insight to the flower markets,” Rachael explained.

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Launching in 2016, Botanica Bird really started to bloom when Rachael realised that buying and arranging flowers brought more joy to herself and the people around her than just drawing them. During her time at TAFE, Rachael began posting her creations and soon got herself a reputation for creating florals that were more than the usual ‘pretty’ arrangements we're all used to.

“I had the Botanica Bird Instagram account, and was uploading a lot of my floristry TAFE work and that’s kind of how it came about. Then I had a friend of a friend get married in Mudgee and I did their wedding flowers and it’s just grown from there.”

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The Botanica Bird style is sure to catch your eye with her arrangements stepping away from the usual traditional designs and instead focussing on sculptural and colourful creations.

“My floristry style is sculptural. I focus on colour and tone and when I’m buying the flowers I focus on the form and shapes of the flower. I want to make sure they all look different from one another once they’re in a bundle. Sculptural, colourful, sustainable, and fun!”

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While her signature style is easy to spot, there’s a lot more than just colour and personality to her work. Rachael also is passionate about her approach to sustainability. For almost five years, Botanica Bird has been completely floral foam-free, instead opting to use chicken wire to hold her goods together.

“I started with floral foam in 2016 because that’s all I knew of at the time. Through social media and following other florists they were saying that you can use chicken wire instead, so I had to investigate that myself to try and find out how it worked.

“It was nerve-wracking at the start because you’re trying a new product and trying to figure out how to make it work. I started doing half chicken wire and half foam, but then when my sister was working for me whilst she was pregnant, I didn’t want her working with the floral foam because it’s so bad. Even if it’s wet or dry, you can breathe in those microplastics and they’ll just stay in your lungs.”

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Botanica Bird has also hit almost six years of only utilising local Australian Flower Growers for her arrangements and installations, adding a layer of raw, romantic, wild, and whimsical to her already well-known floral designs.

“I started establishing relationships with local growers and getting a bit of understanding of what the imports have done to their businesses. There have been rose growers that have had to fully shut down or change what they grow. I don’t think I could walk past a local grower that I know with a bunch of imported roses when they have a bucket of perfectly fine local roses. I feel like it’s a bit of a slap in the face to them and I just couldn’t do it.”

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Another element to the Botanica Bird brand is the ever-evolving fun side projects that Rachael has become so well-known for across Newcastle. You might just remember the interactive Valentine’s Day installation that popped up at Newcastle Baths or the scavenger hunt that set people off all around Newcastle trying to get their hands on a bunch of Botanica Bird goods!

“My fun projects are quite spontaneous. I think the majority of the projects are all about getting other creative people together and building those relationships. I did a Valentine’s one with Shan Rose Photography and it was a lot of fun. For the scavenger hunt, we got a whole group of creative women together and it was also just a lot of fun.”

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We’re rather excited to see what else Rachael from Botanica Bird gets up to next. We’d recommend keeping an eye on one of Newcastle’s most inspiring creative florists!