Meet the colourful, energetic, sustainable florist of Newcastle
Flowers aren’t quite what they used to be, now we see all kinds of colours, arrangements, sizes, shapes; anything goes in the world of floral design now. But one local business in particular has caught our eye, with her bold creations, exciting local projects and forever booming personality.
We just had to catch up with the local self-confessed flower lover, floral designer, and the all-round beautiful human, to hear about how her brand came to be, where she pulls her inspiration from and of course, where to get your hands on her beautiful Valentine’s Day florals!
Meet Rachael Cullen of Botanica Bird – creator of the most playful floral arrangements in town.
Originally from Mudgee, the bubbly energy Rachael emanates has seen her in the creative industries since day dot including pursuing a degree in Creative Arts, a dabbling in botanical illustrations, and of course, floristry.
“I went overseas and continued drawing. I would just 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.
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.”
The Botanica Bird style is sure to catch the 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!”
Whilst 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 three 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 to do that.
“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.”
Botanica Bird has also hit the three-year mark 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 on 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.”
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 last year 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. The Valentine’s one was with Shan Rose Photography last year 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.”
Now, to the little bit we’re all excited for – Botanica Bird’s Valentine’s Day collection! Explore the three creations to choose from (all with a little cheeky touch) as well as a special collaboration with Pleasure & Peach and Yū Non-Toxic.
You make me Blush
For those looking for something sweet and tender. Featuring local and Australian grown blooms in pastel tones of white, ivory, pink, and blush.
More Info: click here
I Ap-peach-iate You
A creation for those looking to get a lil cheeky and up to mischief. Featuring local and Australian grown blooms in shades of peach, latte, magenta, and red.
More Info: click here
Dinner & a Mauve-ie
For those looking for something a little more mysterious, romantic, and desirable. Featuring local and Australian grown blooms in tones of mauve, purple and darker undertones of plum and burgundy.
More Info: click here
Valentine’s Day Collaboration Packages
This Valentine’s Day, Botanica Bird has teamed up with two inspiring Newcastle businesses; Pleasure & Peach and Yū Non-Toxic Nail Salon. Together, the trio has created the ultimate Valentine’s day packages perfect to gift a lover, to your best friend, or even to yourself!
More Info: click here
If you’re a little unorganised and miss the cut-off date for ordering a pre-purchased bunch of Botanica Bird flowers, don’t fret! Botanica Bird will be popping up at the much-loved homewares store in Wickham, House of Lita, over the Valentine’s Day weekend. Or if it’s dried blooms you’re after, drop into Yū Non-Toxic, House of Lita, Sorella Salon, or Villa Lane any day of the week at any time of the year to pick up an everlasting Botanica Bird arrangement.
We’re rather excited to see what else Rachael from Botanica Bird gets up to over the coming months and years. Whether it’s a new interactive installation across Newcastle, the launch of exciting new styles of flower bunches, a creative exhibition with local like-minded creatives, or anything in between; we’d recommend keeping an eye on one of Newcastle’s most inspiring creative florists – Botanica Bird.