Have a seat with...

Saskia Marjoram

Former assistant florist to the Prince of Wales and professional gardener for more than three decades—with Prince Michael of Kent among her most notable clients—Saskia Marjoram is the creative, botanical talent behind Saskia’s Flower Essences, a thriving business which first took root in 2003. 

We cover plenty of flower-filled ground in today’s Have a Seat With; from Saskia’s brushes with royalty and the origins of her flower essence company. Dive in, and have a read!

Saskia Marjoram

Hi Saskia, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today!

Thank you for having me!

Your career has taken many interesting and wonderful turns; from royal gardener and florist to your delightful flower essence company. There seems to be a running theme! When did you first discover your affinity with nature and flowers in particular?

Looking back, I was always a flower person. As a child, I was always asking the names of the flowers, pressing them and making ‘potions’, but it was only when I started gardening as a job in my early 20s—kind of by accident—that I realised I loved working and being with flowers. It was my ‘thing’ and it has been ever since on different levels. Nothing else quite does it for me.

Can you tell me about the origins of Saskia’s Flower Essences? Did it begin as a hobby—an offshoot of your gardening endeavours—or was the idea of turning it into a business always the plan?

Having a business making and selling flower essences was definitely not our plan. A friend and I discovered how effective they were for ourselves and struggling children, and discovered that they are actually very easy to make. So, we thought we’d give it a go. Once we found out that our essences were as effective, if not more, than the ones we could buy, we were hooked. Soon we had a whole collection of essences that we were drawn to make. It became clear that we couldn’t continue giving them out for free, so thought we better start selling them! That was 20 years ago now, and I had no idea that this would become my life’s calling.

For anyone who wouldn't know where to begin when it comes to flower essences, can you explain the process behind how they’re made, and what advice or recommendations would you offer to someone looking to give them a go? Should we all be using flower essences?

Well, we definitely should all be using essences—they are so safe and effective and can be used for all sorts of emotional and behavioural issues. You name it, and there will be an essence that can help. 

Flower essences (aka Flower Remedies—think Rescue Remedy) contain the energy of the plant they are from. This energy is collected by floating flowers in spring water and then fixing the vibration of that plant between the water molecules with alcohol so that the energy is held there permanently  This liquid is then diluted down to a frequency we can respond to and is usually taken as drops under the tongue.

Many people find the concept of vibrations changing how we feel difficult to get their heads around, but we have no problem with the concept of music changing how we feel or of digital information being transported by radio waves. Also, people who spend their time around plants will know that just being around them changes how we feel.

If you haven’t used essences before, I would recommend you start with an essence blend which is easier to choose and aimed at specific issues such as anxiety, sleeplessness, worry, self-confidence, low mood, procrastination, and then, once you have shifted the most pressing problem, you can then use specific ones to shift old entrenched patterns that no longer serve you.

Saskia Marjoram in the garden

"As a child, I was always asking the names of the flowers, pressing them and making ‘potions’,"

What does a normal working day look like for you?

These days I have a shop in Wincanton, so in the mornings I am there packing online orders, replying to emails, social media, marketing, and talking to customers. In the afternoons, I see clients for one-to-one consultations where I make up personal blends for people… and if there’s time, and I’m in the right mood, there’s always bottling to be done.

As essences are vibrational, it is crucial to me that our essences are bottled by hand and with intention. So being in the wrong mood means that bottling can’t be done!

Can you tell me a little bit about your experiences working as a gardener for HRH Prince Michael of Kent? 

That was my first proper job, which I blagged my way into as my mother said I had to get a job or move out! How hard could gardening be, I thought. I could walk up through the woods to Nether Lypiatt Manor from her house. I soon picked up the basics and, as it was their weekend residence, they were rarely there. So the other gardener and I had the place pretty much to ourselves! Being on top of the hill it felt like our own little kingdom. 

Lots of the walled garden was designed by Rosemary Verey who lived locally and, of course, she famously designed lots of the garden at Highgrove. In later life, I became very good friends with her daughter, so I feel a strong connection with her style of garden design. Being the first garden I worked in, I have very fond memories of my time there. In the summer, there were so many roses, that I used to arrange for the house and discovered that I had a love for flower arranging, too!

Sticking with your royal connections if you don’t mind! The King’s coronation is not long behind us. As the former florist of Prince Charles—as he was known at the time—can you confirm that his favourite flower is Delphinium 'Mighty Atom'? And can you reveal anything else about the King’s flower preferences?

As a florist, I was often asked what my favourite flower was, and all plant people know that one's favourite flower or plant changes with the seasons—or even daily! To be honest, I never knew the King had a particular favourite flower… but we certainly put vases full of delphiniums in the house when they were in season.

With regards to preferences...obviously, he has a love for naturally-grown English flowers, and when Charles married Camilla, I was honoured to be asked to make his and the boys' buttonholes from hellebores from the garden. And in the summer, he always wore a blue cornflower in his lapel, so we had to make sure there were always those available.

Saskia Marjoram in a tree

"When Charles married Camilla, I was honoured to be asked to make his and the boys' buttonholes from hellebores from the garden."

How does one become the florist for the Prince of Wales? Was there an interview process?

I was actually only the assistant florist and got the job because a friend of mine knew the newly-appointed florist at Highgrove, who quickly realised she couldn’t do the job of state banquets, events and house flowers all on her own. So once she heard I was looking for more floristry experience, asked me to come along for an interview.

I was keen to learn, practical, hard-working and have a good eye for colour, so was given a trial run which ran into nearly a decade on and off! I’m not certain that’s how it usually works, and that was a long time ago now in 1999. I’m sure things have changed.

What is your idea of a perfect day off? How do you like to relax?

Luckily, I love my ‘work’ so much that I never really feel like I need time off. Being able to take essences means that I can manage any stress that comes along.

But the perfect day off for me is to drive to the coast, walk along a beach and eat lunch somewhere delicious—that, or go walking somewhere else wild in nature. Forests, moors or lakes where the plants are uncontrolled by man.  

What is your favourite garden in the world?

My own! :)  For the first time ever, I have a garden that is all my own; somewhere I can plant whatever I like without considering other people. ‘Weeds’ are welcome, and I don’t have to pull up things that have decided where they want to grow. It’s an ever-evolving space where the plants make me feel welcome and we work together to create something that pleases me (and them hopefully!)

As a professional gardener, I always had to consider other people’s tastes and the spaces never completely felt like mine. Visiting other people’s gardens for pleasure often feels like a busman’s holiday or research. Saying that, I do love The Chelsea Physic Garden–mostly because of the history of all the plant hunters docking there and bringing new plants from around the world. It feels so tangible and most of the plants growing there are medicinal, and I love learning about their physical uses as well as their energetic ones.

What’s next, Saskia?

Usually, I don’t have an answer for this question as the business pretty much has a life of its own and I go where it leads. However, this year, I am going to bring out a range of essences marketed towards men. All flower essences are for everyone, but I’m very aware that men need more persuading to take essences than women (only about 10% of our orders are sent directly to men). 

So this range will address issues that men in particular are struggling with in these strange times we find ourselves in. As the mother of two adult sons, and having spent a lot of time in the company of men, I’m very excited about the potential of helping men with essences for their mental wellbeing and challenging times.

Thanks, Saskia. It’s been great!

The Sitting Spiritually 'Have a Seat With' series takes a look behind the scenes at how we switch off from the bustling modern-day lifestyle. We speak to people of all sorts of backgrounds and lifestyles around the country as we seek to explore the different ways of relaxing and just taking a moment.

Posted by Siobhan on May 15th 2023

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