Skilled florists Joy Skinner and Diana Lock are the talents behind the stunning floral fireworks in and around The Acorn Inn. Between them, they have over a century’s experience in picking out the ideal blooms for any given setting. From the seasonal outdoor flowerpots to the spectacular table centrepieces, their bouquets enhance the Hardy-era coaching inn’s atmosphere with vibrant sprays reminiscent of an English country garden. Here, we talk to the duo about their creative process and how to create the quintessentially British floral arrangement.
Joy and Diana’s arranging
Both Joy and Diana became interested in floristry from a young age. Joy tells us, “As a child, I used to stop at the side of the road to pick bluebells. My mother used to tell me off—she didn’t like stopping there!” Diana, in a similar if not more encouraged fashion, was inspired by her grandmother’s skill at flower arrangements. With such a long, storied experience, they’ve seen the art develop over the last 80 years. They both agree that “flower arrangements have become less formal and more natural over the years.”
The duo has developed a collection of favourite British blooms that they try to embrace in every collection. For Joy, this includes the five-petaled hellebore, colour-popping ranunculus and delicate waxflower shrub; for Diana, it’s the shy lily of the valley, iconic rose and phoenix-like alstroemeria. Both Joy and Diana use these local favourites to great effect in their extravagant Christmas and pedestal arrangements.
The Acorn Inn’s decoration
In decorating The Acorn Inn, Joy and Diana always prioritise blooms from the surrounding area. “Local florals are important for variety. We use ivy fronds from the pub car park and we collect foxgloves from Summer Lane around the corner. We also use local spindle berry, wildflowers, old man’s beard and cow parsley, which all complement The Acorn Inn’s classic Dorset aesthetic.” In addition, Joy and Diana contribute flowers from their own gardens. “I have an abundance of roses, hellebores and greenery which I pick each week for arrangements at The Acorn Inn,” Diana tell us. Joy’s garden, on the other hand, “is a cottage style garden that provides the peonies, euphorbia and hellebores.”
Every flower arrangement, no matter how large or small, needs to be built up and layered flower by flower. With so many shapes and colours to choose from, finding a balance between different varieties while maintaining arrangement structure can be a daunting challenge. Diana and Joy prefer to build the framework first and then continue to fill in the spaces until they’re satisfied with the finished bouquet. Joy advises, “Don’t be afraid to take off spare greenery and to recess.” Meanwhile, for Diana, “if you’re happy with your arrangement, don’t worry about anything else. For shape, use either an oasis, which is a green foam structure you push stems into, or crushed wire, which we’ve started using to help the environment.”
Admire Joy and Diana’s colourful handiwork throughout the Dorset interiors of Red Carnation Hotels’ The Acorn Inn, either at the table or in your beautifully appointed room.