A florist to the stars who has created one-of-a-kind arrangements and installations for the likes of Donatella Versace and Lady Gaga, Neill Strain presides over a chic shop in the fashionable Knightsbridge district of London. The striking rose display outside of the Neill Strain Floral Couture shop is part of Strain's annual salute to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show each May. Strain also creates the memorable flower arrangements at a luxurious local hotel, the Park Tower Knightsbridge, near Hyde Park.
Smell As Sweet
British rose impresario David Austin's lush 'Charity' rose is featured in Neill Strain's salute to the rose for the 2015 RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Fragrance is highly valued by Strain's customers, and so Austin's roses, with their intoxicating array of scents, are prized. 'Charity' features a classic rose fragrance.
An unusual rose, the 'Grashopper' grassheart rose is one of the countless exotic varieties sourced directly from a supplier in Holland. "We really focus on the quality of the flowers we use...the freshness and unusual varieties," says Strain.
In his 2015 salute to the rose at Neill Strain Floral Couture, owner Strain featured a curated array of heritage roses like this romantic antique rose.
This antique Bourbon rose dates from 1843 from the rose cultivar Souvenir de la Malmaison and was originally known as the 'Queen of Beauty and Fragrance' and has a strong tea fragrance.
This Caraluna Gold is a rare golden new rose. Strain's discriminating clientele is always in search of the newest, most unusual roses. Lush roses, unusual bicolors and long stemmed roses are especially favored by his clients.
The tea rose 'Pink Sensation' originates in 1959.
In addition to the most cutting edge roses, Neill Strain celebrates the long history of rose breeding in his store, calling out individual heritage roses in his displays such as this tea rose, 'Golden Ophelia' (1918).
This heritage tea rose Tea Rose, 'Madame Caroline Testout' was bred in 1890 by Joseph Pernet-Ducher.
This 'Kaiserin Auguste Victoria' tea rose was bred in 1891 by Peter Lambert.
'Pink Pearl', a hybrid tea rose bred in 1924.
Goodbye Norma Jean
'Norma Jeane', was bred by W. Kordes and Sons in Germany.
Laws of Attraction
A striking rose display outside the Neill Strain shop conveys the rose theme inside. Neill Strain Floral Couture offers ready-to-go bouquets and decorating services to its Knightsbridge and greater London customers, as well as bespoke arrangements for celebrity clients like Kanye West and Lady Gaga, who Strain says love roses and Donatella Versace, a gardenia fan.
A wall of roses greets visitors to Neill Strain in Knightsbridge.
Gorgeous pre-made bouquets are prepared by the Neill Strain staff for drop-in customers.
The British love a fragrant rose and the rare 'Ecstasy' rose at Neill Strain is a knock-out, with an intense perfumed scent.
The shelves at Neill Strain Floral Couture are filled with unique roses of every kind sourced directly from growers in Holland.
A Rose By Any Other Name
Some of the roses at Neill Strain are so new and unique they have yet to be named. For a fee, customers can have a rose named in their honor.
A simple but sexy arrangement, typical of the iconoclastic floral style at Neill Strain Floral Couture.
Ready to Wear
Sumptuous, pre-made bouquets are offered to customers every day at Neill Strain. Born in Northern Ireland, Strain became interested in flowers early on, working in a flower shop at age 14. At 17 he left school to work on set design and special effects for film and TV and continues to draw from filmmakers like Tim Burton and the theater for inspiration. "A lot of people describe my work as being very theatrical," says Strain.
Roses to Light the Way
Roses of every type and color take center stage at Neill Strain Floral Couture. Strain's high-end customers are increasingly interested in the origins of the flowers he offers, much as foodies prefer to know the source of their food. "People don't just want to buy flowers, it's about knowing about the flowers and where they come from," says Strain.