Rose petals are found scattered on the footpath as you approach a window of lavish delight, leading you in to Moray Place’s Estelle Flowers. Jolene Wilkinson’s boutique flower shop is renowned for it’s beautiful window displays; perfectly styled with vintage table wear, carefully curated vases of every shape, size and style imaginable; pebbles, shells and branches strewn throughout. Each detail is delicately arranged by Jolene, a self-taught florist who began the business from her home, working there for three years before moving into the charming upper Moray quarter.
Inside Estelle Flowers you find a world of wonder, with an array of ever changing flowers that make you want to reach out and touch them as you revel in the many colours, shapes and textures of the blooms on offer. This is not so much a store as it is a workshop; a creative studio. The off cuts of Jolene’s creations are strewn upon the floor where they fell as she nips and cuts to achieve the perfect balance of a bouquet she is working on.
Perched precariously on shelves are the many bowls, vases, and accessories she uses to display her creations, many of them unique vintage finds Jolene has collected over the years. Dozens of vintage floral prints overflow on a wall, with more waiting on the floor to be hung. The allure of using vintage style has grown from the beauty Jolene creates between two opposing elements. “Flowers are fresh and alive, and vintage has history and soul,” Jolene explains to me, “you need that depth between them.” Jolene perfectly pairs the two and infuses her creations with the narrative they develop.
Estelle Flowers reflects Jolene’s 12 years experience in floristry as well as studies in aromatherapy and botanical medicine. She spent a year living and working as a florist in Paris, a time when Jolene feels she really developed and refined her talent. In Paris Jolene established her own clientele who would often request their very own ‘bouquet Jolene SVP’. For Jolene it’s difficult to compare Paris to Dunedin, “everyday in Paris was exciting,” she reminisces, “it was an area of the rich and famous.” But While Parisian life has continued to influence Jolene’s career, Dunedin has well exceeded France in terms of her personal success.
Being able to do your own thing is a gratifying experience for creatives and for Jolene this is inherent to her success; “I like being self-employed. Artists have to be self-employed because you can’t be told what to do, you just know.” A sentiment many would agree with and a long echoed opinion of why Dunedin foster’s so many creative talents. It’s not just Dunedin, but Moray Place in particular that Jolene loves. “When I thought that I wanted a shop, I looked in Moray Place. This is the only place in Dunedin that I wanted to be; the only place I could see myself in before I even got here.” Moray Place has a vibe that is hard to find elsewhere and impossible to replicate, it’s a street buzzing with a community of fashion designers, jewellers and artists.
The life of Estelle Flower’s stems solely from Jolene, her passion and refined approach to her craft is what makes this place so unique. The art of Jolene’s arrangements are in their organic simplicity. Using seasonal offerings is the heart of this, as well as the unique touches Jolene adds with seedpods, autumnal leaves, moss and succulents that she collects herself from nature. The result is eloquent bouquets, posies and settings that despite the careful planning and arranging seem utterly natural.
This is why Jolene is one of Dunedin’s favourite florists, if you have not yet visited her, you’ll definitely know her work. Jolene is approached by many of Dunedin’s locals to add the final flourishes to special occasions. You’ll find her work in shops, fashion photo shoots, on runway models, bridal parties, and even the hands of royalty.
If you’re in the neighbourhood, look out for the pair of cast iron golden garden chairs that sit outside Estelle Flowers, perhaps with a few posies for sale, a bundle of dried flowers offered free to passers by, or you might find Jolene taking a well deserved break with her neighbour and a cup of tea.
Submitted by Megan Bond.
26 Moray Place