A rose by any other name: The Dorchester celebrates Valentine’s Day with a new designer rose

Florist at The Dorchester opened in January with a new designer rose by Philip Hammond

The Dorchester is well known for its signature scents and impressive lobby arrangements, but now the luxury Park Lane hotel has taken its floral focus one step further with the launch of 'The Dorchester Rose' – a new designer flower variety created by Meijer Roses and in-house designer florist Philip Hammond – and Florist at The Dorchester

Led by Hammond, the concept store will sell signature and bespoke bouquets to guests, including bouquets featuring the signature rose. Meijer Roses took seven years to create the new variety, which is based on their popular Avalanche series and features a pale blush colouring.

The rose will be showcased throughout the year, with an average 50,000 stems used through public areas, rooms and suites, as well as private parties and weddings held at The Dorchester. Here Hammond, who launched Florist at The Dorchester on 20 January, tells Tempus why the language of flowers is still in bloom this Valentine's Day… 

Philip, please tell us about your background as a florist?
My career started 18 years ago at the age of 14, when I worked at a designer flower shop in my home town of Guildford in Surrey. I worked there while studying for my A-Levels, but decided to take a different direction and turn my passion for flowers into a career path. I enrolled in Merrist Wood College to study floristry for four years and achieved the certification required to work full time in the industry. 
Following my studies I worked at an independent florist boutique, but got my big break when I interviewed to be a florist at The Dorchester at the age of 22. During my interview for the job I was lucky enough to get a tour of the hotel, which included the Penthouse suite, and I completely fell in love. I remember instantly thinking the floristry throughout the hotel was really something special, and I was not leaving without getting that job.

Why do you enjoy working with The Dorchester?
Not only do I enjoy working with my immediate team, who are the best in the business, but I also love the creativity of my role, seeing how our guests respond to the creations we make throughout the hotel and now in our new boutique store. We have the largest flower arrangements in any hotel in London, which means we also have the biggest team of in-house florists in the UK. >>

Related: Take Valentine's Day to the next level with Le Clarence chef Christophe Pelé's Michelin-star recipes

Why did it take seven years to create The Dorchester Rose?
This exciting project has been a long time coming but well worth the wait. The research and development team at Meijer Roses tested various blends of their popular ‘Avalanche’ varieties in order to achieve the desired characteristic we were looking for.
This specially selected rose is blousy in composition and has a pale blush colouring, with the pink tone gaining more colour as the rose gradually opens up. When you see it against the backdrop of The Dorchester, you really appreciate how it complements our timeless interiors. As we are using this rose so heavily throughout the hotel, including throughout our famous afternoon tea setting in The Promenade, we wanted the scent to be very subtle.

Why is floristry at The Dorchester popular with guests?
For years we've had guests coming to the hotel asking to be taken to a physical space to buy our famous florals, but everything we created previously was within studios behind the scenes. We created this new boutique store as a response to this demand, and have created a space where guests can come and choose individual blooms or pick up specially created bouquets on display. 
I think the importance of giving flowers is becoming more and more prevalent – although I'm not convinced that buyers are choosing blooms because of their Victorian meanings. The message for us is more about how flowers have become part of our history and our legacy, and having our own rose seemed like the next natural step.

What kind of flowers would you recommend for a special occasion? 
Popular flowers for romantic bouquets – perfect for Valentine's Day – include pretty, tied arrangements of scented flowers including hyacinths, lilac, narcissi and mimosa in soft pastel shades, giving a loose romantic look with a nod to Spring and the new beginnings of the year. For Mother’s Day, flowers that have special meaning always go down well; flowers that evoke memories of childhood. I always remember picking daffodils from the garden for my mum on Mother’s Day.

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