Philip Hammond, the youngest Head Florist ever to dress The Dorchester, is clearly in his element. The Promenade welcomes guests to afternoon tea with magnificent statement displays in vast floral urns and groups of tables interspersed with luxurious table arrangements. A Flower Market College Day alumnus, New Covent Garden Market is proud to claim him as one of their own!
Phil has worked with flowers since the age of 14. Every Saturday he worked from 9am until 3pm earning £20 for cleaning vases, conditioning flowers and washing the buckets. He watched and learnt and for the first two years was allowed no contact with the flowers. “It was useful experience, because I know that I am not asking my team to do anything that I have not done myself,” says Phil. By the time he was 17, Phil realised that A levels were not for him and applied to study floristry, only to find there were no spaces. He literally begged the college for a place and when someone dropped out, Phil dropped in. He worked his way through City & Guilds Levels 2, 3 and 4 and by the age of 22 was managing a busy shop in Guildford.
Dressing the Dorchester
It was in 2010 that a friend spotted the position of assistant Head Florist at The Dorchester hotel in London, one of the world’s most iconic luxury hotels. He was interviewed and appointed Team Leader and within two weeks he was in post with a team of 6 full-time florists plus freelancers and porters. At The Dorchester, every member of staff is an ambassador for the hotel. “I am not just a florist but a hotelier and part of the wider team,” says Phil. And there are flowers throughout this most exclusive of hotels, from the drama of The Promenade, where Phil picks out delicate shades of soft pastel pinks and greens of the décor, to the flower boutique, The Florist at The Dorchester, and the bespoke arrangements for hotel guests. Phil also decorates weddings and events in The Dorchester’s ballrooms and outside the hotel.
“In the world of luxury hotels, no is not an option!” says Phil. “I can get a text at 11pm at night and the client will expect the flowers for 10am. We have built our name on doing the best with just 4 hours’ notice. My college training has been invaluable. It means that I have the underpinning knowledge to be able to create floristry in whatever style the client desires.”
A Market to Match
“Without Peter, or without the Market, I would not be able to do my job,” says Phil Hammond of his Flower Market wholesaler, Peter Green of Smith & Green. “Smith & Green are plant hunters – they make it happen. Peter has worked with the Dorchester for 10 to 12 years and he is our sole supplier.”
Smith & Green specialise in working with high-end clients such as London’s luxury hotels and the Royal palaces, and were appointed Royal Warrant Holders to Her Majesty the Queen in 2012. Peter works as their personal shopper, consolidating orders for flowers and foliage from the wholesalers in the Market.
"I’m pretty demanding and expect the best, because that is what our guests are entitled to expect,” explains Phil. “80% of my stock is pre-ordered and the remaining 20% are client orders. I do my research, have a look around the Market at what’s looking good and send my lists to Smith & Green. I trust Peter to send me a seasonal selection every week suitable for hand-ties. I love to use British flowers in peak season. Pratley are outstanding for British cut flowers that last, which is important in a warm hotel environment, and Foliage Row is a wonderful place for picking out the best of seasonal British foliage.”