From Sweden to Gunnedah, how Tove Sparkes realised her dream to open Stockholm Florist in regional NSW.

Tove Sparkes did not imagine her love of flowers flourishing in a small town in Australia when she was studying floristry in Sweden.

She was born into an artistic family – her father was a photographer and her mother was an occupational therapist who used art to help people.

“I wondered what I would do after school,” Tove says, “both my parents were arty and I loved the flowers in my grandparents’ garden, so at 18, I went away to floristry school.”

In Sweden, Tove says, floristry is recognised as an artisan profession, and she completed a four-and-a-half year floristry course, later earning a Masters in Floristry when she became eligible after working as a florist for 10 years.

But, while playing rugby in 1998, she met Australian Matt Sparkes at the local rugby club, and a new adventure blossomed. Tove’s first visit to Australia was a backpacking trip to coincide with the 2000 Olympics.

In 2006, she joined Matt, who works in the mining industry, permanently in Australia. They lived in Nanango near Kingaroy in Queensland, a life Tove found to be very different from the one she had left behind. She worked as a florist in Kingaroy.

Then, nine years ago, her husband’s work brought Tove and Matt and their two girls Siri and Elsa to Gunnedah in New South Wales. After only about six months, Tove realised her dream of opening a florist shop in Australia, and Stockholm Florist became part of Gunnedah.

Then, three years ago, Stockholm Florist moved into the beautiful space off Gunnedah’s Conadilly Street that has become known as Gunnedah Grounds. The florist is located in a tiny, picturesque brick building bursting with not only flowers, but interesting pots, vases, dried flower arrangements, plants and a beautiful assortment of interesting things.

"It is a place for people to come and chat and find some inspiration."

“I want this to be a happy place,” Tove says. “It is a place for people to come and chat and find some inspiration. There is a relaxed atmosphere, and you can come and learn something and have fun together.”

Workshops have proven popular, with Tove often weaving in some of the region’s beautiful wildflowers to creations, instead of the more traditional gerberas or lilies.

“I want to open people’s eyes to how amazing nature is here,” she says. “I would like people to look at this as an artform.”

Tove is also in demand for weddings and other occasions, getting a feel for what the client likes, and then creating something unique. No two weddings, anniversaries, or birthdays are the same. She likes to be forever learning, taking ideas from new trends and changing with the seasons.

{words & photography: Marie Low- Two Cats Creative}