Q & A – Samantha Dustingadmin
Local favourites, sharing their insider tips on places and things to do on and around Tamborine Mountain – Your gold coast hinterland!
Samantha Dusting is the owner of Lydia’s Garden, a florist shop inside My Country Escape in Canungra specialising in garden-style bouquets and bespoke weddings.
What inspired you to start your business, and what do you have planned in 2021?
I named my business Lydia’s Garden after my grandma, Lydia Alice. She had a very beautiful and very old Victorian garden, which was surrounded the family farmhouse, it was her grandmothers before she inherited it. We always got a tour of the garden when we visited, were told the names of all the flowers and allowed to pick as many as we liked. She was a passionate gardener and loved sharing her knowledge with my sister Emma and me.
I have been working in the flower industry for the past 13 years and began floristry almost by accident – my friend had a wedding decor and styling business and had booked a wedding at Versace. She was struggling to find a florist to take on the wedding flowers and asked if I would help, having had no experience I quickly booked myself into a floristry school! Together we pulled it off and managed to make a very traditional Sri Lankan wedding absolutely beautiful with masses of flowers, colour and noise. It truly was a baptism of fire! While the majority of my floral work has been weddings, for the past four years I have been working with Michelle Roper-Dennis at My Country Escape in Canungra as a retail florist. It gives me free reign to make the flowers that I love for the shop and thankfully people love to buy them too. I usually come to Tamborine Mountain to pick up my foliage and flowers from the local growers and also to make deliveries; my daughters attend the high school on the mountain so I am frequently visiting – and I have to say:
I cannot wait until the Goat Track is open again!
I have lived in Southeast Queensland since 1986 after moving up from Melbourne with my family. I worked at the ATO for 10 years and took a voluntary redundancy in 1999, which prompted my partner Johnno and I to move from Brisbane to the Scenic Rim to live in Kerry, just outside of Beaudesert. It was the best decision we ever made. We were both working at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, and Duck Creek Road was our daily drive, a very hair-raising and exciting one! We then moved to Canungra in 2002 bought our home, a worker’s cottage, which we have been renovating ever since. My sister Emma bought the house next door to us about eight years ago which has been really lovely.
How did COVID-19 affect you and your business in 2020/2021?
Covid has actually been very good for my business (sadly not for some other business owners), I had been working at O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyard for 22 years as the wine club coordinator and resigned in June last year as my floristry business became too busy to be able to dedicate myself fully to both.
What is it about your business that you love? What makes your business stand out from other, similar businesses? Is it a business that gives you satisfaction?
I love the creativity of floristry, seeing something at the flower market that I absolutely MUST have determines the colour palette of the flowers for the week, including visualising and planning the bouquets for the shop. My style of work is a very organic and rustic style, I enjoy creating something that looks like you’ve swept your arm through the garden and gathered a beautiful, natural bunch of flowers; a very different style from a ‘normal’ florist shop. I source a lot of my product from local growers (thanks Loretta, Emma, Grant and Heather!) and the beauty of that is that it’s picked just before I pick it up. There is a big push within the floral industry to support locally grown flowers rather than imported flowers, not only because they’re fresher but also because imported flowers are dipped in poisonous chemicals to pass through quarantine. I receive a lot of lovely compliments about the beauty and longevity of my bouquets from customers, something that brings me a lot of happiness.
What challenges have you had in business over this period of time?
Being a ‘one-man-band’, it’s sometimes challenging trying to fit trips to the flower market, flower preparation and conditioning, construction of orders and deliveries into one day. Planning is key!
What is the most bizarre or funny thing you have encountered in your business?
I’ve had a few unusual requests for personalised bouquets for a Peppermint Crisp lover and a Chuppa-Chup lover. Making table centrepieces for the Scenic Rim Regional Council’s Business Awards dinner using pumpkins from White’s farm in Kerry for vases was quite memorable too.
If you were not doing this what would your ideal job be?
I honestly can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.
Interesting facts about yourself?
I have backpacked my way around Europe on my own twice and covered England, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Scotland. I worked as a restaurant manager in Scotland for a year and screen-printed T-shirts in Amsterdam for six months.
What do you do for fun?
I love beach combing for sea-glass, glass tumbled and smoothed by the sand. Since visiting Tassie in January I now have a new love for sea-pottery!
Do you take holidays and if so, is there a favourite destination or activity?
We enjoy beach holidays at Broken Head with our family; you can do as little or as much as you like however you’ll usually find me on the beach with my nose in a good book.