Catherine Summach grew up in City Park, and she is delighted to return to its well-loved streets to open her own floral design store at the corner of Princess and 7th. Tucked around the corner from City Perk coffee shop and just a few blocks north of City Hospital, Essence invites you to stop and admire the flowers or explore a delightful mix of giftware.
I’m not surprised to learn that Catherine has been a florist for 23 years when I learn a little of her history. “Garth Grimson was my art teacher at City Park High School, and he inspired me to use my artistic talents,” she says. “I always drew flowers. And as a child I really enjoyed playing shop. I set up a little store under the basement stairs with a cash register and shelves. “
Catherine enjoys working with different products – orchids, calla lilies, hydrangeas – “everything exotic,” she explains. She spent 3 years in the South Pacific so she’s very familiar with tropical blooms. She even worked in a small florist’s shop in Sydney, Australia.
“The floral industry has changed,” says Catherine. “I want to provide a blend of exotic, contemporary, and pretty/soft.” She also sells green and flowering plants.
“For brides and grooms, their wedding day is the most important day of their lives,” says Catherine. She plans to meet with the brides after hours so that she can give them her undivided attention. “My store is called Essence because I want to listen to the brides and capture the essence of their dreams.”
And Catherine certainly has the experience to translate those dreams into reality. She taught floral design at Dutch Growers for 10 years and coordinated the store’s Christmas decorations. I have happy memories of visiting Dutch Growers with my mother in order to enjoy the store’s festive atmosphere, so I can vouch for Catherine’s talent.
Christmas Floral Design
Catherine plans to offer classes in Christmas floral design on Monday and Wednesday evenings throughout November. Participants will create a wreath or a door swag, and there will be Christmas music and hot apple cider. “It will be a nice night out,” she says.
The intriguing mix of giftware displays Catherine’s personal touch. The hand-knit baby clothes are made by her 86-year-old mother in law.
She has a wide range of espe bags from Ontario that are both fashionable and fun with bright colours and appliques. “I wanted to provide computer laptop bags that are colourful and fun,” she explains.
There are gifts from $2.50 up because Catherine wanted to make sure that anyone who wants to can buy a gift. She also stocks gift bags and tissue so you can shop, wrap it up and be on your way.
Essence will stock Time and Again candles for Christmas gift giving. They have lead-free wicks and “smell good when you burn them, not just when you buy them,” says Catherine.
Welcome home to City Park, Catherine. It feels like Europe to be able to shop in my own neighbourhood.