Flora and the explorer

Meet the floral magician behind Flowers Manuela

Manuela at her shop, Flowers Manuela
Portrait by Johnny Hendrikus for WellingtonNZ
Words by Francesca Emms

Manuela Lipsham’s childhood on her parent’s flower farm fostered her love of the outdoors and fuelled her creative nature. “I had an awesome childhood running around in bare feet, making huts, riding horses, tramping and helping out on the property, living and breathing flowers and nature.”

Manuela loves her job. When she started her shop Flowers Manuela, now on Abel Smith St, she said it was her “dream job” and 23 years later that’s still true. “I love that every day is different. It is very physical and also detail orientated which keeps you thinking ahead and engaged and challenged.”

She particularly loves “getting it just right – the marrying up of the foliages, colours, balance, design, and technical floristry. Every bouquet and every flower is different.” Being a florist means working with very delicate and fragile things. When she’s arranging, Manuela loves to showcase the finest flowers against a back drop of other complimentary flowers, and use colour and texture to create a scene and story.

Here she shares with us her love of fresh views, Florentines, and a few other favourite things.

The best view

Manuela’s day begins and ends with the sea, specifically looking out over the Cook Strait from her Owhiro Bay home. After a full on, hugely concentrated day in the shop, she loves having a place to totally unwind. She says looking over the sea “does wonders for the soul”.

Food for thought

Fidel’s on Cuba St is Manuela’s go-to for a coffee and a Florentine biscuit. For a light meal she heads to Havana Bar on Wigan St, “they have tasty small dishes that go great with their fine drinks.” She likes Taste of Home on Vivian St for a “late yummy lunch” to take away and eat in the sun. “There is a good seat up Thompson Street that has a great view right over the city, well, good when there’s not a northerly.”

Get out and about

Manuela catches Wellington DJs Wade and Stu every last Friday of the month at Club 121 – “I love to go out and have a really good boogie!” When it comes to the great outdoors she says, “I love exploring the South Coast and all its secret wee tracks.” She also recommends walking in Ōtari-Wilton’s bush, Butterfly Creek – Eastbourne, and Kaitoke Regional Park. She enjoys the drive out to Flat Point or Riversdale and always stops at C’est Cheese in Featherston on the way.

Love local

For special gifts Manuela always goes to Lazulé on Cuba St. “They have been supporting me by buying weekly flowers since I started on the first day of Spring – my opening day – in 1998.” She likes that Lazulé are also owner operated and they ethically source their pieces. “I bought a very special amber necklace for my Mums 80th birthday which she loves, and she is tricky to buy for!”

Did you know?

Flowers Manuela is a bespoke florist. “We like people to pre-arrange their floral orders,” says Manuela. “In that way it gives us time to think about the design and the requirements for the situation for why they are being ordered. Then we can do our best work and create something special.”


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