In Conversation With Milli Proust

This week, we catch up with Milli Proust, one half of ALMA | PROUST. Having relocated from bustling London to the serene landscapes of West Sussex with her partner Ted nearly a decade ago, Milli embarked on a journey to establish a flower farm and floral design studio. Milli loves to bring seasonal and sustainable flowers to floral design ~ inspired by nature.  

We are so grateful to Milli for taking time out of her schedule to share details of her business, inspirations and passions with us. We hope you enjoy getting to know her a little more in the following conversation.

Milli Proust Picking Tulips

Do you remember the first garden that inspired you?

My father is an art dealer, and we visited Patrick Heron at Eagle's Nest in St Ives when I was about 7. My brother, sister, and I had free rein in the garden while Patrick and my father talked about business. It is a garden built on wild terrain, with vast, huge rocks balanced in the landscape like sculptures. Vast azaleas and rhododendrons made it feel like we were going through a rainforest in a bleak world of cliffs, sky and sea mist. It was unique, and how it borrowed majesty from the landscape lit something inside me. I've always remembered that afternoon. I can remember the corners of that garden better than many others I've been to many times.

Have you always been a creative person?

My mum was my art teacher at primary school. My grandmother was an art history teacher and a lover of plants. My brother and sisters all followed paths into the creative arts. I've always been surrounded by people making, crafting, and doing.

Describe your typical working day

Every day is different. Our days are so dictated by the season we're in. Autumn is seed-saving drying and packing. Crop clearing, seed sowing and mulching. We continue to clear the crop into winter and prep all the beds for the next season. Spring is busy sowing seeds, planting, creating structures, and talking to brides. Summer is mainly spent harvesting and installing designs we've been working on for months. As general day-to-day, the first job of the day is to get to the post office depot at around 8.30 am to drop off our seed shop orders. If we have a wedding, event, or florist order, we harvest before and after the depot run. I spend far more time on admin, spreadsheets, and email than you might imagine; at least half the day is spent on the screen, running the back end of the business. The other half is spent fulfilling orders for the next day, working on designs for upcoming projects, speaking to clients, and sowing, planting and tending to the crop.  

Who or what couldn't you work without?

My business partner is Paris. We joined forces just before my son was born, and now we can't imagine working without each other. We organically developed an efficient way of communicating early on, which means we can keep on top of multiple facets of the business at once. We have each other's backs and support each other in as many ways as possible, and we've created a much healthier, more sustainable business because of it.  

What is inspiring you at the moment? 

Spring! I love this time of year; every day brings new ingredients to work with and more and more beauty to be surrounded by. It makes the back-breaking work of autumn and winter so worth it. 

What do you like most about what you do?

The seasonality and the fact that we work so closely with the land. I witness minute changes in the cycle, which anchors my thoughts and way of being in the world in a way that nothing else does. 

Which part of the process do you like the best?

Working with the flowers and saving seeds is a huge part of our business. We run a speciality cut flower seed business, and we love watching every part of the flower's life cycle—it's a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of.

Tell us about your favourite flower.

Roses have my heart- my middle name is Roza, which is Polish for Rose- named after a Great Aunt, which makes me think I can trace my family's love of Rose back to my great-grandmother. I have a soft spot for Silene. I believe they are such an underrated plant. The flowers are so pretty in nearly all varieties, like little butterflies.

What are the most common mistakes in flower arranging, and how should you avoid them?

Firstly, everyone has different styles and tastes. So, if we're talking about common mistakes in the garden-inspired style, it would be any sort of symmetrical placement. Nature doesn't make many things symmetrical, so if you want to create something inspired by how plants grow, lean into asymmetry. 

Who is your floristry icon?

I have a few- our industry has so many talented people. I will forever love Sarah Raven, whose books and resources taught me so much in the early years and beyond- I find endless inspiration from her work at Perch Hill. Erin Benzakein of Floret Flower is doing inspiring work to create varieties with exciting colours and forms for the world's florists to work with and does so much to champion the work of others. Gabriella Salazar can make a heart swoon from her creations. I love Sarah Ryhanen of Saipua for the way she can make plants look even more like themselves in a vessel than in the wild. Max Gill may be one of the best plant whisperers on the planet, and finally, Graeme Corbett of Bloom & Burn, who has the power to turn the saturation dial-up in a flower.

Favourite recent purchase

I spend a lot of time working with my hands and looking at them, too. I've collected rings for a long time. Most recently, the kind team at Maze helped me source a beautiful Lepagon piece I was after!

Best piece of advice

Be kind, be useful.

Most treasured possession

My collection of roses that has been given to me by many loved ones over the years. 

Proudest moment to date

Seeing my first book, From Seed to Bloom, out in the shops felt huge. After working on it for so long and writing it in solitude, seeing it in the world with people I didn't know who were able to hold it felt pretty wild, and I felt proud to get the book to that point.

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to at the moment?

I'm currently reading Tristan Gooley's 'How to Read a Tree' and find it endlessly fascinating. My boyfriend took me to see Julian Lage at the Barbican last week, so I've been enjoying listening to him since. And, I just watched Past Lives by Celine Song, which has not left my thoughts.

How do you relax?

I am not good at sitting still, so I enjoy anything that requires a good deal of letting go mentally but still requires movement. I had my first taste of pottery throwing and loved it. Painting, drawing, silversmithing, walking, riding, and knitting are all helpful ways to unwind.

How would your friends describe you in 3 words?

Determined, positive, thoughtful

What are you working on at the moment?

There are several projects in the works at the moment! We're trialling 70 varieties of sweet peas for our seed shop, we're working on a design around seed sovereignty for the Garden Museum in London, and I'm working away at book number 4. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with Maze journal and its readers?

I recommend sowing some flowers from seed; I promise it will be almost impossible to regret it.

Milli's journey, from her childhood encounter with the majestic garden at Eagle's Nest to her flourishing career in floristry, reflects her deep-rooted connection to creativity and nature. We really appreciate Milli for generously sharing her time and inspiring insights with us.

Shop our edit of gardening products below 

Suede Gardening Gloves

Milli's Book


Piccolo Seeds

Bergs Pottery

Bergs Potter Pots

Van Verre glass

Van Verre Fiore di Firenze Glass

Rachel Dein

Rachel Dein Art

Falcon Enamelware

Falcon Enamelware




Books at Maze



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