Floristry is an art form. This is according to the affable owners behind Oxford's newest flower shop - Fabulous Flowers. And living out this mantra through a business they are intensely passionate about is, perhaps, why Gary Cooper and Matthew Taylor have been so successful in four short years.

That, and their attitude - spontaneous and fun, yet professional and thoroughly knowledgable.

The two have always had a passion for flowers, and see themselves as artists of a kind.

Mr Taylor's grandmother was a florist, and Mr Cooper simply loves nature', so four years ago they decided to open their own flower shop in Abingdon.

"We started a flower arranging class and just fell in love with it," said Mr Cooper with his trademark grin.

"We were entering competitions against professionals and winning."

At that time, both were in jobs that did not allow them to use their creative side. Initially it was Mr Cooper, who worked with the Probation Service, who gave up the day job.

He said: "After four months, it was so busy that Matthew had to give up his job with Oxford University."

Their second shop opened on Banbury Road in March, they frequent the pages of bridal magazines nationwide, and have just appointed a dedicated wedding co-ordinator.

And a quick glance around the new shop - the beautiful space that formerly housed quirky interiors shop Liscious - is testament to their blooming business.

The shop exudes charm and luxury. It is light and bright, with a rustic funky feel - the sparsity is a welcome change from the usual chaos of a flower shop.

"We had always said what a wonderful flower shop it would make," said Mr Cooper, 31.

"The Mogford Group, which we supply with flowers, owns the lease on the building and offered it to us, so we jumped at it."

Even though flower shops have been closing down rapidly due to competition from supermarkets, the two say their business was booming from the word go.

"As far as we are concerned, supermarkets are doing us a favour," explained Mr Taylor, 36.

"If you are after just a ordinary bunch of carnations or chrysanthemums, then go to the supermarket. We have chosen not to sell those kinds of flowers and offer something totally different."

Both men are involved hands-on with the business - you'll even see them delivering flowers to an office on Valentine's day, or a hotel first thing in the morning - not to mention getting up at 3am to travel to the London flower market three times a week.

Mr Cooper said: "It's like a supermarket dash. We like to have a different selection of flowers in the shop all the time, so we go with whatever we like on the day, and buy £1,000-worth of flowers every time."

That amount of flowers translates into a large transit van.

"If we have a wedding, it might mean two or three vans," added Mr Taylor.

While currently all their flowers come from Holland - the quality is higher - the duo are are looking at local suppliers for the future.

"British growers have died out over the years as business has been taken abroad. It is more expensive to source the flowers from Europe but we just don't get the quality here," said Mr Taylor.

"We have one sweetpea grower from Nuneham Courtenay, and next year will take on a farmer who grows organic sunflowers."

Fabulous Flowers is not just about flowers though, but the tailored personal service the men offer.

Indeed, Mr Cooper maintains the personal touch is why the corporate side of the business is so buoyant.

"One of the reasons we were so keen to take the premises on was to expand in this area. We take an interest in our clients, and I think our love for what we do comes across.

"We believe a flower display should suit the company, and reflect what the business is about. If it is an architect's firm, then the arrangement should be shaped accordingly," he said.

"We go and look at the building, and take the corporate colours and client base into account, talk to them to find out what they like."

Weddings, too, are big business, and are a large part of the shop's focus.

"We've done everything from a footballer's wedding with flowers costing £6,000, to a simple wedding in a woodland setting," said Mr Cooper.

"We will cater for the whole wedding, or if a bride just wants a bouquet, we will do that too."

But, as Mr Taylor is quick to point out, you are only as good as your last arrangement.

He said: "Word-of-mouth is more important to us than advertising."

And both feel it is necessary to constantly update their knowledge, educating themselves about new developments in the industry. That's why now, instead of following trends, they are setting them.

"We have been featured in various magazines, and have been asked to provide designs, which is a real honour," added Mr Cooper.

Looking to the future - the two businesses already have eight staff - the men hope to use the model of their Abingdon shop in other similar towns in the region. But most of all, they say there is nothing better than seeing the smile on someone's face when they open the door and see that big bunch of flowers.

"I was so busy on Valentine's day, that I didn't get to deliver any flowers. I really missed it!" added Mr Cooper. And you can tell he means it.

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