You got the silver

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Here are some images of a sample we did yesterday for bride wearing one of Jenny Packham‘s incomparable 20’s inspired gowns and whose reception is at the ultra- Deco Women’s Athletic Club Ballroom. Silver is a theme here, so we gilded olive foliage and ferns, employing some incredibly old-fashion MVP’s such as tuberose, acacia and Icelandic poppies…

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Violet Sun

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Last summer there were some weekends that are just a blur now. These images are from an incredible celebration at The University Club, inspired by the couple’s love for France, especially the countryside with it’s sunflower and lavender fields….

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Persephone Months

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Elliot Coleman, progenitor of four season farming refers to these winter months as “the Persephone months” when the only growth that occurs is in cold frames and their movable greenhouses. I always think of that greek myth as one the greatest feminist stories. As her daughter was abducted and taken to the underworld, Demeter, goddess of the harvest and sacred law, had the power to stop all things from growing until Persephone was returned to her, their reunion manifesting Spring each year.  These months of inward reflection and gestation are integral to our heavily seasonal work. The feverish creativity, farming and design that happens in our studio and on our farm would never be possible without this period of being on ice…

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french tulips

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I recently got to visit my good friends Katie Prochaska and Mike Bollinger who are forging the path for the future of food on their four season River Root farm in Decorah. They had just re-located their farm and finished setting up these 5 massive cold frames you can see in the distance. These unheated, movable greenhouses allow them to plant in crops in August which remain in the ground, fresh and full of their nutritive value naturally refrigerated and using no power whatsoever, for their winter CSA clients to eat anytime throughout the winter.  Below you can see Mike in a cold frame full of the most exquisite carrots I’ve ever tasted… wonder if we could do something similar for our early winter clients…

mike carrots

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Festive Elegance

 

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Last December, we had the honor of decking out this incredible home for the holidays decorated by legendary interior designer, the late Nora C. Marra of Nora Marra Interiors. In deference to her brilliance and the understated splendor her work, we kept the adornments to silvers and aquas with dashes of gold, citron and fuchsia.

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Early on in the process I got my heart set on securing a blue spruce… the perfect shade of silvery blue to compliment Nora’s dreamy drawing room design. Blue spruce are a very slow growing tree and a 7ft one was so difficult to find I almost had to go chop one down myself… luckily John Beffel at Christmas Farms in Michigan came though and fed ex’d us this glorious tree overnight!

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We employed the families hunting tartan in custom silk and wool ribbons we had woven in Scotland, which you can see here on this sweet rhino footstool along with material native to the Scottish Highlands such as thistle and Ponderosa pine….

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Fall Wedding at the Ivy Room

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As we are hurtling into winter at what seems to be hyperspeed, I wanted to take a moment to share this ultimate fall wedding. The bride was so unbelievably sweet and lovely that everyone working on her wedding outdid themselves, including these superstar flowers from our the farm. Best of all were these absolutley wild tall centerpieces that took over the Ivy Room,  french tulips and dinner plate dahlias wreathed in a million different types of fruited branches…

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Alfred Caldwell’s Lilly Pool

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Designed in 1936, Alfred Caldwel’s Lilly pond is my very most favorite spot in all of Chicago. Giving you  the impression that you are the only one who knows about it, this enchanted sanctuary is definitely one of the most sacred spaces in the city.  When I was little, I remember finding a massive pair of swans nesting there who later returned every spring.

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This fall has been so outrageously lovely!  Pictured below are wet, wild clematis puffs… and in the bouquet above are astilbe, ranunculus, craspedia and akebia vine for a perfect fall bridal bouquet.

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violet hour

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Loveliest couple this this weekend- they met through Twitter. While she was cracking her friends up with her devastating wit, he began following her and fell under her spell. She was in Chicago, and he in London, so he made up and excuse to be here and flew in just so he could see if her fantastic wit was matched by her beauty, (which it most certainly is!), and the rest is history. Instead of a guest book, they had their attending loved ones sign this vintage globe. Here is a peek at some of the violet blooms we filled the Ivy Room with, gladiolas, sweet pea and clematis from our farm…

globey!

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Magical deliciousness

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bigtable chefs

Last weekend was a double header/ town AND country farm dinner weekend! We had the honor of bringing flowers we grew to Green City’s last Big Table dinner of the season celebrating urban farmers in Washington Park. We brought vermillion dahlias with lacy touches of  Cottoneaster berries and lemon basil. Pictured above are chefs Sarah Stegner of Prairie Grass and Jared Batson of the Nomad Food Co. who, together with chefs from Farmhouse and Dream Cafe, prepared produce grown in the city with mind-boggling brilliance.

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Out at Five Row Farm, our dinner was a little less polished, but we made up for any rough edges in ambition and enthusiasm! Hazel, our bartender par excellence, served guava fresca-ginger-mint cocktails while guests cut their own bouquets,  enjoyed hay rides, made ice cream and toured the farm.

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KP!!

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Neva's bouquet

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trouble in paradise

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lilac sweet pea

dead cosmos

All has not been sunshine and happiness at Five Row recently.  100 of our cosmos plants developed root rot and have pretty much all died. They were such a sight in their glory; 6 ft tall, with so many blooms it was almost a bore! Root rot is irreversible but I tried to contain it, thinning the sick ones out and quarantining them in a massive pile in the outer field.  Being the Greenhorn that I am to farming, my despondency knew no bounds.  I felt like I was carrying sick kin out on to the veldt to die. The beautiful plants didn’t know they were dying and were still blooming like mad.

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The farmers I work with tell me that farming is manic, one moment can be golden and the next beyond black. They also tell me that that’s often just what Cosmos do, they get huge and then they rot. Next year we will plant in rotation, and hopefully have them into fall. I think I’m pretty much over it now, and the pile in the field looks like it might make a good home for gophers.

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hydrangea elderberry

True Romance

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When I tell people that I do flowers for weddings, many times they wince and say “Oh, but you must have to work with such awful Bridezillas!” It’s funny, I explain, but on the contrary we are lucky enough to somehow attract some of the most wonderful, low-key, chic clients and their eyes widen.

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What’s more is that I often get to witness, in such vulnerable and intimate moments, irrefutable evidence that gorgeous, breathtaking, true love actually does exist!  Yesterday,  we got to watch a couple in their 50’s nervously practice their first dance before guests arrived. It was electrifying. The groom was so intent of getting it right: quick-quick-slow…. quick-quick-slow…while holding his bride so close.

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We have been “tipping” the dahlias at our farm,  taking off the uppermost, first and burgeoning blooms to encourage lasting, stronger, taller ones.  Jessica who farms the plot adjacent to ours and her husband Nick helped us tie up our dahlias last weekend. Seeing him work to support her dream of farming, as she successfully farms an entire acre of land is awesome in the real sense of the word.

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