Natural law

DSC_0185

cafeaulait b-maid

working with light

I long time ago, I went to career counseling to figure out what I was supposed to do rather than be a florist. The results of extensive testing concluded that I should be a lawyer or a farmer. Back then I was living in Brooklyn and the idea of pursuing farming was unimaginable and hilarious but now farming is an integral and inspiring part of my business.  It was an effective exercise though in that I ended up realizing how much I wanted to do this work. I found myself passionately describing to the career counselor how the occasions I am hired to enhance are so momentous that Mother Nature herself is a necessary and honored guest. Check out these dinner plate dahlias, Japanese anemone and hydrangea that we grew last year…

gemnani lighting

pale farm dahlias

close up gemnani cp

bridal blush and apricot

dahlias escort card

following the flowers

fruit

I seriously do learn a lot from our clients.  A particularly glamorous groom once explained to me in an exquisite English accent that he preferred plants “that flower before they fruit,” as he set his feet on the coffee table in flowered pink socks.  As a city girl,  I thought this was just some smart-sounding poetry from a fancy classics professor,  but later realized that that is how it actually goes down in the natural world.

upfruit

clematis

violets

glam fruit

 

 

 

The ferns and their allies

DSC_0097

close up ranunc

 

One of our most seriously sophisticated clients reassured us when she saw this arrangement that ferns are very big this year. I recently read an article with a stellar title, The ferns and their allies. I’d like to be considered an ally of the fern, conspiring with this large group of ancient and primitive land plants to disseminate their spores throughout the urban/suburban Middlewest. Love these heart-stopping palest pink, “Hanoi” ranunuculus, hellebore and lilies too…

DSC_0082

cloony closeup

whole blush arrrangement

 

Michigan Shores Wedding

neva and emily garlanding

sosque garlanding

installing garlands for costello

This classic November wedding was held a few steps from the lake at the Michigan Shores Club in Wilmette. One of my most favorite elements to work on were the lovebird’s initials made entirely of white roses, as well as these garlands of ferns and flowering dogwood for the chandeliers.  The incomparable women of Studio Starling made the glamorous, professional photographs of the rooms and table decor here. I mean seriously, what could be better than an all green and white wedding with a single dramatic dash of fuchsia for the cocktail hour?

initials

costello escort card

View More: http://studiostarling.pass.us/110814costellooberlin

anemonecostello

costello making escort card

View More: http://studiostarling.pass.us/110814costellooberlin

View More: http://studiostarling.pass.us/110814costellooberlin

View More: http://studiostarling.pass.us/110814costellooberlin

You got the silver

DSC_0027

DSC_0010

 

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…

close up poppy

DSC_0062

DSC_0036

 

Violet Sun

stained glass uclub

DSC_0064

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….

DSC_0057

large magnolia

DSC_0105

DSC_0099

DSC_0296

DSC_0080

DSC_0081

Persephone Months

closeup cyclamen

frosted branches

ice cp

french tulips cascade

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…

frosted side centerpiece

helebore

french tulips

greenhouse mike and katie

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

DSC_0039

Festive Elegance

 

holidaycover_w

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.

sincliar 3

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!

IMG_9780_Snapseed

sincliar 1

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….

IMG_9983

sincliar 4IMG_0089

Fall Wedding at the Ivy Room

bray bridesmaids bouquetstall bray

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…

closeup bray flowers

tulips and hazel

bray escort card

Alfred Caldwell’s Lilly Pool

DSC_0188

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.

DSC_0274closeup yellow bouquetDSC_0201

yellow bouquet

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.

DSC_0282