The beauty of blue and white

 

There is some indescribable perfection about the colors of blue and white together- some kind of boundlessly serene, clearing and calming vibration there. Living near such a large body of water as Lake Michigan, I always eagerly look to see what shades of these two are at play when I get on the outer drive, and always get a thrill when the water is paler than the sky.

Of course, green is a huge trend these days for weddings, with lots of brides wanting only greens or just greens with a touch of white. I always believe that my brides are ahead of trend with their choices in wedding flowers and decor- and that the direction their tastes move in always dictates design trends in fashion in home decor as well. It is their passionate focus on planning their weddings that makes them so attuned to whats next, and it’s fun to see the culture at large catch on to a color, fabric or pattern a few years after we’ve been working with it already! Chicago wedding flower trends are so similar to New York weddings in this way.

However, there really can’t be anything more classic than blue and white. Carolyn Rohem has an entire book on it! Although I have many of her books already, I don’t have this one yet. I’ll order it now and report back soon! In the meantime, we’ve been planting lots of white flowers on our Chicago flower farm, with dashes of blue in the mix.  Aren’t these white ranunculus to die for!?

Vosges for Valentines!

For Valentine’s day, we are ecstatic and honored to be partnering with one of the finest chocolatiers in the world, Chicago based Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Founder and Chocolatier Katrina Markoff has been on the vanguard of the food movement since 1998, and in many respects, the culture is only now catching up with her. Her chocolate is so indescribably delicious that I regard it as a wellness product, but you have to taste it understand what I mean, so please come visit us at our studio pop-up Valentine’s day flower shop on Chicago Ave, to taste free samples.  You can pre-order flowers here, or pick them up in the studio on those days!  We will also be setting up a micro flower shop at the Vosges Haut-Chocolat Armitage boutique, so be sure to stop in and see us at either location on February 13th or 14th, 10-7!

Cupid Inspiring Plants with Love”, a plate from Robert Thornton’s Temple of Flora (1807), Wellcome Library

 

Los Poblanos Lavender Farm

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Los Poblanos lavender farm in New Mexico is one of the very coolest wedding venues I’ve ever seen. The land was settled in 1920, and was originally inhabited by the Anasazi (ancient pueblo Indians) in the 14th century. Many of the original settlers in this area were thought to have come from Puebla, Mexico, a citizen of which is called a “Poblano”. In 1932, Ruth Hanna McCormick Simms commissioned architect John Gaw Meem and numerous WPA artists and craftsmen to renovate the ranch house and create the Cultural Center with gardens designed by Rose Greeley, one of the very first american women to practice landscape architecture.

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The farm’s lavender products have a magical quality to them. With centuries of use all over the world, Lavender is a powerful antidepressant, antiseptic and healing agent- the Japanese use it as aroma-therapy in factories to increase productivity and it was used in both the first and second World Wars, not only in the treatment of wounds but as a cleaning agent in hospitals.  Just inhaling the scent of lavender is known to increase the alpha brain waves in the back of the head, aiding in relaxation and tranquility and thus boosting the immune system. Their Lavender Hand Salve is my favorite to repair my hands after a long day working at our flower farm- a luxurious solution to a luxurious problem!

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Eau de lime basil

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lambs ear at the farm

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Our farm’s theme this year is fragrance, we are growing lime basil, chocolate and pineapple mint, lavender and the like. I like to bring old fashions back in floral design whenever possible, and these days people rarely encounter scented flowers. There is no aromatic luxury quite like working out there after a heavy rain, the wind kicking up wafts of tuberose, wild sweet pea and chocolate cosmos! The bouquet pictured below is wildly fragrant with grape hyacinth, cheerfulness jonquils and muscari…

frontal blue and yellow bouquet

saad sample

blue and yellow bouquet

farm pix

Foxgloves and thistle

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We are a bit late planting at Five Row Farm this year, but I say you are only late planting your first flower farm! And, we have the most fantastic PH balanced soil and meticulously tilled beds courtesy of our farmer friend John Tong. However, our seedlings are already bearing many blooms, see foxgloves, dahlias and thistle wedding below…

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foxglove close up
croghan sample

Wintering over

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Every year there comes a period of time when I actually can’t look at any more flowers. This past January, my eyes were actually weary of them,  sumptuous seed catalogs would arrive and I had to toss them aside.  It’s a natural part of the cyclical nature of this work, it’s all go go go, growth and production from early spring straight through to Christmas, and then I’ve got to just hunker down, rest, gestate. Our farm is now also in dormancy, nestled down under straw and goat manure, ( solid gold fertilizer), from our West Side friend Carolyn Ioder‘s goats. She keeps them in Oak Park and makes the most incredible feta, goat cheese and milk. As members of the Goat Guild, we take advantage of the manure for the farm, and it is also pretty fun to run them up the street to their gorgeous urban pasture….

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Hazel weed warrior

Lavender Beebalm

Brian and goats

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Constance Spry

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magenta hazel and the arch

 

When working with red I always think of Constance Spry, the legendary English social reformer and society florist whose heyday was in the 1930’s and 40’s. Famously introducing vegetables, weeds and found objects as vases to the art form,  she was essentially to flower arranging what the sex pistols were to rock-n-roll. When discussing the color red she says,

” Striking and beautiful effects may be obtained by mixing strongly contrasting shades of red and by adding fruits and berries. You get brilliance rather than hardness by combining many shades and tones in an arrangement; rose, vermillion, crimson, magenta and so on to provide a strong, warm effect that is comparable in color to the sound of a trumpet blast.”

She goes on to strictly advise that when sending flowers to men, one must use entirely red flowers… what could be more brilliant?

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Flowering at the Thompson

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This week we had the pleasure of flowering with the lovely Molly Guy,  creative director of Stone Fox Bride on the inaugural party for Guest of a Guest at the Thompson.  We designed a Stone Fox flower crown bar replete with antique baskets of calendula and chamomile from our farm. The event was packed with genius babes and we had a blast seeing all the gorgeous crowns they came up with. Hazel is pictured here wearing a crown of her own design, available at Hazel Baek…..

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Siragusa centerpiece

cointreau centerpiece

Bouquet Siragusa

Hearts of palm

me and ferns

Amaryllis and ferns to the max

I am loving this cold Spring we are having, taking it’s sweet time as it languorously rolls out towards Summer. Also, it helps me stay calm about how behind we are with basically everything, organizing the office, our annual spring cleaning studio smack down, and the flower farm where we haven’t even tilled our rows yet!  With each chilly night under my down comforter I can pretend it might still be March. These Challenger amaryllis also take their sweet time opening, but then refuse to wilt for a week! Not sure why I’m so obsessed with palms, if it’s that they are so iconic or if it’s how deeply inspiring Miami Vice was to me as a child of the 80’s…

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delphinium arrangement

Sweet Pea Madness

coral peony and needlepoint

gift arrangements en masse

gold and coral cpSpring has arrived in Chicago, as have some exquisite projects for our studio! Gilding foliage, waves of gift arrangements for fashion editors, and samples for some brilliant clients whose taste and vision have yielded really lavish and original results. Oh, and just incase you ever wondered what 170 stems of “Misty Apricot” sweet pea looks like, now you know!

peach sweetpea

gilded coral foliage

les nereides gift arrangement