Prairie Chic Wedding


 

As a proper Chicago girl, I’ve been raised to revere Jens Jensen, the Scandinavian landscape architect who designed so many of the city’s treasures- Garfield Park, Columbus Park, the fern room at the Garfield Park conservatory. His ethos of celebrating the prairie’s own native loveliness, working with the native landscape rather than against it, was one which I followed in designing this remarkable wedding, ( that, and Kate’s Moss’s wedding in Southrop in the Cotswalds of course!) I suggested that the bride and groom exchange vows beneath the natural canopy of two ancient willows whose boughs were intertwined. We then constructed two, 20ft “hedges” of foraged cattails to create what looked almost like a naturally occurring path from around the pond and neighboring swales, with plenty of frothy delphinium, queen annes laces and fragrant lime basil from our farm. As the the wind moved though them guests were treated to wafts of delicious fragrance…

Zinnia party

 

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mina-and-goats

 

This time of year there is such a wonderful cacophony of color and texture in our studio and at the farm! It is the finale display of the entire year, a time when we say good bye to our urban goat neighbors, ( they live on a farm downstate in the winter) and begin cleaning up the farm and bedding it down for the winter with manure mixed with straw from the goats.  These cuties dine on produce donated from our local Whole Foods and manure from their stalls enriches our soil with nearly magical results.

I always say bouquets should have plenty of movement, and these white astilbe are a great way to add a little flounce, along with these stunner ranunculus in oxblood. One of our MVPs this year were these heirloom Persian Carpet Zinnias, also called Mexican zinnias or narrow-leaved zinnias. Having bicolored single and double flowers in gold, burgundy, cream, red and orange and blooming throughout the summer, we found them irresistible along with these Giant lime zinnias in green.

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Eau de lime basil

saad sample close up

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

crogahn whole cp shot

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

Flowering at the Thompson

Hazel working

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…..

close up siragusa

Siragusa centerpiece

cointreau centerpiece

Bouquet Siragusa

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

Natural law

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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.

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clematis

violets

glam fruit

 

 

 

Violet Sun

stained glass uclub

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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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large magnolia

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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

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