Zinnia party

 

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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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Los Poblanos Lavender Farm

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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

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

lantern painting

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Sometimes it seems that my true occupation is to listen to people describe their distaste for carnations, lilies and even roses.  Now, with heavily petaled garden roses being all they rage, even the rose, a classic symbol of romantic perfection, has also been shunned. You probably can’t imagine my joy when I was asked to design a debutant ball based on John Singer Sargent’s painting, Carnation, Lily, Lily Rose, but it was real. Restoring these innocent beauties to their righteous place at the top of the flower chain is a job I was born to do!

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Hellebore

First off, we decided to create what would look like the forest on the stage, and brought in 24ft oak and maple trees forming an allée of sorts for the debutants to emerge from like the girls in the painting. Next, we created two 16ft “mossy ruins” on either side, which formed a kind hedge that obscured the big band of 20 tuxedoed musicians on the stage, they looked like they stepped out of Fantasia! The mossy ruin we sculpted in sections out of foam and covered in living moss and maiden hair fern, foxgloves and Juilet garden rose bushes tumbling over mossy rocks and lichen. We also hand-painted 300 paper lanterns, which hung from deep green glossy camellia and magnolia, giving the room a soft rosy glow…

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cotillion room shot long ways (1)

 

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…..

close up siragusa

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!

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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…

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pale farm dahlias

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bridal blush and apricot

dahlias escort card

following the flowers

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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

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