Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Slow Flowers

There is a growing global movement called "slow flowers" that is changing the way florists and flower lovers do business.

The concept of "slow flowers" echoes the slow food movement, emphasizing using flowers in design that are grown close to home. Slow flowers as a movement has been championed by garden writer Debra Prinzing, who said in a recent interview with Architectural Digest " “People have been questioning the origins of their food and making informed food choices for decades, and flowers are a part of agriculture, too, so we should be conscious of the way in which we consume them.”

Florists and consumers that are part of this movement now have an online home at Slowflowers.com, an online directory and hub created by Debra to further connect those interested in knowing where the flowers they purchase are grown and that their purchase is supporting local farmers. Formerly only for US florists and farmers, Slowflowers.com has now expanded to include Canadian shops and farms too and I'm delighted to announce that Periwinkle is now a supporting member.

Being part of Slow flowers means that we have committed to choosing locally grown product as much as we can, and to supporting southern Ontario flower farmers.

What does this commitment mean to you? Well, to be honest, not much is going to change on your side, because I've been choosing to purchase Ontario grown as much as I can since I opened up shop. When you send someone flowers from me, chances are most of the blooms in there are from Ontario farmers, especially during spring to fall.

What it does mean though is that now there is an online resource where you can find florists elsewhere in the US and Canada that share my philosophy and choose to support farms local to them, providing money and jobs to their local economy.

You can search the slowflowers.com directory online here, and if you are interested in learning more about how flowers are farmed or a behind the scenes peek at flower shops and floral design at all, I highly recommend Debra's podcast, which you can find here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Current Obsession: Dahlias

This time of year florists around North America are swooning on a regular basis due to dahlia overdoses. I'm serious, these flowers are something we look forward to every summer, and mourn the loss of every fall. 

There are many varieties, all of which have their champions.  The amazing thing about dahlias is how the shape of the petals moves the light around the flower, shifting the colours and glowing from the inside.  They make arrangements instantly look full and romantic, and are certainly a wedding favourite for August through September. 

Dahlias aren't the easiest to grow, which maybe is what makes them so special.  The tubers have to be dug up in the fall and stored in a cool dry place over winter, then replanted the next year. They like a nice hot summer but have suffered in Ontario this year with our drought, as they also like to be well watered, so this years supply has been difficult. The dahlias you see in the photos above came from a flower farm just north of Toronto. That pale cream one just above, that is the much coveted cafe au lait variety, which had me in a dead faint when I saw it nestled in the bucket- a sweet treat from the grower that I gazed at in wonder for a while before making the vase up as a gift to celebrate a friend. Because if there is one thing dahlias are good for, its for giving to people you love.

U.S. flower farmer and florist extraordinaire, Erin of Floret Flower has to be the undisputed queen of dahlias and has been breaking the internet this year with her gorgeous photos from her farm, which you can take a look at here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A perfect summer wedding: Rachel and Jamie

About a month before her wedding, Rachel contacted me about her flowers. That's a pretty tight turnaround time, but she knew exactly what she wanted.

Her vision was a late summer dream- big full romantic roses in whites and blushes with lots of lush full greenery. Rachel chose a bouquet of large full roses with greens, in a boho romantic style bouquet. She also wore a flower crown, as did her 7 attendants. She was a magical woodland fairy in her gorgeous off white gown.

 The wedding took place in the lush green garden of the bride's aunt. It was a perfect setting.

I decorated the wooden arbour, which became the chuppah. White organza fabric was draped around, with a mix of garden roses, spray roses, lizianthus blooms and love in a puff vines trailing across the top.

The tables were rectangular rustic wooden pieces, which I set long green garlands on, with clustered blooms at each end. Serving platters were set ,family style, along the tables.

It was a ridiculously hot day for a wedding set up, as I worked on site making the garlands it was over 30 degrees Celsius, and there were dark storm clouds brewing over head.   But as I left, the sun had begun to shine, blue skies were showing and it turned out to be a magical evening.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Makers: Janet Hinkle of Hinkleville

The Makers series of posts highlights the artists that make the products we sell, a peek into their workspace and process as they create beautiful things. 

In this Makers post I'm delighted to introduce you to Janet, the creative maker behind "Hinkleville", based here in Toronto.   Janet makes the most adorable little mini planters I have ever seen. I came across her work on instagram a while ago and was besotted immediately. I knew I needed to have her work in the shop, and I am so happy to now be a regular stockist of her pieces ( and the only one in the city located north of Bloor street!)  I sent Janet a few questions about her space and process:

Jess: Tell us about your work space- do you have a dedicated studio or do you carve out space where you can when you need? What does it look like?

Janet: Up until July 1st my workspace was very makeshift and spread across my entire apartment. However, recently, I have had the opportunity to rent studio space in the Parkdale Akin Collective location. The Parkdale space is very loft like and space is divided by the square foot to make up each artist's own studio area. It definitely beats having clay all over my home.

More about Akin via Akin:

"AKIN organizations- Akin Collective (Studios) and Akin Projects (Arts and Community Programming). 
Akin Collective is an art studio and shared workspace with studios in Parkdale, Bloordale Village and Junction Triangle. The collective provides affordable space to about 160 creatives across ten studios with a friendly and inspiring atmosphere suitable for creative endeavours and entrepreneurial undertakings of all kinds. 
Akin Projects is a registered nonprofit established for the purpose of providing both creative and professional development opportunities to members of Toronto’s artistic and cultural community. We have offered services to over 3,000 individuals across the city since our inception in 2015.

Jess: what are your tools of the trade?
Janet:  When dealing with ceramics there are two different kinds of tools that are necessary to complete any single piece. First you have tools that are used by hand (carving tools, casting molds, potter's wheel, etc..) these are all used when forming a new piece. Second, you have the tools that are necessary for finishing a piece to a desired look (i.e.: a pottery wheel for trimming, glazing tools, a kiln for firing, etc...).


Jess: Share a little about the process involved in your work
Janet: When creating a new piece from scratch I usually like to jump right into the sculpting process (I never made using a sketchbook much of a habit). I love how I can start with a lump of clay and immediately form it into a bowl, cup, planter, etc... and go on from there. The process doesn't end there though, half of the fun comes after the clay has been molded into it's initial form and is at the 'leather hard' stage (leather hard: unfired pottery or greenware, that has dried and hardened to a point that it can be trimmed and/or decorated). I really enjoy working at the 'leather hard' stage because you can take a simple form like a planter and add texture, colour, etc... This is the stage where each piece really becomes its own unique form.

Jess: Where do you look for inspiration?
Janet: I tend to look for inspiration everywhere but often find it in the same few places. For texture inspiration, I tend to find it in fashion design and/or architecture (I often experiment with fabrics by pressing them into the clay surface to create new textures). For form, colour and pattern inspiration, I tend to look back at what potters from the mid century were doing; I really love the simplicity of the form combined with the repetition, and complexity of the patterns from the 1960's, the funky colours they were using are also pretty amazing. 

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Janet has a great social media feed, you can follow along with her on instagram here.

I carry several colours of Hinkleville mini planters, potted up with cacti and succulents, and happily now have some of Janet's gorgeous mugs in stock too.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

In the shop: the best plant for dark interiors

While succulents and cacti are getting a lot of love and attention these days, the reality is that most people don't have the right location in their home for these high light loving plants.  Take home a succulent terrarium and after a short time in that dark back corner of your home, they aren't going to survive.  But don't despair, let me introduce you to a plant that does do well in lower light: the zamioculcas zamiifolia (or ZZ for short!)

This leafy deep green plant does very well in both medium and lower light conditions, and even survives short periods of underwatering without any long term damage.   Each individual leaf has an unusually long life span, which is possibly the reason it can do so well in conditions other plants find difficult. 

As with most other low light tolerant plants, the ZZ is a slow grower, which does mean the plants are generally a little more of an investment if you are looking for a larger pot size.

How do you know if your light is high, medium or low? A general rule of thumb, if you can sit with a book and read very easily without turning on any interior lights in the daytime, them you have high light in that area. But be aware that light conditions change as you move away from the window.  The front third of a room with an unobstructed window is best for higher light loving plants such as succulents.  The middle section is best for medium light lovers such as airplants, and the back third, furthest from the window is most definitely low light and will be tolerated only by a short list of shade loving plants such as the ZZ. (Keep in mind also that putting plants in corners or on the side walls, where the sunlight doesn't actually hit, means that is a dark area, even if it's in the front section near the window.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Current obsession: Craspedia


I'm a bit of a colour fanatic, and nothing pleases me more than a sharp hit of bright yellow.



 Craspedia are perfect for this, adding a little textural hit of sunshine to my arrangements.


Commonly called "billy buttons", craspedia are actually native to Australia and New Zealand and are part of the daisy family. They can grow in varied conditions in warmer climates, but there are Ontario flower farmers growing them as annuals. They can apparently grow up to 24 inches tall!


 Up close the heads look like little tennisballs! And they dry amazingly well, with no change in colour at all so you can pull them out of your arrangement and keep them to give a splash of sunshine any time of year.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Growers of beauty: La Primavera Farm

This series of "growers of beauty" posts takes a look at where the beautiful flowers are coming from, letting us meet the farmers that work so hard to bring these blooms to market for us.

I"d like to introduce you to La Primavera Farms.

 I am out at the flower auction twice a week, picking up the blooms I bid on to bring back to the shop.  The auction is supplied by Ontario farmers who make the trip in to Mississauga and deliver their gorgeous crops of blooms for the floral trade to bid on through a reverse auction process ( the price starts high and goes down, but if you don't grab it before someone else does you are out of luck!) Last week I picked up a pail of the most delectable Scabiosa grown by the father/daughter team of Juan and Joanne.

As I bid on them I can see the farm name pop up, so I reached out to Joanne to find out more about the farm. She very graciously took time to reply ( I can't even imagine how long a farmer's day is during the growing season) and has allowed me to share some of her photos with you.

The farm has been operating and growing since 1954, located in Dundas, Ontario.  It's clear from their social media that they have a passion for the industry.  Joanne's husband and two daughters get in on the action too.

 As well as selling flowers to florists, Joanne is at many farmers markets with her cut bouquets and also designs for weddings and events.  Their flowers are available from May to October, with the selection changing and shifting with the weather and the seasons.

I love this quote from the farm's website:

"If you ask Joanne, the best part of the day is just as the sun rises on a spring day, walking to the barn in the mist. It’s a rare time that things are quiet, and you can stop to smell the flowers, as you load them into the truck for market" 

 As I was wrapping up a bouquet this week that included mostly all Ontario grown blooms, including some of La Primavera's Scabiosa, I mentioned to my customer where everything came from and we were delighted to realize that Joanne had made the customer's wedding flowers, a nice small-flower-world moment.