Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A fall wedding

 This past weekend I put together flowers for one of my favourite weddings of the year.
The lovely couple included lots of DIY elements and really personalized every part of the day.
The bride carried a wild textural bouquet of fall blooms and greens.

 The bridesmaids carried smaller versions of the same.

We didn't do any flowers for the ceremony which was held at at Greek Orthodox Church, instead the couple chose to use their floral budget on the reception space.

 Held in downtown Toronto, at Airship37, the reception had lots of character. As guests arrived they entered the unique warehouse style space and enjoyed a cocktail in the bar area. which we decorated lightly with some simple arrangements made in metallic tins. Each held a slightly sifferent selection of flowers and greens, all in the main colour theme of deep reds with  some soft peaches and pinks.

As guests moved along a small hallway they passed by this collection of tins set along a window ledge. This then opened into the main space filled with guest tables for the evening dinner.

I loved the concept we worked with for the table pieces. The bride and groom  had collected tins of various sizes which they spray painted a lovely copper colour. They used a wooden plank piece to create a charger for the  arrangements, which were lush and textured with roses, spray roses, dahlias, wax flower,cottinus greener, seeded eucalyptus and a succulent. Next to that we added a smaller tin with a simple cluster of either sedum or red hypericum berries, and this held the custom made laser cut wood table numbers.  A printed menu card was set next to the flowers, and each table had a rose gold coloured llama figurine, a nod to the story of how the couple met on a trip to Tibet.

Even the bar had a special personal touch!

This wedding had everything I love involved- a couple with a great sense of fun and creative spirit, a vintage inspired venue and an eclectic floral mix with colour and fun.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

In the shop:chicken wire and flower frogs

 I've been working on phasing out the use of floral foam at the shop and have been really enjoying the results from using alternative mechanics.

Developed in the 1950's, floral foam revolutionized the floral industry by introducing a product that holds water and supplies it to the cut flowers placed into it, allowing florists to use low or unusual shaped containers.

Unfortunately, however, the foam is made from a chemical mix that does not decompose, so is filling up our landfill sites, and somewhat more alarmingly the foam is believed to be carcinogenic.  The foam in its dry form ( which is how it is stored in a flower shop)  throws up large amounts of  chemical dust into the air and that toxic dust has been strongly associated with types of cancer, especially lung cancer.

So what is a florist to do, when the industry norm is a scary environmental and health issue? well, I've moved back to my floral training and returned to the oldschool mechanics of days gone by- chicken wire and flower frogs!

As you can see in the top photo, chicken wire gets easily folded and molded into a little "bubble" that goes into the vase.  Low vases can be tricky to work with, but using this chicken wire cage allows a designer to achieve a wonderful, loose and wide shape.  When you are designing for pieces that are going to be moved around, such as going out on delivery, mechanics need to keep everything stable and in the place you put it. (The other method florists often use with vases is to create a gird of clear tape across the mouth, but with a low vase this won't work- the stems will "flip" to the side and the stem end will not be in the water.)The photo above is of the finished vase, made with the chicken wire cage.

Another oldschool florist trick is to use a flower frog, the type I use in the shop most often is a pin frog. These are just genius.

A heavy metal set of vertical pins sits in the base of the container and you press the stems into the pins to keep them where you want them.

I find the shape and flow I can achieve with chicken wire and pin frogs is so much better than with foam, creatively it feels much more organic and artistically challenging, if that makes any sense at all!

There are also ceramic and metal flower frogs that are almost like little pots with holes in, many florists collect them as they come in so many amazing formats....I think I may have found a new obsession to collect myself!.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

In the shop: fall flowers

 It's another busy season at the shop,  with weddings still happening plus all our day to day orders. Add in the Jewish New Year and thanksgiving weekend and that's a lot of flowers being designed and delivered! I thought I'd share a few of my favourites with you here.  We grab a quick photo of our orders before they head out, and at the end of the day they get emailed to the senders to show them what was sent- here are some from the past couple of weeks that show all the amazing beauty of fall.

And here is a little slow motion sneak peek video of inside the shop on one of our busiest days here, the day before Rosh Hashannah- we had a full crew on board with the lovely and talented Vanessa, Angele and Mannuella creating amazing art and lots of laughs all day!


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Weddings: presenting the bouquets

Each wedding I make flowers for, there is a certain moment where time slows down, where everything seems to hang momentarily and my heart leaps to my throat as I walk into a room and present the bouquets to the bride.  It's a precious moment, yet one I desperately want to get past. Will she like it? will I see her eyes gleam and her mouth smile as I turn the corner? Will there be tears of joy?

I have always felt this moment of worry, despite having presented countless brides with their special flowers.  Recently I had started to worry that it was me, the classic imposter syndrome that so many creatives feel.

But over the past couple of weeks I've heard several of my floral heroes mention the same trepidation, seasoned designers who fly across the globe at special request to create flowers for brides that end up on the pages of magazines or pinned repeatedly onto pinterest boards. That moment of greeting the bride and handing her the bridal bouquet still makes them feel anxious.

It would seem that it is part and parcel of being a floral designer, to create this most personal of pieces that a bride carries with her through the day as she marries her life's love and to worry that somehow you've misjudged her heart's desire.  And so I am going to try to embrace this moment in time. As I stand in the elevator racing to the highest floor of a hotel, or wait at the door and press the bell I will take a deep breath and fully feel the emotion of the day. I will not try to race past it, but rather will take it in as a sign that I am doing my job well.

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.