Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Botanique Spring Subscription: Week Two

Week two! I am really enjoying this subscription. It is so awesome to create a new design every week with no restrictions other than local, in season, and fresh. I truly think this is the way to get the best flowers possible, and often the best designs too. If you start with super fresh, seasonal flowers, they do a lot of the work for you.
This was an exciting week because I got to use lots of flowers from the Botanique Cutting Garden- it is so nice that all the digging (LOTS OF DIGGING), planting, mulching, seed rearing and planning is starting to pay off in such beautiful blooms.
Check out the petals on these parrot tulips! I am in love. I definitely want to plant more of these next year.
This week's arrangement included: Black Parrot Tulips, Lily of the Valley and Lilacs from the Botanique Cutting Garden, and Delphinium, Sweet Peas, Lambs Ear foliage and Pearl Bush from J. Foss Garden Flowers in Chehalis, WA.
P.S. The combination of lilac, lily of the valley and sweet peas is one of the most amazing fragrances I have ever experienced. Heavenly.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Bloedel Reserve

Fernne noted that the greens were so bright they looked like gold...
Roger sited a Robert Frost poem:

"Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay."

Strolling around the woods with my in-laws-to-be. So inspired by them. Feeling so lucky. Surrounded by green and by gold.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Botanique Seasonal Subscription: Week One

It was at least two years ago when I originally had the idea to start a weekly floral design subscription. At the time, I thought I would source flowers, foliage and other interesting seasonal elements exclusively from my gardening clients yards, based solely on whatever needed pruning, had been knocked down by the wind, or otherwise would have been removed for maintenance purposes. Needless to say, this plan had some major flaws: gathering vase-worthy materials SOLELY from garden scraps for one, and figuring out how exactly to explain what I was asking of my clients for two. Imagine how this conversation would have gone: "Can I cut flowers from your garden, but only the ones you don't actually want, I mean, the ones that have been blown over? Or if I am pruning a shrub, I could just use the clippings..." Hmmmm.... I imagine I would have been met with some very doubtful looks.
This idea germinated before I had really started designing flowers professionally. Now that floral design has become one of the primary foci of Botanique's services, I am fortunate to know where to source these local blooms without raiding anyone's garden in the process! ( In addition to the Botanique Cutting Garden, that place is the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, a collective of flower growers in the Pacific Northwest who set up a weekly market where they sell their gorgeous blooms directly to florists- it is quite an amazing and inspiring place!)
I am so excited to mark today as the first day of the Botanique Seasonal Subscription! The original idea has come a long way. I have held on to the desire to source everything as local as possible- at the heart of the subscription lies the commitment to source flowers exclusively from farms in the Pacific Northwest- nothing imported! This is a big deal in the floral industry, as a commitment to exclusively local product connotes a certain level of compromise: you can't get any flower, any time of year- whether in season or not. Additionally, local blooms often cost a bit more than imported ones- but as with any commodity, if you trace back the roots of why the imported blooms cost less than the domestic ones, you will find a host of unsavory truths: poor working conditions, massive pesticide use, jet fuel pollution to fly the blooms worldwide... flowers are political, people! (If you're interested to read more about this, I would recommend two amazing books: A Flower Confidential by Amy Stewart, and the recently published The 50 Mile Bouquet by Debra Prinzing, which features many of the local flower farmers whose blooms I use on a weekly basis.)
I would prefer to know EXACTLY where the flowers were grown, under what conditions and by whom, to get the freshest flowers available because they come directly from the farm (no air travel!!!), and to stay in touch with the natural rhythms of the season. By far my favorite way to design is to go to the market and be inspired by what is freshest, most vibrant and most exciting that day- and that's what I love about the subscription. Subscribers are surprised each week with a new arrangement that is created from the best findings in local flowers that week- this means that you can't request a certain color or flowers, but it also means you truly get the BEST that the season has to offer.
This week's arrangement includes hellebores from Jello Mold Farm in Mt. Vernon, WA, Snowball Viburnum from Oregon Coastal Flowers in Tillamook, OR, Parrot Tulips from Choice Bulb Farms in Mt. Vernon, WA, and Huckleberry foliage from Paradise Found Forest Products in Olympia, WA.

Thanks to all the subscribers for riding the very first wave of this business endeavor, and for trusting me to create something magical each week! It is literally a dream come true.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Last Call!

Last call to sign up for the Botanique Spring Subscription! The subscription starts NEXT THURSDAY, APRIL 19TH!

A weekly arrangement of fresh, locally-grown, gorgeous flowers, styled with Botanique's eye towards whimsy, beauty and romance could be yours: there are TWO spots left in the Spring Subscription! Sign up by clicking here.

The Botanique Cutting Garden is starting to bloom with spring beauties like the fragrant Narcissus, Muscari, Euphorbia and Iceland Poppies in this arrangement. They smell amazing, are grown right here in Seattle, and are 100% free of toxic pesticides and fertilizers. You will love them. Sign up!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mexico, Muscari and Magic

Yep, that's right. We were in MEXICO.

A wonderful, week-long trip with Eli's family, filled with ocean swims, sandy beaches, delicious food, good company, snorkeling, more sun and bright flowers than I could possibly dream up, beach-side Cribbage tournaments, *INCREDIBLE* papaya, pineapple and pina coladas.....

Every day our bed was decorated with fresh flowers.... AMAZING! And I LOVED that bright yellow wall.

Coming home is a bit of a rough transition: suddenly there is SO much work to be done, and the cool, rainy sky just doesn't feel quite as good as that warm sun. While we were in Mexico, not ONCE did I even see a clock. Now I feel acutely aware of the time passing, and all the things that need to be done in the short hours of the day. But I also feel so lucky-- lucky to have spent an incredible week with the people that I love so much, and lucky to come home to such a beautiful life! Check out the magic we came home to!!!

MUSCARI!!!! It smells like candy.

And these narcissus are budded and ready to pick!!!!

And thanks to Jim, our intrepid landlord who took over all the chores of seed care, we have some very happy little flower babies!

The cardoon and nicotiana starts literally tripled in size while we were away. It just amazes me how fast these teeny tiny seeds go from barely visible specks to luscious, fuzzy foliage.

Outside, the delphinium, bachelor buttons, and sweet peas started sprouting... it is really magical to see how much happens in just one week. And onward into the spring we go! Hoping to keep the relaxed, chill perspective that I found in Mexico as I tackle the proposals, estimates, planting schedule and flower orders sitting in front of me!