Ode to 2021

This has been an amazing year of learning and opportunity. I have grown and continue to grow in my art. I have been a maker and creative for as long as I can remember. I have learned that floral design is like sculpture and cooking. There are ingredients that have texture, line, color, shape, and absolute beauty. The ingredients are unique and have special needs for processing and storing. Each bloom and branch has optimal design elements that create the most visually pleasing experience. Increased freshness and vase life is a race against time, or better viewed as the acceptance of time. Flowers do die once cut and in that brief moment, that beauty brings joy, pleasure, and peace. 

This learning has taken place over my lifetime as well as over the last few years as a floral designer, working with flowers as the medium. I have studied, read, viewed, practiced, and shared what I have learned. I am continually inspired by talented florists and dedicated growers. If there is one thing that inspires me are the growers. We have built relationships of trust and collaboration. I continue to improve my observation of growing and blooming culture. And, I continue to find new local growers who are just as excited as I am. I have learned to trust the growers and accept the wild side of nature.

My team is the sisters I never had. Aren’t all good friends like that? We have grown so much as floral designers, growers, business ladies, and as friends. If a critique of our work or behaviors is in order, we usually preface it with “said with love”. And, I know it is. I also know that I talk…a lot. And my chattering isn’t really intended for others to listen, it is me talking to the flowers about what I am doing or what I am going to do. And there are also times when I have a story to tell and I do want the audience. However, the audience is busy making beautiful things with flowers and frankly are not listening. I get it. And I thank you ladies, for being my sisters and friends. 

I am ever so thankful for the folks who have trusted me and my team to create a floral vision for important events and milestones. Those special days, whether sad, joyous, or bittersweet, are made better with flowers and we are so appreciative of the opportunity to share our love of flowers, our talents, and inspirations. 

Everyone has one suit for two occasions…

weddings and funerals. Uncle Jimmy said that if I was going into the flower business, I will be doing funerals. I scoffed at first because I thought, who wants to do funerals? It feels so unsavory. I changed my mind.

There are these big things that happen in our lives where people come together to witness the journey. We celebrate the day we get here, the days in between and the day we leave. Uncle Jimmy said “you live and you die”. Of course, of course you do. He added “everybody needs funeral flowers”.  Why do we need flowers?  Funerals are the remembering, the loving, the celebrating, the reconciling and the grieving of life.

The hard good-byes, the ones that hurt the most, require tenderness, courage and a little humor. There is that time when we all find comfort with others. Most recent, we had to say good bye, for now, to two lovely people. They were lovely in all that this means: loving, having love and being everything lovely.  They are uniquely part of the Wildflower family in such meaningful ways. Many of the flowers in our bouquets came from gramma’s garden and seeds from gramma’s flowers spanning generations. Her zinnias are everywhere and para siempre. We are with our ancestors always; they are not far.  I had the inspiration to make floral arrangements for one of the gramma’s. As a florist, I wanted to practice, as an artist, I wanted to create and as the friend, I wanted to give. The entire process from researching, planning, creating and sharing opened my heart and mind to the leave-taking side of florals. The funeral flowers. The process, like life, por supuesto, is sad but also challenging, beautiful, awkward and loving.

I like doing funeral flowers. It is beautiful and sad. And, it is O.K. We will say good bye to our grandparents, our parents, our siblings, our children and our dearest of friends and chosen tribe. We will have our suit and our spirit. And, we will not be alone. Flowers lift up and brighten the spiritual journey for all gathered.

Here is an article that gives evidence of the healing power of flowers.

Flower Power

With a little care…

your flowers can last well into the month after your big day. For real. Folks ask how to preserve the bouquets and arrangements and we will share some tips and tricks that work for us. After all, Auntie Em and Gramma want to enjoy the centerpiece arrangements on their dining room table for beauty and as a reminder of your special day. You may want to cherish your bouquet and the mini bouquets aka boutonnieres a bit longer too.

Fresh flowers can be maintained by releasing the stems from the arrangement, cutting the bottom tips and placing in fresh water. Changing the water every other day helps to keep the flower hydrated and the water clean of bacteria. Sounds like too much effort? No worries. Fuss less and still, you will continue to enjoy our flowers weeks later. You can use the flower food packet you get with your store bought bouquets. If you don’t have any stuffed in that one drawer, no worries. It is essentially a mix of bleach and sugar. House Beautiful is probably right. And if making a quart of some flower water is too much, scientists have shown that the storage temperature is what really helps. We keep our flower fridges about 38-39 F. Your average household fridge has fruit and vegetables which emit a harmful gas to flowers. Better to change the water once in a while, with a few drops of bleach.

  • Cut the rose stems to about an inch.
  • Place in small jam jars, submerging up to the bottom of the rose.
  • Put a whole bunch of these roses all over: Your bathroom, next to the coffee pot, a few arranged on a plate as a centerpiece on your dinner or coffee table, night stand, guest room, the cup holder in your car…anywhere!

Honestly, with a little effort, you can enjoy  your fresh flowers for more than a month.

We usually take any extra flowers to the local elder care or we take them to the studio to recreate more beauty to share.

Happily, your bouquets and all the fresh flowers are forever saved in photographic collections, of which you can always frame and display in your home. Some artists and businesses will make a poster of your bouquet. One place in particular will appeal to the botanical and scientific aspect of your flowers. Check this out!  Others glass press your blooms like this vendor on Etsy.  This artist also dries and presses your bouquet like this Stephanie Walshak

You can always hang your bouquet upside down in a cool, dry place. If your flowers are in a wet foam, remove the stems, tie together and hang. After a few weeks, you can arrange them  however you desire. The colors will fade, but the memories won’t.

Not to be too punny or heavy, but you can make a paperweight with your flowers too!

Related image

Check this link for more ideas on how you can DIY

It is your wedding…or so they say

We, the parents, the bridesmaids, the florist, the caterer and the venue coordinator are reminded of this. It is not our wedding. I remember, my wedding and it started out as my wedding, then turned to OUR wedding and then, in the end, it was everyone’s wedding. Yes, the initial ideas of colors and flowers and decorations, the ceremony and cakes and food and venue and music, it is about you and your partner. Eventually, though, with more cooks in the kitchen, the wedding becomes an event for all of us. You and your partner are the center and we are celebrating  you, your union, your love, your future and what you, as two, will give back to the community. We are there for you two, and you are here for us, to witness, to support, to love and to encourage. So, yes, it is YOUR wedding but is your family, friends and community that you do this event for. When you elope and go to the Love Chapel in Las Vegas, it is your wedding. When you invite your family and friends, you include us in your celebration of love. Love is gentle, kind and as you learn, very patient, flexible and forgiving. Your wedding is your wedding and you will have the flowers you want and the colors you hope for but then again, you might not. The tuxedo rental store may not have your colors, the caterer runs out of steak, the bartender does not know how to make those Brandy Old Fashions, the florist could not get those orchids within your price range, your aunt shows up with unplanned cupcakes to add to the cake table, the party barn is short a few tables and it just might rain that day. It is all good. You got your person, your family and your friends and the big day is for all of us.

This is a big day, the biggest party you may ever have in your honor and your family and friends are here for you.

Growing into ourselves

We have been watching the engagements announcements like we watch the lives of our former students take shape. Some of you are graduating from college and moving to another city to be more who you want to be. Some of you have started new jobs that are far from what you thought you would do. Some of you took the long way to find what you really enjoy and what makes you happy. Some of you have found the love of your life. Some of you faced difficult challenges through loss and dreams dashed.

Our little community has seen its fare share of loss. Our best friend, father, mother, brother, sister and grandparent leaving this place we call home to go to another home, close yet far, to remain in our hearts and memories forever. It is hard and it is the time we feel most human, the smallest of beings, the biggest of spirit and the rawest of emotion. We feel the most connected to just how short life is. How fleeting, yet full the beauty of life and the relationships we get to love.

A former students is doing her dissertation in forensic anthropology. Essentially, she is analyzing human remains in order to give that person a name, a family and a place in history. Some youth groups will go to the funeral of the unknown to bear witness to the lonely veteran or the homeless addict or the forgotten elder who passed quietly in a shelter. I love that we are there for people even when they are gone. Even if we didn’t know them, we are there to hold their memory, their soul in our thoughts. And we grow into who we are supposed to be.

Beauty is good for the soul

Beauty is good for the soul

And science proves what we already know. We need beauty and we like it around us. We strive to make it and be it, no matter our aesthetic, our standard of beauty or our pocket book. We know what we like. We know what pleases our eye and we gravitate towards that. The beauty is sensational. We feel it through our eyes, our hands, our nose, our ears, our feelings and we know it deep in our heart and soul. We record it in our memories.

We want to share the experience of beauty. Sometimes, we want to be alone with it. When we share it, we draw ourselves closer and happier. When we are alone, we grow in our gratitude and joy. Maybe this beauty brings nostalgia or a person of the past. We may sit with tender thoughts.

Beauty is bold and gives energy. It invigorates our imagination. It takes our breath away and may just push us down or bring us to our knees. And it can’t be so easily imitated. It is authentic, in the moment and at the same time, forever.

Nature brings us this sense of being. In Spanish, “being” can be interpreted in two ways: the permanent and the temporary. A flower in the field or a flower in a vase. Both bring beauty and being to the traveler, forever and fleeting. Borges writes:

Soy eco, olivido, nada.

I am eco, forgotten, nothing. Though blind, he wrote of beauty, big and alone; a beauty of brother and sisterhood reflected in each other.

Our understanding of the universe is ever changing and adapting to new knowledge. Some physicists recently played with some numbers and their math suggests that there was no beginning of the universe: it has always been. So it is with beauty. Forever, ethereal, an eco of our ancestral connection to nature and each other.


The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

mom and jimmy

And so it begins. They say if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. Well, that is not the way I see it. Work is good and fun. This Midwest work ethic runs deep. As a teacher, I love what I do and it is work, a labor of love. Being creative is work, albeit fun work but still, the mind is on high power, the hands are engaged and the fun is to be had. If there is one thing in the world that I love most, besides the amazing people in my life, is engaging in the creative process with nature, also known as gardening. I could never wear gloves while touching the earth. I know it is a bit mysterious and if I knew everything I was touching, I might wear gloves. I don’t want to know, I just want to do. If we knew everything we were getting into, we might not do anything at all.

I also love to make people feel special, loved and included. If not teaching, then creating a beautiful space to make memories with family and friends. Memories are those moments in life that are captured by the heart and replayed in the mind, felt on the skin and the smell of lavender brings back my grandmother. The coming, the going, the being and the joining. All of it. Some memories are bittersweet and some oh so sweet. I told my uncle that I wanted to do flowers. He sat back in his chair, behind the big glass covered desk at his flower shop in north Minneapolis and chuckled. He gave me some trade “look books” from the 80’s and told me: If you are doing flowers, you are doing funerals too. I balked at first and slightly scoffed, thinking, “nah, I am just doing weddings and parties.” And then I remembered his sister, my mother. He and my mom did a lot of flowers over the years. With them, they DO flowers. Everywhere, flowers: the mall, the street corner, the wedding, the church, the television stations, the hotels, the corporate offices and the funerals. And I remember he did the flowers for his sister’s memorial celebration of life. He wanted the family gathering on the Mississippi River, just north of the Cities where he, my mom and all of the family were raised. Those floral arrangements were an act of love, deep love that is only shared and felt between those two.  My uncle did all the flowers for all the family weddings and this funeral.  He takes care of us. If that is one thing I can do, it is that: an act of love, no matter the circumstance, no matter the time.

Uncle Jimmy’s Flower Shoppe