Floral adventures in May.
I’ve often joked that I have found the perfect Portland house in Boise. It is surrounded by 3 giant evergreens, rhododendrons, azaleas, a patio filled with wisteria, a stone walkway, and a trellis of blackberries. It has become my corner oasis and the place I’m the happiest. Recently, however, I discovered how much it really is like living in Portland… SLUGS! Most of my cousins will tell you I love slugs, and it’s true, I’ve had a bizarre obsession with them since I was a little girl. One summer, I bought every t-shirt I could find that had a joke and a picture on it about slugs (you’d be amazed at how many one could find). I even have a can of slugs (it’s really stewed tomatoes and when you shake it, it feels like there could be slugs in it). I spent years grossing people out, resulting in tons of laughter, with that can. This time, I’m not so happy about finding these fat, slimy creatures. Not only are they eating my flowers, they are in my garden baskets that I planted for a downtown restaurant’s patio. I started these baskets later than the traditional greenhouse, which are usually planted in February, and I acquired the contract in late April. Starting a few months behind as it is, the rain and cooler temperatures in May also slowed the process - and these little leaf suckers really put a wrench in that process. Luckily, I was able to remove most of them and the plants are now flourishing. Hooray! I’m sure it was comical for the neighbors that might have caught a glimpse of me “eradicating” them.
Flowerland was an adventure in May. It started out with a trip to Baker City, OR, to purchase wholesale flowering plants, and where I found a little piece of paradise at the end of a dirt road. On another adventure, we drove out to Marsing to deliver wedding flowers at St. Chapelle. I always love dropping down into that valley. It reminds me of my hometown and has the same sweet smell from the Russian Olive trees and the Snake River. The fields just past Nampa were filled with blooming Canola flowers (in my head I always call them cannolis because of my friend from Brooklyn) which was thrilling to see against the blue clear sky - what a beautiful contrast.
In addition to planting 28 garden baskets this spring, I was also selected to be the guest artist at State & Lemp. I created 30 custom crafted air plant sculptures to fill their walls. As the featured artist, myself and a guest were invited to dine and of course, I took the obvious route and invited my sister.. It was wonderful to share a part of my world with her and I was grateful for her support. If you have not been there, please put this on your list of places to go this summer. They are incredible and it’s not just about eating fantastic food, it’s a well thought out and structured event that will fulfill a space you never knew existed. The chefs created a menu to reflect and enhance the sculptures - and might I say, it tasted exactly like I would imagine them to taste, and I hadn’t even thought about how they would taste. Each bite unfolded layers of flavors and it was intoxicating. The show is still going and I’ve been asked to design more, as they have sold several, and want to keep the walls filled.
In late April I participated in a fashion design contest at Boise Art Museum. After the event, my dress was put on display at Freak Alley Gallery, and was a featured piece for First Thursday, as well as through the month of May. At the end of the month, Colby (curator and owner of the gallery) informed me that they would like to continue having it in the gallery front window for an additional two months. They have had several inquiries and interest from brides specifically. This is exactly the direction I have wanted to take it! I still can’t believe that I’m a featured artist at two locations simultaneously and that they are so diverse in my field of art.
Mother’s Day- the biggest floral holiday of the year- and a wedding. Enough said, right?
May was capped off with a trip to Portland to design flowers for an Alice in Wonderland Sweet Sixteen Tea Party. Portland always feels like home, and tears of joy and giddy butterflies loop through my stomach as soon as I curve around I-84 to connect with I-5. Every. Single. Time. I become speechless the moment the car door opens and I feel the woody, mossy, moist air on my skin. While the drive there is always a little boring, at least until you drop into the Gorge, on a clear day Mnt. Hood is visible and it always takes my breath away. Driving is worth it for me because I have access to bring the most amazing flowers home to use in creating new designs. While I was there, my first night was with my dearest friend Lia (check out how amazing and inspirational she is), and I spent the next morning at the Portland Flower Market. After 4 glorious hours of creative stimulation, inspiration, and geeking out with the plants, flowers and supplies to bring back with me, I rushed back to Lia’s and designed a bouquet for her photoshoot featuring an outside dinner party with her team. It was amazing. You can view it here!
Once on location for the Alice in Wonderland party, I quickly started working and cutting all the flowers for the party. While this may not be exciting for others, it’s dreamy to have a knife in hand and the go-ahead to chop whatever I wanted. Gardens in Oregon are typically not like Idaho’s - It’s truly an adventure. My Uncle always thinks I’m nuts to be gathering branches lying around their lake…He’d rather put them in the burn pile, but they have moss on them! Glorious little pieces of plush moss. That’s gold right there to a florist! There are also calla lilies that grow 3’ tall, every delicious color of hydrangea, smoke bush so soft that you can’t help but pet it, magnolia leaves and varieties of shrubs.... It’s insane. Maybe I’m insane. Go this way. Go that way. Oh wait, I went down the rabbit hole. ;) The party was gorgeous and the attention to detail was impressive. More girls should have Sweet Sixteen parties like this.
By the last day of my stay in PDX, I had only had 3 days off the entire month, so Lia and I spent the afternoon together at some of my favorite places. One of these is St. Honore Boulangerie, where they have an almond croissant that blows my brain. It’s filled with a butter/almond paste (clearly a type of butter crack) with a perfect crispy exterior. Go there. Do it. You’ll love and hate me because you’ll be hooked too. The last part of our afternoon was spent at Powell’s and if you don’t know what that is, we can’t be friends. Well, maybe we can, but only if you let me introduce you to this amazing place - 3 stories and one city block filled with books. Truly a treasured place for me, since I am a book junkie. My interests are generally piqued by authors instead of genres and currently, I'm enthralled with Ernest Hemingway's life. Of course, I also picked up another Cormac McCarthy to add to my collection. He was introduced to me a few years ago, and I gobbled up all but a few of his books. I'm savoring the last few because I don't want it to end.
The end of May brought another invitation to restock and design faux flowers for Essential Glassworks Gallery in Moscow, Idaho. It's such an honor to be invited to these galleries and restaurants. I often just ponder how I got here - to be a florist and have your work featured as an art piece... I've been working this path intently for years and the traditional box of floristry has busted the seams. I am no longer viewed in the typical sense of just being a florist, but rather a floral artist. It's surreal!
June will be spent catching up, reorganizing, meeting with brides for their weddings, play time with my kiddo, SUP time, and resting. Of course I hope our next time out on the board doesn't dictate how it will go... I forgot the paddle our first run out. ;)
Be safe, have fun, and buy flowers!
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