California Pajarosa roses adorn the tutu, bodice and headpiece designed by Teresa Sabankaya for American Flowers Week 2017.

Floral Palette: California-grown hybrid tea roses, garden roses and spray roses and their seasonal companions
Designer: Teresa Sabankaya, Bonny Doon Garden Co., (Santa Cruz, CA)
Floral ingredients supplied by California Pajarosa, Watsonville, CA, and Bonny Doon Garden Co., Santa Cruz, CA

Teresa Sabankaya in the Bonny Doon Garden Co. cutting garden.

Teresa Sabankaya launched her floral business Bonny Doon Garden Co. by selling single stems, bunches and bouquets from a kiosk in downtown Santa Cruz, Calif. She often stocked the tiny shop with cuttings from her vast residential garden in the nearby hamlet of Bonny Doon, called Shangri-La by locals for its remote and stunning natural beauty.

As author Amy Stewart wrote in her groundbreaking book Flower Confidential, “Teresa Sabankaya has the kind of flower shop that you would dream about opening, if you are the kind of person who dreams of opening a flower shop . . . (it) fit with my idea of how floral commerce must work — you’d grow some flowers in your garden, you’d buy some from a farmer down the road, and you’d put them in buckets and sell them to your neighbors.”

A decade after being profiled by Stewart, Teresa is still designing and selling her signature garden-style florals throughout the greater Santa Cruz area, although today Bonny Doon Garden Co. is housed inside the coastal city’s New Leaf Community Market. As a Veriflora Certified Retail Florist, the shop assures customers the product they buy is grown in a sustainable manner, including from domestic flower farms.

“We source mainly from local organic and sustainable flower farms, thus assuring you a very fresh product,” Teresa explains on her web site’s home page. “We love to incorporate materials from our own cutting garden in Bonny Doon, too, while using the surrounding woods, meadows and vineyards as our inspiration.”

The 11-acre Sabankaya grounds are often home to styled shoots, attracting private design students and photographers alike. It serves as the ideal setting for Teresa’s American Flowers Week creation, a wearable rose tutu and headpiece to accompany her model’s pink satin corset.

With her model (and daughter) Antalia Sabankaya as her muse, Teresa selected an intense, fiesta-hued palette with roses dominating her design. The pristine hybrids, sprays and garden roses are more local than most, having been raised in sheltering greenhouses just miles away in Watsonville, where friend and flower farmer Paul Furman runs California Pajarosa Roses.

“I absolutely love his product,” Teresa raves. Her enthusiasm and commitment to green practices in her business are in alignment with the second-generation rose farmer’s decision to pursue Veriflora Certification for California Pajarosa.
“I am so impressed that Paul went through the process of switching from conventional growing to a sustainable method that allowed the farm to also become Veriflora Certified,” she says. “It can be an expensive process for growers and it’s not easy.”

While planning the rose-infused wearable floral fashion shoot for American Flowers Week, Teresa zeroed in on one of her favorites grown at Pajarosa: the ‘Alhambra’ rose. “That was my star rose,” she says. “It almost looks like a garden rose with its high petal count and the petals range from pinky peach to orange to fuchsia on the outer petals.”

Teresa wanted to design a flattering floral tutu that accentuated Antalia’s fitted pink satin corset. She researched magazines and Pinterest boards for inspiration and found a tutu made from silk flowers that got her thinking about constructing a tutu that wouldn’t collapse under the weight of real roses.

“While tulle fabric wouldn’t have worked, I found a gold mesh product from Oasis and began playing around with it,” Teresa says. She used 24-inch lengths of the mesh to shape “petals,” layering them to form a “flower” skirt. Matching gold Oasis flat wire woven through the mesh grid serves as a “belt” that fastens to Antalia’s waist.
The design begins with a tight pavé rose pattern to accentuate the tutu’s waistline. Teresa attached botanical elements with a combination of glue and gold wire, the tails of which are like little tendrils dangling from the skirt.

“The metal mesh itself isn’t that strong, but the wire edges of each petal hold their shape,” the designer explains. “As I folded the pieces, they formed a pouf here and a tip there to create the petal look I wanted.”

Teresa realized she didn’t want to complete cover the mesh with flowers, but instead allow the material to be the tulle-like element of her design. “I put something lacy toward the tips of each petal, pieris and jasmine from my garden that supplements Paul’s roses for a lacy, frilly look.”

The corresponding headpiece relates to the skirt with one distinct difference. “We had been cutting tree peonies from my garden to sell at the shop and the intense color was a perfect complement to Paul’s roses,” Teresa says. “I knew I had to add one to the headpiece.”

With the backdrop of her property’s Mediterranean-style architecture and its lush, secret garden to showcase her all-local floral couture, Teresa’s imagination plays out in the third dimension, made more special because she collaborated with family and longtime floral industry colleagues to celebrate American Flowers Week. “I want people to look at this picture, to look at those flowers, and feel the way I feel when I get to design with them,” she says.


Model: Antalia Sabankaya
Makeup: Zachary Winer
Hair: Carly Vollers
Photography: John Kaemmerling Photography
Location: Sabankaya family garden, Bonny Doon, CA

Originally published in FLORISTS’ REVIEW | JUNE 2017 |