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American Flowers Week with Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore (center) at M&M Plants. (c) Erin Tetterton Photography

By Mackenzie Nichols

Kelly Shore Hosts American Flowers Week Interactive Flower Crown Party and Farm Tour

In honor of American Flowers Week, one East Coast florist hosted her second annual Flower Crown Party, inspiring over 50 attendees to M&M Plants and Flower Farm in Dickerson, Maryland on June 27, 2018, leading up to the week-long domestic flower promotion campaign that has taken place annually from June 28 to July 4, since 2015.

Kelly Shore of Petals by the Shore in the Washington, D.C., area coordinated a farm tour and flower crown-making party complete with live band, potluck-style refreshments, and professional photographer.

Partygoers co-mingle among the blooms, picking their favorites to assemble their unique, freeform crowns and arrangements. (c) Erin Tetterton Photography

For Kelly, the party was more than a mingling opportunity; it was a way for flower enthusiasts to develop a keen understanding of where flowers come from and how much work it takes for American farmers to bring their product to market.

“Even though it’s a fun event, we plant the seeds so that the next time [attendees] are at a farmers’ market and see a flower stand, they know more about how farmers grow those flowers — and it might make them more inclined to make a purchase,” she says. “Visibility is key. This is why American Flowers Week is so important.”

American Flowers Week signage adorns the Flower Crown Party flower bar at M&M Plants and Flowers. (c) Erin Tetterton Photography

Kelly teamed up with Rose Gold Events to coordinate the promotion and execution of the Flower Crown Party and worked with four flower farms: Petal Patch Flower Farm, Hidden Ridge Flowers and Herbs, Belle Blooms Farm, and M&M Plants and Flowers to provide blooms for the unique crowns.

For the sake of teaching the attendees about the plethora of varieties available from domestic flower farms, the designer steered away from classics such as alstroemeria and roses, focusing more on textural blooms that the attendees wouldn’t normally think of, such as raspberries, strawflower, and Veronica.

After completing their designs, the flower fanatics posed for professional shots of their creations. (c) Erin Tetterton Photography

“People immersed themselves in the challenge and tried different botanical textures. No one’s flower crown was the same,” Kelly says. “It was a hands-on workshop, and I didn’t want it to be ‘cookie cutter.’ I wanted participants to feel empowered to explore and enjoy the experience of being creative with flowers.”

Kelly and her team set up a ‘flower bar’ with buckets of blooms grouped together by color and variety, which encouraged attendees to choose at their will. Attendees ranged from florists and farmer-florists to hobbyists and even a horticulture teacher from a local high school – and each tapped into their creative side, constructing flower crowns, hair combs, and petite bouquets. The flower bar allowed the DIY florists to be cognizant of their choices and feel ownership over their designs.

“I gave a tutorial showing two different styles of flower crowns, but people didn’t have to do it my way,” Kelly explains. “There were no rules. Someone made a floral necklace and it was awesome; I embraced it. People in our society don’t often stop to be creative, but at this party, they were out in nature, having a euphoric experience.”

I am enamored by the flower farming community; by all of the tedious, hard work behind producing an incredible final product. People do this because it’s what they love to do. It’s really about supporting families, and the more I connect with people, the more important it is to me to support this community.

Along with the party, attendees also enjoyed a tour of M&M Plants & Flowers, led by farmer Madgie McGaughan. The productive floral enterprise is a fully functioning farm devoted to the sale of plants and flowers, Kelly and her hosts wanted to attendees to gain an inside look into the strenuous labor that goes into planting and harvesting fresh, local and seasonal blooms.

The Flower Crown Party has become her favorite event of the summer. “We wanted to paint a real picture of what flower farming is actually like. It is so life-affirming,” she says.

Andrea K. Grist Hosts Girls’ Night Out Design Workshop

Rosco’s Fresh Cut Flowers provided their healthiest, most beautiful blooms for the event, giving the arrangements a “straight-from-the-garden” feel.

Enjoying light hors d’oeuvres in Midtown Kansas City’s stylish, naturally-lit Market Studio, floral designer and speaker Andrea K. Grist and 20 flower enthusiasts chatted about the importance of American Flowers Week while constructing freeform-style arrangements.

On June 29th, 2018, Grist taught a popular Girls’ Night Out floral design workshop with The Bloom Academy, which asked her to host the event during American Flowers Week. Andrea shared with guests the importance of using locally-grown blooms in their floral arrangements, focusing on popular design techniques to create more freeform, natural centerpieces full of texture and whimsy.

For her Girls Night Out workshop, Grist and her students played with colorful, textural blooms in their freeform designs.

“We talked a lot about color theory and the design that seems to be popular now, which is more textural, full of color, and asymmetrical,” Andrea says. “I encouraged participants to allow the stems to follow a natural bend; everyone had fun with their designs, because they weren’t stuck in limiting parameters.”

Using blooms provided by Rosco’s Fresh Cut Flowers in Kansas City, Missouri, Andrea and her students enjoyed designing with farm-grown flowers, incorporating the leaves and foliage and creating arrangements cohesive with the “natural, American-grown” look that reflects the beauty of using straight-from-the-garden flowers. According to Andrea, many of the attendees were already familiar with American Flowers Week, which showed her that the phenomenon “seems to be the New Thing.”

Andrea worked with the farmers at Rosco’s to select the best of the best for her Girls’ Night Out workshop: just-picked peonies, Asiatic lilies, zinnias, dahlias, cosmos, and other vivid blooms.

Instead of focusing on one palette, the instructor explained to her attendees that when buying from local farms, florists must adapt and trust that farmers will supply the best blooms of the moment. In this way, Andrea taught that beautiful arrangements can based on personal taste, artistic creativity, and flexibility.

“I stuck to basic design principles, used American-grown flowers, and used chicken wire instead of foam to continue with the sustainability theme,” she adds.

Click here for MORE AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK INSPIRATION

About Mackenzie Nichols:

Slow Flowers contributor, Mackenzie Nichols is a freelance writer and experienced floral designer. She writes regularly for the Society of American Florists’ Floral Management magazine, and her work also appears in The Boston Globe, The American Gardener, Canadian Florist, and Tastemakers music magazine. She interned with MSNBC, Donna Morgan, and The American Horticultural Society and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a minor in Music Industry from Northeastern University. Mackenzie worked as a floral designer for Fern Flowers in Boston’s Back Bay Area, and Tiger Lily Florist, the top flower shop in Charleston, South Carolina. She lives in Manhattan’s East Village.