Petals by the Shore and Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers

Often used as a “filler,” the wax flower takes center stage as a dreamy design element

Fallbrook, California, is an agricultural region in Northern San Diego county where many of the dramatic hillsides are planted with the flora of Australia and Africa. The rugged landscape offers ideal cultural conditions for Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers to farm some of the most beautiful Protea, pincushions, Leucadendrons, and wax flower crops in California. According to owner-grower Mel Resendiz, there are more than 50 varieties of the genus Chamelaucium uncinatum, an Australian shrub in the myrtle family. “Wax flowers add texture, volume, and style to designs,” adds the farm’s creative director, Diana Roy. “They compliment most color schemes and add frilly or delicate textures to floral arrangements.”

Petals by the Shore and Resendiz Brothers botanical couture

            After getting to know the team at Resendiz Brothers, and after buying and working with their flowers, Kelly Shore knew she had to visit and see the farm for herself. Owner of Petals by the Shore, a Damascus, Maryland-based studio, Kelly has since collaborated with Resendiz Brothers to teach design workshops and partnered with the farm to market wholesale boxes of their blooms through The Floral Source, her sister business. “I am not going to sell anything I haven’t seen in person or understood how it is grown and harvested.”
            Kelly returned to San Diego this past March, spending several days with Mel and Diana while learning more about Resendiz Brothers’ seasonal offerings. She noticed the proliferation of wax flowers at their peak bloom, spanning white, pink, lavender, and purple hues, with many bi-colored and multicolored varieties.

design process and final look botanical couture with wax flowers
Left: Kelly’s design “in process,” with a dress form to help during garment construction; Right: the glorious completed look

            “Inspired for creating my garment, I wanted to highlight the spring beauty of what’s growing at Resendiz Brothers,” she says. “Seeing wax flowers swaying in the wind, up in the hills, was very ethereal. I felt transported and I wanted to capture the feeling in my design, using the wax flower for botanical couture and the backdrop setting for our photography.”
            The photography took place in Rainbow, a community of Fallbrook, where Resendiz Brothers grows a wide array of Australian native wildflowers throughout their 200 acres. The majority of the plants are established on steep, rocky hillsides at an elevation of approximately 1,600 feet. “Amazingly, these flowers all bloom beautifully in the harshest conditions,” Diana points out.

Waxflower details
Intricate bloom details reimagined as a delicate textile pattern

            With a Western-style skirt as her base garment, Kelly attached bands of wax flowers by color. She worked upwards, from the hem toward the waistline, using both Oasis cold glue and U-Glu, an adhesive tape, to attach small flower clusters to the fabric. Kelly oriented the flower heads downward so that each row overlaps stems of the previous row.
            “As I built the garment, my vision started to come to life,” she recalls. “I very much wanted a Southern California look. Mel’s family is from Mexico originally, and I wanted a Mexican-American model to wear this garment to represent that history.”
            The frilly flowers resemble soft chiffon, with layer-upon-layer mimicking ruffles of a gown. Tiny details in the wax flower petal colors, forms, and shapes are revealed, adding dimension and interest to the design.
            The entire production took four days, as Kelly worked in a corner of Resendiz Brothers’ pack house. Farm crew members stopped by to see her project, asking for permission to take photographs. “I don’t think they get to see all the ways the flowers they harvest are used by designers,” she observes.

I felt transported and I wanted to capture the feeling in my design, using the wax flower for botanical couture and the backdrop setting for our photography.”

kelly shore, petals by the shore & the floral source

            Finishing details compete the head-to-toe look: a statement necklace, hand-tied bouquet, and Western-style hat decorated with eucalyptus, wax flowers, plus other Resendiz Brothers crops. She chose a white jersey top to complement the botanical skirt, emphasizing the waistline with detailing from Serruria ‘Blushing Bride,” a pale pink protea relative.
            Kelly recalls driving up into the hills in her rental car, worrying that the vehicle wouldn’t make it up the steep, narrow dirt road. “I wanted to capture those hills as our setting,” she says. “People do not understand how laborious it is to farm this land. It is not like just going out into the field where everything is in tidy rows. It is an ordeal and there is a lot of climbing up and down to reach these flowers.”

Creative Team:
Floral palette: California-grown wax flowers from Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers
Designer: Kelly Shore, Petals by the Shore,, @petalsbytheshore
Grower: Mel Resendiz, Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers,, @resendizbrothers
Model: Beatrice Alvarado, @beaaalvarado
Hair/Make-up: Beatrice Alvarado
Photographer: Madeleine Collins, Madeleine Collins Photography,, @madeleinecollinsphoto
Location: Resendiz Brothers farm, Fallbrook, California