Town & Country Markets, a six-location chain of neighborhood grocery stores in the greater Seattle area, has been one of our most consistent partners for celebrating American Flowers Week each year.
Led by Melanie Cherry, floral category manager, each floral department across the company put their personal spin on decorations and displays, all with the goal of driving sales and engaging shoppers who are inspired by local, Washington-grown flowers.
Here is how two of the floral managers created buzz and excitement in 2019. We asked Grace Hensley, a local photographer, blogger and container design expert to stop by and capture these photos at T & C’s Central Market Poulsbo and at Town & Country Bainbridge Island. Kudos to each manager, who I’ll mention below. Can’t wait to see what they create for 2020!
Josh Hessler, floral department manager at Central Market Poulsbo, shares this background:
At Poulsbo, we got excited about British Flowers last year and the floral couture gowns and dresses we saw during that time in the weeks earlier in preparation for American flowers week. Our thought was to do something similar for American flowers week while highlighting our local flowers from the Northwest. As we began to dig into our various ideas we honed our ideas down to two main thoughts:
The first was summer-Americana, including the flag, and some red, white, blue themes along with bright sunflowers and other pops of color.
The second was to create some hats with flower-craftiness creating some creative pops of floral high fashion on our display.
The result was a display that was fun to create and highlighted our regional and hyper-local flower offerings! Customers loved the end results as well.
Many offers to buy the floral hats, and the American flag apron (worn by one of the mannequins) came in even though we weren’t offering them for sale! This interest led us later in the summer to offer a free interactive clinic on flower crown crafting for customers, which was a tremendous hit and is still ask for regularly!
Sarah Swalley, floral department manager at Town & Country Market – Bainbridge Island, and her team put the flavor of island living into their displays:
The department displays featured a vintage-inspired bicycle, decorated with local flowers, and a mannequin dressed in a popular local T-shirt.
Customers selected from lush, seasonal hand-tied bouquets, wrapped in kraft paper with the American Flowers Week bouquet label.
Here are some other inspiring design ideas from these talented floral teams:
Floral artist Andrea K. Gristconjures a playful mini-dress infused with the personality of woodland, meadow and prairie, featuring botanicals sourced from Little Green Garden.
“I was inspired by the native plants and grasses that grow in and around the flower farms of Missouri and Kansas,” she says.
“I wanted a very organic look that’s youthful for our model’s age and size. I call the look ‘Cowgirl meets Yule Sprite’ for its sense of both innocence and powerful confidence.
Beth and Joel Fortin of Little Green Garden harvested all the ingredients from their farm, including flowers, grasses, pods and evergreens. The extensive grounds of our location include tall grass prairies and tree-lined horse trails, reflecting the flora of this region.
Andrea recently shared how she crafted the garment:
“I used felt purchased by the yard for the base of the floral bodice and skirt. I originally thought I could use a spray adhesive to attach the greenery, but I ended up using Oasis cold glue to attach the greenery – small pieces of spirea and cedar,” she explains.
A tip from Andrea: Use books to add weight to the foliage to ensure it attaches securely to fabric.
Once in place, the greenry became the neutral “ground” for Andrea’s botanical textile. The “print” was created by adding flowers of the season. Andrea encouraged her grower friends from Little Green Garden to bring what they loved and wanted to showcase. “It was a complete surprise,” laughs Andrea, who added: “my strategy was to place flowers wherever there was a hole in the greenery where the felt showed through.”
The finished felt panels wrapped around model Samantha Grist (Andrea’s daughter), secured with dress clips and a slender belt. Wavy, flowing hair, a lush floral crown and colorful trailing ribbons complete the “yule sprite” look.
On location, our photographer Tiffany Marie Buckley played with lighting to create a moody, mystical background, merging the initial concept with more fairytale qualities.”
Designer: Andrea K. Grist, Andrea K. Grist Floral Art, andreakgristfloralart.com, @andreakgristfloralart Flowers: Little Green Garden LLC, Richmond, Missouri, littlegreengardenllc.com, @littlegreengardenkc Venue: Sunset Trails Stables, Lee’s Summit, Missouri, sunsettrailsstables.com, @sunsettrailsstables Model: Samantha Grist Hair and Makeup: Andrea K. Grist Photography: Tiffany Marie Buckley, Tiffany Marie Photography, tiffanybuckley.com, @tiffanymariephoto
The fifth annual American Flowers Week celebration kicks off today, June 28th and runs through July 4th. You’re invited to join the party and share your beautiful flowers — local, seasonal and grown close to home.
A group of talented floral designers, retail florists and farmer-florists joined together to produce the installation. We transformed the 10-by-10 foot loading dock at SWGMC into a theatrical floral stage, complete with lavish botanical draperies and a marquee banner reading “American Flowers Week” (more on that below).
On Tuesday afternoon volunteer Slow Flowers member designers threaded more than 2,000 flower heads onto 15-foot-long lei-like strands. A festive — “it takes a village” — spirit of collaboration filled the workroom as these women, many of whom had not previously met, each shared stories of their floral journey, as well as personal insights into finding balance as creatives and entrepreneurs. Gathered around a table while threading long needles through freshly-cut flower heads onto bullion wire . . . it felt like a modern-day quilting bee. Great connections while making something beautiful together.
We loved the palette: white, cream, pink coral, lavender and maroon blooms, generously donated by the Market and its member growers. The color choice was a nod to red-and-white stripes of the U.S. flag while also blending nicely with the Josie Ricefloral mural that covers the entire surface of the Market, including around the loading dock opening. Keita Horn of Smashing Petals designed two beautiful, tapestry-like floral tiebacks using nigella, scabiosa, delphinium and sea holly, among other blue-petaled options.
We also utilized several sections of greenery garlands, custom-made by Camflor, a California flower farm and Slow Flowers member. The texture and density of the eucalyptus and grevillea garlands added lots of volume and interest to the floral strands.
Early Wednesday morning, we installed the floral draperies from the lip of the roll-up loading dock door. S-hooks and zip-ties were perfect mechanics to engineer the scheme. A time crunch before the market opened to buyers at 6 a.m. kept everyone focused. As soon as the garlands and floral strands were in pace, Emily Ellen Anderson of Lola Creative her assistant Alana Crawley climbed ladders to install a fabulous bunting-style banner that spanned the opening of the loading dock declaring: AMERICAN FLOWERS WEEK.
Our favorite part: the F L O W E R S part is spelled out in red spray roses, dianthus and other tiny flower heads.
Thank you to everyone who attended. For those of you who missed the festivities, please enjoy the party virtually, through Missy Palacol’s lens (thank YOU, Missy!).
More Thanks: Lainie Kertesz, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, who brought flower seed giveaways and cut flower resources Erin Murphy, Tilth Alliance, for sharing resources on organic farming and farm tours Suzanne Carson and Laura Ridenour who just kicked off the Washington Flowers Project in conjunction with American Flowers Week and lent major support and enthusiasm for the installation and party. Jessica Lutovsky, Must Love Frosting, for her fantastic and delicious cookie artistry
Beth Syphers of Crowley House Flower Farm wanted to tell a story of a sassy, confident, modern-day young woman, and she framed her narrative around the late 1950s and early 1960s.
“I also wanted this design to embrace women in all shapes and sizes and reflect their power,” she says. Bethany Little of Charles Little & Co., a farm known for fabulous dried flowers, joined Beth as co-designer to fabricate the production of the late-summer/early autumn garment.
“We decided to highlight the 1960s dried flower vibe. We loved showcasing a combination of dried and fresh flowers as a way to extend the ‘local’ season in our floral designs,” Beth explains. She designed the outfit’s top with mostly fresh-cut flowers, ornamental grasses and foliages. Bethany assumed design responsibilities for the skirt design, incorporating a mix of dried flowers from her farm.
Beth envisioned a storyline for her model (who happens to be her beautiful daughter, Rilley Syphers): Wanderlust has taken hold of the young woman’s imagination and she strikes out for town, hitch-hiking at the edge of a country road.
Rilley’s outfit began with a trip to a vintage store, where she found a top and skirt that felt comfortable to the skin yet was stable enough to support the weight of hundreds of flowers. Beth embellished the top using a combination of Oasis cold glue for the fresh material and hot craft glue for dried material. Similarly, Bethany created a tapestry-like pattern on the skirt, including using silky grasses as a fringed detailing.
Photographer Haley Swinth followed along on the narrative, as Rilley first posed at the edge of a country road, holding a vintage suitcase in one hand and sticking out her thumb with the other.
Lucky for Rilley, she hitched a ride with her cousin Remington Kuenzi (shown above), driving a vintage coupe. Suitcase loaded into the trunk, sunglasses popped onto their faces, the two made the trip into town to catch a movie on the big screen. What a stylish couple!
As inspiring to the creative team as it is to followers who viewed the images in Florists’ Review and in social media, this Oregon-grown botanical fashion look is a true celebration of flower farming, floristry and flowers as art.
“Flowers in all stages of their lifecycle have beauty,” says Beth Syphers. “I would love folks to look at this design and be confident about stepping away from following the crowd; to not be afraid of what people think of their art, but to be bold and unique.”
Designer: Beth Syphers, Crowley House Flower Farm, Rickreall, Oregon, chflowers.com, @crowleyhouse Co-designer: Bethany Little, Charles Littl e& Co., Eugene, Oregon , charleslittleandcompany.com, @charleslittleandco Fresh and Dried Floral: Crowley House Flower Farm and Charles Little & Co. Venue: McMinnville, Oregon Models: Rilley Syphers and Remington Kuenzi Hair and Makeup: Rilley Syphers, @rilley.h.s Photography: Haley Swinth, haleyswinthphoto.com, @haleyswinth
“Our brave, boundary-pushing young woman is wearing 1960s Vogue attire created from gerbera daisies,” says artist and photographer Jenny M. Diaz. “The ’60s were such a pivotal decade for women. Women were demanding more inclusion in the workforce, equal pay and control of their personal rights.
“I chose the city of Fresno as my backdrop because many of the structures date back to the ’60s. The gerbera daisies are strong, not only in their appearance, but also how they create a pattern on the dress. Our gray background contrasting with a beautiful model in my bright gerbera dress made for a perfect combination.
“We wanted to show how strong women can be — on the rooftop, looking out into the world, hanging over the edge, riding a skateboard — all while looking stunning. My hope is that when someone sees this look, they are inspired to push themselves further. I am a graphic designer who wanted to push myself to create this look from start to finish. Yes, I was absolutely terrified, but I stepped out of my comfort zones and jumped in head first!”
Creative Credits: Designer: Jenny M. Diaz, jennymdiaz.com, @jennymdiaz Flowers: Dramm + Echter, Encinitas, Calif., drammechter.com, @dramm_and_echter Venue: Fresno, Calif. Model: Kara Trukki @luckytrukki Hair and Makeup: Sixx Valenzuela, @sixxvalenzuela Photography: Jenny M. Diaz
We’re so excited that Tammy Myers of First and Bloom, who’s based in the Seattle area, centered her American Flowers Week botanical couture look around quilts and dahlias.
“I’ve always been inspired by the American West,” she explains. “My mother is a quilter. My father loves American history. My grandfather was a descendant of the Karuk Tribe in Northern California. To me, a quilt is a beautiful symbol of true American history.
Tammy continues: “Upon more research, I discovered these iconic patchwork designs actually originate from women during the Colonial period of the 1700s. Later, Native women, known for making beautiful blankets, also started using these same quilting techniques. Quilts are truly a labor of love that brings warmth and comfort to whomever they surround. I find flowers have a similar nature. They too, bring joy and comfort to whomever they are near.”
was very important to me for this project. Our model, Anne Davidson, is of Native Athabaskan descent and the area
where this scene was photographed at Laughing
Goat Farm in Enumclaw, Wash., is an area rich in Native American
“My hope is that others will be inspired to take lessons from their past, apply those lessons to their present challenges and work to create a better future. Working in the floral industry is a lot like making a quilt. Quilt-making takes proper planning, specialized skills, a lot of time, and a fair amount of trial and error before one gets it right. A quilt can be a valued piece of art or seen as just a blanket. Nevertheless, both flowers and quilts have a valuable purpose in life. We must never forget that and discover ways to preserve our craft for future generations.” — Tammy Myers, First and Bloom
Creative Credits Designer: Tammy Myers, First & Bloom, firstandbloom.com, @firstandbloom Design Assistance: Amy Brown and Leila Jorden @leilajjorden Flowers: Laughing Goat Flower Farm, Enumclaw, Wash., laughinggoatfarm.com, @laughinggoatflowerfarm Additional Flowers: Seattle Wholesale Growers Market, seattlewholesalegrowersmarket, @seattlewholesalegrowersmarket Venue: Laughing Goat Farm Model: Anne Davidson, @amd98065 Hair and Makeup: Elizabeth White Artistry @elizabethwhiteartistry Photography: Missy Palacol Photography @missy.palacol
The beauty and inspiration of our American Flowers Week wearable fashions continues with a stop in Seville, Florida, on the grounds of FernTrust, one of the country’s largest sources for U.S.-grown ferns, fronds and foliage. Founded in 1986 as a cooperative of family fern farms sharing a rich history in agribusiness, FernTrust grow the highest quality foliage available.
Eileen Tongson is an urban farmer-florist in Orlando and owner of FarmGal Flowers. She partnered with FernTrust to create this lush, contemporary, all-Florida look for American Flowers Week.
“My starting point for the design was a visit to FernTrust, where I was able to see up close all the foliage they grow,” Eileen says. “All of the shades of green, not to mention the textures and shapes of foliage, were so inspiring! Many people still do not know that Central Florida is the cut foliage capital of the world. I wanted to create a design that highlights this amazing botanical product and encourage other designers to use it as more than just foliage in their floral arrangement
Eileen’s botanical gown and the fern-farm location are thoroughly integrated. “We want you to look at our story and immediately know its setting — the real, natural Florida,” she says. “We were so fortunate that the most perfect oranges were still on the trees at FernTrust. Spanish moss was moving in the breeze. There were also majestic oak trees overhead and countless varieties of ferns below. What a dreamy, magical place!”
We asked Eileen to share more about how she constructed the gown, modeled so perfectly by Isabel Tongson, her daugher.
“The base material is ‘poultry netting,’ aka Oasis floral netting. The floral netting was cut and shaped into two pieces — the ‘skirt’ of the gown and the ‘top’ of the gown. Ends were attached with zip ties. The top of each piece was left loose and then tightened with zip ties after our model stepped into it. The floral netting was covered with plastic wrap; then, I attached the foliage with cold glue.”
Eileen allowed the shapes, textures and forms of each type of foliage to inspire the surface pattern. For instance, she says, “the long Calathea and large Monstera leaves looke best applied verticall on the skirt — elongating the design.”
Foliage selection includes: Monstera, Calathea Louie, Calathea Blue, Feather Fern, Plumosus, Fatsia, Ming, Leatherleaf Fern and Victoria’s Lace Fern. See all of these varieties in FernTrust’s gallery.
“Many thanks to Jana Register and the team at FernTrust for providing me with foliage to practice and create samples prior to the actual gown production,” Eileen says. “That allowed me to determine how the leaves would look best and which would hold up longest for the photo shoot.”
Designer: Eileen Tongson, FarmGal Flowers, Orlando, Florida, farmgalflowers.com, @farmgalflowers Foliage: Jana Register, FernTrust, Seville, Florida, ferntrust.com, @ferntrustinc Venue: FernTrust Model: Isabel Tongson, @isabel.tongson Hair: Katrina Elbo, J. Bauman Salon, shearkatrina.com, @shearkatrina Makeup: Miki Walker, Make Me Up Miki, makemeupmiki.com, @mikilanii Photography: Danielle Werner, Live Wonderful Photography, livewonderful.com, @livewonderful_
Co-designers Toni Reale of Roadside Blooms and Laura Mewbourn of Feast & Flora Farm viewed their American Flowers Week botanical couture collaboration as an opportunity to highlight the unique heritage and culture of coastal South Carolina’s Gullah Geechee, a community descended from West African and Central African enslaved people. The women explain, “we were also inspired by the work of noted Southern painter Jonathan Green and spent a lot of time pouring over photos of his work, as well as photos of women in traditional Gullah dress.
“We wanted to focus on primary colors for the flowers — the reds, blues, yellows that so frequently appear in Mr. Green’s paintings — and we selected a location that reflects the culture and story of the Gullah Geechee people,” Laura says. “This palette pops brilliantly against the greenery of the marsh location, as well as the Seashore Farmers’ Lodge No. 767, a fraternal common house built in 1915 by black farmers for their community.”
Flowers grown in local soil at Feast & Flora Farm and foraged on location compose a brillant floral garment for their model, Giovanni Richardson, “Queen Gigi Ma’at Ogechi,” Sea Island Gullah Chieftess and founding member of A Taste of Gullah. “As we created Queen Gigi’s dress, we listened to her stories, bearing witness to a beautiful, strong woman, living her life and honoring her heritage as a descendant of slaves. Through listening, understanding and facing the dark reality that is our history, and our present, we believe we can create a different future,” Toni says.
This project was personal and meaningful to the creators, and they credit their model for her guidance and collaboration. “We saw this as an opportunity to highlight the Gullah Geechee community with the hope of challenging people to think of Charleston not just as a place of iconic landmarks frequented by tourists, but as a place whose farms, homes, and plantations were born on the backs of enslaved people, people whose descendants live here and to whom we owe a debt we will never be able to repay.”
Creative Credits: Floral Designer: Toni Reale, Roadside Blooms, North Charleston, S.C., roadsideblooms.com, @roadsideblooms_shop Farmer/Florist: Laura Mewbourn, Feast & Flora Farm, Meggett, S.C., feastandflorafarm.com, @feastandflora Venue: Seashore Farmers’ Lodge No. 767, James Island, S.C., National Registry of Historic Place Model: Giovanni Richardson, “Queen Gigi Ma’at Ogechi,” Sea Island Gullah Chieftess and founding member of A Taste of Gullah, tasteofgullah.com Design Assistants: Kelsey Bacon, Joy Colby, Scott Woytowick Photography: Philip Casey, philipcaseyphoto.com, @philipcaseyphoto
The inspiring Botanical Couture Collection is central to the American Flowers Week celebration. This beautiful series of wearable floral fashions was created with locally-harvested flowers and foliages by design teams around the U.S. For 2019, we have the largest collection to date — NINE Looks!
In the days leading up to the American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4), we want to highlight stories of the people, flowers, studios and farms behind these beautiful looks.
Let’s visit Alaska’s Prolific Peony Fields
The fanciful and feminine peony gown designed by Kim Dunshie Herning of Northern Lights Peonies incorporates hundreds, if not thousands of peony stems!
Kim is also on the board of Arctic Alaska Peonies, a sponsor of Slow Flowers, so we’re thrilled that she listened to her inner fashionista and came up with this fabulous gown!
We asked Kim to share how she created this wonderful look.
Materials list: -Two layers of heavy-gauge chicken wire to form the base of the skirt -Wire to fasten and attach sections of chicken wire -Landscape plastic mesh to cover the chick wire skirt -Spruce branches
Peony Varieties: Festiva maxima, Sarah Bernhardt, Felix Supreme, Walter Faxon and My Love
Method: “I rolled out the heavy-gauge chicken wire to create the basic shape of my skirt. I realized that I would need two layers of the wire to make the base strong enough to stand up on its own in order to support the hundreds of peonies I planned to use!
“After I finalized the shape, I wired a layer of plastic landscape mesh over the chicken wire base (the openings in the mesh are comparable to the diameter of a peony stem). I also cut a ‘bendable’ door on the back/hem of the skirt that was large enough for my model to slide into.
“From the underside, I also wired on spruce branches to provide more support for the peony stems once inserted. Then, my team and I filled all of the holes with short-stem peonies that I had been saving during the season in our cooler.”
P.S., Kim says that because the Fairbanks weather was so mild last summer, “the dress lasted a good week!”
What’s next for you, Kim? “My head is spinning with plans for Summer 2019 with a bigger and better peony dress — or maybe two, this time! Who knows?”
This year, we continue the inspiring Botanical Couture Collection, a series of wearable floral fashions, created with locally-harvested flowers and foliages by design teams around the U.S. For 2019, we have the largest collection to date — NINE Looks!
In the days leading up to the American Flowers Week (June 28-July 4), we want to highlight stories of the people, flowers, studios and farms behind these beautiful looks.
First up: Maine
Design Elements: An endless array of iconic, field-grown flowers at the Johnny’s Selected Seeds Research Farm, a 40-acre farm is located in Albion, Maine. At first glance, Johnny’s Farm looks like a typical market farm, with three greenhouses, a hoophouse, and orderly fields of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. But a closer inspection reveals its true nature as a place of study and evaluation. Labels mark the variety trials; staff members with clipboards make notes; and groups of employees from the nonfarming parts of the company participate in guided “crop walks” and “field forums” across the seasons to learn about varieties and methods being trialed.
Inspiration:Rayne Grace Hoke, Slow Flowers member and owner of Flora’s Muse in Biddeford, Maine, says she was inspired by the incredible variety of annuals, herbs, grasses and foliages. She incorporated many of these choices into a beautiful tapestry-like bodice and a flowing skirt of grasses and greens.
We asked Johnny’s flower and herb expert Hillary Alger a few questions about the project. Here’s our conversation:
Q: What was the starting point for the design? A: Rayne was so wonderful and open to anything. In one of the planning phone calls, there was some mention of the warmth and glow of high-season annuals. That stuck in my mind and was the guiding concept in gathering materials for Rayne to work with. The final harvest list included a lot of apricot, gold, cream and coral blooms. It was so exciting to participate and imagine what the final piece would look like. I definitely went overboard harvesting a little too much!
Q: Can you describe the place where photography occurred? A:The shoot took place in our flower trial fields, located on a high point of Johnny’s trials and research farm. The farm is very rural, bordered by woods and farm fields. It was an old dairy farm before becoming the primary location for Johnny’s Selected Seeds in the 1970s. It’s a quiet place at the end of the day when everyone has gone home. For the photography, we got an early start in order to catch some dreamy light.
Q: Can you describe the mood or sentiment of the location? A:The concept and story we had in mind when setting up and styling the shoot was something of ‘Alice in Wonderland-meets-flower farmer.’ The story was that Mary, our model, was in her own flower field; she’s taken by and a bit intoxicated by the beauty of the moment. Responding to the experience, she has gathered all that her arms can carry. Maybe she made the dress . . . or maybe she just imagined it!
Q: What do you hope is the message for those who see these incredible images, the flowers and Rayne’s magical dress? A: I hope this inspires others to explore the story of local and domestic farms, seasonal flowers and the farmers and designers who are working hard to make our world so beautiful.
Q: Anything else you want to mention about this project? A: It was really fun to think about floral design, beyond the bouquet. We should all do that more often!