Monday, May 20, 2013

Farm Fresh: Spring Wedding Flowers Part 2

Just a few weeks after Annie and Erika's wedding, I was back at the market and contacting growers once again for my friend, Karina's, wedding.

I've known Karina since high school where we met working in food service at a local retirement home. She's not your typical bride as she doesn't get caught up with the excitement of flowers or any sort of elaborate wedding planning. Part of her just wanted the formalities of the wedding to be done with. While other brides choose themes, colors, and work out every detail possible by themselves or with their wedding planner,  Karina just put her trust to her friends who have offered to help and with a tight budget, it was certainly challenging, but we made it work.

When I sat down with Karina and her then fiance, Dustin, she really wanted daffodils in her bouquet. Sadly, I had to inform her that daffodils would be done by her May wedding. A few days before the big day, I had dinner with the bride and groom and our friends, Michelle and Molly, who by coincidence, are also getting married this year and have asked me to do their flowers as well. YIKES!

I was running a bit late, but I wanted to give Karina a "pre-wedding bouquet" so she would get a sense of a style that I was leaning towards. To my surprise, these were in bloom:

Narcissus 'Actaea' ( A poeticus type)
The poeticus Narcissus are the last to flower for the season and even thought they weren't the quintessential yellow many would expect from a daffodil, they still make a statement and the rich scent they exude just added something very special to a hand-tied bouquet I created utilizing various ingredients from outside the garden. She didn't believe they were daffodils, but she still enjoyed my creation. Karina is a fairly simple and straightforward gal who, much like Annie and Erika, don't want to go overboard with decorations and such.

 Karina's Pre-Wedding Bouquet Karina with Pre-Wedding Bouquet

As I presented her this bouquet, I had something else in mind for her eventual bouquet that would, once again, utilize the wonderful Ranunculus field fresh from Everyday Flowers at the Seattle Wholesale Grower's Market! Her colors are buttered popcorn yellow, navy blue and  ivory.


Karina Dustin Flower Prep Ranunculus and AnemonesVivian delivered the most wonderful Ranunculus and her Anemones were absolutely stunning! I was telling Karina about these and she will now and forever call them "REDUNCULUS"!  When I went to the grower's market, I was treated to a surprise and saw the same Poeticus Narcissus being offered by the bundles from Choice Bulb Farms in Mt. Vernon as well!

So, I went right to work just as soon as I got everything I needed. I'm getting better at being organized when I do my flowers; it helps to really lay them out individually so one can just grab a stem with ease as they bring it all together.

My last stop for flowers and greens was my own garden where Lily of the Valley was in peak bloom. I harvested as much as I could.
Karina Dustin Flower Prep 2

So, here's what I was able to pull together. I actually made three bouquets for Karina to choose from:

Michelle Bridesmaids Bouquet
Michelle holding a bouquet as one of the bridesmaids

Karina Dustin Flower Prep Corsage 1
The corsage for the parents
And the boutonnieres for the groom and groomsmen.

The venue was at the infamous Museum of Flight in one of their conference rooms that needed a bit of sprucing up so I took my leftover flowers and foliage to create a few more pieces.

KD Cake Table  KD Centerpieces

Riz and Karina
It's such a great feeling to see a beautiful bride walk down the aisle with something you created specially for her.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Farm Fresh: Spring Weddings Flowers Part 1

Since Katharine and Scott's wedding last summer in Seabrook, WA. I've been inspired more than ever to help friends with their wedding flowers and I've been gaining the confidence to churn out creations that people enjoy and are amazed by as long as they're okay with me using what's in my yard, their yards, what's in season and in a valiant attempt to visit and support local specialty growers, their remarkable and interesting crops, I hope, to use as well!

My first wedding flower gig this season is for my co-worker Annie and her longtime partner, Erika. With the passing of Referendum 74 here in Washington State that allows same-sex couples to finally be married and have it be acknowledged by the state, it was a HUGE honor to have been asked to do their flowers.

UntitledOne of the biggest trends in weddings these days is the whole DIY concept in keeping costs down. It can be affordable, but the time and labor involved can easily stress and frustrate those who take it on. Knowing Annie and Erika, they're not at all about extravagance, they simply wanted the very basic and they wanted to use plants and flowers from their own garden that they grew. So, my challenge was to stay true to their simple requests: a bouquet for Erika, a boutonniere for Annie, their son Anders, and corsages and boutonniere for the parents and center pieces for the tables and just a few random arrangements here and there to decorate and enhance the venue.

Having been playing around with arrangements all winter, the spring push opened up a whole new palette of wonderful garden plants that would be wonderful for their wedding. With Annie being an avid gardener herself, "Why not just cut from the garden?!".


So I went at it with buckets and just gathered as much material that I thought would hold up. Fantastic Solomon's seal (Polygonatum sp), Helleborus x hybridus just reaching the stage where they're best cut, assorted greens, and even the horribly weedy spanish bluebells inspired some color and held up alright "as a cut"

UntitledThe Seattle Wholesale Grower's Market in the Industrial District of the Emerald City has been such a delight to visit each and every time I come in. Having made many contacts and close friends and colleagues through the likes of author Debra Prinzing, photographer David Perry, and Diane Szukovathy of Jello Mold Farms, I'm as giddy as a kid in a candy store looking forward to what the growers have brought in and to be greeted by smiles and hugs when I visit just makes me realize how much I love what I do. Floral designer and aspiring cut-flower grower, Nicole Cordier, is the main woman behind the desk handling orders and greeting customers. I adore her enthusiasm for unique plant materials and it's so easy to just hang around and chat flowers and the future of the industry. Not only is she a next generation gardener, she could be a next generation GROWER! The beauty of all this is the fact that we're not alone in our endeavors. I've met three other young ladies in just the past year who have their sights set on growing cut flowers and I'm anxious to see if their strong interest carries them through the ups and downs of a very challenging industry.

So, for Annie and Erika's wedding, I proposed that we use soft orange Ranunculus and blue grape hyacinths. As for arrangements, they were very open to ideas and expressed their love of lilacs so I grabbed a large bunch along with some fantastic, young snowball viburnums that were still a light moss green that contrast with the deep violet color. These were grown by Oregon Coastal Flowers who have a regular stand at the Seattle Wholesale Grower's Market.

UntitledFor the orange ranunculus, Nicole directed me to Ms. Vivian Larson of Everyday Flowers who was their Ranunculus and Anemone specialist and I was able to get in touch with her to place a special order for 50 stems of orange ranunculus. By coincidence, her Standwood farm was actually on the way to the wedding venue in Camano Island and I has asked if I could pick up my order and also see her growing operation!!!!!!So yeah....good times...good times!! She was so kind and enthusiastic and I admired her work ethic and remarkable quality flowers as she toured me through her hoop houses and her fields in the picturesque Skagit Valley


UntitledI couldn't help but marvel at the incredible and painstaking work involved in producing these cut blooms. I also had to get some fabulous Cerinthe purpurescens, which she cut for me right then and there! Talk about fresh from the field!!

With my floral-mobile set, I gave Vivian a hug and gave her my sincerest thanks and off I went to Camano Island to quickly put wedding flowers together.

I was actually surprised that the scent of lilacs wasn't too overpowering. Combined that with wonderful lily-of-the-valley, it was simply heaven! It felt so good to have had the opportunity to gather all these plants, meet the people who tended and raised them and now comes the part where it all comes together to celebrate a union that's been a long time coming!


Untitled  Untitled

Wedding Flowers 2

Wedding Flowers 1

Centerpiece with Fern Fronds
With the help of the family, they arranged the centerpieces and did a great job!

Erika Riz Annie crop 1

After a wonderful and emotional ceremony, I was greeting with compliments and "thank yous" from so many people and I was so thrilled that they were pleased with the result. Probably the most meaningful comment someone said to me was, "You did a great job. This is so Annie and Erika!"


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Losing a member of our PNW gardening community

I've written and raved about Steamboat Island Nursery near Olympia, WA a few years back when I came down to pay the lovely Laine McLaughlin a visit. It was with great sadness, however, to learn that her partner in crime, Duane Heier, tragically passed away a few weeks ago in a light rail-train accident in Seattle. 

I didn't know Duane very well, but he was the kind of man that was obviously hard-working, very kind, and would do anything for Laine and the work involved keeping up with one of the most prominent specialty nurseries in the Puget Sound region.

Duane was the delivery guy, the re-stocker, the waterer; all the things that needed to  be done, he did and he did so with kindness and patience. One of my colleagues had said that he was easy going and so much involved in the business of growing and selling plants, yet he wasn't a plant-person at all.

It has been awhile since I saw Laine and to hear the news of his passing was just unreal. I'm so used to seeing Laine so upbeat and bubbly and she has the biggest smile each time she says "Hey, ________! How ya doin?"

I just hope that working in her garden/nursery again provides some therapy, while, I'm sure, it brings back a flood of memories of her and Duane. 

Ian Barclay of Desert Northwest blogged about Duane's passing and provided some links and numbers for us to possibly help out Laine during this very difficult time.

Donations directly to Steamboat Island Nursery:
8424 Steamboat Island Road, Olympia, WA 98502.

An account to cover funeral costs was created at Twin Star Credit Union
P.O. Box 718, Olympia, WA 98507-0718.
Checks should be made to “Laine McLaughlin” and the memo line should say “Duane Heier” and account #411133-00.”

If you want to talk donations, or donate cash, talk to Jay Higgins at You can also send messages to Laine directly to the nursery email:

 Rest in Peach, Duane. Do watch over Laine and trust that we're all looking after her.