My Sentimental Garden

May 14, 2012

I come from a family of serious gardeners. Beginning with my Italian grandparents, virtually everyone in my family has had a flower and vegetable garden. In the case of one sister, it’s actually a small farm in southern Ohio, which requires tractors and other serious implements.

The passiflora vine

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“Vivid colors and textures for fall arrangements”

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Dahlia – botanical name dahlia (fam. compositae) 

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Meet Platón.  He’s an old friend of mine — in fact, I don’t remember a time when his happy little face wasn’t on the kitchen shelf. Acquired at some point from my grandmother (who was a treasure trove of interesting and often obscure items she received from her clients), he was the first vase I remember being permitted to fill with flowers.

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Flaurel Laurel loves outdoor events in the summer, but usually has to go to Wine Country to do them (sigh!). Still, looking at these fun designs and thinking about cheerful summer bouquets feels good even when sitting in the San Francisco fog!!! 

“Mason jars make great containers”

Vintage containers like Mason jars are a great choice for outdoor arrangements. They are cheap and sturdy and just the right size for down the middle of a long picnic table.  Read the rest of this entry »

One of many community gardens in the city, Argonne Community Garden sits between 15th and 16th Avenues in the Richmond District on land donated by the SF Unified School District. The garden has raised planting beds tended by local residents, who combine flowers with edible crops. 

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Orchids used to be rare and expensive. Using them in an arrangement typically meant putting one or two stems in a simple vase with just a little bit of greenery, so as not to upstage the flowers. They were like truffles: hard to get, expensive, and used in small amounts. 

These days, orchids are THE flower for everything from Asian-inspired arrangements to traditional wedding designs. What happened to change things?? Well, greenhouse growers have shifted away from the crops that used to be the foundation of the greenhouse business – especially mums and carnations. These flowers are less popular than they used to be, so many domestic greenhouses are now growing orchids, with the result that the supply, selection and price are better than ever. 


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It’s the time of year when your friendly florist goes into panic mode: Bouquets to Art is just around the corner and the pressure is on!

What, you ask, is this Bouquets to Art and why does it strike fear in my heart? Well, it’s a very unique exhibit that comes around every March at the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.  The Museum Auxiliary invites Bay Area floral designers – including moi — to come into the museum, select a piece of art in the collection, and then create a floral design that’s inspired by said piece of art.

My Entry from last year, featured in the SF Chronicle

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Ten stems per person. According to studies done by the American floral industry, that’s the average number of flowers purchased by an American in the course of a year. Ten stems.

This is a statistic that never fails to astonish me. Can my fellow countrymen manage to go an entire year with such a tiny serving of the beauty, joy and optimism that flowers bring to our daily lives? How can they be so stingy with themselves, so oblivious or so indifferent to the color and passion of flowers? Other cultures manage to incorporate flowers into their everyday lives, yet we Americans think of them as an “indulgence” only for special occasions.

Twenty-plus years into my career as a florist, I believe now more than ever in the necessity of flowers.   In the midst of our busy lives, we need to refresh our spirits with natural beauty and to share that beauty with others. Color, fragrance, texture — beauty in its simplest and purest form – flowers have it all and offer it equally to the grandest and humblest of us stressed, overworked, confused humans.

Flowers have the power to convey our deepest emotions in such a simple way.  The gift of flowers to another can express so many important sentiments:  “thank you”, “you matter to me”, “I’m sorry”, “congratulations”.  The gift of flowers to ourselves can lift our hearts and brighten any day.   They add elegance and warmth to our home or our office, bring a touch of class to our events, and a touch of beauty to our own kitchen table.    They are never inappropriate, never out of place, never “wrong”, but always an expression of love and generosity – things that we all need more of in our lives !

It’s my personal mission to remind each of you that flowers really do matter – and we can all make the world a happier and more beautiful place, one stem at a time…..