flowering branches

Mid-winter is feeling like spring with days in the 70's here in California.  I cut some flowering quince from my front yard and fell down a rabbit hole.  

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Hellebores I picked earlier in the week at my mom's with a beautiful lichen covered branch that fell down one windy night a few weeks ago that I've been saving.

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Muscari take me back to childhood and remind me of little flower fairies with their tiny florets and the blue is other worldly.  Mine started pushing flowers in October!  They're one of my most favorite flowers (my list is very long and changes with the season).    

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I love watching the quince fade out to a pale petal pink.  I remember the days when people didn't want Coral Charm peonies because of the fade that is admired so much today.  Oh, the ever changing floral trends.

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My preferred floral tools have always been No. 2 Felcos and a pair of Joyce Chen snips (they can wear through pretty quickly but are the best size for me and have good action while they are sharp, they also fit nicely in your back pocket, most get accidentally thrown away).  For the longest life of your quince or any flowering branch, scrape down the sides on the bottom inch or so with your Felco's (or knife) and cut on a diagonal with at least one sharp cut up the stem, sometime's I'll do two (like a cross). For more tender woody stems like snowball viburnum or lilac, smash stems with a hammer (or back of shears) after you scrape the stems.  You will get the longest life-span from your flowers by properly conditioning so don't skip.

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winter walks

The first weekend of the new year and we woke up to a beautiful, heavy fog.Foggy mornings seem to give you more of a chance to slow down without feeling a sense of time going by.  At least they do for me.  My family spends a lot of time meandering the trails near our house.  On this morning, my son was looking for mushrooms and I was busy looking at the remnant grass and seed heads of summer and fall in the meadows.  The decaying blackberry canes and the last of the rose hips rotting and withering.  I closed my eyes and thought of other seasons here, the flush of wild roses in the spring flouncing and adorning the sides of the path.  The meadows lit up with explosions of colorful confetti when the mustard, wild radish and lupines are in bloom. The sweetness of the blackberries ripening in the summer heat.  Listening to the birds, always busy, chattering away making nests or screeching as they swoop to snatch a mouse. 

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collage

Making collages for New Year's cards this year.  In an effort to tidy my house, I have let go of so many magazines I used to collect. It makes it that much more fun to have to seek out things to clip - I was surprised to get some good ones from the holiday REI catalogue.

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Traded some collages with other people through Instagram - it was fun sending cards to people that I only know through photos online.   Email me if you are interested. 

clematis

Some old and new photos of clematis.  Just a few stems can make such and impact.  You can really never go wrong with green and white.

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Some clematis growing along the banks of the Russian river entwined with wild grape.  Such a beautiful summer display.  

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First hydrangea I've cut all year, I've been saving it for fall because I love it aged.  Tinges of green and pink and speckles - it's hardened off so will probably just let it dry.

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Little basket I made earlier this summer.  Looks so sweet turned upside down and used as a frog.

Summer Festival

Went the the sweetest festival at Fort Ross over the weekend.  We made candles and baskets.

They had games and circle dancing.  I loved all of the different colors and patterns of the women's Russian dresses.

They had a basket making booth.  It was mesmerizing and calming to make one,  I'd love to make some more.

This woman in the chapel reminded me so much of Tasha Tudor.  The chapel is so beautiful and worth a trip to Fort Ross.  

A sailor making knots and telling stories of maritime history.

Spotted this plein air painter on the bluff as we were leaving.  Nice way to spend the day.

Flower Friends / summer

A seasonal get together with other floral designers where we pick from our gardens and forage to make no-fuss arrangements and bouquets on the fly. Somehow I missed spring, but with summer in full swing I asked my sister, Zoe and mom, Lisbeth, both veteran designers if they were up for it again.  We had worked on a couple for winter which were so much fun.  

Zoe holding a bouquet I made with herbs from my garden and lavender, Shasta daisies and the cutest asters I picked from her's.  A true hippie at heart, I found this breezy vintage dress from India at an estate sale a couple of years ago.  It looks wonderful with this loose bouquet.

This cafe chair has been beautifully enveloped by some grapevines over the summer.  Makes for the perfect spot in the garden to enjoy a glass of wine.

Summer is all about color - look at these mirabelle plums and borage together!

A basket full of plums, asian pears and borage gathered from Zoe's garden.  Find other season's here, spring / summer / fall / winter.  Or, scroll through them all.

All flowers & styling by Zoe Honscher, Silvanie Farmar Bowers and Lisbeth Hansen.  Photos by Silvanie Farmar Bowers

rainbows & summer colors

The true essence of summer, flush with juicy colors like watermelon, peach, apricot, cantaloupe, coral, tomato, goldenrod, raspberry and tangerine.   

Zinnia are such a happy and cheerful summer flower that come in so many amazing colors.  They look great simply arranged in a tomato can.

Summer is all about freshly picked fruit, I've been making these popsicles from Molly Orangette at least once a week.  I like to use vanilla yogurt and use less sugar.  Make them in the morning and eat them in the afternoon.  They taste like heaven.  

Yellow

Summer is upon us and a time for breezy arrangements with snips from the fence, garden and side of the road.  

This Shungiku (edible chrysanthemum) is so pretty with butter to marigold coloring. Perfect for your vase, salad or stir-fry.

The fennel is just starting to bloom here and I couldn't resist snipping a few stems from the side of the road.  The smell is amazing.

Circle of Flowers

Flowers can be whatever you want them to be. I leave collected bits and old stems to dry in the apple box I keep by my back door. Sometimes I put them together with new things blooming in the garden.  What started as quick wreaths in the winter, I've realized has now become a five minute meditation for me.  I don't what they will become, I let my mind wonder and my hands put them together.  For me, doing flowers is a time to let go, relax and see where it takes me.  Over the years, you get better and it becomes a muscle memory. 

I think we tend to want to put parameters on things and visualize the end result.  The part I enjoy the most, are the moments in between, thinking you're doing one thing, getting lost and finding something else.  It's more the process than the end result.  I also feel like this when I take pictures, which is why I tend to take a lot of photos of flowers.  

Garden Roses

Growing up on a cut flower farm, with fields of garden roses, I took them for granted.  It has been nearly a decade since my family said goodbye to our beautiful old farm.  And now, I'm realizing I miss them.  May is the explosion of roses, the first flush.  I picked a single bucket of roses from my mother's garden and it felt spectacular.  The fragrance, every petal and fading bloom makes my mind buzz like a bee to the next one, and the next one.  

If you're picking garden roses, make sure you have a bucket of deep water nearby and place them in that bucket as soon as you can.  Good hydration is key to lasting flowers.  The water should always be room temperature whether in a bucket or vase.

When dealing with roses, make sure you have sharp shears so you can get a clean cut.  When ready to arrange, cut above a node and always cut at an angle so the stem can drink the most water.  Make sure you have plenty of water in your vessel and check it daily, filling as you need.  After twenty years of doing flowers, the single most overlooked thing restaurants and other accounts do is forgetting to water in the first couple of days.  Then, when the flowers begin to wilt, they add more water.  More times than not, this is too late and they won't come back.  If you notice a bloom or two wilting a bit, take it out and recut the stem.  

Part of the beauty of garden roses is the color fading and petals dropping.  I mean, big swaths of fluffy petals.  This has been shown in paintings for centuries.  Flowers are beautiful in all states of life, after all, isn't that why we pick them?

Other posts with roses and strawberries, a rainbow of garden roses, or other spring flowers with roses.

All styling and photography by Silvanie Farmar Bowers

Mother's Day

Mother's Day can feel cheesy and forced, but there are simple ways to celebrate her.  As a mother of a four year old, I really am just looking forward to some coffee in bed and little extra time to sleep.  Once you become a mother, sleeping-in is a thing of the past!

Coffee or tea in bed is the simplest thing in the world.  But, very thoughtful!

You could even jazz it up by adding toast and a gift.  Takes no time at all!

Hand-picked posies and arrangements melt every mother's heart!

Depending on your child's age - pick or let them pick flowers, foliage (whatever they like) from your garden. Give them a nice working space that can get wet (like this tray) and a small vessel and pitcher of water.  Let them explore the stems by themselves and choose how that want to arrange it.  Nothing is better than getting a little arrangement made by your child or grandchild!

roses & strawberries

You can feel spring in the morning now, with light pouring through the windows and the warmth outside. Suddenly, you don't need your sweater.  My sister, Zoe and I got together to make a sweet post about May Day, but then were more inspired by an abandoned birds nest and roses.  Roses growing on her fences and field.  She and I grew up on our family's cut flower farm with 13,000 roses planted in our fields and worked together designing florals for years.  We have always done flowers.

In Asia, roses in fossils have dated back 70 million years.   Even if they don't know any other flowers, most people can identify a rose.  Throughout history, symbolism of roses has meant so many things, from love to death, peace to war.  Wreaths of roses have been found in Egyptian tombs, and Romans used them to carpet their floors for special occasions.  

Roses and strawberries are such a sweet combination, with this single-petaled climber mimicking a strawberry flower.  It is also a beautiful scent combination and can be used to create delicious jams.  They go together so easily.

I spent the summer I turned twenty in France and one of my favorite desserts was a bowl full of sliced strawberries with red wine and sugar to macerate them.  Just soak them in the wine.  No need for cream or anything else.  Delicious. 

Rose water is so refreshing, a quick face or body mist with a hydrosol really helps cool you down and to elevate your senses.  It's also nice to spritz it over a glass of chilled white wine or champagne.

See another easy bouquet Zoe and I did with strawberries.  Or, some of her garden roses.  Daisies and strawberry foliage is also another nice combination. 

Florals and styling by Zoe Honscher & Silvanie Farmar Bowers, photos by Silvanie Farmar Bowers

Tin Can Arrangements

Making arrangements in tin cans has become one of my favorite things.  It's a nice way to recycle, and makes an easy gift of your garden flowers.   I make weekly arrangements for my son's preschool class. Using tomato cans is economical, recyclable, and non-breakable if they get knocked over in the classroom. I save the cans that come though my kitchen, I love tomato cans, with or without the label, vintage or new. I also keep my eye out for them (water tight is a must though) at garage sales and thrift stores.

Some more tin can arrangements from last summer.  I favored the cans sans label.  They look great on a kitchen table, or if you're dining al fresco, you don't have to worry about bringing them back inside or the wind blowing them over and breaking a favorite vase.

Easy Bouquet

An easy bouquet or, more like a posy with fresh cut strawberries my sister, Zoe and I did in her garden. This would make the sweetest and simplest bridal bouquet.  Not too fussy, and full of spring.

Zoe leaning on her fence covered in hops.  Below a little video of her putting the bouquet on the fence and making some finishing touches.  She is an amazing designer.  

Sweetest little thing.  It has strawberries in it, so I have to twirl it!

Flowers should be fun and express the seasons as well as you.  Relax.  

 

Flowers by Zoe Honscher & Silvanie Farmar Bowers, photos by Silvanie