What is your background?
I grew up in the Hudson Valley. I studied
fine arts in college and spent some years
working in NYC with photographers
and for magazines. At some point, I
decided I wanted to change my direction
and location, so I moved to the west
coast. I was hoping to find a job working
with flowers, and rode my bike all over
town until I found the perfect little
flower shop. After a few weeks of riding,
I finally saw a Help Wanted sign in the
window! I knew that I had found the
career I was seeking when work stopped
feeling like work. I was even excited to
get up at dawn and work a 15-hour day.
After a few years I came back to Brooklyn
and decided to open my own floral
business—and I love every minute of it.
Well, maybe not the getting up at 5:00
a.m. all the time part.
When were you first introduced to the
world of flowers?
Gardening and flowers were a big part of
my childhood. My mother and grandmother always taught me to appreciate
the beauty of flowers, and the work and
care it takes to have a beautiful garden;
and of course the pleasure of cutting the
blooms to bring inside! My great grandfather was a dahlia farmer; I didn’t
know him, but I imagine how his love of
flowers was the inspiration for both my
mother and grandmother.
When embarking on a project, do you already
have something in mind, or does inspiration
strike whilst in the midst of working?
It’s a bit of a mix … sometimes there
may be a color or texture that I’m
particularly drawn to that I use as a
starting point. Sometimes I do have a
particular idea of what I’d like to make.
But as I create flower arrangements, it’s
more of an organic process. Sometimes
the very flower that was my inspiration
may work itself out of an arrangement
by the time I’m finished. I like to follow
my instincts, but first and foremost to
let the flowers speak for themselves.
What are your favorite flowers to work with?
It changes with the different seasons. I do
really love ranunculus, peonies, garden
roses, dahlias, hellebores, frittillaria,
anemones...I could go on and on and on.
What is your most memorable project?
One of the first weddings I did by myself
was for two of my very good friends. It
was out of town, so I decided to set up a
flower studio in my hotel room. I worked
the whole day before and most of the
night. It was so fun because all of my
friends were milling about the hotel, so
my room was a revolving door of friends
popping in to say hello—and to drop off
a glass of champagne.
Are there any flowers that spark special
memories for you—from your childhood?
Or maybe from a romance?
The sweet smell of lilac in early spring
floods me with memories. My grandmother had several huge lilac bushes
(seemed like a forest to me back then). A
simple cluster of the lush blooms would be
on every table in the house and she’d bring
lilac to all her friends and neighbors.
What do you see for the future in floral design?
I hope to see—which is already happening—a movement to create floral arrangements that are more organic looking,
inspired by nature and also a little wild.
Are there any particular flowers that
have a longer “shelf life”?
Most flowers should last about 4 to 5
days if they are fresh. Ranunculus last
very well—they prefer shallow water,
hydrangea in the autumn last very
well and some varieties will dry nicely
and retain their color.
Can you offer Sweet Paul readers any tips on
how to prolong the life of an arrangement?
The best way to care for arrangements
is to give your stems a fresh cut when
you bring them home. Cut them on
an angle (this gives more surface air to
hydrate), and place into cool water. I
recommend changing the water every
other day and giving a fresh trim each
time. Keep away from direct sunlight,
and sources of heat and your flowers
will be happy.
You can feel the head of the rose
to check for firmness...(If you need to cut
anything cut the line (and em dashes): just like
checking an avocado for ripeness