Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Celebration of Fall Workshop

This workshop focused on the use of metal pins frogs to hold weighty flowers and botanicals in place. It's just one of many  flower support options and is particularly useful for home use as it reusable and works for a number of different needs.

It's amazing how unique and beautiful each piece is.  Really beautiful work, everyone!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Early Autumn

Daily Vase Workshop!

At long last, here is the work created at a workshop devoted to small, informal arrangements. We had an abundance of flowers as some people could not make the workshop. Those who came were like kids in a candy-shop of color and form. They were able to make a variety of arrangements from simple to complex. Some really lovely compositions came out of the day.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Godbye Dahlias, Hello Amarylils and Mums!

This arrangement was for a rehearsal dinner a few weeks back. Right on the cusp of the dahlia/amaryllis season. Amaryllis are being grown in a lot of colors now- not just Holiday Red and White. They begin to show up at the market in late fall.  Large flowers evaporate from the market this time of year and amaryllis fills that need along with some really awesome mums that are starting to appear.  Yeah, mums- the flower that my eyes tend to glaze over due to overexposure. The ubiquitous round disks in the usual brown, yellow, white and sometimes lime green. They are so tough and long lasting they have certainly earned their place. But let me tell you, there is a whole world of color and form to be explored and new flower growers are beginning to grow them.

Last fall Jon and I attended a Chrysanthemum Exhibition west of Sacramento in a hotel event room. We were greeted by rows of mums in tubes and hushed reverential tones. This was after all a juried exhibition. Judges seriously considered the attributes of each flower that may or may ot receive an award for very specific attributes. This flower jurying business takes place in different parts of the world in shrinking pockets. Below are some I saw that were pretty awesome.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Chapter 3: Refelctions on an attempted Flower Growing Year

When I look out at my autumnal garden this season, I have to laugh because once again, this thing called gardening is out of my control. My efforts to have more flowers in the garden paid off. There they are, winding down in their end of season glory. However, I got different flowers than I thought I was planting. That intriguing six-pack variety of supposed Double White Comos turned out to be all standard pink. And the Salmon Pink Zinnia pack ended up being a bright mulit-colored mix. It certainly was cheery looking out upon the garden, but not what I wanted. So I learned some lessons on plant sourcing this year. But all in all, I am very satisfied.   The garden actually looked like  a Flower Garden this year, but only enough to snip from (as harvest would imply way more flowers than I had) and I've got what I really was hoping for - access to a vast quantity of home-grown flowers, though I cheated because they are not home grown and I had to travel to the next county for them-
to Aztec Dahlias- which became my garden away from home.

 About mid-season, I started working with Kate Rowe of Aztec Dahlias on a developing my first destination floral design workshop. Kate and her partner Omar had taken over Aztec just a year prior and were dealing with the growing pains of a new business. They were awash in dahlia blossoms and orders. First year out the gate they had all kinds of press and had become the darling of the Northern CA Dahlia world. The fact that they were the only grower specializing in dahlias and that the dahlias and Kate were amazing- she being a passionate and smart little powerhouse; catapulted them into instant demand. 

But the constant long days were taking a serious toll on Kate. So I offered to help her harvest some orders. Which meant harvesting by head-lamp after dark when temps were cooler- quite an adventure!  She would teach me how to cut the flowers and I would get free dahlias and be able to hand pick my flowers directly from the fields. 

How I loved walking those fields in early morning all by myself discovering yet again another favorite variety of dahlia. In a weird way, I felt like I started the garden in my own backyard, with all the early planting, coddling, feeding and pruning, but concluded it at Aztec Dahlias with the harvesting of so many beautiful blooms for events and orders through the season.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Dahlia 101 Workshop at Aztec Dahlias

Welcome to 7petals Design's first destination workshop at Aztec Dahlias in Petaluma! It's been a dream to bring together flower lovers with the farmers who grow them. Thanks to all who attended and created such beautiful and heartfelt arrangements. The dahlias were incredible and Kate is powerhouse, full of growing and culture information. Looking forward to creating more of these 
unique adventures. See below for more on Kate and Omar.

Amazingly, this is Kate Rowe and Omar Duran's first full year farming Aztec Dahlias. The farm had been owned for 15 years by a couple who wanted to move on - and rather quickly as it turns out.
You can read Kate and Omar's story here:

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Chapter 2 Flower Growing 101

When we last met, I was lamenting my flower-less garden, a garden Jon and I have been working on for years. We have added trees, shrubs, fences and paths. But it's a curious omission, given such a flower centric life. Flowers, purchased and foraged, flow through the doors continually for use as subject matter for paintings and bounty for floral creations. An oversight -oops I forgot to plant flowers!

Well, it wasn't for lack of trying. I just wasn't very good at flower growing. It seemed that anything smaller than a hardy shrub or tree either grew feebly or died. Despite all the research I did about the specific conditions a particular plant liked, I was just stabbing in the dark without more comprehensive knowledge of soil, water, feeding and it's kissing cousin; weeding.


The land our house sits on is close to the bay and was the bay historically. The soil is porous and sandy and seems to have few nutrients, despite yearly compost additions. It floods periodically some winters and the garden is knee deep in water from hills running down and overflowing a creek nearby. This water is also given a boost from a high tide from the bay. I know, it's complicated! So it is wet, wet wet, till the soil become bones dry in two weeks, come early summer. During the rainy season all manner of weeds including my constant unwelcome companion, sour grass grow abundantly. Then everything dries up and it's the Sahara. Whew!

Over the years I have been learning the limitations and potential for this garden. But this year, come hell or high water I needed to grow some flowers!

 Major inspiration and information has come from a book released this year by Floret Farms in WA. Erin Benzakein is a full time flower grower, author, and teacher. She is revered by flower farmers and designers alike for learning growing techniques for hundreds of cut flowers and showing people how to do it. She has grown a little empire selling not only incredible cut flowers and floral design services but also offers highly sought after and wildly expensive workshops,(mainly for those in the trade) seeds, bulbs, and products.


While Erin's beautifully photographed book is geared for flower farming, her information on individual flowers good for cutting is invaluable. She also includes some great floral design techniques. It will inspire you to rip out your entire garden and plant rows. I haven't done that and my garden is not the lush eden she has on her farm. But I grew some flowers this year. And what a feeling of joy and accomplishment it's been.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Chapter 1: Making of a Garden Chapter 2: Flower Growing 101


"What did they get this time?" I yelled to Jon, arms full of sleeping bags and cooler, unloading the car from our return camping/ reunion trip up north. He made it into the garden first. We saw a mamma and baby deer hop lightly over the fence and hightail it around the corner. "Roses, tomatoes",....he started, doing the inventory. Drat! My first real year growing flowers and the deer had come to dinner. We thought we had deer-proofed, but evidently not. I didn't know prior to this season how much deer love roses- and a lot of other garden delights.


Prior to this year, I didn't grow roses- or hardly any flowers. People sometimes ask me if I've  grown the flowers in my bouquets and all I can say is "I wish!". While my garden  contributes  interesting foliage to the bouquets, I'm sadly lacking cutting garden quantities of flowers. Truth is, it has sorely been lacking any flowers. How did that happen?

When we moved into the house as renters almost 20 years ago, it came with a yard full of really awkward garden decisions that fulfilled the desires of prior renters who wanted to get their hands in the soil. The original owners built this bungalow/duplex in 1915. They were an Italian family who stomped grapes where I now have my studio. They had the desire for shade where we wanted sun, and gravel where we wanted soil. When we showed up, fences were falling down, trees were in strange places  and we wanted a curved path where there was a straight one - not to mention a very healthy crop of Bermuda grass sprouting up from any place there was soil.

Our landlord eventually sold the house to us, just when we were on the verge of buying a condo with no yard. Yay, we were in! We made a to scale sketch of the property and started planning big changes. No weekend makeovers for us. As a compulsive DIY couple, my husband and I are really loath to turn over anything to someone else so consequently the evolution of our garden has taken years and lots of self help books that graduated into U-Tube videos. 

Those years were devoted to the infrastructure of gates, fences, paths and planting trees and shrubs.We now have a very private space in a fairly dense urban area. There is seasonal interest with foliage and large flowering shrubs. I'm not so unhappy with this still evolving garden, but as many gardeners will lament, they want many gardens: 

The farmey looking one for food and chickens
A flower cutting garden with rows of seasonal blooms
An outdoor living room with a comfortable/ magazine spread seating area
A flexible work area 

And Flowers!  The flourish, icing on the cake- aka, summer blooming flowers was missing.

Floret Farms to the rescue!
To be continued......

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hand Tied Bouquet Workshop featuring Roses and other seasonal delights

Here are the results of a most delightful investigation of hand tied bouquets featuring roses and other additions in this late May workshop. It was amazing how different each was, using approximately the same flowers. Yet they all related beautifully. Well done!