Hiya!  Wowee we've had a busy April, May, and June so far.

Next weekend is the first in a while with no weddings or parties to flower.

As I write this, it is a beautiful sunny day outside in San Francisco.  No June Gloom this weekend!  I've just finished a bowl of sauteed oyster mushrooms and Garlic (Thank you Far West Funghi!) while sitting on the deck and staring at our truly depressing backyard filled with Dandelions.  I should be out there right this second gardening (I will!!), but it occurred to me that I haven't written here in a long time.

We did a wedding on the Rugged Pacific Coast and a Wedding at the tippy end of New York on the Atlantic Ocean in a two week span at the end of May.  We made Ceremony crescents at both.  One in Moody/Craggy tones, the other (pictured above) in soft coastal tones and textures.

SO MANY PRETTY FLOWERS.  Hope to have some good pictures to share with you soon!

And now to the Garden.  I have a bunch of Heuchera to plant out and we will be making our 3rd attempt at growing grass this week.

Hope your June is off to a wonderful start!  More frequent and longer posts to resume shortly, promise.

xX,

TLP

 

 

FLOWER SPOTLIGHT: CAMPANULA

It's no secret that I'm fond of umbel shaped flowers and anything that dangles.  Campanula is a variety of cut flower that falls into this category and it is not one you see in abundance at the flower mart.  This year, we're hoping to trial 4 different varieties in both our South San Francisco studio garden and a sunny piece of land in Sonoma.

These are Biennials, which means we'll be planting them in late Spring/early Summer of this year.  That will give them time to get established, leaf out, and lay dormant over the winter.  And then by late next Spring, hopefully we'll be swimming in these beauties which will add lovely gestural movement and some airy height to next years bouquets and arrangements.

Colors:

MAUVE AND PINK

WHITE

missed connections

I'm sitting in the airport right now.  Through a series of unfortunate events I have now been bumped from two flights.  Just trying to meet up with my baby in Venice for a fun weekend we have planned at the beach in LA.  Arggh.  I'm making the best of it, having a beer, looking at the foggy whitewashed SFO runway and am thankful as hell for the piano player at the baby grand.  Ahh!  He just finished and got up unnoticed - no one clapped!  Nooo.  Maybe he just went to get a sandwich.  I hope he comes back.  I also hope I am not stuck here all night.

Flexibility/compromise/patience - these things are important and worthwhile I am growing to understand.  When I first began voraciously reading about, talking about, and practicing growing and arranging flowers I could only see one future for myself - running a mighty little business, making deliveries, doing weddings, and hanging around with flower farmers all of the time.  What I've started to realize is What girl (or boy) doesn't have that dream?  And why shouldn't she?  But if we all quit our jobs and became flower farmers or florists....how would that work?

Through patient observation I've also come to a comfortable conclusion that we don't have to do just one thing.  And that doesn't mean we're not hard core enough or serious enough about our craft, it might even make us more interesting people.

The intersection of people, places, and persepectives fascinates me.  There's the intersection of flowers and photography.  and personal style.  and music.  and the specific energies of particular people or periods.  the interaction between generations.

In addition to flowers, I'm also doing merchandise planning - which basically means projecting, planning, and building assortment architectures for retail businesses.  Finding opportunities and trends in what's selling and helping lay the groundwork for future buys.  At one point I became dispassionate about this work, but I really do enjoy it.  And it's turned out to be a lovely, unexpected foil to the creative act of arranging flowers.

PXAP5031.jpg

And now I'm happy to report the piano player has come back.  Man is he tinkling those ivories.  Don't worry, I will clap when he finishes this next song.  And drop a dollar in his tip jar.

My plane reading: Erin from Floret's new book, Cut Flower Garden.  It's a great read so far.  You know that whatever she does, it's going to be done well.

As far as things going on this Spring, I miiiiight be teaching a little workshop later this month on arranging flowers two ways - Lush garden compositions and spare architectural arrangements.  If it's a go I will let you know the when and wheres!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend and please, send some good juju my way so that I make it out of here on the next flight.

xoXO,

TLP

New year / Old year

Mary and I worked on another fun shoot last month.  Very excited to share with you once pictures have been edited!

If I took a few seconds to reflect on last year I'd have to describe 2016 for The Little Petunia as a year of SPLAT!  I jumped while I had momentum, executed a lot of different ideas without a whole lot of strategic planning and am now trying to start gently organizing it all.

The focus for 2017 seems like it's going to be distilling a little more clarity.  What I mean is this.  Last year we feverishly harvested every grape on the vine, regardless of its variety or maturity, put it all in a mash ton and said 'F it, let's see what happens!'  This year, I'm hoping I can push myself enough to think more carefully about the end result we're looking for, and work towards that while still holding on to that enthusiastic, childlike creative fervor.

As far as themes and creative directions, I'm really looking forward to exploring symmetry and delicate, intricate patterns this year.

I'm also hoping to create a more interactive virtual environment here, so ideas can flow freely between you, me, and the four walls of this website :)  

February is almost here and if you haven't already seen, we've got a fun Secret Tulip bouquet available (click on link to get a load of what's so secret about it).  Other than that I'm working on our first real newsletter, which should be chock full of interesting things for you to gobble up.  Wedding season for us won't start until May.  I should be starting seeds for late spring/summer blooms right now.  But one thing at a time.  Hope you are having a wonderful January.

xoXO

TLP

WINE AND DATES

Wine and dates.  That's what I've had for dinner tonight.

Being an adult is a funny thing.  You can do things that you know you shouldn't, but no one's really going to stop you.  Other things on my brain at the moment:

We sell these amazing wood wick vintage rose candles in our  apothecary that make any stinky old room you're hanging out in feel luxurrrrious.  I have one burning now.

I have an idea for an all seasons wreath that I'm really, really hoping I can make happen.

I need to be more involved in my local politics.  I need to help do something about what's happened this past week in our national politics.

Either on my trip to Berlin this Spring or through my *bad* Instagram habit I found a flower shop in Germany that I am digging.  Marsano Berlin.

Thanksgiving and the holidays are just around the corner.  If you have ambitious decorating plans and need ideas or have technical questions on wreath making, garland making, etc.  I am an open book!  Would love to share.

You know, flower arranging is really one big experiment.  And honestly, things are so much prettier and fun if you're coming at them from your own perspective.  Anyone can show you how to duplicate what they do, but that is really only the beginning.  EVERYONE has creativity running through their veins.

xoXO,

TLP 

 

A case of Clematis

I've come down with a case of Clematis.  Don't worry, it's nothing serious.

My favorite final flourish to any arrangement (and a trademark of anything The Little Petunia sends out into the world) is a wild, viney something or other tangled like a halo over other seasonal branches and blooms.  With anything viney, there is more likelihood that it will have gotten a bit beat up with all of the transportation and bucket switching needed to get a bunch to market.  So I'm interested in investing some time and energy into growing my own. This Spring I will be trialing 8 different types of these ornamental or flowering vines as cut flowers.  My list of candidates started out broader, but has quickly been whittled down to EXCLUSIVELY Clematis. 

Here are some of the things I would like to learn by the trial's end:

  • How long will it take to grow a plant that is large enough to cut from?
  • How long will each variety last in a vase?
  • What tips and tricks are there to extended the vase life of these beautiful flowering vines?
  • What tips and tricks are there for growing and caring for clematis?

While admittedly the name of this flower is a little off-putting, I promise once you scroll through the images below you'll be smitten.  Most types of clematis flower in the summer and many develop interesting wild or fluffy seedheads thereafter.

Resources/Future Fieldtrips:

And now for the varieties I'm interested in:

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Late Summer | Simplicity

Holy Canoli, it's mid August already.  

I FINALLY have some time to "relax" and catch up today and it's been wonderful.  In two weeks I'll be home in PA for one of my favorite human being's weddings.  Liz, I hope you're not reading this, but I kinda hope it's a hot one.  I miss the heat and humidity of home.  Liz is the coolest.  Our bridesmaid dresses are made out of RECYCLED PAPER.  They are low-cut and really expose our arms so I've been trying to do 20+ push ups a day.  Wish I woulda started back in June, but oh well. I'm up to 28 boy push-ups, (don't be too impressed, they're not all in a row.)

In September The Little Petunia will be releasing a really pretty new line of vased arrangements.  Tonal flowers in beautiful, handmade footed vases from Amanda Wright Pottery.  It's got me thinking about simplicity.  I don't know if this is true of other florists, but after making intricate, thoughtfully sourced and composed arrangements all day long, the only thing I want to enjoy at home is a bunch of single varietal flowers.  

So that is the idea with these new arrangements.  A mass of mostly one exquisite type of flower in a simple, for-keeps, hand thrown ceramic vase.

Below is some of my inspiration for color palette and texture...

Pieter B Rose from Garden Valley Ranch (Where Fallon holds it down).  Pic from The Little Flower School.

Pieter B Rose from Garden Valley Ranch (Where Fallon holds it down).  Pic from The Little Flower School.

Hope you like the new arrangements we are whipping up for you.  Have a wonderful Sunday :)

xoXO,

TLP

Still Truckin'

Bleh.  I've been so flippin tired this week.  It's crazy how much mental stuff can physically exhaust you.  Don't worry, everything is fine with me, I'm just letting stress get to me more than it should.  Woooosaaa.

I am often caught driving during the hotter part of the day from the East Bay back up to the city.  The AC in our 2005 Subaru Forester kicked the bucket a long time ago and Greg insists it'd be a waste of money to get the compressor replaced.  $600 smackers.  Worth it?  Hmmm.  We've "decided" to wallow in indecision until the car makes the choice for us.  Per internet lore, some boasty Subaru enthusiasts have kept theirs running for 300,000 miles.  Ours is at 169,600.

But back to me.  What this all means is that I have my own mini sweat lodge session going on from 4:45-6:00 at least a few days a week right now.

After much debate, we've decided that our next vehicle shall be...duh duh dahhh a cute little Toyota Tacoma.  With an extended cab over the back and a sliding front cab window so the AC can reach flowers tucked back in the truckbed.

So rather than gripe about how sweaty and grumpy and tired I am at the current moment, how about some Truck porn y'all?!

1971 Ford Bronco

1971 Ford Bronco

1972 Ford Bronco

1972 Ford Bronco

1972 Ford Explorer

1972 Ford Explorer

1973 Ford F Series

1973 Ford F Series

1973 Ford Bronco Ranger

1973 Ford Bronco Ranger

1974 Ford F-Series Supercab

1974 Ford F-Series Supercab

1975 Ford EconoLine Van

1975 Ford EconoLine Van

Alright, alright.  Enough of that I guess.  Back to Flowers. :)

Maybe you've noticed, but I've been really into C O L o R lately. 

Hope you are doing something FUN this weekend!  I'm going home to eat wine and cheese for dinner :)

xoXO,

TLP

High Summer

High summer in San Francisco.  Some days it feels like it, other days it doesn't.  The arc of summer weather in SF doesn't begin until August.  There are two big outdoor concerts here that serve as markers in my memory for when our summer really begins.  Both take place in Golden Gate Park, only a mile or two from the Pacific Ocean, where all of the cold, foggy wind originates.  Outsidelands, the weekend of August 5th, is a frigid, bring your wool sweater kind of deal.  LCD Soundsystem is headlining this year and I am super pumped about that!  Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass, an amazing free concert the first weekend in October, is a cut off shorts, forget your bra type of deal.  Warm.  Hot, even.

While I've often talked about my favorite park (Buena Vista) up the hill from us, a gem that I need to remind myself to take advantage of Steph is Golden Gate Park.  My relationship with this park in the 4 years that I've lived here has been developed mainly while running through it.  Lush, winding, stretching 4 miles long and ending at the beach, it's a place where you could spend an entire day.  When Greg and I first moved out here from New York, we took a nighttime jog through it.  Not a great idea - but what did we know?  There are always a million people around in New York so you feel pretty safe just about anywhere, at any time of the day.  Not too long after that nighttime (what turned into a Sprint) jog, I went for a morning run in the park and casually turned the corner to see two gentlemen with machetes about 10 feet away from me clearing the brush around a tree to set up their living quarters.  Naturally.

Seeded Eucalyptus is erupting all over the city in hues of orange and pink. Addendum - my friend Meg corrected me.  This is actually not seeded eucalyptus.  It's called something like Fire tree?  Anyway, it's pretty and you should come visit here now to see it.  It's everywhere - Just look up!

With the all juicy flowers of summer that are available right now I've really been embracing brighter colors.  I'm a big fan of Crested Celosia.  The blue flowers above are Didiscus from my friend Joanna's Bluma Far in Sunol.  The seedheads are also what look like shooting stars in this picture.  I am happy when my arrangement looks like you could find it growing on the ocean floor.  Unda the Sea....

I brought the Didiscus back with me after visiting Joanna at her farm Friday AM before work.  I showed up at 6:30 and helped her harvest for an hour and a half.  No place was open when I left the house and I didn't want to make a raucous while Greg was still sleeping so I left the house sans breakfast or coffee.  I felt extra slow moving in the field and the first time doing any farm task it takes me a lot longer than I know it should.  We were racing the sun and the climbing temperature.  Joanna is growing SO MANY flowers.  I was so, so impressed by how much she is doing, mostly on her own.  

We harvested Dahlias, Lemon Basil, and Coreopsis while I was there.

Another fun thing I bought at market this week were these berries.  This is a weed.  The bunch that I got was bug-eaten and the leaves were SO PRETTY when the sun filtered through them.  Like little polka dots.  The berries smell sweet and are black.  Before using these stems in an arrangement I pulled most of the beautiful black berries off because it would not be worth having them stain the floor of the venue they were going to.  I saved them in a bowl for Ashley, who makes the most beautiful plant-died textiles.

She just finished up a set of waist-aprons for me, using natural dyes - I think Henna? - and natural wax.  She even sewed Little Petunia Patches on them!  I can't wait to see my team sportin these at our next wedding!

Today I also spent a solid 3 hours in the studio garden with Jenn, my new Summer/Fall apprentice.  Susan is still around, she's just so quickly become an asset to our team that she's now an assistant.  

Jenn is the sweetest ray of sunshine and weeded the shit out of our perennial bed while I prepped a 12 foot long bed for early fall flowers.  The soil was dry and compacted, and I had to uproot an established yarrow plant and two woody geranium plants.  I double dug, forked the subsoil, and piled back on the forked dirt along with dry organic fertilizer and compost from Lyngso.  PROGRESS!

We've got a busy week ahead, so I should have plenty to share with you.  Be on the lookout for another post this week!

xoXO,

TLP

IT'S MAGIC (SHHHH)

I am believing more and more in serendipity.  I guess it's not really something you believe in, it's just something that happens.  Friday, sitting at my desk, a friend messaged me asking if I wanted to go to the opening night of an exhibition at a gallery downtown.  Thought I might be into it.  I looked it up and turns out installation artist Rebecca Louise Law, whom I love, has a piece on display here in SF now through August.

I scrambled to get home in time, hopped in an uber, and made it with 15 minutes to spare before the exhibit closed.  I walked in the front door, past the people mingling and sipping on champage in the lobby, and headed straight to the top of a set of stairs.  The installation is suspended strings of flowers, 100's of them.  There were people everywhere, but I felt like I was the only one in the room.  I walked down into the flowers and let them swirl around me.  I looked up and watched them sway.  I found my friends Saree and Rebecca.  It was magic.  Plain and simple.

The show is going on now through August 4th at Chandran Gallery in Union Square.  Go check it out - it's free!  You might even want to visit a few times, because it is sure to change as the flowers age.

On Saturday I had a shoot at the studio with three moonbeam goils, Crystal, Sarah and Sarah.  We scheduled ourselves to start at 10 o'clock and at 10:01 I got 3 messages saying she was running behind.  Which was perfect, because so was I.

The original intention for the shoot was to recreate vintage floral print wallpapers with real flowers.  I attempted, but, it was an ambitious plan and we only had one afternoon.  A pseudo wall went up, but I'll tell you, pretty things very much happened.  

I'm generally interested in any iteration of flowers you can throw at me.  The scent, the seed, the science.  Fridays' exhibit has my wheels turning about the possibilities of other aerial installations.  I am entranced by things that are translucent.  Paper thin Seed pods and Leaf Skeletons make me tingle.  What's a leaf skeleton you ask?  Enter the rabbit hole here.

Basically, the gist is this:  Find a beautiful leaf, soak it in a liquid that gently (and not completely) dissolves the soft fleshy parts of it, leaving behind the dense central veins and a lacey web of tertiary veins.  At Benjamin Brodder's site on this subject he has a link to an old pamphlet published in 1861 by a man named Edward Parrish, a member of the Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia. It's called The PHANTOM BOUQUET.  While it appears from Brodder's blog that modern, chemically-driven processes to create these leaf skeletons now exists, Parrish recommends soft boiling water and leaving your leaves submerged under water in the sun or in a closet near your flue (tee-hee) for approximately 5 weeks.  The Hardy Oak leaf, he explains, can often be found as a naturally occurring leaf skeleton in the Autumn, if you look hard enough.  I can't wait to finish reading this little book!

Another sort of flower manipulation that falls under this umbrella of translucency and age old crafts is pressing them.  On that particular subject, I'd encourage you to check out the beautiful work of UK and Hong Kong based floral designer Gemma Hayden Blest.  Her own wedding flowers (ALL WHITE PALETTE, a rainy day with White umbrellas) and her general use of white, green, lotus flowers, roses, and paint in her cut flower compositions are pretty incredible.  I recently discovered that she also makes beautiful glass framed pressed flowers using interesting botanical specimens (ferns, orchids), roots and all.  Curious about how to get into this crafty  medium, I did some internet searching and found an article that breaks down her process here.  Enjoy!  

From Gemma Hayden Blest @haydenblest

From Gemma Hayden Blest @haydenblest

I'll be spending the next two weeks working on upcoming August and September weddings, so expect another blog post here at the end of the month.  Thanks so much for reading!

xoXO,

TLP

bee balm &...

Each time I work in the garden these days, something new has popped up.  We're in the thick of the summer now!  My favorite surprise this week has been the Bee Balm (Monarda), grown from starts given to me by Lennie back in early Spring.  It is so pretty.  A real doctor Suess flower if you will.

Monarda (Bee Balm) is the Purple multitiered flower in the middle.

Monarda (Bee Balm) is the Purple multitiered flower in the middle.

In the raised bed that we planted out in early June we've already got some bloomers.  A sweet pale pink variety of Dianthus (a carnation) is giving its first show.  Everything seems to be doing well there, so I'm happy.  We staked one of the tall Dianthus plants with a 2 feet piece of bamboo and twine yesterday.  Susan looped the twine in a figure 8 formation - one loop around the stem and one loop around the stake to support the plant without putting too much tension on any one spot.  We did this at about 8 " up from the base and then again at another 6" up.  In a Fall blog post about growing Lisianthus by Jennie Love (I'll be ordering my plugs in November!), a compelling case is made for foregoing using netting to support tall flowering plants.  It's expensive and it sounds as though it can be troublesome come harvest time.  My friend Susan echoed this sentiment, expressing that A) netting is expensive and B) If you stake individual stems it is much easier to remove and pull out plants that don't fare so well.  If they are netted, you wouldn't really be able to get to them.  What I have seen and what I think I'll do when I really have a nice full row of tall plants is put stakes around the permiter of the bed and use twine to hold them in.  That way you're kind of using the plants to support each other and the twine/stakes are holding them all in like a gentle girdle...or Spanx!

Last night Susan and I spent an hour going over bouquet making.  It is a tricky thing to teach because in order to achieve an elongated, loose, rambling shape, you really have to lighten your grip on the stems.  I grew up taking ballet and violin lessons and when I look at my hand while holding a bouquet in progress, my fingers are curved in a graceful, gentle arc that reminds me of both of those things.  Sure, things may slide a bit from your grasp at first, but once you've tucked enough stems in using a crisscrossing formation, they are pretty secure.  The ingredients we worked with last night all came from Susan's garden, making her final product SO special because it was all grown by her.  

Included in all of the flowers she brought over were stems of furry, tan whiskers.  Look at the picture below.  Guess what they're called?....EYEBROW GRASS!  I love them so much.

With two back-to-back shoots, we've got a busy two weeks up ahead again.  Can't wait to tell you more about them!  Until next week...

xoXO,

TLP