simple holiday table

Is simple festive? I think so. Natural elements are always my favorite, I saved these sycamore leaves a few weeks ago for a halloween costume that never was. The hydrangea was dried on the stem on its side - I try not to cut them all summer because I think they are so much more beautiful when the depth of color comes out after they have aged. The leaves look really nice ruffled over and down a table too.

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fairy flowers

I absolutely delight in the idea that there is magic outside, unknown spaces of play and imagination.  When I was a child, I dreamed of seeing flower fairies, after my mother's suggestion that they were fluttering around the wild orchids on the drive up our wooded road.  If only I could be quick enough to see them for just one second!

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This spring, I started making bouquets of wisps of leaves, fruit and flowers small enough for a fairy and turned into an almost weekly ritual (#fairybouquetfriday).  

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Just a few minutes and just a few flowers, and of course a few photos!

All photos and flowers by Silvanie Farmar Bowers

fairy bouquets

Spring has finally arrived!  Happy to let go of winter and move on to days getting warmer.  I am forever in love with strawberries and anyone who knows me knows I love using the foliage and flowers in arrangements.  Such fond memories from my childhood of walking through our garden, picking strawberries.  We used to pick the berries for our dessert and my mom would whip the cream, sometimes even vanilla ice cream.  I guess its the true sweetness of childhood?  My mom talked to us a lot about different fairies living in the plants and wild strawberries (or in the garden) have always seemed so magical to me and a sweet place for a fairy to live.

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How could they not want to live with daisies and strawberries?

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Daisies are another favorite - their sweet faces pull me in.  When I was a kid, I used to love making fairy bouquets mostly out of tiny weeds, pinched between my fingers, almost small enough to put in a thimble.  In keeping with that magic, I made my son a fairy bouquet with strawberry flowers and foliage, flowering thyme complete with a butterfly and mushroom, tied with a fine wool string with a little bow and long tails.   Pure magic!

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 I think I could just make fairy bouquets all day.

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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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.

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

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.

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

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

More spring flowers and Easter things too...

Little garden bits in some French egg cups.  We lugged these egg cups across France along with antiques (mostly enamelware) for my mom on a family trip when I was a teenager.  Somehow, they've ended up in my cupboard. 

I talked before about using what you have in the garden, even dandelions.  Simple really is prettiest and easy to do.

I love these bare, speckled eggs now.  But, we'll dye and decorate eggs when it gets close to Easter.  It's a very magical time for those who believe in the Easter bunny.  

All florals, styling and photography by Silvanie Farmar Bowers  

Easter Eggs

More non-dyed, bare, in the buff eggs.  I love the soft, natural colors of the eggs themselves with bright spring flowers.  

I always love the mix of colors during spring, and a little can go a long way.  This is only two stems of lilac, a few crabapple branches, a few freesia, a handful of forget-me-not stems and a few snips of viola and maiden hair fern from pots on my front porch.  Most people have more things to cut outside than they think.  Mix it up, even pulling up a dandelion or two and putting them in a small bowl or terra-cotta pot with some eggs around is sweet.  

Time to clean up...

All flowers, styling and photography by Silvanie Farmar Bowers.