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, I always keep a bottle in my refrigerator during spring and summer for a quick face or body mist.  It 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

House Visit - Chelsea Dicksion

Chelsea Dicksion lives with her husband Chris and their young son Coleman in a sweet cabin on the outskirts of Sebastopol, California.  The cabin, hand built in the 1970's sits on a hill among dawn redwoods. Their bedroom on the second floor has windows on three sides of their bed, giving the effect that you're in the trees.  Outside, they have a large sunny plot to garden, with a small studio up the hill they are using for storage that has remnants of the past tenants ceramic tile studio.  I spent a recent spring morning with them in their cozy West County cabin eating Chelsea's warm focattica bread and drinking fresh lemon balm tea. 

How long have you lived in your house?  We've lived in our little cabin since late 2012 when we were farming a one acre piece of land for our small CSA, Furlong Forest Farm. We first moved to Sebastopol and lived in a different house about 5 minutes away from the farm, but we got lucky when the couple who lived here were going to move and we leapt at the chance to rent this sweet cabin surrounded by willows and oak trees. It was a really wonderful 30 second commute to the farm property. We had to let go of our farm dream once our son arrived in the summer of 2015 since farming was no longer something we could manage with a baby and continue to make a living. But, we still live in this sweet space. 

What makes a house a home for you? A house is a home when you love adding the daily details to it such as tidying up a particular corner, or adding a tiny floral and foliage bouquet on a windowsill, or making it smell delicious with fresh bread or a home cooked meal. 

How would you describe your style? I'm not sure if we technically have a "style" to our home since we are renting the space and I never feel the freedom to do what I really want within it. I'd love to hang more art, I'd love to simplify our "stuff", and I'd love to put in more time to our garden spaces. 

What are some of the things you enjoy most about your house? My favorite features of our cabin are the inviting red front door, the angular shape of the eaves, and the cozy "sleeping among the trees" feeling in the upstairs bedroom. I also really love our old Wedgewood stove and it's the best I've ever cooked upon. You can see more angles and views of our home on Instagram under the hashtag #ourfrontdoorisred

How has motherhood changed the rhythm of your house? Or new rituals you do? Motherhood has really brought about a slow patience to everything I do in our home. My son and I have, overtime, created a daily rhythm that involves his favorite household chores like vacuuming and cleaning up our messes, we often take a walk down the road, always spend a lot or a little bit of time outdoors in the sun or rain depending on the season with multiple baths depending on how dirty we get, and lots of book reading and some toy play. We also try to do something creative everyday. Our creative time could be something simple like crayon play on paper, chalk outdoors on the back porch, or something more elaborate like watercoloring a collaborative painting, or collecting plant materials for our dye pot for natural dye projects. I also enjoy our recent collaborations in the kitchen through chopping vegetables and adding them to the pot, stirring cake batter or cutting cookies with heart shaped cookie cutters. 

What projects do you have on the horizon? I'm working toward bringing my watercolor back into practice. It's been tough to dedicate much time to focusing on my art since my son was born. Currently, we are collaborating on a 30 day journaling creative practice and my hope is that it breaks my insecurities on perfection and brings on more play in my artwork. With more play and forgiveness on imperfection, I hope to release some new territory within me creatively as a mom artist. I'm also working on an idea to create various nature journals for kids. I have a lot of complicated knowledge on plants that I'd like to simplify for family friendly learning. 

As a plant person, what are the most important things for you to grow?  I absolutely love growing our own garden fruits and vegetables. There's nothing better than going out and picking peas to munch on or cutting a head of lettuce or eating that first tomato. But, my heart lies with growing anything native to where I live. I've always been drawn to the plants that grow nearby, even as a young girl. As a former nursery manager for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, I will always be looking to add natives to my garden, even if I no longer grow them myself. 

What are some of your favorite places to go in West County?  I feel like we definitely need to get out and explore more in West County. We spend so much of our time at home if we aren't in town doing errands. It's a good thing we love our backyard! Some of the places I've loved taking our son have been Bodega Bay, Ragle Park, a secret not- so-secret loop trail in our neighborhood, and any park in Sebastopol. We clearly need to do a bit more exploring in our future! 

Follow Chelsea on Instagram @furlongforestfamily, for more of her artwork @watercolorpaper and @colorsofourown for a community of creative parents.

You can also purchase her watercolors here.

 

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.

Bare Eggs

These eggs are about as simple as it gets.  I had grand ideas about using the viola I pressed in the antique colors I've been obsessing over the last few weeks.  But, after getting dozens and dozens of fresh eggs from my sister's chickens, I decided I wanted to look at the bare eggs.  All of the eggshell variations are so beautiful just the way they are.  Soft, buff, speckled, green and brown.

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All flowers, styling and photography by Silvanie Farmar Bowers

Chamomile Hair Rinse

As a natural blonde, my hair has gotten darker over the years.    I decided to make a couple of chamomile hair rinses to give it extra shine and lighten it up a bit naturally.  Chamomile (or camomile) has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties which can strengthen hair, help fight dandruff, and promote hair growth.  Adding it to your bath or placing cooled teabags onto your skin can help anything from burns to cuts to dark circles under your eyes. 

In the summer you can use wild chamomile or flowers from your garden but, its the middle of winter, so I used loose dried flowers and store-bought tea bags.

Here, I used four tea bags and filled the jar with boiling water.

For the loose dried flowers I poured boiling water over them in a pyrex bowl.  I just used what was already in my cupboard, about 1/4 cup flowers to about 3 cups water.

I let them steep about two hours.  You could do it longer or shorter and still benefit.

Strain the loose flowers into another bowl (don't pour the liquid out).

I poured the loose flowers through a fine-mesh sieve so there where still particles floating around.  I'm going to use it quickly so I didn't mind.  You could also use cheese cloth if you didn't want any bits floating about.

I let it cool completely then labeled it for the fridge.  After washing and rinsing your hair, pour the cool chamomile rinse over your hair, leaving it in as your hair dries.  It will continue to lighten as it is left on and you will see results with regular rinses.

Chamomile is one of my favorite flowers, it self seeds very easily and is a nice addition to any herb or floral garden.  It also attracts honey bees and smells wonderful.  In Kate Greenaway's Language of Flowers, chamomile means "energy in adversity".

Flower Friends, Winter, Part Two

After several days of rain, we got a beautiful misty morning for this second part of the winter flower friends.  My sister Zoe and I where joined by our mom Lisbeth.  I love going back to our roots and mixing everyones style together.  My parents raised  our family on a cut flower farm so flowers have always been a huge and important part of our lives.  When my sister and I were kids, instead of having a lemonade stand we picked bouquets for Mother's Day and set up a little roadside stand.  It was the late 80's just as Martha Stewart was becoming popular and the wholesale markets hadn't caught on to our product yet, so in order to sell the flowers from our 87 acre farm, my mom got a stall at a few of the local farmer's markets.  In the summer and on weekends, my sister and I would help her at the markets.  I loved getting into our big refrigerated Iveco truck and heading out into the cold morning.  Those years taught us so much and eventually, people caught on to garden roses and scabiosa (thanks Martha Stewart!) and the wholesale markets did too.  

I have always loved this Bjørn Wiimblad vase my mom has had for as long as I can remember.  As a child, growing up in the Danish countryside she loved to pick bouquets of poppies, wheat, daisies and cornflower from the fields near her house.  With such dark winters there, she feels "its especially important to have flowers inside in the winter to lift the energy".

This monkey egg cup belonged to my dad as a child.  Filled here with violets my mom picked from her garden.  

My mom also dug up violets for us to use.  Here's Zoe rinsing off some of the mud.

Heavenly scented, violets and daphne (again from my mom's garden).

"Look for the beauty in winter, bulbs are the optimistic and sure sign of spring" - Zoe

A little posy I made with roadside ferns and acacia Zoe cut and thanks to all of this rain, some oxalis I picked from the grass and ditch in front of her house.  Tiny bits can make the sweetest posy.

More Hellebores (also known as Lenten Rose and Christmas Rose).  Such a beautiful flower to give life to even the coldest winters.

I cut these beautiful magnolia branches from my friend's tree, not open yet, here they look like giant roses!  We are mid-way through February and here in California spring is just around the corner.  Literally blooming every day.   I'm already looking forward to the next season of flower friends.  

Some previous seasons; autumn, summer and spring.   

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

Flower Friends, Winter, Part One

Winter is mild here in Northern California.  My sister, Zoe and I spent a recent morning gathering bits and branches from her property in Sebastopol.  This area of Sonoma County, called West County is prized for fertile soil and considered by many to be a Utopia.  Zoe has always been an avid gardener, preferring to be outside most of the time, working.  We were incredibly lucky to have grown up on a cut flower farm and nursery so flowers and plants have always been an integral part of our lives.   Being so close in age, we spent our childhood together, outside exploring on our farm and most of our twenties working together as a design team for our family business.  This flower friends series is about getting together just to talk and cut things and put them together without worry.  

Ceanothus with a few gathered heart-shaped rocks.

The delicious smell of daphne, a true sign that spring is on it's way.  Paired here with scented geranium and bare walnut branches in one of Zoe's vintage ceramic vases.

Zoe's chickens were quite happy we found some strawberries in her vegetable garden!

A few beautiful stems of a native flowering Ribes with dusty pink yarrow, artichoke foliage and a sweet, wispy pittosporum.

All flowers and styling by Zoe Honscher and Silvanie Farmar Bowers.  Photos by Silvanie Farmar Bowers.