The first weekend of the new year and we woke up to a beautiful, heavy fog.Foggy mornings seem to give you more of a chance to slow down without feeling a sense of time going by. At least they do for me. My family spends a lot of time meandering the trails near our house. On this morning, my son was looking for mushrooms and I was busy looking at the remnant grass and seed heads of summer and fall in the meadows. The decaying blackberry canes and the last of the rose hips rotting and withering. I closed my eyes and thought of other seasons here, the flush of wild roses in the spring flouncing and adorning the sides of the path. The meadows lit up with explosions of colorful confetti when the mustard, wild radish and lupines are in bloom. The sweetness of the blackberries ripening in the summer heat. Listening to the birds, always busy, chattering away making nests or screeching as they swoop to snatch a mouse.
I thought I was making wreaths, but now they seem like nests. I still have my old fruit box on my back steps filled with bits I collect that I don't want to fly away. Mostly beautiful leaves, aged hydrangea and dried ferns.
Watercolor experiments with florals
Making collages for New Year's cards this year. In an effort to tidy my house, I have let go of so many magazines I used to collect. It makes it that much more fun to have to seek out things to clip - I was surprised to get some good ones from the holiday REI catalogue.
Traded some collages with other people through Instagram - it was fun sending cards to people that I only know through photos online. Email me if you are interested.
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.
Some clematis growing along the banks of the Russian river entwined with wild grape. Such a beautiful summer display.
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.
Little basket I made earlier this summer. Looks so sweet turned upside down and used as a frog.
Summer is coming to an end. Very much looking forward to cooler days.
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.
It is still very much summer, but there is a faint feeling of fall in the air. The light is changing and it was noticeably cooler this morning. Some snaps from around my house this week.
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!
Made a quick bouquet out of some of my dried bits. With the right ribbon this could even be a cute bridal bouquet. With a lace shift dress, in a wheat field?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
Florals and styling by Zoe Honscher & Silvanie Farmar Bowers, photos by Silvanie Farmar Bowers
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.
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
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!
You can also purchase her watercolors here.
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