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

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

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

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.

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.

Flower Friends, Autumn Part Two

Inside Summer Cottage , my mom, Lisbeth and I added a few pumpkins and winter squash with clematis and grapevine we cut from her garden to the booth in the antique collective she share's with Julie Chiodo.   Simple and sweet.

Assorted bits we gathered in a fruit box.  Cut a few apple branches earlier in the morning from my mom's garden.  You really don't need much, just bring a little natural element from the outside.  Whatever is growing in your garden.

This beautiful green pumpkin is from my sister, Zoe's garden.  Julie's demijohns with a bit of apple branches and clematis.  

More of my mom's beautiful hand-dyed vintage napkins and linens.  She uses natural plant based and high quality textile dyes that she mixes herself for her desired color.  Her father in Denmark was a house and fine-art painter who mixed all of his own pigments and paints in his workshop.  He would paint each wall a slightly different shade based on the light.  I think she takes after him in so many ways.   More of the garments she sews in our first part or check out her website.

Check out the first part of our autumn flower friends at Summer Cottage.

All flowers by Lisbeth Hansen and Silvanie Farmar Bowers.  All photos by Silvanie Farmar Bowers.

Studio Visit - Kimberly Rose

Napa Valley native, Kimberly Rose runs her floral design business from a home-based studio behind a sweet 1930's house in Napa she shares with her husband, David (who also works from home) and their two young sons, Emmett and Marlon.   Recently, I spent a lovely sunny morning in her studio.

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How did you get your start in floral design?  I used to work at a store in San Francisco that would get amazing florals delivered every week and I was so intrigued by them.  Having a background in art, I thought the idea of being able to use my hands to  create sculptural floral designs would be a good fit.  I decided to apply to different floral designers looking for help.  An SF based florist took me on and taught me so much.  I eventually started working for other people around the Bay Area and then eventually created my own business.

How would you describe your style?  Textural, somewhat structured.  I like to try different things to keep things interesting.  I hope that my designs are always evolving.

What is your favorite time of year and what materials do you like to work with during that season?  I love spring.  Flowering branches are so pretty (I love working with branches) and there are so many different varieties of delicate flowers to choose from at that time.

What do you find easiest and hardest about having a home-based studio?  It's great to be able to walk out of my house and right into my studio, no travel time.  Another thing I enjoy, is to be able to take a lunch break with my family and get quick visits from them throughout the day.  I actually love having a home-based studio for the same reason it can be hard.  It can be challenging when my kids/husband come in and visit while I'm working because it can be hard to get things done with the distraction of my family.

How has motherhood changed your approach to design and your business?  I have come to realize that my time is very important to me and where I put that time and energy is important.  I now only take on business/jobs that I really enjoy the look of and have fun making.  Having the opportunity to be creative while supporting my family is such a gift.  I want to make sure I am spending my time doing what I love, otherwise it's not worth it to me.

Some of Kim's artwork in her living room.

what are some of your favorite places to visit in Napa?  We live pretty close to the Oxbow so we end up going there a lot.  They have a lot of affordable good quality food options and can be quick and easy at the same time.  I've also started doing a lot of kid friendly things lately like going to Connelly Ranch to see the animals with my kids or going for walks and to different parks around Napa.