Floral Crowns for a Woodland Wedding Wonderland

I have eight nieces, and so naturally, they call on me when a wedding date is set in stone.  Four down, four to go!  Maddie made her plans to be married in Yakima, Washington in late April.  A beautiful six hour drive up the Columbia Gorge, then turning inland for some awesome, breathtaking scenery of rolling hills and many windmills.   Sometimes it’s more enjoyable to attend a wedding than to be transporting and keeping cool a load of flowers (along with three kids and luggage) and so I suggested to Maddie that she work with a local florist in Yakima and promised her my feelings would NOT be hurt!  After 16 years in the floral business, I was looking forward to showing up and enjoying the day and not “working.”

BUT…a few weeks before the wedding, she called me and just felt that floral crowns were absolutely necessary and she asked if mom would be willing to design them and if I’d be willing to transport them.  This was a little easier of a task to tackle (as far as the transport) but mom will be the first to let you know that they are no small feat to design.  VERY intricate, tedious and time consuming work.  But hopefully from the pictures, you can see that they were very worth it the effort.  As the bride said in her timely thank you note, “they were the icing on the cake.”  And I agree!

Custom designed and sized, they were designed with roses, ranunculus, privet berries on a base of seeded eucalyptus, these crowns lended that final touch to the mossy, woodland wedding theme.

Floral crowns, along with garlands, are being requested by our brides over and over this season.  Stepping away from the traditional veil and going with something a little more earthy is definitely what they are asking for.  We are happy to oblige, as who can argue with more flowers?  More flowers and greenery is ALWAYS the right choice!

M+A-24 M+A-157 M+A-234 M+A-282 M+A-391 M+A-395


Mountaintop Anniversary

I couldn’t help but smile at those two darling dogs, and the shoot wasn’t even all about them!!!! Courtney, of Courtney Ess Photography, asked me to help her with floral pieces for an anniversary shoot taking place in a local mountaintop location. What a perfect, perfect day of weather it turned out to be for an anniversary shoot of a wedding we designed the florals for several years ago.  Courtney wanted to have a bouquet, dog collars and a couple other pieces she could use as backdrops.


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At first I was thinking of ordering flowers in from my wholesalers, but then walked outside the other evening in our yard and gardens, and it hit me: I can use “stuff” from here!!!! Why not? It’s in the mountains, the Northwest, outdoors—we all have the finest to choose from right out our door, right here in Tillamook, Oregon. These are the greens and flowers people from everywhere else, yearn for!!! I started looking around and the Oregon Grape, vine maple, huckleberry and blooming thimble-berry with its delicate white flowers-would work perfectly as a backdrop to a few flowers. The sword fern and deer fern, with its curly que tops give another whimsical look and texture. I wondered though if it would all hold and not wilt once picked since some of the greens are so newly emerging from this LONG winter. I tested it overnight, and had only one issue. This may seem really weird to most, but there were some huge Man-in the Ground vines (a pungent weed that takes over large areas in a rain forest)BUT, it would make a cool viney looking thing draping from a bouquet with it’s feather feelers and little white stephonotis-looking flowers—or so I thought! I was secretly thinking how funny this would be to make it into a bridal publication with this big ‘ol weed! But, it wilted overnight so I knew it wasn’t going to work. I found some other grass, as well as the smaller deer fern and hoped Kathryn didn’t have allergies. Blooming profusely right now flower-wise were little lavender bachelor buttons and lupine. We have all shades, and while it probably isn’t the variety found in the mountain, I decided it was close enough and would give the bouquet a different structure and some color. Usually our foxgloves are blooming by now, but only the white ones were budded and looking photo-worthy so I picked a big bunch of those for a vase arrangement along with the vine maple as filler.

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I thought about walking up the hill to see if I might be able to find some bleeding hearts or other flower—even down by the creek—they grow under the shade there, but we have a resident bear—a huge bear making himself comfortable in our field, so didn’t feel like seeing him face to face and nixed that idea.

Courtney’s only request was to have roses or dahlias, but the dahlias were two inches out of the ground, so I ordered in one bunch of a white garden roses to give the bouquet a more wedding/anniversary feel. Other than the roses and the seeded eucalyptus on the dog collars, it was a foraged floral shoot! And I loved the process and the end results too!!!! And those two darling dogs looking all anniversary-like.


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Click Here for Courtney’s Blog Post

You Get What You Get…

You Get What You Get, and You Don’t Throw a Fit!



Cape Lookout’s stylized shoot


Funny how those words from one’s childhood continue to ring true-even today in my flower world, designing a bridal bouquet! I’m sure you have similar experiences in your life, too, where adapting to the moment is what you have to do. I remember in my teaching career it was called “monitor and adjust” and oh boy, did I have to do a lot of monitoring and adjusting in a classroom of 7th and 8th graders!

When Laurie discussed the bridal bouquet she was visualizing for her photo shoot, she wanted something vintage looking, neutral tones, and a totally different shape than we usually see today. She wanted a more horizontal bouquet with flowing greens and white anenomes with black centers. I remember that was her one preference. Anenomes. Anenomes add beautiful texture to a bouquet with their extremely delicate, tissue paper petals with a dark center and they aren’t often used probably because they are so delicate. Along with the draping greens, I knew I wanted to add some privit berries, a silvery, velvety, dusty miller and a mossy branch or two, along with the Star Magnolia branches and a ruffly garden rose.



My Star Magnolia tree, which was the inspiration for this bouquet.


The next step for me was to compose the flower order for my floral wholesaler trying to be as specific as possible so that the flowers I receive are as close to what I need as possible. It requires being very careful about flower type, stem count needed, stem length and even being very clear on subtleties of colors and shades, and knowing what each of my wholesalers considers blush or light pink. Fortunately, after sixteen years of doing this, they know when I say “blush” I mean extremely light pink. Anyway, usually when I have a wedding order or a special occasion order, the order is placed at least four to six weeks in advance of the event. By the time my order is ready to be filled, many things may have happened. Primarily: Nature! Rain or heat or cold may have affected the crop, or there could be shipping errors where flowers were cooked or frozen on the truck causing damaged flowers. As the florist, it’s my job when receiving the flowers to decide if I can make the best of a situation (is there still time to get replacement flowers shipped before the event?) or do I need to figure out how to make the best of the situation (not throw a fit!)? Is it possible to achieve the look and feel of the arrangement my customer desires? How can I make the best of this situation?

This was the challenge with the bridal bouquet for this photo shoot. I had planned on creating an armature (structure that holds the flowers horizontally) thinking the anenomes and other flowers and greens would easily be able to be laced through the armature visible 10-12 inches below the structure thereby long enough for me to place the bouquet in a vase of water to keep them fresh and vibrant (my original plan, Plan A). It all seemed so easy in my head until….. I saw the stem length of the anenomes. They were 6-8 inches at best (I hadn’t requested long stems—MY MISTAKE), so there was no way they were going to be able to be laced through the armature and have any length left over, plus I wanted some of them to be placed up higher and spread out throughout the design, not all close together in center middle. These short stems weren’t going to work for my Plan A.


Now what? I had to figure this out with what I had, because it needed to be designed and ready to go the next day. A wave of panic went through me, but then I vaguely remembered purchasing a European Bouquet holder several years back so I went and searched in our cave of treasures thinking it might work for this challenge. It was a bouquet holder with a flat six inch square piece of oasis that could be hydrated and would allow the stems to have a water source. I inserted the stems of the flowers and greens into the oasis of the holder after I had secured it to the armature, and continued until the flowers and berries were balanced, and then added more greens to cover any oasis visible. Finally, I covered the holder with moss and attached the ribbons to the handle where the bride would hold the bouquet. Even though my first plan didn’t work out, I was pleased with Plan B and how easily it all came together.



And in the scheme of things, really, it wasn’t anything to throw a fit over!!!!

Star of the Show

Star is definitely the star of the show right now. Fluffy, white blooms puffing out all along her outstretched branches signal warmer temperatures; Spring has arrived; more sun will be coming….Promise! At least that’s how I take her message! She is light and beauty and fragrance and she’s bloomed in our yard for probably over twenty five years or more. She is Star Magnolia.


My Star Magnolia in bloom April 3, 2017

Star’s blooms are the inspiration for our photo shoot this coming weekend. A new photographer to the area, Laurie Jean Photography, approached us with the idea of doing something different in the way of a wedding shoot combining elements from the beach, vintage dress (which she found and purchased at Phoenix Exchange, here in downtown Tillamook; it’s gorgeous and was in excellent condition) and vintage men’s wear. Laurie wanted a unique look for the bouquet as well. Her vision was something more horizontal (as opposed to roundy-roundy)—which is definitely a new trend. I don’t know if it will catch on here this year as sometimes it takes awhile —-but we will also be using grey and white tones, more muted shades with draping greenery and different textures in ribbon and maybe a surprise or two just because I can’t resist with what I like! The draping greenery seems to be catching on. I don’t know if it’s because the Pantone Color of the Year is green, but brides are trending more towards greenery this year it seems.

Intrigued with a new challenge as far as the bridal bouquet and getting to create something that appealed to me, had me hooked on wanting to collaborate with Laurie. Plus, it would be good practice to actually put one together to experience the challenge and have the practice before I actually needed to do one for a real bride. Patti (one of our designers), had designed a horizontal bouquet with an armature (a structure that gives the flowers and greens support) for her niece’s wedding years ago, and I remember that being a challenge. But, I loved how Patti’s turned out because I loved the colors, and that it was so different than anything we had done.

horizontal bouquet

Patti’s horizontal bouquet designed 10+ years ago for her niece, Jen.

I knew Laurie’s bouquet vision could be accomplished, so I started thinking about what I might use as the armature for this focal piece for the wedding shoot. Star was the answer!!!!

I decided I wanted to have some of the blooms still in buds and probably some of them just starting to crack out of their soft, velvety gray cocoons, while others will be fully popped from their cocoons. Since it’s warming up and the rain continues, I also knew I needed to slow down the process of all of the blooms being full-blown so I cut a bucket full of branches, and placed them in a bucket of water in the cooler at the store to hold them until I start putting the bouquet together. Star’s branches are somewhat flat with many laterals down a branch. I’m thinking this will work well as the base of the bouquet structure, and will give good support to the greens and flowers that I will add to form the bouquet. They seem to have just the right amount of curvature to add interest and texture against the softness of the blooms I will add.

I’ll keep you posted here on how it all comes together!

Oregon Coast Forest Boho Wedding – Oregon Coast Florist

Summer 2014 was a wedding season heavily dominated by babies breath and peach and coral flowers. So when Stephanie asked us to design her wedding flowers with a different approach, more of a Boho flavor–bold color and even beyond that, unique designs–we were eagerly anticipating the opportunity to bring Stephanie’s dream flowers to reality for her. We talked about colors and flowers that she did and didn’t like, dried pods, feathers, curly willow, cotton and other textures that appealed to her as well. Stephanie preferred more of a vertical design for her bridesmaids’ bouquets rather than the round design usually chosen. She also wanted more cascade to her bouquet than usually chosen.



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Unique Bridal Bouquet

After our discussion, we decided what flowers, berries, pods and other textures were in season or on the market at the time, and if they weren’t, what makes a perfect substitution? Stephanie also helped us out by bringing in several pictures of elements from arrangements she liked which often gives us a better idea of what the bride likes…sometimes it isn’t necessarily the entire picture, but just the colors or the flower types while sometimes it’s the feathers used or the touch of curly willow.

Bridesmaid's Bouquets

Finally, Stephanie let me know she trusted me to “go for it” and do my thing….and so I did considering the theme, the dress, the family, the bride, the groom, and all of God’s awesome and amazing abundance of the fall season flowers and textures, the chenille-like drape of amaranthus against the curling velvet, ruffled edge of the cockscomb, the grace of the pheasant feathers, wild and free curly willow, tissue paper thin petals of the compact, cupped ranunculous.  And all the berries to make it all pop:  pepperberries, privit berries and fall’s sweetheart:rosehips…can you ever get enough of such richness? Not me!

Wedding Flower Details

And I loved (LOVED) getting to design the altar arrangements around and in the light green squash.  Doesn’t it just speak of hearts overflowing???  It does to me.  Can’t wait to do something like this again – hopefully SOON!

Altar Flowers

Thank you, Stephanie and Anthony, for the opportunity to capture your love in flowers.

All images captured & provided by:  Imago Dei Photography.  To view Xiomara’s blog post and see all the lovely details of this event, click here.

This wedding was featured as one of Oregon Bride’s “Best Real Weddings of 2014.” See their feature here.

Honoring Your Loved One With Flowers – Oregon Coast Florist – Flowers for Sympathy

“To be kind is more important than being right. Many times what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks but a special heart that listens.” Unknown.

So true, especially when you have lost someone you dearly love.

One of the most difficult situations in the flower shop is to meet with grieving family members, who while in the depths of grief, are trying to make decisions about flower choices that will honor and reflect who their family member was, and be something their loved one would love and appreciate as a tribute.

We want to listen first to hear what he or she loved in life. What was she interested in? Did he have a favorite hobby? Did she love bright, vibrant colors or did she prefer pastels and soft colors? What color reminds you of him? Would you like a certain amount of roses in the arrangement to reflect the number of children in your family? What should we know that would help us get a better idea of what would reflect his or her personality? Was she a nature lover? Did he serve in the armed forces?

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Once we know about your loved one, if family members aren’t comfortable or are too overwhelmed with making floral choices, we are here to help make the situation easier by offering suggestions as far as colors, flower types, and even design ideas. Sometimes customers don’t have any idea at all what they would like. In that case, we have many books of ideas to look at as well as photos of our past sympathy work which can be customized with your own ideas. Of course, we are always comfortable after listening to family about their loved one’s favorite colors, flowers, and interests, designing a vase or basket arrangement or an easel arrangement based on what we’ve heard. We have an area in our back workroom where you and your family can take the time you need to sit, look through our resource books,and discuss what you would like your floral tribute to look like.

Many services are now a Celebration of Life, which often calls for vivid and bright flowers. Sometimes family members want to include momentos in an arrangement reflecting a special interest of their loved one. Recently, a family brought in their father’s beautifully woven fishing creel and we filled it with a vibrant mix of yellows and blues along with fashioning a fishing pole out of vine maple and accenting it with a burlap bow. Another unique arrangement was an evergreen wreath accented with several sets of deer antlers which served as the focal at the church service. Probably the most unusual arrangement we’ve ever created was an easel to look like a hamburger as the family said that was their loved one’s favorite food and she would have loved it. (wish we had pictures of all of these!) In this day and age, there aren’t any set expectations as far as what you must do for floral arrangements. You can be creative or keep with tradition—it’s up to your wants and needs as a beloved family member, and it’s always my intention to have that special heart that listens—especially in your time of loss.

Shipwreck Wedding on the Oregon Coast-Oregon Coast Florist-Oceanside-Wedding Inspiration

Months ago, Xiomara of Imago Dei Photography, approached us with the idea of participating in a Shipwreck on the Oregon Coast themed photo shoot.  Along with three other photographers, Xiomara saw the opportunity to attract destination brides to our area of the Oregon Coast.  Basically, we would be staging a fantasy wedding. That meant securing all of the props, services, bride, groom, make-up, hair, dresses, shoes jewelry, cake, tuxedo and FLOWERS of course!

Were we interested?  Of course!  Even though we’ve designed flowers for hundreds of weddings over the past twelve years, brides usually have their own ideas about what they want in the way of flowers.  Xiomara sent us an inspiration board knowing she could trust us to see the vision, but also gave us complete creative freedom within the vision.  All she said was, “I want to see something I haven’t seen before.”  This is like a florist’s dream come true!  And this kind of challenge keeps me awake at night pondering how I will combine a certain flower and a certain succulent.  And what would set off the Gatsby era dresses?  And how about something for their hair that uses an element from the bouquet?  How can I tie in the setting, the sand, the surf, the sea life and shipwreck?

Since there were two brides, we decided that one would have a more traditional bouquet using David Austin Patience roses (they look like peonies and are phenomenally fragrant) paired with foilage, succulents and pods.  The combinations of the varying textures – the softness of the roses against the sponginess of the succulents all reminded me of the texture found at the ocean.  A silver thread tied all of the elements together and drew you to the dress as well.

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The second (and more out of the box) bouquet was crafted from pele hair and dried seaweed, which formed the base and was the inspiration for the design.  I loved the way it flowed, it’s more rugged texture, and the color against the softness of the elegant feather backed cymbidium orchids.  Tillandria formed the bodice of the bouquet with cascading succulents.  We decided this bouquet would only be for the most confident of brides.

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Photo shoot day required many support people.  There were three of us from Sunflower Flats, and several other vendors, photographers & helpers out there.  We all acted as pack horses to lug all of the props for each of the sets:  tables, trunks, our curly willow arch (in pieces) flowers, greens, nets, glass balls, vases & cake and then had to lug it all back!  We literally walked miles!

Shipwreck setup

Xiomara envisioned shooting on the OTHER side of the tunnel at Oceanside, meaning the tide had to be out enough to get through and out to the other side.  All of us began the trek with our loads in the gale force wind and rain.  We emerged from the far side of the tunnel to waves still crashing over the exit.  No beach to be seen yet, and with an angry surf, we knew it was going to be awhile until it receded.

**Keep in mind, this is NOVEMBER, not a typical month for an outdoor/beach wedding here on the Oregon Coast.  But when you are gathering wedding vendors, this is one of the only months wedding vendors are available!  The inclement weather just added to the adventure!

So, Plan B (modify and adapt) back to where we began (on the Oceanside beach) with all the props and we set up what we could do with the guest book table, sweetheart table, curly willow arch and cake table.  The challenge was to have someone hold all the pieces together, bracing it all from the wind, until the second before the shot.

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We were bouquet sitters – protecting and harboring the bouquets while the models got into place and then giving them the bouquet at the last minute for the shot.  If you thought being a florist was glamorous, here is a picture of us to prove otherwise!


Eventually, the surf receded so we could venture to the other side of the tunnel with the stunning rock backdrop.  The cloud formations even cooperated with the swirling, floating foam around the craggy pools.  Nature’s elements and it’s many textures and light came together for a truly phenomenal experience for us as florists.

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All photos courtesy:  Imago Dei Photography

To see more amazing images from this day and for a complete list of vendors & contributors, please visit Imago Dei Photography’s blog.


Anniversary Inspiration

Florist on the Oregon Coast

Some husbands go above and beyond to show their love.  Kevin is one of those men.


Sixteen years ago, Kevin Queen married Debbie at the Garibaldi Museum where she carried a bouquet of Stargazer lilies and Fire and Ice roses, her favorite flowers at the time.  Every year since, Kevin spends the year prior to their anniversary researching and thinking about how he will recognize their upcoming anniversary with a floral arrangement that incorporates something that signifies that particular year of marriage.  For example, paper signifies year one so Kevin made a paper replica of Debbie’s bouquet for their first year anniversary.  For the last twelve years, Kevin has collaborated with Sunflower Flats to come up with a design in whatever idea he decides on.  One year, he purchased a steel card holder and had us attach orchid florets and roses to the holder.  Another year was aluminum, which was the most difficult for him, but he finally settled on folding his own roses using aluminum paper and incorporating them into a fresh rose arrangement.  Kevin says his goal each year is to find something practical that Debbie will be able to use in their home.  Last year, because it was the year for crystal (15), he chose wine glasses and a baking dish as the base for his arrangement. 


This year, for year sixteen, Kevin decided silver halloware meant a new set of silverware (which he said they needed) and a new stainless (silver) Kitchen Aid mixer.  A couple of weeks ago, Kevin brought in the mixing bowl for Patti to design an arrangement in, but this wasn’t to be just any fresh arrangement—not when Patti is the designer—and Kevin expects out of the ordinary–always– so, Patti started gathering her ideas.  And true to form, Patti came up with a design perfect for the mixing bowl that incorporated Intuition roses and Sterling roses (now Debbie’s favorites)—in a layered cake design!!!!  But not just a simple layered cake design…no, this cake had pieces of the silverware incorporated around the edges of the bowl along with a silver armature out of wire to accent the Intuition and Sterling roses along with the eucalyptus and the light pink genestra to give it a little pop and sweet fragrance.


We loved how it turned out and Sherri, our delivery lady, said Debbie did some little hops up and down when she saw it. Obviously, she loved it too!  Congratulations, Kevin and Debbie Queen on sixteen years of marriage and best wishes for many more to come!