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.

Christmas Open House

Sunflower Flats - Christmas

We will be having our Christmas Open House on Friday, November 29 and Saturday, November 30 from 8:30am – 5pm. Enter to win FLOWERS FOR A YEAR (no purchase necessary), sip hot cider, sample Moonstruck Chocolates, and enjoy 20% off our entire gift inventory. The first 100 customers will receive a complimentary 2014 Teleflora calendar. We are looking forward to seeing you!

Fall Flower Fest at Blue Heron Ladies Night

Sunflower Flats - Fall Flower Fest

We had a wonderful time at our Fall Flower Fest at the Blue Heron Ladies Night on November 15th! Thank you to the Blue Heron for lending your space and to all 25 participants who came to learn about floral design. We had so much fun and we hope you did, too! Let’s do it again soon!

P.S. Remember to water your arrangements daily!