Early spring is possibly my favorite time of year for flowers. These were special because they were sourced entirely from the LODEN cutting garden and a few greenhouse bits.
Photography by Jenna Greenawalt
Last June, Kay and Mike came back to Toledo from California for a backyard wedding. Kay’s dad has a beautiful home in the Old West End neighborhood of Toledo with a large enough yard to host the ceremony. He even built a them an arbor to get married under. The love between father and daughter was so sweet to witness. Happy anniversary to Kay and Mike this week!
All photos by Mary Wyar Photography
While in England in September, I spent two days with Jess and Alex of Aesme Flowers. Their West London studio is tucked into the railroad arches at the Shepherd's Bush tube stop. Shepherd's Bush was far more bustling than the sleepy Kew Gardens stop where I got on, after a few minutes of getting my bearings, I found my way - it's just beyond the impossibly skinny rockers standing outside Bush Recording Studio and the grimy mechanics in jumpers. Once I found their arch, I was greeted by Alex and her Irish terrier, Mavis. Once Jess and our roses arrived, we fueled up with coffee and croissants, and headed out of town to do some cutting and foraging in their country garden. Through the rain, we cut and filled the van breaking only for snacks and tea in the poly tunnel. Obviously, I was in my element and couldn't have been happier!
Day two was filled with in depth conversation and design. Jess and Alex worked in tandem on their still life, followed by me. Our third design of the day was a team effort. We took down the dark hand painted backdrop we had been using for our Dutch Master inspired arrangements and opted for a beautiful bisque colored cloth which paired well with our pink toned design.
Thanks to Alex and Jess, who were a perfect pair for me to spend time with. It's always a treat to link up with like minded designers and spend a couple of days chatting about all the things - flowers, houses, food, family, business, life. If you find yourself in London, and are considering a flower class - look these women up!
In the early part of 2017 I learned about a travel scholarship opportunity through the Toledo Museum of Art. The Palmer Scholarship provides funding for travel expenses in order to pursue an art related experience. With the application deadline looming and just a couple of weeks to research and design a proposal - I turned to my curiosity around Dutch Master floral still life paintings.
A couple of years ago I discovered a painting by Rachel Ruysch at the TMA and immediately became interested. As an avid museum goer, I admittedly never paid attention to this genre before. However, something about the way I was viewing flowers at that moment in time and accepting them as my medium, not merely a job - had me taking a closer look. I began to be excited by forgotten flower varieties, surprising foliage, and the use of decay. With this in mind, I felt a deeper study of these paintings would make me a reasonable candidate for the scholarship. I was right. As an extra treat, I received my winning notification the week of my 40th birthday!
Then real planning began. In my proposal I stated that I would visit a number of museums in Europe with well documented collections, and a floral study alongside a florist of my choosing. Squeezing my trip in between weddings and wanting to make sure I would be seeing gardens in bloom landed me at early September. I took off for London and Amsterdam, with goals of 3 museums and one floral workshop.
My first stop was the National Gallery in London. They have a small but beautifully curated room dedicated to only floral still life paintings. Then off to The Ashmolean in Oxford. Their collection is also in a single (although large) room, which includes all manner of Dutch and Flemish still life. Again, the florals are outstanding. Finally, The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. I had been to Amsterdam a number of times before but never felt the pull to go that particular museum, feeling more at home in quieter museums. As expected, it was my least favorite of the three, but it did give me insight as to why these paintings exist.
These paintings are chock full of imagery beyond flowers. The botanical and life like accuracy of insects, animals, shells, flowers, and fruit draw you in. While it could be said that the early artists were speaking to the transience of life and it's earthly matters - it is likely that the later artists were largely creating these pieces as examples of skill for buyers of decorative art. After all, the paintings were mostly illusions. The undulating stems and unlikely collections of blooms were purely for the sake of the composition and not a study of an arrangement in front of the artist.
While still in London, I had the pleasure of spending two days with the sister duo behind Aesme Flowers. The Aesme aesthetic is very much aligned with my own - a relaxed natural approach to design and working with the seasons. I had a feeling that Alex and Jess would be a perfect complement to my studies as they have a shared interest in the Dutch Masters. We spent the first day getting sopping wet in their cutting garden outside the city and the next trying our hands at recreating our own still life displays. Armed with props and flowers we spent the day collaborating and waxing on in great detail. Digging into the rigidity of some arrangements and the distinct "S" curve of others. What a struggle it was to leave behind our own rules in favor paying homage to these paintings. We were bound by the flowers available in the September garden- which made some common themes a challenge. The strong blue moments, heavy headed blooms towering above the rest, and unnatural arcing stems. In the end, it was pure luxury to have a day for conversation and reflection, arranging and rearranging.
Bottom two photos by Jess, Aesme Flowers
Tis the season for winter wreaths! The LODEN look is always a bit wild with lots of natural elements. They can be designed with evergreens for an outdoor wreath to last through the holidays or with dried elements for indoor/outdoor use to enjoy through the winter months.
Mini, perfect for a kitchen window or to give as a gift... $35 each
Minimal, perfect for a light and airy look or smaller accent area... $75 and up
Maximal, perfect for a statement on the front door or above a mantel... $150 and up
*mini and minimal sizes are available for shipping
Wishing you a warm and cozy winter season!
A few garden moments from last year... Cobwebs, compost, dog, messes - it's all part of the process. If you are interested in supporting this cutting garden project, consider a summer bouquet subscription. Click here for details.
A couple of weeks ago Cam and I began chatting about how she could freshen up her bridal line for an upcoming wedding show. Her hand stitched flowers can be added to a hair comb, sash, flower crown, and even a bouquet. They do make for a lovely accessory, but we were curious to see how they would pair with fresh flowers as well- we thought my designs might give them a look that is a bit more current for today's brides. I found that including a few of her blooms made designing a cascading bouquet a breeze and I always love the look of a single large bloom worn in the hair.
The Ribbonry's work is bespoke and the shop is open by appointment.
Last October, I had the pleasure of co-designing a tablescape for the Art in Food event, at the Toledo Museum of Art. Cam Nitschke of The Ribbonry in Perrysburg and I collaborated on a design inspired by dutch master Rachel Ruysch's, Flower Still Life. When Cam and I began working together, she had already chosen this piece to work from - her choice was serendipitous as I had previously studied this painting for an earlier floral project.
Cam's arcing and bobbing hand stitched millinery flowers added a painterly effect to our finished piece that could not have been achieved with fresh flowers alone. Upon close inspection of the painting, you may notice bugs and butterflies - our arrangement was no different, with preserved butterflies and stitched caterpillars creeping along leaves. The accents of pewter, linen, china, and salt pulled together the elements of a Dutch merchant's dinner party. Peek through...
About two years ago, my husband and I decided it was time to buy a new house. One that more closely reflected what is important to us at this point in our lives. The top item on my list was a yard large enough for an extensive cutting garden. One that could supply all of the wonderful garden bits that are so meaningful to my design style. So we got the yard, one that's big enough for me to putter in, but not overwhelming and not so large that I would attempt becoming a farmer florist! This past spring I decided that occasionally the abundance of blooms may not match up with a wedding or were more than I needed and that I ought to offer a weekly bouquet service. I spent the spring and summer testing this idea on a group of flower friends. Their feedback was so positive that I am happy to say that I have added LODEN BOUQUETS to my offerings. LODEN BOUQUETS is a weekly bouquet subscription, specializing in locally grown flowers, herbs, and foliages gathered and ready to place in your vase at home. The collections featured this past season included all of those wonderful bits in combinations that were both familiar and fresh...
Would you be interested in weekly bouquets for your home throughout the summer growing season? Here's the low down...
-Flowers are sourced from the LODEN cutting gardens and a few other local gardens that have granted picking privileges. Occasionally interesting or unexpected elements are foraged and used.
-The spring program runs for 5 weeks and the summer program runs for 8 weeks. There are occasionally lulls in the garden - so, you'll be updated on the garden progress and you'll receive a weekly pick up reminder via text message.
-Pick ups will be at the office at 219 Louisiana Ave in downtown Perrysburg on Wednesday afternoons. Exact times to be announced. If you happen to be out of town, feel free to send a friend in your place or let me know and I'll make sure your bouquet is donated to Hospice on East River Road.
-Investment: The program runs like most subscriptions services. Payment up front guarantees you a season of bouquets. If you love the idea but feel you won't make use of the full share, consider splitting it with a friend. Payments are nonrefundable.
There are a limited number of subscription spots available. Please visit the online shop to reserve your LODEN BOUQUETS .
For more photos from this past season, check out #lodencuttinggarden