Magic

A year ago this past June my team converged on the small mountain town of Highlands, NC for a very special wedding. With a NASA trucker hat on I drove a 26 foot reefer truck through lunchtime Atlanta traffic during a torrential thunderstorm then up narrow winding mountain roads until I steered her into the wrong parking lot at Highlands Country Club. I might have cussed a lot but I got it done. 

My team was incredible. A gang of flower assassins ready to rumble. From Brooklyn to Birmingham, we all came together to bring our bride's vision to life and to enjoy evening sky gazing on our grassy knoll tucked inside a fern gully in our backyard. We felt strangely anointed. I found a wild foxglove the first day and proclaimed it our spirit stick. A risky move considering it was fully bloomed out when I clipped it on a Tuesday. Each morning I would come downstairs and peer into the kitchen, fingers crossed hoping it was still alive and it always was. Magic. I learned a lot about magic on this trip and my need to find it and harness it wherever I am. 

I've always been this way. Intense. On the hunt for deeper meaning. A spiritual connection to our natural world. It's not the easiest path, but it's mine and I accept it. Sometimes our greatest gifts are the hardest parts of our personalities to navigate. So be it. I feel like I always end up saying this in my blog posts, but you've got to be yourself in this life. It's the only way to go.

That's when the magical foxglove start showing up. Trust me, it's cool.

41.0

Well hi. It's been about a year and a half. I'm not sure what happened except a whole hell of a lot. For starters I think I had a midlife crisis about turning 40 that lasted about a year. After getting eyelash extensions and a whole new wardrobe I realized that was all meaningless. Turns out a lot of things are meaningless but that's not entirely my point. My intern Marguerite recently advised me to read Ecclesiastes which I found very amusing as I'm about as likely to open a bible as I am to go swimming with a school of starving sharks. But whatever, I found my bible and flipped to chapter three. Here is a portion:

"There is a time for everything, and a season for everything under the sun. A time to be born and time to die, a time to plant and and time to reap, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a tine to keep and a time to throw away, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear down and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and time for peace."

Perhaps a simple bit of wisdom but alas a mentality that had eluded me until the moment I read it and the events of the past year came flooding back to me like the tears that streamed down my cheeks. I found myself grateful for my tumultuous 40th year. It was a time of struggle which I fought it tooth and nail to escape. But much like the seasons, these times come and go without our permission. We can choose to find the unique beauty each season shows us or we can sit inside and wait for it to end. 

So I've set out on a new journey. One of acceptance and experience rather than avoidance. So far it's been pretty cool. I'm reminded of these wise words from a favorite 70's jam by Blues Image: 

"Ride captain ride upon your mystery ship, be amazed at the friends you have here on your trip. Ride captain ride upon your mystery ship on your way to a world that others might have missed."

Don't miss it.  

Photography: Megan Sadler

Event Planning/Design: Jessica Sloane

Best in Show

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

I've written and deleted this post about 5 times. I was attempting to write a year end review post about everything I learned in 2014 but ended up boring myself half to death droning on about how crucial it is to invest in quality linens, which would probably have bored you to death, so let's just say it's highly important and leave it there.

Other than linens (and quality candles - I even won't start) I kept coming back to the idea of connection and how integral it is to learning itself. But then my inner loner was like - don't think about that or you'll end up having to leave the house and go talk to people! That made me think of my old dog Kobi. They say you can learn a lot about a person from observing their dog. Kobi functioned very independently. He was sweet but not affectionate. He was a genius escape artist obsessed with boundaries. If there was a way out, he would find it and run. I got Kobi before I got married. When I got married I had to stop running away.

This was a real game changer my inner loner.

About a year and a half later Kobi died. The house was so quiet. And I felt so lonely. Almost immediately we adopted Bella. Bella is a pack animal through and through. Highly social, affectionate and aware of her surroundings. Engaged. Connected. My inner loner was horrified. But I noticed that voice had become harder and harder to hear. I'd finally joined a pack and it was changing me. Before I knew it I was boldly leaving the house and making new friends. Next thing I knew I was leaving the state and investing in relationships with other florists. Studying under them, working for them. Learning from them. That's when I really started to learn about flowers.

So I guess that's what I've learned this year. The value of connection. The strength of the pack. I'm not sure how I went from aloof siberian husky to clingy australian shepherd in a year's time, I just know I'm grateful for the transformation.

Speaking of flowers and dogs, I had the opportunity to work with flower magazine and Hand in Paw on a shoot that is featured in this month's issue of flower which is on newsstands now. Here is a link to a preview on their website: https://www.flowermag.com/article/best-in-flower-show/

Happy new year, friends.

 

Photos: Holly Carlisle

Event Planning and Coordination: Mariée Ami

No Situation

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One time when I was at my favorite Mexican restaurant here in Birmingham I tried to ask a question about the menu to the woman who was bringing people salsa. She gave me a confused look. Not realizing that she didn't speak much English, I repeated my question.  We sat in silence until she finally said, "No situation. No can." And then she walked off. She was basically saying, we are at an impasse in this situation because I can't understand you therefore I cannot do anything to help you.

I went to Puerto Rico in November to do my last wedding of the year and I don't speak Spanish. I had a lot of no situation, no can moments. The only thing was that no can was not an option. I had to push through and find solutions to a world of problems. Like when your street is closed for construction and you have six 50lb boxes of flowers that you have to move two blocks from your illegally parked minivan to your apartment. No situation. No problem. I walked down the street with a box on my head until I found a construction crew and mimed to them that I needed to borrow their wheelbarrow while saying over and over, "Mas flores aqui," and pointing towards the stack of boxes by the minivan in the distance.

I did have one no can moment. After about 87 nightmare conversations with Dept. of Agriculture officials who were determined not to release my flowers to me the day they arrived, I decided my only option at that point was to source additional flowers from a local wholesaler. My trusty assistant and I piled into the minivan and navigated our way to a store in San Juan that upon first glance did have rather a lot of bars on the door and windows for being a flower shop. Undeterred, I entered. Actually, I had to be buzzed in the barred door. Once inside, I found myself separated from the contents of the store by a floor to ceiling wall complete with thick plexiglass window. A man stood behind the window and spoke to me through perforations in the plexiglass. What did I want? To see the flowers. No see the flowers. He pointed to a dogeared, yellowed poster - essentially a grid of flower mugshots. What flower you need? Roses? Tulip? Hydrangea? I tried to explain that my primary concern was palette not variety. For some reason, this was not convincing to the gatekeeper of the Fort Knox of flowers. Finally I realized I was in a no can situation. We retreated.

Flower-less, confused and discouraged, we trudged across the street and ordered a burger that arrived sporting an inexplicably bright blue bun. It was more like fuel than food so we force fed ourselves a small portion and sat in silence for the eternity it took our waitress to bring us our bill. Morale was low.

In the end, we found a great wholesaler who did care about the subtleties of my palette. I learned how to say hyacinth in Spanish. Jacinto. We found the cargo area of the airport with the help of several complete strangers, two policemen  and one highly complex hand drawn map. They released the flowers to us that same day. I didn't have to bribe anyone and I only had one notable meltdown.

I was repeatedly reminded on this trip how important it is to be flexible. As beautifully orchestrated as your Plan A may be and as hard as you've worked on it for months and months, it's Plan B that's going to save you.  I wish life went according to plan so that I could always feel safe and secure but the fact remains that it just doesn't work that way. This is something I'm beginning to accept and it's making my life easier. I'm also learning that I might need a minivan, but I'm not ready to accept that. No situation. No can.

 

 

 

Hint, Hint

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Greetings, friends! Guess what's right around the corner?

Hint: it was really fun when you were a kid...like waking up getting a Barbie Dream House kind of fun.

Answer: The Holidays.

Here's the thing about the most wonderful time of the year. Sometimes it just isn't. And I for one am over it being lame/stressful and have decided to make some spirits bright this year. I'm having a wreath class!!! It will be hosted by Christopher Architecture and Interiors at their beautiful new space in Homewood, AL. December 7th at 2:00.

I hope to see some of you there.  My goal is for you to experience actual holiday cheer learning to make a gorgeous wreath WHILE you enjoy cookies with icing on them and drink champagne. (Or cider. Cider is also cheerful.)

If you are interested in attending, click HERE for a class description and ticket information.

 

P.S. There's a lady bug in the first photo! She styled herself. See if you can find her.

Hint: she looks good in spent clematis.

 

 

Process

Rosegolden Flowers / Rylee Hitchner Photo Rosegolden Flowers / Rylee Hitchner Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / Rylee Hitchner Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / Rylee Hitchner Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / Rylee Hitchner Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / Rylee Hitchner Photo

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Rosegolden Flowers / Rylee Hitchner Photo

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Rosegolden Flowers / Rylee Hitchner Photo

In art school I realized that I was "process driven". Which basically means I don't really know exactly what something is going to end up looking like until I just start making it and let the experience of working with the materials guide me. I think this makes sense if you work with flowers. You have to be flexible with flowers. For one, it's live product so you never exactly know how the flowers you order are going to look until they arrive. Two, the flowers always interact with each other in unique ways that you just can't predict until you have them in your hands. I'm always surprised by what ends up being the key element that ties a look together and I love that it's often something that I didn't plan.

You have to plan a lot in this business. I guess you could call it "creative planning". (Sorry, I've been in a quotations mood all week.) You have to design a look in your mind very far in advance and then make a set of  predictions about what all you will need to make it months later. I do a lot of it on a spreadsheet which is a little something my younger process driven art student self would not have believed. I mean I waited until my last semester of college to take math - where I remember learning how to do a spreadsheet and feeling SO confident that I would NEVER need to use one in my lifetime. I was however completely confident that threading a loom would prove to be a key life skill. Art school...

Sometimes I can see why my parents were less than thrilled that I was a fiber art major (and French minor - mais oui). But the reality is that I learned a lot studying art that I use constantly. Have I ever threaded a loom again? Lord, no. Do I consider color, texture, line, shape and form on a daily basis? Hell yes. It's key to my "process". (That and spreadsheet wizardry.)

Photos: Rylee Hitchner

Styling: Ginny Au 

Fruition

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So I keep writing about what I've learned this season and then deleting it because it sounds too snarky which isn't really a vibe I want to put out there today. (I'm trying to be positive.) Really I just want to give all of my florist friends a giant hug. It's been a busy summer and I know how we can get a little worn thin. I learned something in an Ikebana class the other day I'd like to share. There is an element to the practice of Ikebana called fruition. It is a kind of relaxation rooted in realizing that you cannot control all the aspects of a piece. An appreciation for the beauty and magic of nature. An understanding of the natural order and state of all life. And a knowledge that everything changes.

I think there is some kind of freedom in this. Letting go of some of the control. Letting the piece direct itself a little bit. Let it be a work in progress. Walk away if you're not connecting to it. Come back and see what it says to you. Don't force it. Be changeable.

 

Alabama The Beautiful

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Leslie Hollingsworth Photography

This wedding took place at the Blount Conservatory in Montgomery, Alabama. Did you know that Alabama's state motto is "Alabama the Beautiful"? It would be kind of braggy sounding if it wasn't so true. This really is a lovely state full of green and trees and old southern ruins. It has a natural beauty that's hard to describe until you've been here which many people haven't. I guess it is a little out of the way. I was up in New York recently working on a wedding for another florist and several people sounded amazed that I had managed to get all the way from Alabama to The Big City. "You came all the way from Alabama?" Lord, I thought, it's only an hour and a half direct flight, not a 19 day trip on the back of a mule drawn turnip truck. But I think people still think of The South as being a little frozen in time, immune to progress and change. I mean honestly, there is some truth to that but in general I think we have a lot to offer. Alabama grows a lot of talented people. I mean just look at these photos by Leslie Hollingsworth. And the styling of this wedding by Ginny Au. I was proud to be a part of this homegrown affair. Roll Tide, ya'll.

See more of this wedding in the Summer 2014 issue of Weddings Unveiled.

Photography: Leslie Hollingsworth

Styling: Ginny Au

 

Rules

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It's very common for brides to feel a lot of pressure to abide by a lot of rules. If you get married in Spring your flowers need to be pastel. In the Fall, warm tones. Etc, etc. It reminds me of the 80's when makeup sales people, after draping a series of poly-blend swatches across your chest and shoulders in order to evaluate your skin tone, declared you to be one of the four seasons and then informed you that you could only use a particular set of eyeshadow colors and lipsticks. I remember  being immediately drawn to all of the colors I wasn't supposed to wear. I mean how dare that lady label me! I can pick out my own damn lipstick, thank you very much.

But not everyone is this way. Some people just buy the bossy lady's lipstick and never look back. A lot of people feel compelled to accept rules like these and feel very bound by them. And it's just really limiting and oppressive. And I'm not having it. Especially when it comes to wedding flowers. Is it grandiose for me to see myself as not just a florist but a liberator? A floral Moses? Ok, yes, but hear me out. I'm just saying that we should all be free to express ourselves, to like what we like, wear what we want to wear, say what we want to say, etc. Maybe I'm more like a floral Madonna...Ok, I'll stop, I'll stop. Now I'm labeling myself for god's sake.

Bottom line is this. I'm here to get to know my clients and to create for them wedding flowers that are unique to them. I think that is one of my favorite parts of my job really. Discovering what my brides are really inspired by and encouraging them to move in that direction despite any and all outside pressures/rules/labels. So you're a Fall trapped in a Spring's body? No problem. Inspired by Beauty and the Beast and Dutch flower paintings? Whatever! It's your wedding and I'm here to remind you that you can wear whatever lipstick you want.

 

 

Perfect

_TSC7753 I am a total perfectionist.

And today I feel like talking about it. I just feel like being honest about it because I think it's a common struggle for people. It comes and goes for me but lately it's got me feeling a little worn down. I mean, I KNOW that nothing in this world is perfect. I KNOW that striving for perfection is crippling. I KNOW all sorts of things about the pitfalls being a perfectionist but I can't seem to absorb what I know in a way that helps me to let go of the drive for perfection. It's just such a harsh and critical state of mind. Believing that something could always have been better is totally exhausting.

Here's an example. I made this bouquet this weekend. Here is one of about 400 photos that I took of it. I just kept trying to get the perfect shot and when I couldn't I became more and more frustrated and critical of what I had made. And I realized all of the sudden how sad this was. I realized that I wasn't enjoying the flowers because I was too busy criticizing them. The truth is that I was letting perfectionism rob me of joy. The joy I get from working with flowers. The joy I get from taking photos. I have to find a way out of this mental trap.

I wonder what it's like to not be a perfectionist. I hear you do a lot of being in the moment. I'm like what does that even mean? The moment. THE MOMENT. I think it has something to do with your mind relaxing. My mind, on the other hand, is relentless. I don't ever stop thinking of what I should be doing or what I could have done better. It's ridiculous. In college I had this friend Ainoah. She was a total hippy. I loved being around her. She used to take me on long walks into the woods and she would play her flute and I would hum along. We would pick wild flowers. I would forget about my worries. I think looking back on it, we were being in the moment. It was nice.

Basically, I've got to find my inner hippy. Wish me luck.

 

Little Flower School

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February 22, 2014 -Little Flower School - Long Island City Queens, NY

Despite it being the dead of winter, my month of February was all about growth. I met two of my biggest inspirations in this business. I worked for one and studied with the other at Little Flower School. As you can see from my photos, it was a gorgeous experience. I mean, can you believe these flowers? And all that stunning light streaming through the windows of The Metropolitan Building? I could barely focus on building my arrangement as I was so busy taking photos of all the flowers we had to choose from. Somehow I managed...

My arrangement is the last on in the set. I feel like I learned a lot. I had a successful "blue moment". I learned to love tulips. I loosened up some. I think that last one was  key. I had a mini tragedy occur towards the end of the class when my grapes fell out of the chicken wire and pulled out half of the surrounding flowers. But it was ok because it gave me an opportunity to try not to be a massive perfectionist and just go with it, be in the moment, rework it and move on. Sometimes I need that. A little upset to get me out of my head and into the moment. That's my new thing.

Dreamers

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Sometimes I wonder what to make of dreams. Some we experience while sleeping and others while we are very much awake. We dream of who we would like to become, places we want to go, beautiful things we'd like to see or make or do. Sometimes we run from our dreams and sometimes we go after them. The whole thing can be scary because what if we go after one and it doesn't work the way we had dreamed it would? I guess that's the hard part. But I've decided that dreams are not to be feared but rather embraced. Fodder for our creative growth. I've also decided that things hardly ever work out the way we think they will so why worry about that part? Sometimes you just have to go with it. Be a part of the process. Let it wash over you and change you. Collaborate with life. Let your dreams inspire you, not frighten you.

I don't really remember my sleeping dreams so I tend to focus on my waking ones. Being a part of this shoot was a bit on the dreamy side actually. Allow me to elaborate. My friend Caitlin asked me to collaborate with her on a shoot for her gorgeous blog, Roost. Many of you are familiar with her work I am sure and if not, now is the time to enter into her beautiful world. She asked if I could do hair, makeup and flowers for a video she wanted to make about a dream. I was beside myself as I am a huge admirer of her work and have always wanted to see her in creative action. I always learn so much from watching people work and was thrilled to be able to be part of Caitlin's process. Being a kind and generous friend, she allowed me to tag along with my camera and take photos throughout the day. It was such an honor to be able to capture bits of this dream world she created on film. I hope you will enjoy her video. I hope it encourages you to run toward your next dream. Our lives are always changing and sometimes our dreams really do become a part of our reality. Here's to the dreamers...

In General

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

Rosegolden Flowers / Holly Carlisle Photography

So lately I've found myself taking the Rosegolden show on the road more and more. It's an interesting process. Challenging. The logistics are much more complex than working in my city and out of my studio both of which I know so well. I can't say that logistical planning and organization are qualities that come naturally to me - I've had to train myself to think that way. As a kid I was often labeled "artsy" or "out to lunch". In fact my parents (in a very Royal Tenenbaums fashion) had me "evaluated" by a team of psychiatrists at a young age because they thought something was wrong with me. As it turns out, I was just a typical creative, a day dreaming middle child with an active imagination. You see, my grandfather was a general in the U.S Army. He was the most strategic thinker I've ever met. As a person who could rarely find my homework I often wondered how we were related. As odd as it may sound, it took doing flowers for me to discover that I had an inner general.

I think most good florists have a bit of a split personality - both an artist and a strategist. So much of the job is laying the logistical groundwork that allows you to create the end product. All I can say is that when I got into flowers I had no idea how good I would become at making spreadsheets. It's been a such an interesting journey. I spent years of my life as a creative person avoiding being organized because I believed it was antithetical to being artistic. But I've realized how that thinking was holding me back. Being more organized has made me a better artist. This is not to say I have perfected any of this. Do I still lose my keys daily? Yes. Do I know where my phone is at this moment? No. I'm still myself, just more structured. Basically my inner day dreamer and inner general are like totally best friends now. I think they make an alright team. Cheers.

Moments

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Rosegolden Flowers / A Bryan Photo

Another bride in blush!!! You know how I love a gal en rose. And so beautifully captured by A Bryan Photo. I love how classic Bryan's work is. When you look back at your wedding photos you want them to tell the story of what the day felt like. You want the details but I think more importantly you want the moments and he is so talented at capturing those. I loved working with this bride and her lovely planners at Marieé Ami who always do such a fabulous job managing what always seems like the MILLIONS of details that make up a wedding day. Very grateful to have been a part of such a talented team. Cheers.