Floral Books

Spring has sprung here at Willow Florist and the harvest of late daffodils and early tulips is in full swing. After so many gray winter months, it is invigorating to be surrounded with so much vibrant color.

Inside, my desk is currently covered with tattered seed catalogs, spiral-bound notebooks filled with field notes and an ever-growing stack of books. The book pile has grown considerably in the last month as I eagerly collect all the new releases of flower and garden books.

Even though so much of our business has moved online, I’m still very much a paper kind of person. I love the ritual of writing notes and lists on paper and holding a real book in my hands. When the kids were younger, we would regularly max out the book check-out limit at the local library. Before I could find quick answers on message boards and Instagram, my go-to source for garden-related information was always the library.

After writing Cut Flower Garden, I gained an even deeper appreciation for books. I now look at them with a totally different lens. I appreciate how much thought and effort go into each paragraph and photograph. I notice how many little details that I never would have before, like the way book chapters are organized and how page layouts are constructed.

I am regularly filling my Amazon cart with the latest flower and garden-related books. My latest shipment included a treasure trove of beautiful new titles including:

  • The Art of Flora Forager by Bridget Beth Collins: From the touching dedication on the first page, to the final step-by-step peek at her creative process and every original imaginative piece of artwork in between, this book is a sheer delight. Every time I flip through the pages, I notice yet another delicate detail of the flowers, leaf and fungi used to create her gorgeous artwork. A year and a half ago I had the opportunity to meet the delightful Bridget Beth in person, interview her for the Floret Blog [read the interview here] and provide buckets of blooms for her to play with. Appealing to a wide spectrum of ages, this book is a follow up to Bridget Beth’s adorable journal and a prelude to a new Flora Forager journal and notecard set. I can’t say enough good things about this sweet little book.
  • Vegetables Love Flowers: Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty by Lisa Mason Ziegler: If avid vegetable gardeners aren’t already convinced they should tuck a few flowers in with their tomatoes, peppers and beans, then this book should definitely do it. Authored by fellow small-scale flower farmer Lisa Mason Ziegler this book dives deep into the benefits of planting flowers alongside your favorite garden vegetables. The book’s emphasis on beneficial insects, pollinators and organic practices is persuasive and super approachable. Her previous book, Cool Flowers: How to Grow and Enjoy Long-Blooming Hardy Annual Flowers Using Cool Weather Techniques, introduced innovative growing techniques and transformed the way thousands of flower gardeners grow hardy annual flowers; her newest book is sure to do the same for veggie gardeners.
  • Martha’s Flowers: A Practical Guide to Growing, Gathering and Enjoying by Martha Stewart and Kevin Sharkey: What I like about this book is the mix of practical growing advice combined with really pretty design ideas using vessels as varied as simple glass bottles to elaborate urns and artisan-made pottery. I recognized many of the images from past magazine articles, but even die-hard fans and readers will find a nugget of new information or inspiration from Martha’s impeccably manicured cutting gardens.
  • The Fine Art of Paper Flowers: A Guide to Making Beautiful and Lifelike Botanicals by Tiffanie Turner: If you want to take your flower obsession to the next level or simply need help getting through another cold and gray winter, be sure to check out this incredible book. Beautifully photographed and thoughtfully designed, each page will make you do a double take, as the flowers look unbelievably real. This is a fun book to flip through regardless of whether you want to try your hand at creating one of these intricate flower crafts. Hands down, my favorite book this year!

Gift Ideas

For many local flower lovers, Valentine’s Day can be frustrating. The mountains of generic red roses imported from faraway lands that flood stores this time of year are uninspired and toxic for the planet and the people that harvest them. Meanwhile, early February is a time when most small flower farmers are focusing on getting greenhouses and grow-lights set up for the season ahead. Few have flowers in bloom at this time of year.

But thanks in part to the increased awareness and interest in seasonal blooms, consumers have a number of creative ways to get their flower fix or otherwise show their love of local flowers…even in February.

The Willow Florist team and I put together a few seasonally-inspired Valentine’s Day gift ideas for the flower lover in your life:

Bouquet Subscriptions

A bouquet subscription is a great way to support local flower farms and shower someone you love with locally-grown blooms all season long. Similar to a community supported agriculture (CSA) share that veggie farmers have used successfully for years, a flower subscription or bouquet CSA involves making an upfront investment in a flower farm’s harvest for the season. As a subscriber, you receive a weekly, biweekly or monthly bouquet from a local flower farm during the growing season. Most bouquet subscriptions are available for pick-up, but some flower farms even offer delivery. Subscription rates and dates vary by region, but most run June through September. To find flower farms or floral designers in your region who specialize in seasonal flowers and offer bouquet subscriptions, be sure to check out Floret’s Farmer-Florist Collective (viewable on a desktop computer) or the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers.

Flower-Inspired Books

I was thrilled to have the Floret book, Cut Flower Garden, highlighted in this year’s New York Times’ Valentines Day Gift Guide. What a thrill to have the book featured alongside so many other amazing gifts.

I also just learned that a German language edition of my book will be available online and in bookstores in Germany, Switzerland and Austria starting February 19!

Other inspiring flower-focused titles that make great gifts include:

  1. In Full Flower: Inspired Designs by Floral’s New Creatives by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls
  2. The Flower Workshop by Ariella Chezar
  3. Flora Forager: A Seasonal Journal Collected from Nature by Bridget Beth Collins
  4. Flower House Detroit by photographer Heather Saunders that features the floral art installation by the same name.
  5. In Bloom: Creating and Living with Flowers by Ngoc Minh Ngo
  6. Martha’s Flowers: A Practical Guide to Growing, Gathering, and Enjoying. Featuring tips honed over a lifetime of gardening, Martha’s newest title looks like it will be another instant classic.
  7. How to Window Box by Chantal Aida Gordon and Ryan Benoit. The duo behind the award-winning blog, The Horticult, now have a new book out on creating outdoor–and indoor– window boxes in colorful, fun and inventive ways.
  8. Color Me Floral: Stunning Monochromatic Arrangements for Every Season by Kiana Underwood, the super talented designer behind the Tulipina brand has a new book coming out soon that looks stunning.
  9. Vegetables Love Flowers: Companion Planting for Beauty and Bounty by Lisa Mason Ziegler, author of the popular Cool Flowers book, looks like a practical and indispensable garden guide.

While not a flower book, the upcoming book Craft the Rainbow by the talented blogger Brittany Watson Jepsen of The House That Lars Built is sure to inspire. What started as an Instagram hashtag has grown into a new book full of colorful rainbow-inspired projects for the home.

Open Studio

Open Studios are for students who are interested in floral design and want to make a beautiful arrangement with the help of an experienced florist. This studio class provides the opportunity to create a seasonal, contemporary, garden style design while learning a few professional techniques of floristry. You then get to bring your arrangement home to enjoy!

Our Open Studio Class is also a great option for a variety of activities: professional team building time, bridal and baby showers, birthday parties and more. Making flower arrangements in this low-key setting is a fun way to connect and celebrate!

Students may bring a notepad and pen if they’d like but it’s not necessary. The school will provide everything a student will need for that class.

A Florist’s Guide to Gerbera Daisies

Popular Cut Flowers

Gerbera daisies have long been a staple in the market of cut flowers. The sturdy stems on these blooms don’t hollow out like other cut flowers. They also have an exceptional vase life, usually lasting up to 10 days. Gerberas come in almost every color. There are different patterns and forms of blooms on the market; some have so many layers of petals that they look like miniature sunflowers. There is variation in center eye color of the bloom with green, cream, or dark brown being most available.

Gerbera Daisy Care Must-Knows

General care of gerbera daisies is simple, but they can be a little more needy of fertilizer than most annuals. Remove any spent blooms on your gerbera to redirect energy spent on seed production for continuous blooms instead.

New Innovations

Most gerbera varieties aren’t available as in-ground plants but, rather, as cut flowers. These plants feature long stems and large foliage, which are both not ideal characteristics for a home garden. However, there is work being done on gerberas as potted plants. Many of these miniature varieties look great as a single plant in a pot or thrown in a mixed container with other colorful annuals.

How and Why to Design with Succulents

With roots? Without? In pots?

However you incorporate or sell them, succulents have moved from the steppes and deserts to the garden to mainstream floral design. Industry insiders report succulent sales have tripled in recent years.

Why should you incorporate succulents in your floral designs? Where can you use them? What are the recommended design mechanics and techniques for root and rootless designs?

And even with the easy-care label succulents have earned, what should you avoid to protect your designs?

The answers follow.

You see succulents everywhere

The use of succulents in floral designs has expanded to every possible arrangement in every season. Yet they still feel like the new kids on the block.

And why not? They offer unique color, form and function when compared to more common fresh flowers and plants on the market.

Succulents come in a wide variety of colors and species. The soft blue-green hue mixes well with the neutral and natural color harmonies trending for special events and décor this year.

As low-maintenance and drought-tolerant garden plant alternatives, succulents are often chosen for their eye-catching sculptural shapes and unique blend of textures. These characteristics excel in floral designs as well.

A quick look on Pinterest, shelter magazines, or a Google search confirms these hardy plants have gone mainstream.

How to Arrange Flowers in 9 Easy Steps

Flower arrangements are the perfect way to freshen up your space and add a pop of color to the room. Learning to arrange flowers is a fun way to add personality and artistic vision to your home. To help you understand the fundamentals, we’re showing you a simple step-by-step guide for how to arrange flowers. No matter your vase size, we have tips on how to make your bouquets look professional and beautiful!

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