Frolic! is a daily website dedicated to simple, playful living. Frolic! offers an oasis of homespun ideas for house and garden, thoughtful products, and casual beauty, with a focus on flowers and gardening.
I am so excited to share a new series of posts on Frolic! today about simple and natural flower arranging. All the posts will share tips for flower arranging using all natural techniques devoid of wire or foam or traditional floristry tools. Today’s project: a foraged spring wreath.
I was inspired by the meadows in Portugal full of apple blossoms and grasses and lovely soft materials right now. I made this wreath by braiding together vines, grasses, and any medium weight stems I could find, just like you would hair! You could also attach it on to a wreath base like this for more support. Add twine to support, where necessary but once you get the base going, start weaving materials in. Add lightweight, delicate flowers last. Sprtiz with water and store in the fridge in a plastic bag until ready to use! You could add more delicate flowers the morning of your event.
The wisteria is blooming a month earlier than normal. Winding and dancing its way around fences, stonewalls, and abandoned villas and thickening the air with fragrance in the fairytale town of Sintra, forty minutes north of Lisbon. While I am normally quick to lose patience with masses of tourists, it outshines their presence and makes any visit to Sintra worthwhile. I’d come to see just the flowers, no need for a castle visit, as long as I can take in all the flowery goodness here! Stay away from the center, and you won’t have to fight the crowds. Wander down side streets and through tree-lined lanes, exploring old houses and forgotten estates. The unruly masses of wisteria abound at every corner, whether entangling themselves with pastel pink Cecil Brunner roses, or taking on an old house with masses of unkept geranium and pittosporum, for the most heady perfume imaginable! Having never lived in such a sunny place before, I’ve never known such fragrant air, or such an early explosion of spring flora. To have roses, and lilacs, and wisteria all at once is like some sort of heaven to me. In a year so full of turmoil on both a grand and small scale, these reminders of beauty are such tonics for the spirit!
We’re all in need of beauty now more than ever. I am always surprised how much taking the time to add something simple and beautiful to my life can lift my mood. Whether it’s tossing some fresh flowers on to a meal, working on a sewing project, or composing a bouquet of flowers for a gift. Enjoy these ideas to add a bit of beauty to your Spring 2017!
I am interested in flower sellers of all kinds from the trendy flower shop in the posh part of town, to the grower at the morning market, to an elderly woman selling on the street. This week I met Maria, a florist for 48 years! She has a colorful flower booth in the center of Graca, a residential neighborhood up high on a hill above Alfama in Lisbon. The center of all the activity is the Largo Graca where older folks gather on benches and young parents pick up kids from school. Under large green trees, Maria sits with her friends, and sells flowers. She was kind enough to let me take her photo and to put up with my broken Portuguese. I brought home one of her lovely ivy geraniums for my city garden. She instructed me on the proper way to carry it (holding the top of the sleeve in a handful).
The train ride from Lisboa to Cascais offers a constant sea view and it’s fun to just hop off at will to discover the villages and cities along the coast. Spending an afternoon at Paco de Arcos was a lovely way to usher in spring. Whenever you are looking for healing energy, the sea will bring it to you. I spent some time on the shore looking through the little fisherman boats and traps, putting my feet in the sand, and letting the sun beat on my back. When the wind sped up, I grabbed my Tulsi shawl, which doubles as a beach towel/picnic blanket. Get your own Tulsi shawl (hand-printed in India) here with 20% off with code “frolic20” (free shipping within the US). Wildflowers are in abundance at the moment, and there’s nothing so sweet as flowers growing seaside.
Today we are celebrating the first day of spring by sharing how to make a spring floral centerpiece! It’s easy to make a centerpiece using seasonal flowers to decorate a table for a special event or wedding. The biggest tip is to make the centerpiece low so that people can see each other. Using a shallow vase is the easiest way to do this, but you’ll need a few expert tips for working with a shallow vase. Jennifer, expert cottage gardener and floral designer from Fir and Flora, invites us into her darling cottage today to share a few tricks and the recipe for a classic spring centerpiece! Click through for the full details and the full flower recipe.
A Spring Floral Centerpiece
1 latte bowl (5.5″ w by 3″ h)
Floral netting or large flower frog
Wire snips if making frog from netting
Optional: florist clay
1. Create or install frog and fill bowl with fresh water.
2. Add greenery: camellia stems to provide structure: asymmetrical and wider than tall.
2a. Add focal flowers: tulips.
2b. Then add ranunculus.
3. Add fillers: Add sweet peas & ivy (in this arrangement ivy acts like a filler).
-I followed basic principles for flower arranging (conditioned stems, etc).
-Florist clay helps anchor the frog.
-Turn arrangement as you go to ensure it looks nice from all angles.
-Keep stems long to produce airiness; you can always cut them down.
-Tulips continue to grow so keep that in mind.
-Curvy and trailing stems help create a wild or ‘just from the garden’ look.
-Position flowers at different angles.
We are excited to be partnering with Fifty Flowers for this post. They can ship bulk flowers, direct from the farm, to you! My flower students use them all the time, and they work great for weddings! The quality and freshness is spot on (I know because I’ve used them myself!).
Speaking of weddings, Fifty Flowers is throwing an incredible contest right now to win your wedding flowers. Register for the contest and get 5% OFF your flower order, then once you are married, come back and share your flower story and then be entered to win one of the 3 great prizes. You have until December 15th to share your flower story. See all the details here.
Today, let’s escape to Giverny. On a day last June, Gemma, a world-wanderer and Australian ex-pat, snapped these gorgeous photos of Monet’s garden. I adore the window shots through his painting studio. Gemma remembers, “Deep pinks, violets and pops of vivid colour splatter the garden like a dream in the countryside home of French painter Claude Monet.” Click through for this colorful, visual tour of Monet’s Giverny. And see more of Gemma’s Paris wanderings and tips here.
Join me for a wander through the streets of Lisbon. From Cais do Sodre to Madrogoa. Part of the Lisbon experience, is wandering through side streets without a schedule. You must visit the neighborhood alleyways, and stroll the hills to realize the full experience of this city!
For the coffee shop addict, Lisbon cafe spaces offer an acute cultural experience as well as an abundance of visual eye candy, interior design inspiration, and of course delicious treats and coffee. Lisbon cafes fall into three categories for me: new wave, modern Portuguese, and traditional pastelarias. Today, I want to share a few of my favorite modern Portuguese spaces. These spaces blend the traditional pasteleria elements like marble, dark wood, and ornate woodwork, juxtaposed with modern elements and unexpected details. To me, these spaces offer the best of old and new aspects of Portuguese design. After all, there’s something so exciting about blending tradition and history with a bit of innovation. If you are looking for the full experience of good food and good design, in a quiet spot, don’t miss these charming spaces when you visit Lisbon. But for now, I’ll share a visual tour and perhaps you’ll find some ideas for your own space.
Fabuloso, in the Santos district displays the best of Portuguese tradition alongside a fresh, innovative menu and design. The dark wood countertops, display cases, octagonal mirror lights, and quintessentially Portuguese marble surfaces are all reminiscent of the traditional pastelarias and cafeterias, while the fresh white cupboards, exposed industrial ceilings, and large scale light fixture offer a surprise. The vintage photographs are labeled, “employees of the month.” They look serious and beautiful with the brass picture lights but upon closer inspection, are a bit humorous.
The treats and meals at Fabuloso are so special. Recent favorites include a rich spinach soup and decadent miniature lemon cake. Pictured here are the traditional Portuguese croissants and pastel de natas, the famous custard tarts, you can’t miss while you are visiting. The quiet side street feels tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Lisbon, yet close enough to the center, it’s within easy access.
Cafe Ideal, located above a cinema, and inside a bookshop, sits in an 19th century, grand old building but the cafe has been covered in a fresh white paint and modern light fixtures. I love the globe light juxtaposed against the ornate ceilings. It’s one of my favorite places to go and enjoy a taborna or a plate of padron peppers. Plus, there’s rarely a tourist to be seen, even though it’s smack in the middle of the center of the city. It’s a bit hidden, up a staircase, as the best places in Lisbon are. Don’t miss this spot before or after a movie downstairs, or if you feel to wander through a bookshop and enjoy a coffee after.
Padaria do Bairro in Chiado, is an entirely new interior inside a traditional historic Lisbon building. While all modern, it nods to the traditional bakeries with the simplicity and clean lines, taking the minimalism into the present with black leather seats, wood slat lights, and Wishbone chairs. With several locations in the city, Padaria do Bairro, offers an abundance of gorgeous baked goods, and large seating areas to take your time and enjoy sweets, coffee, and Internet time.
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I’d love to share some tips today about becoming a floral designer. I wrote a post about my own experience, here, but I thought it would be helpful to share some tips for people who are looking to work in the flower world!
1. Define your goal. Do you want to own your own business? Do you want to work as a contract floral designer? Do you want to focus on weddings or events or do you want to have a shop? Do you want to work for another florist or run your own show? This is key to creating the path for success as a floral designer. First, find out which direction you want to go. You may need to dip your feet in first, to figure this out.
2. Apprentice. Work with another florist. If you have no experience, most likely you will start by sweeping floors, helping to load the van with flowers, and doing a lot of physical labor. You have to be willing to learn the ropes and start at the bottom in order to get your foot in the door but it’s a great way to observe how a floral business runs. Working with a few different florists is a great idea. Finding one who’s style you admire is awesome.
3. Take a class. You can check out my online flower classes, and any announcements on live classes at my website. Check locally for flower schools, florists who offer courses, or your local college for weekend classes and certificates. Sometimes old-school floral design classes are great combined with learning from a popular florist. People who have solid technical knowledge are now rare in the industry, so I think it’s important to have a knowledge of it as a jumping point to develop your own more current techniques and to have a grasp on the industry.
5. Understand the realities. I think this goes for a lot of creative careers but many times we don’t like to think about the negative sides of a job before leaping in. I was often guilty of this, and on the one hand, maybe sometimes it’s good to leap in without understanding, however I find many people are surprised when they find out the reality of a job behind the scenes. It’s still a job! Being a florist requires very early hours and late nights, demanding physical labor hauling and filling buckets of water, loading a cargo van and driving it, and cleaning up all the messes after an event.
6. Practice, practice! Forage flowers and work with what you have to practice the techniques you read and learn about. Make, make, make! Nothing perfects techiniques like practicing.
7. Develop your own style. It’s great to have people you look up to in the industry. Be sure though, to develop your own style. What types of flowers really inspire you? What shapes and textures are you drawn to? What is your design aesethic outside of flowers, how can your floral work be an expression of that? What is your local vegetation and how can you play with that? Look to real life, books, and travel for inspiration instead of the Internet, where we often just see ideas repeated.
8. What’s missing in your local market? Focus locally. What types of design and flowers are missing your own city and state? See how you can fill a gap, if you are looking to start your own business.
9. Take a business class. Flowers are tricky business. I highly recommend taking a business course to understand small business and what operating a company for a perishable product involves.
10. Find guinea pigs. As you are looking to start a business but don’t feel quite ready, ask friends if you can make flower arrangements at cost for their events. See if a local coffee shop will let you bring in a complementary flower arrangement with your business card every week.
11. Use social media as well as your local community. Network locally with event planners, event locations, garden clubs, interior designers, and other local businesses to develop a network of referrals. Also, be sure to use social media as it’s a great way to attract clients who love your style. In the beginning, it’s also a great way to play with and develop your style. Instagram is so visual it’s perfect if you want to start small.
12. Be sure to have good photos. Learn how to take photos of your work. It’s often tough to rely on event or wedding photographers to capture your work as they are working for their client. So try to get photos before hand. Learn how to use natural light to take good photos.
13. Edit your portfolio. When deciding which photos to use, be as picky as possible. Edit your portfolio down to only the work you are truly proud of and to the best photos. It might be good to get one or two outside opinions from other designers or visual people that you trust.
14. Make a website. If you are looking to start your own business, make your own website. It’s so simple. I love Format, but everyone has their favorite. Just search for website platforms for photographers, as those were great for any time of visual portfolio.
15. Be environmentally responsible. Put into practice responsible water use, source locally whenever possible, and forage when you can. The floral industry as a history of not being environmentally friendly. Anyone coming into the industry now, needs to take this into consideration.
Good luck with your journey! Feel free to leave any questions in the comments and I will try to answer them or create another post answering more questions.