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Flower Farm

It’s flower time on the farm! The hubby and I are preparing for a big move to the big land of Texas, of course that’s not about to stop me from enjoying a few last summer days on the farm. I spent the morning with my dear friend Kristin getting ready for a wedding this weekend. Linda was able to sneak away on a little vacation, so while she’s away, we get to play! Stay tuned this weekend for snapshots of our arranging.

I must have flowers, always, and always. ― Claude Monet


It’s Graduation Thyme!


It is finally here, after 7 long years of dedicated studies I am finally graduating with my BSN degree! I must apologize for the lack of posting this semester, my mother’s mantra still rings in my head, “studies come first,” and so, blogging has taken a back seat. However, with graduation less than a week away I wanted to share with you a few images from my graduation celebration wishlist.

The following are ideas I’ve combined to make a Graduation Thyme Garden Party Celebration come to life. I hope these ideas spark your creativity as you prepare for your own graduation celebrations in the coming weeks.

Minted garden party invitations Garden Party Invitations via Minted

Herb Favor Bags Herb Favor Bags via Move Nourish Believe

Garden Party Tablescape The Tablescape via HeatherBullard.com

Brioche, Peaches, Thyme garden party treat Brioche, Peaches and Thyme via Bayaderka

Good Ideas for You summer garden party ideas Flowers and Paper Bags via Good Ideas For You

Onto Baby Vintage Couples Shower Juice Bar (but add champagne for a mimosa bar) via Onto Baby

Thyme garden party decor Drying Thyme via French Larkspur

Berry Tart Berry Tarts via Belonika


Easter Bells


I think of the garden after the rain; And hope to my heart comes singing,
At morn the cherry-blooms will be white, And the Easter bells be ringing!
~Edna Dean Proctor, “Easter Bells”

Easter Flowers

Happy Easter!


January Jaunt in the Park


winter stroll

I know I’ve probably bored you to death with photos of our favorite state park, Sycamore Shoals, but I wanted to prove to you just how much we love this spot. We even brave weather in the teens with biting cold wind whipping off the river just for a joyful jaunt along the beautiful trails. It is amazing to me how beautiful this place is even in the dead of winter. Hope you all are bundled up tight and staying toasty warm this evening.

Winter Stroll, Nature

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck


Fall Wedding Wildflower Bouquets


My dear friend Laura was married at the end of September. I offered to help out by arranging her wedding flowers, a task I was a little nervous about because, as we all know, flower options become a bit more limited the farther you get into the Fall season. However, Laura was incredibly easygoing about the flowers and pretty much gave me the criteria of “I just want something pretty.”

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-6-575x382.jpg "Wildflower Wedding (6)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-6/) Photo by: SweetPeonies

The wedding was held at a little local church on a college campus, with a river running along one side–idyllic right? The reception was held just down the road at Meredith Valley Farms, this venue has some of the most beautiful views of the Tennessee hills I have ever seen. The weather was a bit stormy throughout the afternoon but you would have never known by looking at the joy on the bride and groom’s faces as well as the sheer happiness on the faces of all those in attendance.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-wedding-4-575x382.jpg "Wildflower wedding (4)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-4/) Photo by: SweetPeonies

Because of the simple and natural elements involved in this wedding, we decided to make the bouquets and arrangements very natural and free–everything you might think of when it comes to wildflowers. All of the flowers came from Linda’s farm, Aunt Willies Wildflowers.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-wedding-3.jpg "Wildflower wedding (3)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-3/) Photo by: SweetPeonies

Hannah Bader, a friend of mine and local photographer, served as their wedding photographer and snapped a couple of photos for me at the service. Hannah’s photography includes weddings, portraits, and events. She approaches her photography from a photo-journalistic/environmental portraiture approach. The following are just a few of the photos she took downstairs as I was finishing some final bouquet details (more photos to come).

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-575x359.jpg "Wildflower Wedding")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding/) Photo by: Hannah Bader

If you live in East Tennessee and are looking for a great photographer, be sure to check out Hannah’s portfolio on facebook (under Hannah Bader), or contact her by phone at (423)-342-0255 or by email at bader.hannah@gmail.com.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/IMG_6501edit-575x383.jpg "Wildflower Wedding")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/img_6501edit/) Photo by: Hannah Bader

See corsages from this wedding at Farmstyle Wedding Corsage.

Here are a few more photos from Hannah.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-Hannah-Bader-2-575x383.jpg "Wildflower Wedding Hannah Bader (2)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-hannah-bader-2/) Photo by: Hannah Bader
[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-Hannah-Bader-3-575x862.jpg "Wildflower Wedding Hannah Bader (3)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-hannah-bader-3/) Photo by: Hannah Bader
[![](jekyll_uploads/2012/11/Wildflower-Wedding-Hannah-Bader-1-575x383.jpg "Wildflower Wedding Hannah Bader (1)")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2012/11/fall-wedding-wildflower-bouquets/wildflower-wedding-hannah-bader-1/) Photo by: Hannah Bader

Farmstyle Wedding Corsage


During my two week hiatus from posting, Jack and I have been very busy baking 300 cookies, arranging wedding flowers, attending baby showers, and attempting to stay afloat with school and work. Yesterday my friend Laura was married at Meredith Valley Farms. This farm is seriously so so beautiful. They have small cabins you can rent down on the river and a beautiful large cabin up on the hill for wedding guests to rent during the event weekend. And of course, the views are stunning.

rustic wildflower corsage

I arranged the flowers for Laura’s wedding. You would think there would not be many flowers to work with for an end of September wedding but even I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of colors still available on the farm. Laura wanted a very “wildflower” look to her arrangements and I think we accomplished just that. I will be posting more pictures of the bouquets soon but for now I thought I would share one of the 22 boutonnieres and corsages that I made for the event.

rustic wildflower corsage

This corsage was for the mothers of the bride and groom. Included in the corsage is a small dahlia, purple sage, goldenrod, dusty miller, sedum and a little weed. I tied all the corsages, bouts, and bouquets with yellow raffia to continue the rustic wildflower theme.

rustic wildflower corsage


Silence + Rejuvenation


The past two weeks have absolutely flown by. As you know, I am back in classes for what should be my last year. It has taken me seven years to get to this point so you can imagine my excitement as well as my exhaustion. While most of my fellow nursing peers are just now beginning to experience their “senior-itis,” my senior-itis has been ongoing for the past three years. All that to say, despite the chaos of the last two weeks–school, new job, studying–I have made an effort to set aside little portions of each day to simply sit back and enjoy a moment of quiet solitude. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 15, I feel like these little moments go a long way to helping the rest of my day seem more manageable.

peachbridalbouquet

And since the farm is my typical way of relaxing–being out in nature, away from distractions and the daily grind–I decided to share this picture from a wedding Linda arranged yesterday. I think this peach bridal bouquet is stunning, simple, and ever so elegant.

leaf bug

In the spirit of all things calm, simple and relaxing, I’ve also decided to share this picture of the lovely bug we found in our house a few weeks ago. Jack loved him and wanted some pictures so here is Freddie the leaf bug. I don’t know the technical name for these little guys, online everyone just calls them “leaf bugs” so if you know what else they are called, please fill us in.

Alrighty friends, I think that about does it for today. Coming soon I have 3 minutes brownies, soup recipes, a DIY wedding and our monthly shopping plan to save 50% on groceries (which worked!). Although I am unable to keep up three posts/week with classes back in session and more work hours, please keep checking back with us each week for new posts.

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.”
-Anne Frank


Purple & Orange Wedding


Today was my last farm day for the year. I’m always sad when summer comes to an end but with Fall just around the corner the workload at the farm dwindles down and really, it’s just in time for me to head back to classes. After seven years and three degree changes I am finally beginning my last year. Hooray! Next week I will head back to class and will also be starting a new job. Such a busy month. I am so excited to get started with the year and finish up this chapter of my life but right now, feeling sad to say goodbye to summer and all the beauty to be found out on the farm.

Today Linda and I worked on a rather unique wedding. The bride wanted purple and orange–not a request we are used to getting, however, the bouquets were both fun and beautiful. The groom’s boutonniere was purple and the groomsmen had orange. Like many of us, the happy couple also enjoy a good tasting beer and thought it would be fun to include hops in their bouts. Once again, so fun!

purple & orange wedding

purple & orange wedding

purple & orange wedding

purple & orange wedding

I hope you’ve enjoyed these pictures and found a little bit of inspiration. I never would have thought to use purple and orange for wedding colors but after putting these together, I’m a believer! I so loved arranging this fun wedding and wish the happy couple all the best.


Jungle Safari Baby Shower


Last weekend’s jungle party was a success! I took way too many pictures so these collages are my attempt to show you all the details. To be completely honest, the jungle theme was pretty easy to pull off–think grasses, lots of them. That’s right, I used vases and vases of grasses and hosta leaves to bring the jungle indoors.

jungle baby shower decorations

For the table, I bought three yards of animal-print fabric and used a strip of burlap to break up the pattern down the middle of the table. I used green glass dishes to continue our nature theme and bring color to the table. I also cut grasses with branching brown ends on top to add a bit of nature and height to the table.

jungle baby shower decorations

The next step to creating this jungle safari table was to make brown tissue paper poms. There are many tutorials for making these poms and I promise they are all very simple. For tutorials however, I usually revert to my good friend, Martha Stewart (cause she’s awesome).

jungle baby  shower decorations tissue poms

To help give the table dimension and to label the food, I made little sachets with fabric squares, wooden skewers and circle tags (tutorial coming soon). I have never liked my handwriting so I used a fancy stencil to write out the food labels.

jungle shower decor

jungle baby  shower decorations food labels

I also set up a little card station at the party. We pre-purchased a set of thank-you cards and a book of stamps for the parents-to-be. Then I set up the card station for guests to write their name and address on envelopes so the parents-to-be wouldn’t have to find everyone’s addresses on their own. The station had a giraffe-print fabric square, grasses, a basket for the written-on envelopes, and of course the thank-you cards and pens.

jungle baby  shower decorations card station

I drew 2ft. jungle animals on black card stock and taped them in various areas around the house. I am hoping to make you all some printable stencils for my jungle animals so keep checking back. I also printed out cautionary signs: “Elephant XING”/”Do Not Feed the Animals”/”Trespassers Will Be Eaten”

jungle baby  shower decorations jungle animals

In the gift area I switched from brown animal print fabric squares to black and white. If you can find animal print fabric for cheap just buy it in yards and cut it into squares. I could not find any inexpensive animal print fabrics so I opted for the $.99 fabric squares from Walmart (they have bunches of prints available). Notice in the picture my hanging paper jungle mobiles, none of the pictures of those were that great but I had them hung around the gift opening area and in the sunroom.

jungle baby  shower decorations zebra print

Another station was set up for the guests to leave an encouraging message for the parents to be. I used leaf and flower-print card stock, a hole punch, and twine to make little hanging notes. I also brought some of my potted plants from home for the table greenery. Behind this station, I lined small clear bottles filled with grasses to create a grass wall separating the front room from the kitchen.

jungle baby shower decorations notes

My last jungle station held the party favors. My hubby makes himself loads and loads of yummy granola for snacks so I convinced him to make me a very large batch for the party. Then I scooped out one cup of granola for each ziplock bag, wrapped the bag in burlap squares and tied them off with twine.

jungle baby shower decorations party favor granola treats

This was such a fun party to plan and I think a fun time was had by all the guests and most importantly the parents-to-be. I hope these pictures serve as inspiration for your next party. I’ll try to post a few tutorials for the miscellaneous jungle decorations very soon.


Pink & Burgundy Altar Arrangement


I feel like I say this every week but yesterday’s farm flowers were gorgeous! Seriously. Kristin took eight buckets of flowers to a wedding in Virginia. You would think with eight buckets gone we wouldn’t have many left to work with but that was not the case. Instead, we (Linda and I) made a record amount of market bouquets–a grand total of 50 (trust me, that’s a lot).

Linda asked if I wanted to make an arrangement for the altar on Sunday and I, of course, jumped on board immediately. It was really hard to not make something beautiful with the array of flowers we had to work with.

pink & burgundy altar arrangement

This pink and burgundy arrangement is my finished product and I must say, I love it! Pitcher arrangements like these are perfect for a country wedding or for simply taking to church on Sunday to share with others.

Here’s how this pitcher arrangement came to be:

First I started with the large limelight hydrangea. I cut them down to size and angled one toward each side of the pitcher and one smaller one a bit higher in the back to provide a “back” to the bouquet (a place where the eye will stop looking).

Next, I added several bunches of dark pink lisianthus buds. These pop against the creamy-white hydrangeas and serve as a great filler since the mouth of my pitcher is so wide.

Then I added two stems of lilies, one low and one higher, each angled a separate direction.I also added a pink and white gladiola semi-centered. The lisianthus serve as support for keeping the lilies and gladiola securely in place.

Finally I filled in the gaps. Down low I added trailing amaranthus (that’s the pretty burgundy spilling over the edge), I also added bits of white and green filler (poke weed, grasses), a couple green/cream lisianthus and hot pink dianthus.

pink & burgundy altar arrangement

Arrangements like these are fairly simple to create if you stick to a specific order when combining your flowers–heavy bulky stems first, delicate flowers next supported by the larger flowers, then smaller pops of color, collar greenery and delicate accents.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this mini-flower-arrangement lesson. Try your own pitcher arrangement at home, all it takes is a few stems from your own backyard.


Ribbon Braid Bouquet DIY


Wedding bouquets are by far my favorite flower piece to arrange. There are multiple factors to consider when planning a bridal bouquet. Many brides put all their creativity and thought into the flower type and completely forget to adorn the bouquet handle. Adding a bit of glam to the bouquet handle is simple and can make a huge impact. One of my favorite handle wrap techniques is the classic braid adorned with pearl corsage pins. This is the braid technique I used on last week’s bridal brooch bouquet? This simple classic braid is simple, elegant and fail-safe.

bridal brooch bouquet

Preparation:

Arrange your flowers and tie with a rubber band close to the neck. Cover the rubber band with green floral tape, then proceed down the stems as far as you want your braid to run. Leave at least 1 inch of the stems exposed at the bottom. If you want to cover the entire bottom of the stems as well, you need to wait until the day of or find some really great ribbon that won’t fall out of place after being soaked in water all night.

Choose your ribbon, a medium width is best. Place your bouquet on it’s side with the “front” facing you (the side that will not face the bride). If you are braiding up the majority of the stems, use 1 entire roll of ribbon. You may end up cutting some off at the end but it is better than running short and this technique uses much more ribbon than you might think.

brooch bouquet and braid

The Braid:

Step #1: Starting at the bottom of your stems, wrap the ribbon around the back of the stem bundle and even up the two sides of ribbon. Hold the ribbons up toward you and taut.

Step #2: Cross the ribbons, one in front of the other two times. You are basically switching the ribbon from your left hand to your right and back again. You should have a twisted tangle of ribbon now. Now pull the ribbons to their separate sides, this should move something resembling a knot down toward the stems.

Step #3: Cross your ribbons around the back of the stems to switch their sides. Repeat the crossing in front by once again crossing the two strands around each other twice then pulling the strands away from each other to move the knot down.

Step #4: As you tighten each “knot,” try to keep them in line with one another and make sure you are overlapping the ribbon all the way up the stems so there are no gaps.

Step #5: Continue to braid your ribbon to the neck of the flowers and finish the braid by either tying a knot or a bow. If you have extra ribbon, measure the strands to the end of your bouquet stems and cut each at an angle.

Step #6: Using short corsage pins, place one at the base of each knot to dress up your braid. Push the pins in and up so they don’t poke out the other side of the stem bundle and stab the bride.

bridesmaid ribbon mini braidWhile the bride may enjoy having a full braid that covers the entire length of the stems, bridesmaids often opt for the mini-braid which covers only a portion of the bouquet handle. This technique (seen in the picture at right) follows the same steps but it is only necessary to wrap a small portion of the stem with floral tape–just enough to cover the rubber band.

I hope these pictures are helpful. Ribbon braiding really is a very simple and quick process. As always, please let me know if you have any questions.


Silver & Gold Brooch Bouquet


Remember those beautiful brooches I mentioned in my sneak peak bridal bouquet post last week? Well, I have finally managed to pull all of that gorgeous jewelry together into one stunning bridal brooch bouquet.

bridal brooch bouquet

This being my first attempt at a brooch bouquet, I am quite pleased with the finished product. I cannot take all of the credit however, the lovely bride did an absolutely fantastic job of picking out all of the brooches for her bouquet. At first, I wasn’t sure how it was all going to come together as she had a wide array of metals and gemstones included in the mix, but her creative instincts paid off and the jewelry came together beautifully.

The hardest part of this bouquet (which I didn’t have to do) would definitely be the wiring of the brooches. In order to make one of these bouquets you need to take floral wire or some other sturdy wire and loop it around the clasps on each individual brooch. The tricky part is wiring the brooches well enough that they will remain upright and sturdy. The more time you take to wire the brooches carefully, the easier it will be to assemble your bouquet. You may also want to use hot glue underneath the brooch where you attach the wire to help secure the wire more sturdily to the clasp.

Take three strong hydrangeas. We used fake ones which I highly recommend if you are making a full bouquet like the one pictured. This bouquet is very heavy so you will need the heavy weight of fake flowers to support all of the brooches. If you prefer a bouquet with intermittent brooches, you can use live hydrangea and add other live flowers into the mix to help fill holes and support the jewelry.

Cut your fake hydrangea stems the length that you want your bouquet to be. I use a large mason jar as my guide, placing the flowers inside you want the bottom edge of the flowers to rest gently on the top edge of the jar (or whatever vase you will use at the reception).

brooch bouquet

Wrap your hydrangea stems together with floral tape (no need to wrap all the way down, just secure them together).

Now comes the fun part. Poke each of your wired brooches through the tops of the hydrangea petals until they rest gently on top of your flowers. Continue to add brooches one by one until you have covered the tops and sides of your hydrangeas.

Once all the brooches are in place, carefully wrap all wire stems together using floral tape. At this point, the bouquet is very heavy so you may want to ask a friend to hold it as you wrap.

bridalbroochbraid

Once the stems are wrapped all the way to the bottom. Grab your ribbon and cover the floral tape with whichever ribbon wrap style you prefer. I will post a tutorial for the classic braid shown in these pictures next Friday.

I hope you’ve found these instructions helpful. As always let me know if you have any questions or if I need to clarify any steps.


Bridal Brooch Bouquet Sneak Peek


For today’s floral post I thought I would share a sneak peak into my latest wedding project. One of our bride’s asked if we could arrange her bouquet, no surprise there. The catch? Not a flower bouquet.

brooch bouquet

Have you seen these beautiful heirloom brooch bouquets? There are many varieties of brooch bouquets and personally, I think they are absolutely exquisite.

brooch bouquet

I really can’t express how excited I am to put this bouquet together. I’ll be posting the finished pictures on the blog very very soon so stay tuned.

brooch bouquet

These are just a few of the wonderful brooches I get to work with. Don’t you wish this was your job?

brooch bouquet


Succulent Boutonniere How To


I am constantly writing to you about buying flowers locally and arranging them yourself for special events or weddings but what about those specialty pieces like corsages and boutonnieres? Can you also make these yourself? The answer is “yes & yes” and I’m ready to show you how.

blue gray boutonniere how to

This little boutonniere is incredibly simple to make and uses items that are hardy enough to remain upright even when out of water overnight. When we make boutonnieres for weddings on the farm, they are usually assembled the afternoon prior to the wedding, at the same time we arrange centerpieces and bouquets. If you know what to use, this is not too far ahead of the event to assemble the boutonniere. Once you have finished assembling all your bouts, simply store in the refrigerator until the big event.

When choosing stems for your bout, be sure to choose ones that are hardy. This bout uses Ivy as the backing, dusty miller, blue thistle, dianthus and a small succulent.

Assembly:

Step 1: Find a flat surface and lay out one leaf of Ivy. Lay one leaf of Dusty Miller on top.

Step 2: Now add a small piece of blue thistle on top of the Dusty Miller and slightly left of center.

blue gray boutonniere how to

Step 3: Lay the Dianthus to the right of the thistle.

blue gray boutonniere how to

Step 4: Push the succulent up under the Dianthus and slightly to the right of center. You should position the succulent so that it is sort of supporting the Dianthus, that way, even if it decides to wilt it will be supported and go unnoticed.

blue gray boutonniere how to

Step 5: Now you want to add a smaller Ivy leaf to the front of the bout, right underneath the succulent giving it a sort of clam-like appearance (sorry I forgot this picture, but look at the finished product up top and you will see what I mean).

Step 6: Pinch the stems together right underneath the heads of the stems and cut the stems and varying lengths. This is helpful for those of you who want to cover the stems with ribbon, it makes a gradual thickening as you up the stems toward the flowers.

blue gray boutonniere how to

Step 7: While holding the stems tightly with one hand, grab your roll of florist tape and begin to wrap the stems at the neck of the bout. If you just want a simple bout without ribbon, continue to wrap the stems all the way down with the florist tape (ribbon wrap tutorial to come).

blue gray boutonniere how to

There you have it, one very simple boutonniere crash course. Don’t forget to be creative with your materials–there are an endless possibilities when making your bout. One of my all-time favorite items to use is dried wheat or barley for a vintage look.

blue gray boutonniere how to


Sweet Pink Bouquet + Herbs


For this week’s Friday at the Farm, we had our first bridal luncheon of the summer. In fact, the only bridal luncheon on the books this year. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this event, Linda gives our brides the option of having a bridal luncheon the day before their wedding. This luncheon allows the bride and bridesmaids to relax on the farm for a couple of hours and basically play with flowers. Sounds nice, right?!

pink bridesmaid bouquet

We teach the ladies how to arrange their bouquets for the big day and, of course, help them as needed. Some brides and bridesmaids are quick to catch on to the techniques involved in hand-held-bouquet-making, others prefer to have us shape the bulk of their arrangement–either way, the bridal luncheons are fun for all.

pink bridesmaid bouquet

Linda and I also arranged market bouquets following the luncheon festivities. Here is one of my favorite arrangements from the day. I also found a fantastic new picture spot on the farm–love this lighting.

Arrangement: sweet peas, decorative sage, dianthus, mountain mint (smells SO good), oregano, goose neck


Farmer’s Market Flower Bouquets


Today was another glorious Friday out at Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers. With no weddings on the books this weekend, we were able to devote ourselves fully to the task of arranging bucket upon bucket of market bouquets for the Kingsport Farmer’s Market. Linda’s customers will be SO happy.

Beautiful flowers to work with, beautiful weather to work in, beautiful scenery surrounding our work space, all in all a fantastic way to end the week. Here are a few photos of the flowers we had to work with this week.

farmer's market cut flower bouquet

farmer's market cut flower bouquet

farmer's market cut flower bouquet

farmer's market cut flower bouquet


Wedding + Flower Girl Headband


This past week, the flower farm crew learned to stretch our imaginations a little bit farther than usual. This was the first time we were asked to arrange two weddings on the same day, and to make it a bit more interesting…two vastly different color palettes and settings.

Wedding #1: flowy, wild & bright; different flowers for each bouquet, outdoor wedding
Flowers: grasses, mint, sunflowers, larkspur, black-eyed susans, lilies, bells of ireland, feverfew, campanula, and more.

Wedding #2: neat, rounded bouquets, specific color pallet: periwinkle and raspberry, continuity across bouquets& arrangements
Flowers: blue, white and pink hydrangea (we even spray-painted a few–yes, this is an option), hot pink roses, snapdragons, holly, feverfew

We also made a grand total of 23 boutonnieres this week (trust me, that’s a lot).

Flower Girl Headband Bright Colors

Although vastly different in flowers and setting, both weddings were quite beautiful. My absolute favorite part of arranging these weddings, however, was the flower girl headbands. And, of course, I never took a finished photo of the pieces (grr). However, if you will excuse the sad, unfinished photos I can show you the headbands minus the ribbon.

I picked up these plastic headbands with a thin layer of foam on top in Walmart’s craft section for $1.17. To attach the flowers, I simply arranged two small grouping of flowers and greens in my hand and wrapped the stems with florist tape, as you would a boutonniere.

Next, I placed the larger grouping higher on the side of the headband, stem-ends facing down (toward your ear) and attached it to the headband by wrapping the stems to the band with florist tape. Then I took the smaller grouping and attached it to the band with stems facing up (toward the top of your head) and sort-of wedged under the flowers of the first grouping. So, the two flower bunches are facing each other (you can see the shape we are going for in the photo of Kristin’s yellow headband).

Flower Girl headband muted colors

The last step, not shown here, is to wrap the ribbon of your choosing around the rest of the head band. I made a small knot under the edge of the flowers on each side (so it can’t be seen) and continued to wrap down toward the ends of the headband where I tied off the ribbon with another small knot.

I know that sounds a bit confusing but once you start the process, it comes pretty naturally. The brightly-colored headband is the one I made, the muted yellow one was made by my good friend Kristin who keeps me sane on those days I can’t seem to find a rhythm to my arranging. Don’t we all need one of those friends? I hope this has been an enjoyable read for you. Best of luck!


Bold & Bright Wedding Arrangement


Hello friends, Jack and I just got back from a mini-vacation to see the family–at least some of them. So, to make up for missing Floral Friday, here is a little post on a beautiful and bold wedding arrangement made for a bright wedding two weeks ago.

Seriously, isn’t this arrangement gorgeous?!

Bright Wedding Flower Arrangement

I can’t get over how simple and breathtaking these flowers are, and so simple. Some of my favorite flowers are the ones that grow in mixed colors, you see this effect with flowers like Dahlias, which no one can deny they are beautiful. However, there is something about the pure colors–especially pure and bold like this arrangement.

This arrangement began in a pastel-colored pitcher but we discovered white was the only way to go. The flowers are gorgeous on their own and a colored pitcher didn’t make as big of a statement. Here’s another picture for you.

Stems:

Pink Peonies
Magenta Snapdragons
White Snapdragons
Blue Delphinium
Sunflowers
Hosta Leaves
Bells of Ireland
Ornamental Grasses

Arrangement:

This arrangement starts out a bit different from what I normally recommend. There is not much filler used so I would start with your tall stems that are used most, in this case the snapdragons. Next, add in the little bit of filler–Bells of Ireland (the green things that look like bells–just in case you needed help with that).

Bright Wedding Flower Arrangement

Now we need to focus on pulling the eye downward. Start by placing pink peonies low in the arrangement, nearly to the vase rim. The sunflowers have large stems so I would cut those lower than the snaps but higher than the peonies. Make sure you don’t cut them all the exact same height, you want these to be varied throughout the middle third of the arrangement height. Add these next since they will fill large holes and take up much of the vase space.

Now you can add the delicate-stemmed delphinium for beautiful pops of bluish-purple color. Finally add the Hosta leaves around the rim of the vase, as if cradling the peonies. Hosta leaves give the eye an end point for the arrangement.


Coral Peony Bridal Bouquet


A few weeks ago I had the privilege of helping Linda with flower arrangements for a vintage wedding. If you haven’t figured it out before, it seems the go-to flower for vintage is the beautiful peony. And really, who would argue with that choice? The peony is absolutely exquisite in all colors but this coral color is by far my favorite. I could look at it for hours. Really? Not even kidding.

Here’s another look, in case you too, can’t stop staring.

Alrighty then, tearing eyes away, closing mouth, moving on…

The bridal bouquet was made mainly with white and coral peonies, white stock, yellow, white & peach ranunculus, chartreuse-colored physocarpis, and bells of Ireland.

Bouquets are different than arrangements in styling order. With arrangements you typically want to start by placing your filler since that will take up more of the vase space. With bouquets however, filler is much more scarce so you actually begin with your flowers, and usually the bulkier flowers first to provide support to the smaller stems.

So, can you guess which flower we start with here? That’s right, the peonies! Group a few peonies in the middle, then add a white stock in between each peony. Then add a few Bells of Ireland stems around the edges of the peonies and stocks, follow with an outer layer of peonies in the open spaces.

As you move toward the outer edges of your bouquet, make sure you are continuing to push the outer edges upward instead of letting them fall low. With bridal and bridesmaid bouquets you want to see all of the flowers at the top, not lose them down underneath at the spot where you would hold the bouquet, make sense?

Alright, now all that’s left is filling in the spaces and adding a few pops of color and filler. This bouquet has Phisocarpus leaves placed sporadically throughout for a bit of added filler and little peach, white, and yellow Ranunculus for added color. Hold the bouquet lower on the stems as you add flowers. This allows the bouquet to sit loosely giving you plenty of wiggle room for adding stems in last minute or even pulling a few out.

And of course, if you like the look, add Hosta leaves around the very bottom to create a collar. This gives the eye an end point and keeps the focus on the flowers above the collar instead of trailing off into nothingness.


Baby Shower Flowers + Painted Jars


Occasion: Baby Shower with Unknown Baby Gender

Use this bouquet as inspiration for a baby shower with an unknown baby gender.

Stems:

pink/burgundy dianthus
burgundy ranunculi
yellow ranunculi
yellow stock
blue baptisia

Arranging:

Begin with the dianthus as they are both sturdy and full so they will take up much of the empty space allowing you to strategically place the more delicate stems.

Next, add your contrasting colors, I put in two stems of yellow stock, one for height and color and a second to make the bouquet even. Accent the stock with yellow ranunculi spread throughout the arrangement in lower areas.

Fill any holes with the burgundy ranunculi. Pairing different flowers of similar colors in one bouquet gives the arrangement texture and dimension. Finally, add the tall stem(s) of baptisia. More stems of baptisia will give you a more obvious boy/girl theme or you can find another bluish flower to add to the mix like ageratum.

paintedballjar

Centerpiece:

Take four ball jars (or a variety of used jars from your pantry) and paint the inside of each with a different pastel shade: yellow, blue, pink, green, etc. If you don’t have any pastel paints on hand, just mix each color with white until you reach the desired shade.

The first coat does a good job of filling in all white/clear space on the jar, however, if placed in the light it shows the stroke lines of your brush. I tried using a normal painter’s brush as well as one of those Styrofoam tipped brushes, but the regular brush worked much better. Wait 20 minutes for the first coat to dry before painting a second coat that hides the original brush strokes.

Make arrangements to place in your painted jars from the flowers listed above. Add three hosta leaves around the jar rims to form a collar. Group the jars in the center of the table for a beautiful bold centerpiece.

Painting the jars took about 30 minutes total so don’t be deterred by the extra effort of painting clear jars instead of buying colored vases/jars. Trust me, the extra time is well worth your efforts and will not go unnoticed.


Mother’s Day + Small Tribute


Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. Today is one of my favorite days because I love my mother so very much and I love having an entire day set aside for the sole purpose of honoring and celebrating her life, the sacrifices she has made and the person she is today.

My mom was recently offered a job in the Chicago area, a career opportunity of a lifetime for her. After much deliberation and conversation with my father, they decided she should take advantage of this opportunity, even though it means leaving my dad back home in Oregon until he can retire.

While this decision may sound crazy to most, and at times to our little family as well, I couldn’t be more proud of my mom. None of the decisions she and my father had to make regarding this position were easy. Moving across the U.S. to live alone, leaving the home you’ve poured so much time and effort into in exchange for a small apartment, trading the beautiful greenery and mountain settings of Oregon for the “concrete jungle” of a big city, and of course leaving behind all those you love most to pursue a dream that may or may not pan out…

I know many of you understand what it takes to make difficult decisions like these so you understand what must have gone into making the final decision to move. Despite all the so-called-craziness of this move, I am so proud that my mom took the job. She recognized the rut she was in, the day-in-day-out dead end job (you know the kind), and she took a chance. A very big chance. Decisions like these are the ones that make me respect my mother. Of course, no parent is ever perfect but it is always in the critical moments that I truly appreciate the example she sets.

My mother didn’t just tell my sister and I to follow our dreams and shoot for the stars, she didn’t just tell us to hold our heads high and put forth our best effort, she didn’t just tell us how to be strong confident women–she showed us. She showed us all these things when we were young and she continues to show us still today.

I am so proud of my mom and so grateful for her presence in my life, a gift not all can claim. I am grateful for the example she has set for me throughout the years, the encouragement she gives through every endeavor I undertake, the pride she takes in her family and in her work, her adventurous spirit and her persistent attitude. I am grateful that my mom has taught me to be confident in who I am, be proud of where I come from and to never give up on my dreams.

Thank you mom for all you do and all you have done for our family throughout the years. You do not go unnoticed. We love you more and more each and every day.


How to Preserve Peonies


We all have those favorite flowers, you know the ones you wait anxiously for all year and then it seems as soon as they bloom they wilt away once more. For me, the gorgeous peony is the flower I most look forward to at the beginning of the flower season. Unfortunately, it seems these flowers are gone before I can be out on the farm enjoying their beauty.

peonies

Linda, however, has taught me a few tricks for making peonies last. The peony is a popular flower for weddings so every year we make these beauties last a bit longer by cutting them early and letting them hibernate in the fridge for a few weeks.

For those of you who want to save your peonies for a big event or simply want to keep them around longer to brighten up your home, you can follow these simple steps to preserving peonies.
_
How to Preserve Peonies:_

1.) Cut peonies when they are in the “marshmallow” stage. Squeeze the bud and if it feels like a marshmallow, they are ready to cut and store. The image below is just before marshmallow stage.

2.) Next, place a bunch of peony stems in double-layered newspaper. The image below is marshmallow stage.

3.) Wrap the newspaper around the stems.

4.) Place in a refrigerator to hibernate up to 1 month.

When you pull the peonies out again, they will look slightly less perfect than when you put them in but just place them in water and in a few hours they will start to open up. The only downside to preserving peonies is that their shelf-life post-refrigeration is less than if they were freshly cut–about two days.

Let us know if you have any questions!


Pitcher Arrangement


There are a few basic methods to arranging flowers. For an arrangement like the one shown above, it is best to start with your bulky flowers (the white lilacs) as those take up a lot of space and make filling in the rest of the arrangement fairly simple. Place 3-5 stems of lilacs of varying heights in your container–the number of stems depends on their size and the size of your container. Angle each stem in a different direction (or if they are smaller you can try grouping).

With an arrangement this size I would next fill in with greenery to add support and stability to your lilacs, also providing a sturdy base for the more delicate flowers. The greenery in this arrangement is simply the drooping foliage from a lilac bush on the farm. Make sure you add greenery both around the lip of the container, giving it the spillover effect, as well as tall and short stems in and around the lilacs to add dimension.

Next, add your color. This is usually a more delicate stem, so be sure to place gently and secure well amid the greenery. Linda used tulips for her color.

Finally, in order to really make the tulips stand out, Linda added a chartreuse color of greenery to the mix. Chartreuse greenery is one of my all-time favorite items to add to arrangements. Although dark greenery is pretty, it is still dark, making your one bright color a big leap from the dark green. The chartreuse color bridges this dark-light gap and allows the brightness of the flower to pop while keeping the overall arrangement in balance. The chartreuse-colored stem in this arrangement is physocarpus.

The wonderful thing about this arrangement is most people with a garden have these flowers. The flowers are not anything out of the ordinary and you can substitute the greenery with just about any shrub or decorative grass in your own backyard.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these quick and simple steps to building a beautiful flower arrangement for your home. Happy arranging!


Bird Nest Workshop


Today was another Bird’s Nest workshop out at Aunt Willie’s Wildlflowers. These are just a few of the photos from the day. We ate a delicious pasta salad, rolls, and strawberry almond salad. So healthy!

Everything on the farm is blooming early thanks to our mild winter so there are more flowers than usual right now. This is wonderful for viewing, not so great for the upcoming wedding season. I suppose we can’t complain too much with all these beauties.

These handcrafted bird’s nest are the perfect table decoration for your upcoming Easter get-together. Check out how to make one for yourself and be sure to view more photos from the day over on our “Farm Photos” tab.

Supplies:

1 small straw wreath
1 cardboard circle that matches the wreath size
1 spool of paddle wire
1 small bag of fake moss
1 bag of two-pronged pins
moss, nuts, dried flowers, lichen, and any other decoration from nature you can think of

Instructions:

1. Take your fake moss and cover the straw wreath, wrapping it loosely with paddle wire as you move around the wreath. Twist the paddle wire together once the entire wreath is covered. You really just need to make sure no straw is showing on the sides because the real moss will cover the top of the wreath.
2. Using hot glue, attach the cardboard circle to the bottom of your wreath. This will keep your moss and pretties from falling through.
3. Take various colors and textures of moss and fill the wreath hole and various parts of the top of your wreath. You can use as much or as little moss as you’d like for this part. One of our farm ladies today covered her entire wreath in moss and other just had little trails of moss coming out of the center and over the edges.
4. Now use dried hydrangea, daffodils, dogwood, nuts, lichen, twigs, wheat, grasses and anything else you can find to decorate the rim of your nest. This year, I used blue hydrangea bunches on each side, pussy willow branches, feathers, dried pods, larkspur, and artemisia to decorate.
5. Once all your decor is secured in place with pins or hot glue, drop in a few candy eggs and your bird’s nest is complete!


Spring’s Sprouts


Working on a cut-flower farm is not the idealized job I once thought it to be. No, I used to think cutting flowers all day would be simple, relaxing, and inspiring. Although at times cutting can be all of these things, more often working on the farm can be summed up as painful, dirty, and sweaty. Let me assure you, the cut-flower life is not one to be entered into lightly. Although aspects are very rewarding it is a difficult job–and this from someone who only works on the farm once a week.

I spent a few days this week, my spring break, helping Linda out at Aunt Willies Wildflowers. What do I have to show for my hard work? Sunburns, callouses, 50-or-so cuts and scrapes (and no, I am in no way complaining) and of course a few photos just for you. For me, the hard work and painfully sore nights are worth being outside and enjoying the daily surprises of nature.

In the early months of spring, we (and I mean mostly Roy and Linda) take on a variety of tasks to prepare for the cutting season. These tasks include the following:
-fill seed trays (each holding upwards of 200 seedlings at a time)
-hoe flower beds
-stake down landscape fabric
-transplant seedlings into the hoophouse
-clear dead bushes and plants
-weed for hours on end.
Getting the farm ready for the cutting season is a very dirty job, but of course, someone has to do it.

I took these photos to give you an idea of how barren the farm can seem early in the season and how incredibly fast the plants grow to fill all this empty space (check out last year’s images under “Farm Photos” to get an idea). It never ceases to amaze me how many new plants are sprouting each week.

One month from now these empty beds will be full of flowers so hang on to your britches and keep checking back with us because them cuttin’ days are coming.


Mini Moss Terrarium


I am working on some fun new posts for you all but in the meantime I decided to share a few photographs of the moss dish I threw together from the leftover workshop materials.

The bowl is from Wal-Mart and only cost $2.50. I used stones, tree bark, privet berries, and a pine cone.I took the pine cone and peeled off a few of the layers, sticking them upright into the middle of the dish to add texture and break up the scene.

Remember you can use absolutely anything to make your terrarium–weeds, twigs, succulents, stones, moss, leaves… For taller containers, I would recommend starting with dirt, followed by small pebbles or stones, and finally your greenery to help add lots of textural contrast. See the link below for a good example of this.

There are many varieties of terrariums to make…Jack and I have been debating either a Hobbit Hole terrarium or maybe even this Dinosaur terrarium, which just happens to be my favorite!

If you decide to brave the terrarium project, be sure to send us a photo! Happy Sunday!


Setting the Scene


I’ve realized over the past year that I am much better at capturing the small details of our farm workshops than I am at photographing the people involved. Perhaps it’s because the objects don’t move, or maybe it has to do with their vivid colors. Either way, I thought I would share a few of my favorite photos from last week’s cooking lesson and moss workshop.

These photos capture unique aspects of the atmosphere we try to create out at Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers–quaint, old-fashioned, peaceful–although nature has already done most of the work for us. Whatever words these might bring to mind, I hope they make you take pause and think about the little details in your own life that you may be overlooking every day.

When planning a dinner party, birthday, or wedding, don’t forget the impact little details have on the event and on the way you remember it years later.

Be sure to check back with us soon for an incredible guest post from my friend, Kira, of Kira Noble Photography, on how to best photograph the little details.


Moss Workshop


This Saturday was our first workshop of the season at Aunt Willies Wildflowers. You may wonder what type of flowers are growing in Tennessee in the middle of February? Well, with the exception of a few flowers that have sprouted in the hoop house and early-bird daffodils, we have lots and lots of moss.

Moss is an easily underestimated little plant, however the possibilities are endless. For the workshop we filled frosted glassware with dirt then the ladies took mosses of varied colors and textures to cover the dirt. Finally, the ladies used a variety of twigs, dried plants, pebbles, and willow to make their moss gardens come to life.

This workshop also included a home-cooked meal along with cooking lesson from Liz Bushong of Serve it up Sassy! She made a mullet soup, spring green salad with blood orange dressing, and lemon-herb scones.

I also made a another batch of lemon white chocolate truffles to share. You can find the recipe here.

Here are my recipe adjustments: I used 1-1/2 c. of white chocolate, and instead of using the double boiler method I combined the zest of 1 lemon with the cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it started bubbling. Then I removed the pan from heat, added the chocolate and mixed until smooth. Next add the extract and transfer to a bowl to cool in the fridge. Follow the rest of the directions at K Bakes accordingly.

After completing the moss gardens, the ladies used various willow, forced forsythia and privet berries to make winter arrangements. Even in the winter, with no flowers in bloom, it is still possible to make beautiful arrangements for your home.

The moss workshop/cooking class was a new addition to the farm schedule and a good start to the flower season. I’ve added a few more edited photos of the workshop under our “Farm Photos” tab, complete with photos of Linda’s beautiful table setting, moss gardens, and flower arrangements from the hoop house. To see all the rough workshop photos click here.

Make your own wooded arrangement or moss garden this week–you might be surprised to find that everything you need is right outside your front door.


Farm Days–They’re a Comin’


Aren’t they beautiful? Yes, I realize it is only January and many of you are knee deep in water (I’m talking to my friends and family on the West Coast), but with any luck all those showers will bring pretty flowers!

I decided it was appropriate to talk about flowers this week after receiving an unexpected email. The email. The one that comes every spring from Linda at Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers saying it’s time to talk about this year’s workshop schedule. Hooray!

In celebration of the upcoming flower season, and simply because I’m SO excited, I thought I would share a few links with you all.

First off, Linda made her monthly appearance on Daytime Tricities to show off a few arrangements and advertise for spring weddings.

The second link I have for you is to Linda’s blog. That’s right, she started a blog! Now you can see even more farm pictures. Her latest post shows a moss crystal basket arrangement.

I am also giving you the link to the latest post from Kira Noble Photography. Kira gives readers some great tips for photographing the small things/little details…I think flowers count as small things so this post might be beneficial for the budding florists/photographers among us.

And one more link with pretty flower arrangements from Flirty Fleurs.

I hope this post has sparked your imagination and served to prepare you just a bit for the exiting season ahead.


Christmas at the Farm


When I first started working out at Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers, I assumed that the end of summer meant the end of workshops and pretty arrangements, luckily, I was mistaken. As if the pumpkin workshop wasn’t cool enough, come December, Linda holds a Christmas centerpiece workshop. The Christmas centerpieces are always beautiful with a variety of styles.

The centerpiece above is my attempt this year. I really like the touches of gold throughout it. Since we are heading home in 2 days (yay!), I decided not to waste my centerpiece on our empty home and gifted it to one of my favorite professors. I know, what a suck-up.

These centerpieces are very simple to make, all you need is a tray, a block of oasis, and lots of greenery. We soaked the oasis in water, cut it to fit the trays (if necessary), and started assembling.

Here are a few of the basics to assembling an oasis centerpiece:

Choose one type of greenery for your first row, my first one was pine, insert ends into the oasis at an angle. You want to cut all your greenery (for all three rows) 8-10 inches long, and space 1-2 inches apart. Row #2 will be up 1-2 inches and will align with the spaces so you won’t have gaps.

Depending on how full your branches are, each row should use about 12 branches total (that’s 4 on each side and 2 on the ends if your centerpiece is the size of a whole block of oasis).

Pick a different greenery for your second layer, I used cedar, and start going around the oasis 1-2 inches up from the first row. Follow the same principles as the first. Pick a third greenery for your top row (this is the top of your sides, not the top of your oasis).

Once the sides are covered, choose a more decorative greenery to start covering the top of your oasis, angling the outer branch slightly upward. I used brown tipped cedar, try to use a more decorative type of branch because this layer will be more visible.

Use any other greenery/shrub/leaf to fill in the top and any holes you may have. I like to go back and place a few magnolia leaves in various places throughout the layers–the shine make the centerpiece look fancy and helps the textures stand out. This is also when I went back through and added bits of yellow.

Now it’s time to add other decorative elements to the top of your centerpiece–dried fruit slices, whole apples, hydrangea, nuts, pine cones, candles. You can use pins, mini-stakes, or hot glue to hold everything in place. I used holly branches, a few slices of dried limes, and Queen Anne’s Lace.

Remember to branch out and stretch your creative capacities. The decorating options with these centerpieces are limitless so take your time and enjoy showing off the final product to friends and family throughout the holiday season.

If you haven’t had a chance to join our site, please do so in the right hand column. Once we hit 50 people we will put everyone’s names into a drawing for a fun prize. Be sure to check out our facebook page as well. Merry Christmas!


Fall Garden


I have never been a person who claims to like mums. In fact, in the past I have downright hated mums. Why? To be honest, I don’t really know. I think they remind me of marigolds and the orange/gold color of marigolds is just not a color I enjoy seeing outside. However, this year we have a little flower/vegetable shop one minute down the road from us. I pass it every single day on my way to and from class and they have the most beautiful mums.

Maybe it’s the shear amount of mums in one place, maybe its the variety of colors that they carry, or maybe it’s that their prices are stinkin’ cheap–I had to buy some. Jack and I went to the shop after work yesterday and purchased 6 beautiful mums to add a little color to our deck before winter robs us of these beautiful colors.

We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning and I just couldn’t resist popping outdoors for a few minutes to take a few pictures of our Fall porch. I am still working on a wreath (post to come) and perhaps putting our little farmer scarecrow outside but here is what we have so far. Perhaps these pretty buds will inspire you to not give up on your garden just yet–there are still plenty of beautiful fall days to enjoy your flowers.

Don’t forget to throw in some pumpkins as well. The orange looks beautiful with the red and purple mums. I also took a picture of the beautiful purple cabbage Kristin brought me last week. She’s too sweet.

I have one pharmacology test left before Fall break next week. I plan to compile a host of posts for you all over the break so be on the lookout. Last week we had 2 record breaking days for visits on the site. Thank you for your continued support.

Happy Fall!


Flower Pumpkin Workshop


Tuesday evening was the night you’ve all been waiting for…the pumpkin workshop. I think I say this every time but, this workshop just might be my absolute favorite. The pumpkin workshop brings a little sophistication to the traditional idea of carving pumpkins for the fall.

I went straight to the workshop from class so these photos are courtesy of Linda. Thank you Linda!

The pumpkin below was the demo pumpkin I made for the group.

Would you like to make your very own flower pumpkin? Here’s what you need and a few pointers to get you started:

Tools:

1 pumpkin (any size)
1 plastic cup (like the coca cola ones from McDonalds, the height depends on how big your pumpkin is)
Flowers
1 block of oasis

**Directions:
**
1. Soak a block of oasis in water.
2. Trace the rim of your cup on top of the pumpkin. Cut along the traced line.
3. Hollow out the inside of your pumpkin.
4. Cut oasis edges so it fits snugly into your plastic cup, leave the oasis slightly higher than the cup’s rim.
5. Insert cup into the pumpkin and add water to the cup.
6. Insert flower stems into the oasis as you shape your arrangement.

(Below: Kristin’s Pumpkin)

Now comes the fun part, the flowers! Don’t let a lack of flowers deter you from attempting this project. You can use pretty much anything to fill your pumpkin, leaves, grasses, bushes, dried flowers, fresh flowers, weeds, etc.

Start with a plant that will drape the top of your pumpkin, so the rim of the cup and oasis do not show. I chose peppers and weeds with berries because they are heavy enough to drape down over the pumpkin.

Next, choose 1 or 2 fillers to give some weight to the base of the arrangement and fill in the larger spaces. I used bunches of goldenrod and a few branches of leaves with a different texture than the leaves towards the bottom of the pumpkin.

Now, choose a few staple flowers to draw the eye. You want your main flowers to stay fairly low to the pumpkin, anchoring the arrangement (notice the height of my pink dahlia and Kristin’s red dahlia).

After that, I basically just add extra ornamentals of varying heights for finishing touches. There are blue berry-like pods (castor bean), cattails, and some longer stems of goldenrod for height.


And, just to prove that you can put together a spectacular looking pumpkin with a variety of plants, here are just a few of the pumpkins from Tuesday’s crew.

They were all so wonderful but I can only fit so many pictures into my post. Be sure to let the ladies know how wonderful their pumpkins look and if you put together a pumpkin of your own, send us a picture!


Fall is in the Air


This past week I found myself welcoming Fall with open arms, hazelnut coffee, and sweaters! Oh the sweaters. My poor husband has heard little else this past week other than, I need more sweaters (need being a bit of an exaggeration). The point is, I love sweaters. Moving on.

[![](jekyll_uploads/2011/09/chocolate-pie-quesadilla-bruschetta-lake-013-575x381.jpg "Sunflower, Pink Dahlia")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2011/09/fall-is-in-the-air/chocolate-pie-quesadilla-bruschetta-lake-013/) Sunflower, Pink Dahlia

The only disappointing part of fall is when I walk out onto my porch to find all of my flowers fading away. I love flowers, just about as much as I love my sweaters, so it is always unfortunate to realize I won’t be seeing their beautiful petals for 3-6 months (depending on location).

[![](jekyll_uploads/2011/09/chocolate-pie-quesadilla-bruschetta-lake-018-575x381.jpg "Delphinium, Mountain Mint, Sedum")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2011/09/fall-is-in-the-air/chocolate-pie-quesadilla-bruschetta-lake-018/) Delphinium, Mountain Mint, Sedum

On that note…I decided to share a few pictures of the last Saturday Market bouquets I helped make (just in case you are missing your flowers too). These bouquets were from 3 or 4 weeks ago.

I hope these bouquets bring a little bit of joy to your day. Stay tuned for a very exciting, 3 day baking project I recently completed for the Daring Baker challenge. Big reveal on the 27th!

Happy Fall!

[![](jekyll_uploads/2011/09/chocolate-pie-quesadilla-bruschetta-lake-020-575x381.jpg "Tuberose, Shasta Daisies, Limelight Hydrangea, Gladiola, Goldenrod ")](http://www.sweetpeonies.com/2011/09/fall-is-in-the-air/chocolate-pie-quesadilla-bruschetta-lake-020/) Tuberose, Shasta Daisies, Limelight Hydrangea, Gladiola, Goldenrod

Why Can’t All Bugs Be Butterflies?


Thursday on the farm was the annual “Teapots & Tablecloths” workshop with 15 lovely ladies who were bold enough to brave the humidity. Unfortunately, I left my memory card in Linda’s computer, so the new farm photos will have to wait until after the weekend to be posted.

I did manage to procure this butterfly photo from my day of cutting on Friday. This lovely butterfly and about 100 of his friends made cutting in the heat a bit more enjoyable. Maybe it was the heat, but I found myself apologizing profusely to the butterflies for stealing their flowers. I also found myself wishing that all bugs were butterflies.

Although Linda may disagree with me, I feel like I have come a long way these past 2 years in my interactions with, reaction to, and knowledge of farm critters. I no longer scream like a 6-year-old girl when an unexpected banana spider makes its presence known. I also finally realized that…
a.) buzzing does not necessarily equal bee
b.) stinging is not a bee’s sole purpose.

I have learned that the rustling noises in the field are, in fact, not the aliens from Signs. Although I’ve still never actually seen the devious rodent(s), so I suppose it’s still a possibility. Moving on…cows are good listeners and being able to distinguish between a snake and a black hose can be a tricky task (Hint: It’s a hose).

I’ve learned that hornworms (see below) devour an entire tomato plant in 4 short hours. Although I found him on my porch and not on the farm, I thought this creepy crawler deserved a shout out as one of the many bugs I wish was a butterfly. Apparently there are two varieties, one for tomato plants and one for tobacco plants. They have a black “horn” out the back, grow to be about 4 inches, and appear suddenly to devour your plant in one day. Not my favorite garden guest.

Last notes on farm critters…Tennessee mosquitoes are much more aggressive than Oregon mosquitoes. Dead wood should be kicked before picked up or you may quickly find your arm covered by ants. In the spring, don’t look up into the trees while under them or you’ll likely catch a gypsy moth larvae with your face.

And of course, butterflies are the best bugs!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my farm critter post and pictures. Be sure to check back soon for pictures from Thursday’s “Teapots & Tablecloths.”


Munsey Wedding


The past two weekends have been full of wedding frenzy. Two weekends ago, I helped out a friend by coordinating her special day and this past weekend, Kristin and I hosted a bridal luncheon for a sweet bride out at the farm. Linda was on a family vacation so it was up to us to plan the luncheon, cater, and put together the arrangements for the wedding. So, although busy, it has been a fun two weeks. I’m now thinking my nursing degree may be the financial backing for an event planning/flower arranging/catering hobby, if indeed you can call that a “hobby.” Now I just need some clients.

Anyways, back to the wedding…the ceremony was held at Munsey United Methodist Church, which has one of the most exquisite sanctuaries (see below). The bride was very laid back (which we always appreciate) and was happy to use whatever was blooming on the farm for the arrangements. Lucky for her, there are lots and lots of beautiful flowers blooming on the farm right now.

We tied shepherd’s hooks to the ends of the aisles with raffia and hung ball jars on each filled with a variety of wildflowers. The sanctuary is very large and to line every row with flowers, although exquisite, would have been very expensive. Instead, we adorned every other aisle for the first 10 rows. I was worried the flowers might get lost in the sanctuary but was pleasantly surprised with the finished result.

Here’s a close-up of one of our ball jars for you.

The front of the sanctuary has a set of stairs, followed by a choir loft and then a back altar area, all very intricate. In order to not have the main arrangements overshadowed, they had to be big, bold, and beautiful. I think we succeeded!

Here’s a close-up of the main arrangements. These are compiled of sunflowers, lisianthus, feathered black-eyed susans and various grasses.

At the bridal luncheon on Friday, I helped our bride, Anna, put together her bouquet. The final arrangement consisted of dahlias, zinnias, limelight hydrangeas, and lisianthus. The green collar around the outside is a bubby bush, which is also commonly referred to as either sweet shrub or carolina allspice.

I also braided ribbon down the stem of her bouquet.

Kristin and I used lisianthus buds, frosted explosion, ivy leaves, and blue thistle to make a few varieties of boutonnieres.

Ball Jar Arrangements:

Shasta Daisies, Dahlias, Green Zinnias, Pink Lisianthus

Zinnias and Sunflowers

Pink Zinnia, Lisianthus, Ageratum

This wedding was simple and elegant, a combination I love. As you can see, wedding or event flowers do not have to match to go together and be beautiful. You can mix a wide variety of flowers, fillers, and color and still end up with a unified presentation.

I hope these wedding pictures give you a bit of inspiration today. Happy arranging!


White Wedding Bridal Luncheon


This past Friday, I helped Linda host a beautiful bridal luncheon. The weather was fantastic, sitting in the mid-eighties and the flowers were absolutely exquisite.

The bride requested only white flowers for her big day and, in the end, decided to add a few splashes of green to the palette. We have never before catered to an all-white wedding at Aunt Willies Wildflowers but the combination of flowers turned out to be my favorite yet. So much so that I spent the entire day mentally redesigning my own wedding.

So, are you wondering which beautiful flowers we were able to work with?

Spider Mums

Roses

Poppy Pods and Hosta Leaves

Lilies

Artemisia

As you can see from the following pictures, the finished bouquets were beautiful.

Bouquet #1

Bouquet #2

Bouquet #3

Bouquet #4 (I think this is actually 3 bouquets together.)

Bride’s Bouquet

I would highly recommend this color scheme for those of you in the midst of planning your wedding. These flowers (except the lilies) are also relatively inexpensive to purchase.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these pictures from my day on the farm. Be sure to check out more flower images in the “Farm Photos” tab.


Flowers for Mom


Yesterday at the farm we had a Mother’s Day workshop which is one of my absolute favorite workshops each year. Mother’s day falls at the best time of the year for Linda’s flowers. The flowers are incredibly fragrant and absolutely gorgeous.

Some of my all-time favorites that bloom around this time include: ranunculus (the rose-like flower above), baptisia (the yellow stalk-like flower above), peonies, mock orange (my favorite), rhododendrons, spirea, smoke bush, and much more.

So, in honor of Mother’s Day, (and because pictures of the farm are my mother’s favorite posts) I decided to post some pictures of the beautiful flowers that all you mothers deserve to be given.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Early Morning Flowers


This morning I dragged my lazy bones out of bed at 6:30 and drove over to Grandview Christian Church, to help Linda set up for a workshop of sorts. Linda was guest speaking/teaching on the topic of flower ministries.

As the go-to-flower gal around Grandview, Linda is well known around church, which is how I came to work on the farm with her.

She faithfully donates her beautiful arrangements to Grandview services every week for all to enjoy.

Flowers are a wonderful way to get involved at your local church. Don’t grow cut flowers? That’s ok! You would be amazed at the variety of arrangements you can make with tree branches, grasses, and even weeds.

The pictures I’ve included are just a few from this morning’s workshop and should demonstrate how simple starting your own flower ministry could be. Enjoy!


Arrangements from the Garden


Spring is here! After having almost an entire week of beautiful sun, we had one of the first big thunderstorms of spring last night.
When we first moved to Tennessee, I never thought I would get used to the crashing thunder and giant bolts of lightning. Now, I love hearing the sound of heavy raindrops falling on the roof or slamming up against our glass door as the wind whips them every which way. It is soothing to listen to the rain and humbling to think about its mighty power.


In honor of what the beautiful sun and mighty rains bring to us each year (FLOWERS!), I thought I would post some simple arrangements thrown together at the farm in hopes of igniting creativity with your flowers at home.

These arrangements are so simple. Grab one main flower and throw in leaves, grasses, ferns, anything you can find popping up in your backyard or even along the side of the road.

I love color so picking one or two main flowers that are bright and contrasting is my go-to plan. Hosta leaves, honeysuckle vines, grasses, and ferns are great fillers that you can find just about anywhere.

When in doubt, go simple. If you have lots of one beautiful flower, like this next picture, simply throw them all in a plain vase or pitcher to make the flowers stand out.

Don’t worry about making your arrangements perfect and static like FTD. Fun, loose, and wild is the way to go… at least with flowers.

Peonies are a beautiful and full flower. They are abundant around Mother’s Day and make arranging easy and quick. Below is a simple arrangement with only peonies and dianthus.

And of course, daffodils are the perfect spring flower. These bright beauties are perfect by themselves. If you decide to combine them with another plant like forsythia (which is blooming everywhere here in T-town), be sure to wash the stems to get rid of their sap. It is not friendly to other plants.

I hope these pictures have sparked some ideas. Now, go take a walk and explore the wide variety of spring plants and shrubs that will add the perfect flair to your arrangements. Be creative. Good luck and happy spring!


DIY Planter Box


While Jack and I absolutely love our little Tennessee home, living in an apartment has certain disadvantages. Aside from the constant din of teenage neighbor girls bickering over a borrowed sweater, we have no land to garden!

Some might consider this a blessing, never having to mow the lawn or weed the garden, but me, I crave the dirt. There are few things that compare to being outside with the sun on your shoulders and your hands in the ground.

Last summer, Jack and I were surprised to find a ridiculous amount of planting pots available in stores but a severe lack of planting boxes, at least ones that didn’t jump into the hundreds of dollars range. All I wanted was to plant some veggies on our porch and pretend we had our own secret garden.

My dear husband, always willing to help with my ill-planned schemes, devised this simple box to show off my veggies. Did we research how to best go about this task? No, of course not, that would be silly right? Well, the plan worked, mostly. (I’ll get to the “what we learned” section at the end.)

We went to our local Home Depot and figured out the cheapest way to build the planter box, ended up being about $25. We bought two pine boards and had them cut into the following measurements:

Measurements:

1-10ft 1×12
1-3ft 2×2
Cutting Directions
Cut 1×12 into 2-1ft sections and 2-4ft sections
Cut 2×2 into 3-1ft sections
Other Materials
Screen door mesh (or some other screening with tiny holes)
Screws

Build a Planter Box

Hopefully, the cutting makes sense. Next is simply a matter of piecing all the boards together. Obviously, your shorter boards are your ends and the longer, your sides. Assemble the pieces using screws (We used nails, but don’t do it. More on this later.)

After the four main boards are nailed together, attach the netting to the bottom of the box. This will help drain water, without draining dirt as well.

Next, attach the 2×2 blocks over the top of the netting, one toward each end and one in the middle. We did this mostly to keep it up off of the porch so there would be no rotting underneath from the drainage.
Flip it over and you have a box for planting in!

Now, a couple things to think about and adjust.Our box worked wonderfully for the summer but had a few issues as we neared the end of growing season.

We used nails to piece our boards together, but with dirt and the expanding roots, eventually the pressure inside the box started to push out the nails and the boards began to separate.

Suggestion #1: use screws, not nails

Also, in Tennessee we have quite a few thunderstorms throughout the summer and the wood took a bit of a beating.

Suggestion #2: try using a different type of wood, one that is more hardy, or try treating it with some sort of outdoor weather sealer
I think that about covers it all. I think this year we are going to try to make smaller individuals boxes instead of the long one and maybe paint them to add more color to the porch! Best of luck and happy growing!

Tags: http://www.staying-awake.org, http://www.whyhcg.com, http://www.myprovigil.com


Spring on the Farm


Today was the first workshop of spring out at Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers. Twelve women from a local gardening club donned their boots and made the trek out to the farm for a bird’s nest workshop (pictures on website).

I went out to the farm yesterday to help Linda clean up the homeplace and make a few arrangements. We were so excited to be back outside working with the flowers. Yes, you heard right, flowers already! East Tennessee has had quite a few warm days making many of the flowers at Aunt Willies bloom early. This morning was sunny and with all the colorful flowers, I just had to take a few pictures to share with you all.

I couldn’t believe how many arrangements we were able to make from the early bloomers. Small, white pitchers made the spring colors pop. Don’t worry about not having much green filler to add to your arrangements, simple and loose combinations work well with these vibrant spring flowers.

These three pitchers in the window are my favorite arrangement location at the farm. We always have one stem of whatever is blooming in each pitcher. The simplicity of this arrangement against the beautiful landscape outside the window always makes a statement.

So, for those of you with a few bulbs popping out of the ground, grab your favorite jars or pitchers, cut a few stems, and bring some glorious spring into your home.


Chicken Feeder Centerpiece


chicken feeder lettuceMany of the projects you will find here on Sweet Peonies come from the Doan farm or are at the very least inspired by the farm.

The Doans run a specialty cut-flower farm called Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers. Linda spends most of the spring and summer growing cut flowers for farmer’s markets. She also teaches various flower arranging workshops and arranges flowers for weddings. Her workshops feature a variety of creative arrangements–from teapots to stumps, you name it, she can arrange in it. Check out Linda’s website Aunt Willie’s Wildflowers.

Linda used this centerpiece for one of the workshops last spring and I, of course, fell in love with the idea. All she did was take an old chicken feeder, fill it with soil & plant multiple lettuce varieties. The centerpiece at the workshop lunch was this feeder and the ladies were able to pick leaves of lettuce to add to their salads.

chicken feeder lettuce

For any of you looking to bring a bit of country to your next get together, I highly recommend giving this a try.