I have loved digging in the dirt since I was about four or five. I used to collect big, sun-bleached clam shells at the Jersey Shore and gave people shell terrariums with moss, tiny plants and stones in them. I am sure they were highly prized. That is how my love of giving gifts of nature started really. My mom grew lilacs, peonies, roses and lots of marigolds around tomato plants on our farm in southern NJ. It was with my mother Claire that I learned to love “arranging” flowers – at the time it was picking whatever was in bloom and putting it a simple canning jar. Every Memorial Day, we would cut big buckets of peonies and put them in jars and deliver them to her mother’s, father’s and brothers’ graves at local cemeteries. All of those big beautiful cream peonies full of tiny ants placed on those final resting places symbolized remembrance and love. Fresh cut flowers are fleeting – ephemeral- and stamp a moment in your mind.
Memorial Day is dedicated to those in the armed services who died and traditionally a red poppy is a symbol in England. For me, it is also about visiting cemeteries with ant-filled peonies arrangements and walking among flag-marked graves to place the jars.
Flowers have more meaning than just being beautiful and fragrant. They have been used in religious ceremonies and special occasions dating back to Ancient Egypt. I love the history and meaning of flowers. In Victorian times, flowers had specific meanings attached – the language of flowers – and you could convey your thoughts with a posy.
Many people have helped my fledgling Flori to fly. I have to thank Lizzie Nelson of Lizzie Nelson Design for coming up with the name Flori and for designing my logo. In February, I posted on Facebook requesting a name for my future event and wedding flower business. She came up with Flori. It is a French name that means flowers and it is derived from the Latin Florus that means – flowers. It is my name with a F. Simple. For my logo, Lizzie used a vintage botanical print of ranunculus (it means radiant with charm so I will try to live up to it) from a book of botanical engravings from 1763 by D.D. Christopher Jacobs Trew available from the digital collections of the New York Public Library. I love vintage so it is perfect.
Thank you to Jamie Eppenauer of Picket Fence Art Studio located in Woodinville, WA for photographing the peonies in the canning jar that evoke my childhood Memorial days. She is a multi-talented artist in photography and fine art. If you have a wedding bouquet that you would like to turn into a fine art oil painting to remember your special day, Jamie does beautiful still life paintings of flowers.
I have worked for two florists in my career, one in college in Delaware and one in my 20s called Cosmos in Oakland, CA and I and have been making arrangements for weddings, rehearsal dinners, baby showers and funerals for over 30 years for friends and family. I am currently enrolled in a certification course to be a FDI Certified Wedding Floral Specialist through the Floral Design Institute in Portland, OR so that I can have the certification to go along with my experience.
Many thanks to my husband Paul who doesn’t notice the house and garage being taken over by flowers and turns a blind eye and who is also my webmaster. Thanks to my children who appreciate flowers and encouraged me to start Flori.
I grow seasonal, organic flowers and herbs and forage in the woods for greenery including native plants like fern and salal. I am influenced by what nature is doing at any given time in my garden and surroundings…sort of a slow flower philosophy. Recently I picked fading hellebore, French lilac, columbine, and fern all wrapped up in a hosta leaf inside of an upcycled glass jar and gave them to my friend Kelly. I love to walk around my garden, cut flowers, branches and herbs and see what happens from the color and texture.
In addition, I am a mom to two, a wife to one, and keeper of many animals including horses, goats, dog, cats and fish. The goats eat my peonies through the fence sometimes much to my dismay.
What I learned from my mother is that flowers don’t need to be upscale to be meaningful or beautiful. A bunch of fragrant peonies just picked from the garden will always remind me of her. Flori is born out of hundreds of jars of peonies jostling in the car with my mom over the years to today.