Wreathing: a tutorial

We've had lots of people coming through making wreaths in our studios the last few weeks- it's been fun. So many of you have asked for a wreath making class; we thought we'd share a few wreath secrets and making tips online with you. I hope this translates on the Internet...here goes!

Making a wreath is similar to making an arrangement - you want to bring together a variety of textures, shapes and colors that compliment each other before you get started. This could happen from cuttings from your own yard. At our farm we pulled lots of tamarack cones,  various evergreens, dried queen annes lace and grasses for these wreaths. We added some of Fallon's beautiful pumpkin-like rosehips and a few special sheep bells from a client who was lucky enough to visit Majorca this past year. Anything goes! Lichen covered branches...artichokes from the grocery store...kumquats, tangerines. You can wire just about anything into a wreath.

The way I start most evergreen-based wreaths is a with a wire wreath form. You will also need a spool of wire (a medium gage is best) and a pair of snips or clippers. 

Start by mounding a fistful of green clippings on the bottom of the form. 

While you hold the first bunch on, start pulling the wire around the bunch and form; looping the wire through the center of the wire form (see above photo). No need to cut the wire - you're going to keep wrapping it around the form and greens until the whole circle is complete.

When you're done with your base-wreath or foundation, you can start adding a second layer of greens and/or some of the doo-dads you've collected to decorate the wreath. This is the fun part. 

I like to concentrate my fancier botanicals toward the bottom of the wreath, letting them sort of spray out horizontally like a big collar. Do yourself a favor and clean up your stems; clipping off thorns and cutting the end of the stem at a sharp angle. This will make it easier to poke, jam or ease your pieces in. If you've made a nice tight base with your greens and wire, then a lot of your second layer material can just be tucked into your base without needing it's own wiring. Heavy pieces like the tamarack branches you see above I would wire in. No one wants junk falling out of a wreath when someone slams the door!

Of course, there are more than one ways to skin a cat! You could evenly distribute your materials around your wreath. Or make the big statement at the top. Keep in mind where your wreath will hang -- I have a bad habit of making big wild wreaths that later need to be trimmed back heavily in order to avoid poking people in the eye as they walk through a doorway.

The last step would be to wire in big pinecones or ornaments. And of course the right ribbon! You can slip wire right through the knot of a bow to adhere it around the bottom of the wreath. 

We’d love to see what you make-- send photos!

 MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HANUKKAH!

Little Flower School in The City of Angels

Little Flower School

Winter Masterpiece Class
Downtown Los Angeles
Saturday, January 5th 2013
1-4pm

In this open level class, students will learn the basics of arranging in the Little Flower School style using seasonal California-grown product. Ranunculus, anemones, citrus, scented geranium and gardenias will constitute a majority of the stems used to build low, sprawling and lush centerpieces. Emphasis will be placed on color blending techniques and using a variety of textures and scent to create complex gestural arrangements. Participants will leave with knowledge of basic floral preparation practices, the concepts of layering and form and handy tips on how to gather the necessary materials to create masterpieces on their own down the road. Limited to 20 students.

Clippers, vases, flowers & refreshments included.
$450
REGISTER HERE

Little Flower School

AUSTRALIA: WEDDINGS 101

WEDDINGS 101

Sydney, Australia

January 12-13, 2013

10am-5pm 

This is an intensive weekend-long symposium for those looking to further their floral work specifically in the realm of weddings and events. Individually in their own respective floral studios Sarah and Nicolette have designed and produced hundreds of weddings and parties. Their goal in this advanced level class is to share the methodology, tips, and tricks that have made their studios successful. Topics covered include:

Planning...

In a relaxed round table approach, we’ll discuss client relations, consultations, proposal writing, budgeting, and the art of working with wedding planners.

Preparing...

Nicolette and Sarah will share case studies of events and review practices on flower budgeting and ordering. In addition, they will discuss in depth the advantages of working seasonally, share tips on flower conditioning (and when not to condition), ideas for containers, and discuss props and rentals.

Making...

A large portion of the weekend will be devoted to hands-on floral lessons. Nicolette and Sarah’s wedding designs are known for their loose, romantic and somewhat unstructured approach. Special emphasis will be placed on the nuances of layering color and texture.

Lessons included: The art of composing distinctive bridal bouquets (students should expect to make a bouquet, and then make it again) building centerpieces, crafting boutonnieres, tricks for constructing hair pieces and crowns, and techniques for avoiding wrist corsages.

The weekend’s work will finish Sunday afternoon with a photo session aimed at capturing student’s hard work for their portfolios.

Cost of workshop including materials, lunches and coffee breaks is $2,600

Limited to 12 students.

REGISTER HERE

AUSTRALIA: Flower Arranging 101


Summer Down Under: Flower Arranging 101
Monday January, 14 2013
5:00pm-8:00pm
$500

In this class we'll introduce the techniques and approaches to creating lush and wild arrangements in the Little Flower School style. Emphasis will be placed on building loose, gestural compositions that focus just as much on the negative space as the more densely layered flowers. We'll discuss construction techniques, color blending and the importance of scale. All materials and refreshments will be provided. Class is limited to 20 students.
REGISTER HERE.





We hope everyone is safe and well after all of the hurricane sandy melee.

We are putting together our Winter & Spring class schedule here at Little Flower School.  New classes are coming soon, promise! 
Please sign up for our mailing list so you'll hear of all upcoming classes.
See you soon.



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I was digging around in my photo archives today when I found these images from our Dutch Masters Class that took place this past spring. I know it has been a while since we've updated, please forgive us!

Nicolette and I have a few ideas about new ways of teaching. We're not ready to release anything just yet - but in the meantime, here is a tease of classes coming out for the end of 2012 and 2013...

-September 9th at the New York Botanical Garden; Sign up starts Monday on their website.
-November we're traveling to Tacoma for the ASCFG conference and might throw a class together in Seattle or Portland...
-December we're going to Australia to teach
-January we'll be back in the city with a winter class
-February we'll make our second annual Valentine pop up shop...somewhere.
-This Spring we'll be on the west coast for our annual California tour

So there it is, our wish-list. We will try our hardest to make all these happen. There's a lot on both our plates right now but teaching with the Little Flower School is the one thing we do collaboratively and it's too much fun to let slide...plus I like the snacks.


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NEW CLASS!
Late Summer Splendor; a celebration of the garden
August 11th and 19th
1:00-4:00
$300/class

Emphasis will be placed on using seasonal flowers and foliage to build loose and wild compositions that evoke the feeling of an overgrown late summer garden.
Dahlias, zinnias, celosia, scabiosa, pods, herbs, fruits and vegetables play an important role in our summer studio practice. Referencing the work of the Dutch Masters and Constance Spry, we'll teach students the basic tennants of floral design while encouraging them to experiment with unusual materials. Class limited to 10 students. All materials and refreshments will be provided.

Saturday, August 11th: This class will take place at the Saipua studio
147 Van Dyke St. Brooklyn, NY 11231 SOLD OUT

Sunday, August 19th: This class will take place at Nicolette's studio:
50 Dobbin St. Brooklyn, NY 11222  SOLD OUT


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Uh, we've been hoarding this post for a while...The Garden Valley rose report.

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There is no rose like a Garden Valley rose, at least in the cut industry - and that's largely because of Fallon Anderson the rose keeper. Located in Petaluma, my new favorite place, a place I could live for a while, and not just because of the roses there. But largely because of them.

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Fallon greeted us on a cool and moist may night and we ran through the rows with clippers (the ones that made it through airport security that is) - clipping for the hell of it. Roses need to be dead headed to encourage repeat blooms, and so we were encouraged to cut anything open beyond a crack.

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When a rose opens with this swirl pattern it's called quatre couer meaning "four hearts." This one only has three really, but it's beautiful. I heard of a florist once who would throw out all roses that opened this way because they thought they were defected. Gah! Only in New York City!

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This rose is called "sweet juliet" and is similar to the "Juliet" roses we get in the flower district from hot houses in South America but a million times better. Trust.

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"About Face"

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"Pieter B." a rose named after a gardener in Ohio. I love this rose so much. Nicolette's favorite too..

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A row of Kathryn Morley...or is it John Strauss? I was having such a hard time remembering varietal names.

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A field of "swan" and a tight Pieter B.

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Golden celebration, a gorgeous yellow.

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And lastly, heres a stunner made by Fallon who moonlights as a talented designer (Fleurs de Fallon) when she's not tending the roses at the farm.

A hundred thank you's to Fallon and owner Mark for letting us come and romp around in the roses, cutting as if it were our own garden, and putting us up in their lovely cottage. Also thanks to Jen Huang for joining us for the class portion of the visit and taking such pretty photos, many of which can be seen on Kathryn's beautiful Snippet & Ink.


CALIFORNIA CLASS GIVEAWAY!

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We've just landed in sunny California, it's wild to see how spring has been blooming here! There are passionflowers all over, foxgloves growing out of cracks in the sidewalks and bougainvillea galore.

Whatever! We'll just have to make the best of it while we're here...

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So when we're not stalking Annie at Annies Annuals, or eating at Pizzaiola we'll be teaching classes in Oakland; and we've got a few spots left in the May 10th class. You can register here.

And why not, lets give away a spot to a lucky California girl (or boy) comment to win today tell us your favorite flower and be sure to leave your email.

We'll pick someone tonight at random for Thursday evening's class. Should be fun.

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Additional California class added!

We've added a second class to our California tour next week! We hope you can join us May 10th!

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Spring Fever!: Best of the West
Thursday, May 10th, 2012
5:00-8:00pm
$275

One could enter a heated debate as to what season yeilds the best flowers; but we'll put down our chips in May - thinking ahead to the first true warm weather beauties. From now till May we'll be thinking ahead to peonies, California poppies, field grown ranunculus, sweet peas, the first herbs, bearded iris, columbine and so many other spring blooms. In this basics class we'll discuss in detail how to effectively blend colors and textures, combining a myriad of blooms to build sprawling centerpieces fit to pay homage to the season.

All materials, clippers and refreshments provided.

Class limited to 25 students.

This class will take place in the ballroom of Starline Social Club
2232 Martin Luther King Jr Way
Oakland CA 94612

REGISTER HERE

Beauty from our Hellebore Class...

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This was a special class; I feel like the arrangements from this group of students were really top notch; pieces we would present as work from our own studios. Good work gang!

It was also a special class because we got to meet a few fellow florists; Ashley from Ashley Fox Designs and Stacy from Broadturn Farm. Stacy not only designs but also grows a myriad of floral and vegetal materials. When I have a farm question I email her and she calls me from the tractor! And Ashley reminds me about obscure Finnish holidays via email. I hope you enjoy these pictures as much as I do...we'll be posting imagery from Dutch Masters and The Weddings 101 workshop soon - and then also releasing new spring/summer classes next week.

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we bow down!

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The professor and I made an epic trip to Hautau growers to meet with owner Kim Hautau on Tuesday. It was a trip we've been thinking about for a while, and thanks to Lauren at GPAGE (one of our favorite wholesalers in the market) we were able to get our act together to make the trek.

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To say we were overwhelmed would be an understatement. The flowers they grow at this nursery are beyond. A third generation operation located out in the stix of New Jersey, Hautau does everything right. They grow unmatched ranunculus, hellebores, sweet peas and calla lilies for the wholesale trade. The quality of these flowers is unmatched in this region. Hopefully our photos here, distilled down from hundreds of images we captured that afternoon, do them some justice.

Meeting and talking to growers informs a vital exchange. It puts a face and a conversation to the names on the orders Kim receives from our wholesalers each week. It lets us point out in person the flowers we are interested in; meaning we will receive stems closer to our vision. It also gives her a chance to ask us what we're looking for in the product she's working so hard to produce. All of us in the industry know how tricky color interpretation can be - when you order flowers from a wholesaler, imagine trying to describe the muddy lavender brown color you're after. Wholesalers tend to think in terms of purple, yellow, orange, red, etc...Now when Kim receives an order from Nicolette Camille or Saipua, she knows that we tend to gravitate towards the nuanced complicated stems that don't necessarily fit into one of the primary color groups.

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Plus we get to gush in person to her how unbelievably gorgeous her flowers are. When she asked me how she should improve upon the cuts of her hellebores I was tongue tied. "PLEASE!" I said..."Just keep doing whatever it is you're doing."

The full set of images from our trip here.

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Special Spring Class April 15!

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Sunday, April 15
1:00-3:00
The Best of Spring with Nicolette
$165

Spring has arrived! In this special class we'll create bountiful Spring arrangements with all the best of the season. Ranunculus, hyacinth, dogwood, cherry blossom, hellebores, sweet pea, jasmine vine, rose geranium, tulips, muscari and more! We'll discuss the techniques of building arrangements, how to choose flowers, and color palettes. Open to students of all levels.

Each student will take home their arrangement, a pair of clippers and a copy of my very first book collaboration Bringing Nature Home! Photographer Ngoc Minh Ngo & prop stylist Amy Wilson will be sharing styling tips as well! This class will take place at West Elm's Broadway store.

I hope to see you there!






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A few weeks ago on a rather dreary day we put together a bright and festive orchid class at Nicolette's studio. My friends Barbara and Terry from Pine Ridge Orchids in Florida sent us a very special box of cut phalaenopsis and paphiopedilum. Students combined these rare gems with a smattering of cymbidiums, dendrobiums, and oncidiums to make bold and lush compositions fit for a queen.

Book Party!

BringingNatureHome Invite

I'm so excited to share with you the book I've been collaborating on for the past year and a half!
Three ways to celebrate:

Book Launch party - April 10th

Come visit the flower shop - April 14th

Special floral arranging class - April 15th
to register click HERE
Please stop by to say hello!
xo,
Nicolette

WOW

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We just wrapped up our very first Weddings 101 weekend symposium. We're all tired I think - it was an intense weekend. We sincerely hope the 7 ladies who came to participate from all corners of the US feel prepared to travel home and build better flowers and smarter businesses.

Thank you Julia, Mahsa, Valarie, Amanda, Erica, Sue and Clare for your attention, your enthusiasm, and for participating in what hopefully will be the first in many weekend symposiums at The Little Flower School.

FYI; When the dust clears here we'll be posting a Memorial Day Class (scheduled for May 28th) and a second San Francisco class.


Up to the top of Hellebore Mountain


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On our way down the mountain after a day spent at Barry Glick's Hellebore Farm I said to Nicolette "It's going to take me a long time to process today."

A few hours later, en route to Charlottesville, the last leg of our southern tier flower farm tour she said to me "Today ranks high on the list of days."

Helleborus. What is it about this plant that gardeners and floral enthusiast find so captivating?
They are early bloomers - often pushing up flowers through snow cover. They are phenomenally deer resistant. They stand up well to dry periods. Their delicate blooms face down more often than up, a quiet and modest specimen. On Barry's eight hillside acres of planted hellebores we ran around for hours in muddy boots and jeans yelling to each other ...

"You have to come see this one!" Bending over flipping up flowers to the dappled sunshine (shade plants!) pulling out iphones and cameras in a feeble attempt to document and capture the gorgeousness that these few weeks in February and March make possible; small, impossibly detailed flowers. We got the fever.

A few hours in, we had spent too long already on the hillside (home to over 50,000 stock plants) and needed to go find Barry in the greenhouses to do our business. The business of trying to wrangle a few fully developed plants from the most serious hellebore grower. We succeeded, and brought back around 15 gallon plants that will be cut up in tomorrow's hellebore focused flower arranging class and then planted in the handful of gardens that exist between the two of us.

At the beginning of the day, after a harrowing 5 mile drive up the side of Barry's mountain we arrived at Sunshine farm and were rushed by a haggle of old dogs and an ornery horse named Morgan who promptly tried to eat my camera strap..."We have to bring Jill here next year." I said. She would love it.

To be able to travel to the far reaches of this world in search of the best specimens is an overwhelming privilege. To be able to share some part of that with students and followers is the best part of the process.
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We encourage you to visit Barry's website here. Another fantastic hellebore grower we visited earlier in the weekend was Pine Knot Farm. Some people have asked about the fragility of hellebores as cut flowers - the key to keeping them longer than a few hours in water is to cut only the stems that have already been pollinated, after the seed pods have begun to form. At this stage they should last 7+ days in water.

Coral Sand and Citrus; revisited

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WOW.
This was an amazing class. Thanks to all our talented students! Looking at these photos is so refreshing for me. We learn so much from students. I love the poppy that stands out in the last arrangement. A gesture like this is not something I would often do, but here I think it is offhanded and refreshing - poppy's are strange, whimsical flowers and they look fantastic out on a limb like that. A vivid punctuation to the otherwise rather formal composition. Brava!

We talk a lot about "rules" in class, and then always tell students to break the rules!
Arranging flowers should not be a rigid process, or one involving too many strict guidelines. Making flowers is about happiness, expression and the admiration of nature and beauty! (This from your cranky teacher, Sarah - go figure).

Next to share with you is the orchid class from last weekend...

Valentine

February 11-14; A fleeting flower shop extravaganza!
223 Mott Street, NYC
12:00-6:00pm

TO PRE-ORDER for Valentine's day delivery click HERE.
For any questions or requests please email us: valentineonmott@gmail.com

Weddings 101; a weekend long symposium

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This is an intensive weekend-long symposium for those interested in learning the advanced art of wedding floral production. Nicolette and Sarah will share their expertise and experiences in the wedding industry through a series of discussions and hands-on lessons.

Our goal is to share with pupils the lessons we’ve gleaned from the hundreds of weddings and events our studios have produced.

Topics covered include:

Planning
In a relaxed round table approach, we’ll discuss client relations, consultations, proposal writing, budgeting, and the art of working with wedding planners.

Preparing
We’ll share case studies of events and review our practices on flower budgeting and ordering. In addition, we’ll discuss in depth the advantages of working seasonally, share tips on flower conditioning, ideas for sourcing containers, and how to deal with props and rentals.

Making
A large portion of the weekend will be devoted to hands-on floral lessons. Our wedding designs are known for their loose, romantic and somewhat unstructured approach. Special emphasis will be placed on the nuances of layering color and texture.

Lessons included: The art of composing distinctive bridal bouquets (students should expect to make a bouquet, and then make it again) building centerpieces, crafting boutonnieres, tricks for constructing hair pieces and crowns, and techniques for talking clients out of wrist corsages. (Joking – we’ll make those too, but discuss alternatives that work for us.)

The weekend’s work will finish Sunday afternoon with a photo session aimed at capturing student’s hard work for their portfolios. And probably a cocktail.

Cost of workshop including all materials, lunches and coffee breaks is $2,400
This class is intended for those with some floral knowledge who are looking to expand further into the wedding market and fine-tune their technical skills.

Limited to 7 students.
SOLD OUT
Each day is 10-5pm.
Saturday we will meet at the Saipua studio; 147 Van Dyke Street in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Sunday we will meet at the Nicolette Camille studio; 50-52 Dobbin Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.