A few weeks ago I took a trip to Washington State to study with Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers. Erin is blazing the path in the quickly growing movement of “farmer-florist” popping up around the nation. Floret is producing the most beautiful, sustainably grown flowers on a small scale, high intensity production providing designers and specialty groceries with seasonally and locally grown flowers through out the Pacific Northwest. Erin is also a very talented floral designer known for her natural, lush and bountiful floral designs using unique varieties including some of the old fashioned and delicate flowers we dream of from our grandmothers gardens. She is not only a highly skilled farmer, she is also an author, teacher and most recently winner of the Martha Stewart American Made award for Floral and Event Design. Erin is humble and gracious and excited to share what she has learned along her flower path. She shared a lot about her process, growing techniques, and how she has learned to hone in on her dreams and really get moving on making those dreams come to fruition. I could go on and on about the accolades of this inspiring woman (she is pretty kick ass), but instead I will say this- I believe I have the uncanny ability to find some of the best teachers in the world, not just on my flower path, but in my life. This gift has given me some of the most rewarding experiences. There are many layers to learning and sometimes the unraveling takes days, months, and years to realize the wisdom, knowledge and lessons we have gained. I do know that my time at Floret with Erin and her team was a crossroads in my flower path. I am grateful I invested in myself with this Farmer-Florist Workshop and I am really excited to share all the new and exciting things that are cultivating since deciding to expand my cutting garden to include many other varieties and share my flowers in other ways with my community. There is something so gratifying about using flowers grown locally in a way that eating food that is grown near to you is more vibrant, satisfying, and full of life.
Will you follow along on this path with me? It is exciting and new, and full of surprises.
Shaina and Jason perched themselves on one of Maui's North Shore cliffs and renewed their vows with their family and friends present a year after eloping in the Montana wilderness. I was honored to create the florals for their celebration and excited when Shaina asked that we use what was local and in season. This crown, that dress, and her beauty were the perfect match, don't you agree?
Love the new Christian Louboutin’s SS14 Collection photographed as Impressionist Art by Peter Lippmann
Bitty Bambu has the most amazing, hand made children's clothes you have ever seen. Every little girl should own at least one of her dresses, or two or three... I was the lucky girl invited to style the set and flower for Taryn's spring collection, Bloom. Watching the uber talented photographer Kristy Copperfield work her magic with the kids was a treat. Kristy has a way of working with children that is extraordinary- those eyes light up and smiles sparkle just so for her. It was truly a magical morning and the girls and their dresses were perfection.
Valentine flowers for you.
Backyard with my girl.
Large. Local. Calla Lilies.
Inspired by a group of Chapel Designers on the Mainland who recently gathered to 'create for the sake of creating', I gathered ginkgo leafs, kupukupu, stag horn, and moa ferns, orchid and nandina to make this little wood nypmh mask spring into life.
The seasons are changing. It is subtle here on our island, but there are seasons nonetheless. The mornings are cooler here in Kula. The days are shorter and the nights are longer. I await the change of seasons because of the different plants that come to life and watching those that are beginning to fade. I harvested all of these flowers within a mile of my home. Most are from my yard or my neighbors' with a few wild things gathered on a walk up the mountain.
Roots. Beginnings. Where it all starts.
My given name is Christina. I am the namesake of my maternal grandmother, Christine Swaim. I am the daughter of Irene Swaim Isley. My granny Chris was a seasoned farmer and tended her family's land each year, mostly alone, well after my grandfather had died. She grew her food, canned it for the winter months, grew beautiful roses, and was an overall hardworking woman. My mother is an artist. She was a respected educator by trade, but a creative force at heart. She inspires me as much as anyone, and I am lucky to have been cut from a mold of creative, diligent, beautiful souls.
Flowers are my love. Their fading beauty echoes nature as it blooms and wilts, waxes and wanes. I passionately love gathering together the elements of nature and creating something beautiful. I believe we are all here telling our story. I weave my story with flowers and it is my intention to share some of this story with you here.