DAFFODILS ARE SYMBOLIC OF NEW BEGINNINGS

I’ve been taking pictures of daffodils recently. It’s Spring and daffodils are growing everywhere here in the Seattle area. That, combined with my intent on being more diligent in practicing my photography, has produced an entire digital folder of really cool daffodil images that now lives in Dropbox. Fun fact – daffodils are also March’s birthday flower.

I felt compelled to write a blog post about daffodils, not only because they have been in my line of sight, but because of their meaning: daffodils are symbolic of new beginnings. Today is the last day March. Tomorrow I turn another year older. On April 1st I will spend my first day as a 39 year old. I have been thinking about the age of 39 not with the quasi-humorous dread of 40 being right around the corner, but actually from a perspective of wonder. Wow, I am going to be 39 years old! While turning 30 was definitely exciting, I think 39 might be the coolest age in the 30’s decade. It’s the last segment before an even bigger new beginning. And it feels wise, rooted, and calm.

The symbolic meaning of daffodils seems even more fitting right now, despite my upcoming birthday, because we are in the midst of COVID-19. There is a saying that new beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. While endings often go hand in hand with resistance, loss, and pain, they open the door for new ways of thinking, new opportunities, and new ways of life. We are all grieving  – grieving the loss of those dying from coronavirus, grieving the loss of our security, and grieving the loss of our lives as they once were. So while it may be hard to envision the possibilities that lie in the future, just know that they are there and they will come. This, too, shall pass. And we will begin. Different. New.

I picked up a bunch of daffodils from the grocery store yesterday during a trip to stock up on another round of food supplies while my husband and I are stuck at home. And I foraged a few spring flowers and some greenery from our yard to make this cheerful daffodil bouquet. Bouquets are one of my absolute favorite things to make, which is a good pairing with my love for weddings. I have not had a March wedding since 2016, since it’s off-season, but for any future couples thinking of getting married in March, you might consider incorporating the daffodil in your floral palette. What a beautiful way to symbolize the start of your life together as a married couple.

green, yellow, and white daffodil bouquetyellow daffodils in a bouquetyellow daffodils in a bouquet with dark green leaves

 

Lastly, while we are encouraged to social distance ourselves and self-quarantine, we can still responsibly enjoy a walk outside. This can be reprieve from being cooped up indoors. There are so many daffodils in bloom. Go look for them! They will brighten up your day. And just remember that in this season of change we will grow.

CELEBRATIONS WILL BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER AFTER COVID-19

The first case of COVID-19 showed up in Seattle, Washington on January 20, 2020, not far from where I live. It’s been just over three weeks, however, since COVID-19 really started to impact my own sense of normalcy. My spring corporate events were either cancelled or postponed and my husband stopped going to his office and started working from home. And everyday there is more bad news – new cases of people contracting coronavirus, government orders to stay in place and practice social distancing, and stories of local businesses struggling to keep the doors open.

We are living in an unprecedented situation where there is good reason to be fearful. But I want to shift perspective for a moment and shine light on how this may impact our society…for the better. You might have seen articles popping up that discuss the silver lining to the coronavirus. I know this might seem like a far stretch right now, but I actually believe there are several silver linings. To look at the situation from the glass half-full perspective, here are some upsides to our current situation:

  • Slowing down (our lives have been way too busy!)
  • More opportunities for simple things, like enjoying an afternoon walk outside, with other obligations falling to the wayside
  • A collective decrease in f.o.m.o. (fear of missing out)
  • Reduction in worldwide pollution (the earth is getting a chance to breath for a moment)
  • Greater possibility for improvements to our healthcare system
  • More attention brought to lack of affordable housing and hopefully some changes down the road

Another positive outcome, I believe, one that will become more clear when we are on the other side of this pandemic, is that weddings, gatherings, and celebrations that bring people together will become even more important to us than they were before.

While I am grateful that we can interact virtually with one another while we are confined to our homes, no amount of fancy technology, at least right now, can replace the full experience of gathering together in person. I compare remote gatherings vs. in-person gatherings to the basic flavors: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami. Video conferencing allows us to see and hear each other, which, if you were eating a meal would be like tasting something that is both sweet and salty. Physically being together, however, is like adding the umami flavor. Umami creates dimension and adds a full-bodied feeling component. That’s what’s so magical about in-person celebrations – you can feel them. (I also have written about how flowers add to the feeling of an event, which can be found on the INVESTMENT page). Umami is subtle compared to sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, but it is unique and distinct. Umami adds depth. Events that are experienced in person add richness to those occasions that virtual gatherings cannot create.

Though I am sure this list is not comprehensive, here are the benefits of celebratory gatherings:

Celebrations Are Fun and Relieve Stress

Celebrations are times where we can forget about everything else and focus on being in the moment. Planned events are often filled with delicious food and drink, great company, and lively entertainment – all the indulgences and things that make us feel good. They often include the expression of deep emotions, whether that’s laughter or tears, which are both forms of release.

Celebrations Signify Life Milestones

Celebrating milestones in our lives anchors meaning to them. They become rich marks in time and define different stages in our lives. This helps us better understand the narratives of our own lives and creates conceptual structure.

Celebrations Deepen Gratitude

When we take time to stop, reflect on, and celebrate important milestones in our lives our gratitude for these things deepens. In a culture that seems to always be focused on the future, on growth, and on what’s next, pausing to acknowledge things of significance gives more importance to them. When we stop to focus our attention on something it becomes more valuable.

Celebrations Create Memories

It has been somewhat of a recent trend to value experiences more than things. That being said, weddings and other celebrations can be some of the best and most rich experiences of our lives. The richness of a celebration is such a visceral experience that those feelings stay with us forever.

When we are on the other side of coronavirus and we are able to safely gather together again, fresh from isolation and social distancing,  we are going to appreciate being close to one another like never before. Reunions, birthday parties, conferences, anniversaries, weddings, and other events will become top priority. After-all, sharing joy with one another is what makes life so sweet.

I want to leave you with a photo that always brings a smile to my face (and usually a laugh!). Last summer my sister and I threw a Surprise 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration for my mom and step-dad at the Kaua’i Marriott Resort. The incredibly talented Photographer that we hired, Penny Dinn, beautifully captured the first moment of surprise. Images like the one below are reason enough to host live events. I hope this image makes you laugh out loud. Enjoy!

two people being surprised

 

LIVING WREATH INSTALLATION AT PACIFIC PLACE SEATTLE

At the end of 2019 I worked on one of my all time favorite floral projects, which I am so excited to share with you! For this project I partnered with Pacific Place in downtown Seattle. Together we collaborated on a Holiday-themed botanical art installation that was amazing, epic, and truly one for the books!

If you aren’t familiar, Pacific Place is a shopping center located in the heart of Downtown Seattle. They are nearing the end of some major renovations by March 2020. This massive redevelopment they embarked on includes opening up areas to let in more light and giving the building an overall fresh, modern, and bright aesthetic. A goal of this project was to create a welcoming environment where people can gather and connect.

With the redevelopment at Pacific Place, several temporary barricade walls divide the construction areas from the parts that are still accessible to shoppers. To minimize the look of construction and to evoke a joyful, festive feeling, so as to give shoppers the best Holiday shopping experience possible, Pacific Place wanted to decorate these walls. This is where Holly Yee Floral Architecture was brought in.

 

Concept Design and Drafting

The original Holiday design I proposed for Pacific Place was a combination of circular living wreaths and a central installation that journeyed the life of a pine tree from a cone to a full grown tree. While we ultimately decided to hold off on the evolution of a pine tree installation, we collaborated with the Marketing team at Pacific Place and expanded the wreath design to also include a square living wreath. Here are the sketches for both design concepts:

Building and Construction

Since both of these designs had originated from imagination, the next step was figuring out how to actually bring to life and make them real. A living wreath is one thing, but building a 6-foot living wreath is a whole other ball game. With the help of my engineer husband who came up with the brilliant wooden shelf concept, I sketched out the framework of what would be the underlying mechanics:

I then got busy with sourcing all of the necessary supplies. Home Depot became my second home for quite some time! Because this project required the use of power tools, my husband taught me how to use his nail gun and I got a refresher on the saw. We discovered that my quart mason jars made really good plant placeholders, which were crucial to have in figuring out the correct shape and dimensions of the wreath structures. The last steps involved painting the shelves green and gluing on bits of live moss for an enhanced botanical feeling.

Installation

Installation took place the day before Thanksgiving. The goal was to have the wreaths ready by Black Friday in order to elevate the 2019 Holiday shopping experience. Pacific Place was intentionally focused on creating a positive environment and peaking people’s interest in the shopping complex, especially during the busiest time of the year.

My husband graciously agreed to help me install all four wreaths. We started at Level 1 and worked our way up one level at a time until the last wreath was installed on Level 4. The plants I ended up choosing for the wreaths were a combination of pothos and poinsettias. It was an exciting day to see all four wreaths come to life. They looked fantastic!

Wreath Enjoyment

All four living wreaths that were designed and built for Pacific Place stayed up through the entire month of December. They even became a photo backdrop for shoppers documenting their Pacific Place visit. A Seattleite named Charles Koh captured these beautiful images:

And the wreaths definitely served as the perfect photo backdrop for the wreath workshop that I had the honor of facilitating at Pacific Place. That blog post will be coming soon! But for now, a sneak peek with Jenn and Kirsty, captured by the fabulous Saskia Potter.

 

WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR FLOWERS AFTER YOUR WEDDING

Today I want to chat about something that a lot of people tend to overlook when thinking about flowers for their wedding or special event. After all the time and attention that’s given to deciding on your floral style, your floral color palette, and the placement of all the floral designs, the piece that is often not given much thought to is what to do with all the flowers once the festivities have ended. Whether it’s your wedding, a corporate event, or a celebration, when the food is all gone, when the music stops, and when the guests leave, everything that was brought to your venue to make your wedding beautiful has to find another home. And that includes your flowers.

So, here are some options for your flowers when it’s time for farewell.

bride and groom in a car

Photo courtesy of Ness Thomas Photography

HIRE YOUR FLORIST TO CLEAN-UP

Most Wedding and Event Floral Designers will offer the service of clean-up (also known as strike) at the end of your event. This is a great addition for folks who don’t want take on the task of figuring out what to do with all of their flowers or for folks that don’t have the capacity to take them. Hiring your Florist for strike is an extremely efficient way of checking flowers off the clean-up list. Plus, your Florist will know best how to take everything apart and how to pack it back up. Afterwards, everything gets sorted, cleaned, and organized. Every Floral Designer is different, but I personally compost all the organic materials after a wedding. I strive for Holly Yee Floral Architecture to be as green as possible.

LET GUESTS TAKE THE FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS HOME

Another option for your event florals is to let guests take them home. This works best with all vased arrangements that can easily be carried and transported. I especially like this option and think it’s a beautifully sweet gesture from the couple or host to their guests. People always love the gift of flowers – especially beautifully designed arrangements. Just remember to talk with your Florist about any vases or containers they are providing. If you are renting vases from your Florist you will need to return those, so you might opt to purchase them from your Florist so guests can freely take them. Or you could always ask your Florist if there is a way to incorporate a take-away container that can be hidden inside of the rented one.

DONATE YOUR FLOWERS

This option is hands down the one that you get all the feels from, myself included. If your wedding flowers have still have life in them at the end of your big day, you can take the vased arrangements to local nursing homes to bring a little bot of cheer to the elderly. Just remember you will have to coordinate this yourself or designate someone to be in charge of this, which requires floral clean-up at the end of your event, overnight storage, and delivery the following day. Donating your event flowers to others is a wonderful thing to do, just remember that it requires planning and time.

DRY OR PROFESSIONALLY PRESERVE YOUR FLOWERS

If you want to take your flowers with you at the end of your wedding, even if it’s just your bridal bouquet, a great option for the flowers post-event is to dry or have your bouquet professionally preserved. Drying can be as simple as hanging your flowers upside down in a dark closet. Part of the magic of flowers is that their beauty is fleeting, but with any form of preservation you can prolong the joy of your flowers.

COMPOST YOUR FLOWERS

Sometimes the life of your event flowers is not much longer than the day of your wedding. Floral Designers have to prep and handle the flowers so they are at their peak blossoming state for your event. This often means that they don’t have much life span in them. Instead of throwing them into the trash you can return the flowers to mother earth by composting them.

DREAMING UP UNIQUE HOLIDAY FLORAL DESIGNS

With the arrival of fall just a couple of days ago,  it will be no time at all before the Holidays are upon us. Where did this year go?! How can the year 2020 be just around the corner??

The cooler weather has me daydreaming about beautiful floral decor for the Holiday Season. And I’ve sketched some pretty neat designs that I am offering this Holiday season. You can see my 2019 Holiday Offerings HERE. If you love the idea of something different for the Holidays I would be honored to create a custom piece for you.

 

Over-sized Holiday Wreath

When I was eleven years old and living in Hawai’i I dipped my toe into entrepreneurship for the very first time by selling my hand-made Holiday leis and Holiday wreaths around my neighborhood. Unique wreaths, as well as wreath-making workshops, have become very popular in the floral world in the recent years. And the modern designs I’m seeing online are absolutely lovely. Some are delicate. Some are wildly asymmetrical. Some are not even circular! And they are all amazing!!

I call this design my whirlwind wreath. Instead of following the curve of the wreath ring, all the foliage would spin out from the center. Keeping the metal ring is a toss up, but I kind of like the framework it provides without being too obnoxious.

This design is offered on my HOLIDAYS page as a large, over-sized wreath, starting at 3 feet in diameter. But we can definitely go bigger!

unique Christmas wreath

This wreath design was inspired by my love for asymmetry and the idea of a living wreath, where entire plants (roots and all!) would live in the framework. You would just need to water and the wreath would slowly change shape as it grew. How neat is that? This sketch includes a wreath of white poinsettia plants and pothos plants, both neon pothos and manjula pothos.

white and green Holiday wreath

Static Holiday Installation

This is probably the Holiday design that I like best. This specific vision would be created as a fixed installation on a wall, but we could also create a design that could be hung from the ceiling or planted on the floor. The shape that has been my favorite for some time now is the shape of a snowflake. They are just so lovely to look at! This installation would resemble falling snowflakes that would be created out of different greens – pines, cedars, and ferns. I included ferns because I thought it fitting for living here in the Pacific Northwest. I also included fairy light snowflakes, because as you know (or might not know), I LOVE fairy lights!

holiday greenery snowflakes

Interactive Backdrop

This last design was the one I had the most fun with in dreaming up and the one I envision people to also have the most fun with. Floral photo walls have become very prominent at launch events, company parties, etc. And how fantastic would it be to create an backdrop that people interact with. This design is a tribute to the Seattle winter weather. You could pose for a company Holiday party with a botanical umbrella under a cloudy sky of rain. Let it rain!

interactive floral installation

If you are just as excited about any of these unique Holiday designs and would love something for your home, your office, or you Holiday event, I would be thrilled to create something spectacular for you this season.

Holly Yee

Hello and welcome! Thanks so much for taking time to stop by my part of the internet. I have been working with flowers for a long time and I just love helping people make their celebrations absolutely stunning. It is an honor and a priviledge to be a part of weddings and other special events. 

In addition to floral design my other loves are yoga, coffee, the outdoors, and my husband and all the amazing people in my life. 

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