A LOVELY MORNING AT SUOT FARM & FLOWERS

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit SUOT Farm & Flowers located in Burlington, Washington, and spend  some time with the Sarah and her delightful family. It was the morning after that incredible (and quite unusual!) thunder and lightening storm. The earth the still very damp with a slight chill in the air; you could sense fall just around the corner. And there was a calm stillness about the morning – the kind that follows the energy of a fantastic storm.

When I arrived Sarah was playing Guess Who with her son, Huck. I then took a turn. I hadn’t played Guess Who in over twenty years and I had forgotten how much I loved it! Huck, even though he is only four years old, won the first game and came really close to winning the second game. Sarah’s husband, Keith, was in the kitchen making an egg bake and they graciously invited me to join them for breakfast.  It was a warm, warm welcome.

Sarah is a Washington flower farmer. She’s had her garden since 2012 and has been selling her flowers commercially for about 3 and a half years. SUOT stands for “small units of time” and Sarah explains the story behind that name on her website as coming from her grandfather who worked on big projects and life goals by breaking them down into smaller tasks, or smaller units of time. This concept of how working on something a little bit every day will result in a masterpiece had a great impact on Sarah. And I can say from being there first-hand that SUOT Farm & Flowers is nothing short of a masterpiece.

After breakfast Sarah gave me a tour of her garden. She primarily grows spring and fall crops when the Pacific Northwest rains are abundant. Sarah explained that she uses a technique of gardening called Hugelkultur, which essentially mimics what natures does in the forest community, where plants grow on top of decaying trees. By composting organic material in the same locations where you grow plants, the fertility in the soil builds, weeds are reduced, and soil retains its moisture. Perhaps this was the magic that caused Sarah’s gorgeous dahlias to re-grow on their own this season with the most fantastic blooms.

Sarah’s garden was absolutely wonderful to see in real life. She has beautiful foliages and flowers, and even fruit plants for cuttings. There were apple tress, blueberry bushes, raspberry bushes, currant plants, lavender bushes, drumstick allium, monkshood, hellebore, gladiolus, moneywort, yarrow, lady’s mantle, zinnias, garlic, and corylopsis to name a few. I snapped a few photos of some of these beautiful plants.

monkshood flowermonkshood flower and leavesa coral zinna and a coral dahliapink cosmos flower

 

Sarah also hosts botanically themed hands-on workshops. She mentioned a former workshop where participants got to make lavender wands. Lavender wands were often used in the middle ages for fragrance. People could perfume themselves when regular bathing was not as common as it is today. Women would tuck these wands into their bosoms to smell nice. You can find out about Sarah’s upcoming workshops HERE.

Before I left SUOT Farm and headed back home, Sarah sent me off with some garlic, potatoes, and a big beautiful bouquet of her lovely garden flowers. It was one of the best departing gifts that I have ever received. The bouquet is still sitting in my studio, as lovely as can be, and a cheerful reminder of nature’s incredible warmth. I cannot wait to use SUOT flowers for future weddings and events, and share the magic that grows there.

bouquet of locally grown colorful flowerscolorful flowers and potatoes

 

THE MAKINGS OF A FLORAL DESIGN STUDIO – PART 2

Back in April I planned to write a two part series about setting up my floral studio here in Washington. I have wanted a professional space of my own for many years and I personally enjoy behind the scenes glimpses, so I wanted to share this transformation with you. I am still putting the finishing, finishing touches on the space, so I am going to make “The Makings of a Floral Design Studio” into a three-part series, with one more still to come. All good things take time, right?

After getting the walls painted, all of the boxes of vases and supplies unpacked, and a handful of canvas prints hung up while my mom was in town earlier this year, I continued to focus on the aesthetic of the space, really, the feeling of the space. I always envisioned my studio to be colorful, cheerful, and welcoming. Since the studio doesn’t have any windows my mom had suggested putting up forest-themed wallpaper to give the illusion of being outside. There’s a number of studies saying that being in nature actually makes us happier and healthier. For simplicity reasons we decided on a floor to ceiling tree decal. Mom had gone back home by the time the decal had arrived, so my wonderful husband helped put it up. After we got the branches up I spent the next few hours sticking the leaves on…one at a time. I learned that decals require a lot of precision and patience! All good things take time, right? 😉

applying a tree decal on a wallinside of a floral design studio

 

After finishing with the tree decal and adding a few framed pictures of flowers, I went about tackling the functionality of the studio. The first step involved getting organized. I spent the next week sorting supplies, cleaning vases, and arranging all of it.

florist work spacefloral vases on shelves

 

The next step was to create a functional consultation space where I could meet with clients. Ever since I had first dreamed of my own studio space I envisioned a big table smack dab in the center of the room. My previous consultations had always involved taking over a coffee shop table. I would use the table as a platform for brainstorming and idea generation. It would be filled with inspiration images, a sketch pad, paint chips, and vases. The table was incredibly useful, a place where we could mix, match, play, and really get involved in the design of flowers. I just love when tactile elements can be used in collaboration. So, I needed a big table of my own.

My first attempt at a table was a total bust. After assembling one I bought online, I realized I didn’t like the way it looked and the way it fit the studio space. After going back to the drawing board I decided on a counter-height table, which feels more appropriate for a creative space. I love the look of butcher block and found the perfect counter-top at IKEA. My husband (did I mention that he is wonderful?) then built legs for the table.

building wooden table legs

We placed the butcher block counter-top on the legs to see if it would hold and how it would look, and I immediately knew it was the perfect table for meeting with clients. Handcrafted, wide, and sturdy. Just right!

brown floral design table

To give the table a more finished look, I decided to paint the legs. First I primed and then painted the legs a soft green color, similar to the green of my logo. I am generally drawn to cohesion and to see the evolution of the studio is joyful!

painting table legs greenwedding floral consultation table with green legs

 

Stay tuned for the third part of this blog series! I hope to have a video clip of the space so you can see how it is laid out and how the space flows. Better yet, I invite you to stop by and see the studio in person. I would love to invite you over and  make you a cup of coffee or tea. We can spend some time collaborating on gorgeous floral designs! After-all good things take time, right? 😉

TROPICAL VIBES AT SEATTLE’S OLYMPIC SCULPTURE PARK

One of the things I vowed last year was to be better at blogging. Back in Colorado with the craziness of wedding season, in addition to the other aspects of running a business, blogging had become a low priority…one that I rarely got around to. I even went an entire year without a single blog post! That is hard for me to admit, as I really enjoy writing. As a business owner, I am so appreciative of the vast amount of knowledge that lives online and I love learning from others. I want to contribute the expertise I have gained over the years as a Florist, and share the beautiful weddings and events that I am a part of to give floral inspiration to others.

I missed this Tuesday’s blog schedule, as I was in Hawaii, celebrating my parents’ 25th Wedding Anniversary. My sister and I had been planning a surprise dinner celebration for our mom and step-dad for over a year and it finally happened this past weekend. At the Kauai Marriott Beach Club, where our mom and step-dad first met almost thirty years ago, we held an intimate celebration with twenty-three friends and family. A lovely sit down dinner followed an informal ceremony on the beach. The evening was amazing and magical, and is an excuse I am willing to allow myself as to why I didn’t publish my weekly blog post on the schedule I had set. Like the palm trees, we need to ebb and flow with the winds and give ourselves a little grace.

So, this post is a couple days late, but I am excited to share with you beautiful images from Liam and Amanda’s wedding reception earlier this summer at Olympic Sculpture Park, courtesy of Molly Blair Photography. Liem and Amanda were actually married earlier in the Maldives, but they held a large reception in Seattle, so all their friends and family could celebrate with them. They wanted to bring the essence of the Maldives to their event, so we chose a mix of colorful, tropical flowers. Liem even sported a baby pineapple boutonniere!

I love juxtaposition of using tropical flowers in a non-tropical setting. And, especially, because tropical flowers always remind me of Kauai.

colorful tropical wedding bouquetgroom kissing bride holding colorful bouquetgroomsmen wearing colorful boutonnierestropical wedding centerpiecetropical centerpiecetropical centerpieces on white tablestropical arrangement on a welcome tablewedding reception at Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattlebride throwing toss bouquet

 

FLOWERS CAN POSITIVELY IMPACT THE WEDDING EXPERIENCE

I read an article the other day in The Atlantic about the connection between beauty and happiness. The article begins with the claim that, “Looking at lovely things can improve quality of life.” It goes on to discuss findings from the Goldberg study, which concluded that being surrounded by beautiful things/items/objects/areas had the greatest effect on people’s happiness, even more-so than the things we usually associate with happiness, including wealth, relationships, careers, and health. Needless to say, beautiful things are very important.

Which leads me to the importance of beautifully designed floral arrangements and how they can positively impact the wedding/event experience – a topic I have given a lot of thought to over the years. Once, early on in my career as a Wedding Florist, I was told by a bride that flowers weren’t important, because they were just going to die soon afterwards. I have heard this sentiment also expressed by other brides in online discussion forums. And it would make me sad when someone didn’t see the immense value of flowers. Yes, flowers in floral arrangements will indeed die. That is a fact and cannot be helped. But the impact that gorgeous floral arrangements and floral installations can make at your wedding is almost, I believe, invaluable, especially when our well-being is directly impacted beauty.

On my Investment Page I share testimonials from those who have been positively impacted by beautiful wedding florals and I will share them again here:

The Power of an intentionally handcrafted Bouquet

“Holding my bouquet made me feel more connected to the natural setting of my wedding. It didn’t really come all together before you delivered my bouquet and once I saw it, I felt immediate joy and connection to that place we fell in love with when we toured River Bend. I remember feeling like I was holding a bit of the fairy magic of that place when I got the bouquet, and it really helped set the tone and the mindset of the day for me.” ~ Ashlyn, Bride

bride holding a colorful wedding bouquet

The Power of a thoughtfully designed Ceremony

“The mantle piece Holly created for Jessica and Elijah’s wedding brought a lush warmth to an otherwise blank space. The blue and white florals and greens really pulled the whole look together and reflected the overall joy and elegance of the couple standing in front of them as they exchanged their vows to one another.” ~ Sarah, Wedding Planner

greenery and flowers on a mantle at a wedding ceremony

Flowers, greenery, and other decor elements that are purposefully combined together in an artistic expression of your vision can altar the entire experience of your wedding by elevating the aesthetic and enlivening the atmosphere. Flowers and other botanical elements bring life and a distinct energy to spaces. Not only are floral arrangements visually appealing, but they also can exude lovely scents. And if you stop to really take them in you can even feel their presence. That’s where the magic happens.

Years later your guests might not remember that your table centerpieces incorporated ranunculus or peonies or ferns specifically, for example, but they will remember the energy of your event – that it felt beautiful, that it felt natural and alive, and that it felt joyful. That’s the subtle power of great floral design and that’s why I believe that investing in florals is such an important part of celebrations.

 

 

A REASON TO GET MARRIED IN AUGUST: LOCALLY GROWN DAHLIAS

colorful dahlias

It’s the middle of August and I love this time of year because that means locally grown dahlias are available. Washington, I’ve been learning, has a similar growing season for dahlias as does Colorado. Dahlia season starts at the beginning of August and goes through the end of September. Every once in a great while you can still get locally grown dahlias in early October, but that all depends whether the first frost of the season has occurred. Yes, you can get dahlias that are not locally grown at other times of the year, but dahlias do not transport well and many times the flower is compromised. The good solid two months of locally grown dahlias, however, is absolutely fabulous. I will take two wonderful months with these beauties!

Back in Colorado my go-to farm for locally grown dahlias was Arrowhead Dahlias. Julie and Calvin, the owners, grew so many beautiful varieties and always were a joy to visit. Being at Arrowhead you always felt like you were immersed in a sea of color and beauty. It was one of my absolute favorite places for flowers! Here in Washington there are a few dahlia-only farms and many other farms that grow dahlias, along with other varieties of flowers. The Seattle Wholesale Growers Market is a central point for locally grown Washington dahlias.

If you are getting married in August or September, I encourage you to consider incorporating dahlias into your floral arrangements. Here’s why I love locally grown dahlias:

  • There are SO many colors to choose from!
  • They are fresh, strong, and hearty.
  • They have a high petal count and often a full, bulbous shape – they make a great focal flower!
  • They go well with many different event styles: natural, organic, garden, boho, rustic, classic, elegant, etc.

 

Below are some of my favorite designs using these magnificent, special flowers. Enjoy!

bridesmaids in burgundy

Picture courtesy of Jessica Christie Photography

colorful bridal bouquet with burgundy dahlias

Picture courtesy of Caitlin Hamilton Photography

Indian mandap with white flowers

Picture courtesy of Dylan Burr Photography

wedding reception dinner tables with flowers

Picture courtesy of Dylan Burr Photography

jewel toned bridal bouquet

Picture courtesy of Drake & Co. Photography + Films

colorful and unique bridal bouquet

Picture courtesy of Mallory Olenius Photography

 

 

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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