Spring at Dame Restaurant

I was super excited to do a spring shoot at Dame restaurant in NE Portland. The interiors, designed by Jasmine of Maxwell Gray Interiors are rich and moody.  Warm oak and soft brass fixtures are set against a deep blue-green. The walls and ceiling are painted in this rich hue and it makes the space feel very intimate and romantic.  My favorite feature is a wallpapered accent wall. It feels like a watercolor to me, and the first time I saw it I thought "someday I'm going to have to do flowers to place in front of that gorgeous wall!"   The space, while moody doesn't feel dark because tall windows anchor one whole end of the space and the light is reflected off the white marble bar.  

Lush blooms in a moody space

Lush blooms in a moody space

Kailla Platt flowers Dame restaurant

I also really wanted to try and capture spring and spring flowers without using the traditional pastel palette often associated with this time of year. Caramel, amber, honey and wine -- that's how I think of these colors, and I think they play beautifully off the blue-green of the space.  Kaitlin Green and Amy Wennerlind of Love Lit Wedding Photography captured everything so beautifully.  I love getting professional photos of my flowers back and these ladies never disappoint. The tones in the flowers look so rich and the airy little details give movement and charm. 

Picotee Ranunculus and a teeny Hellebore blossom

Picotee Ranunculus and a teeny Hellebore blossom

Kailla Platt flowers Dame Restaurant
Kailla pLatt flowers Dame Restaurant
Kailla Platt flowers Dame Restaurant
Heuchera leaves peeking over the edge

Heuchera leaves peeking over the edge

All the flowers were grown by local farmers or cut out of my garden or my parent's garden.  There is so much seasonal resonance when all the blooms have come from nearby; they can really sing of that exact moment in time and all it beauty.  

Kailla Platt flowers Dame restaurant

This sweet couple shared an intimate meal together, and Jessica modeled a flower cuff and bouquet, also inspired by this spring palette.

Kailla Platt flowers Dame restaurant
DAME Shoot (125 of 169).jpg
Silk ribbon

Silk ribbon

I special ordered some plant-dyed ribbon from Ninebark Farm.  The color is called "Pitch" and the moment I saw it I knew it would look amazing with those tulips.  Such a beautiful contrast to the dark banquette and fir floors.

Kailla Platt flowers Dame restaurant

I love the way those dusky Hellebore keep it from being too sweet.  The gold color and pattern of this dress against that wall --- so good!

Kailla Platt flowers Dame restaurant

I was pretty thrilled with the way this moody spring shoot came together. Also... you should go eat and drink at Dame if you are in Portland.  It's delicious in any and all seasons. 

Kailla Platt flowers Dame restaurant

Schreiner's Iris' with Nicolette Camille and Helen Dealtry

Like a last minute gift from a fairy-god mother, I was able to join Nicolette Camille and Helen Dealtry at Schreiner's Iris farm for the Little Flower School workshop.  This past spring in the Pacifc Northwest has been wet and cold.  The flowers are late and the sunshine elusive.  This day filled with flower adoration and the warmth of its hosts was exactly was my rain soaked heart needed.

Iris 'Thorn Bird'

Iris 'Thorn Bird'

First we painted with Helen Dealtry. Capturing the gestural essence of these lush blooms with her carefully chosen palette of inks.  She is kind, warm and crazy talented.  

Kailla Platt Flowers Iris Little Flower School
Kailla Platt Flowers Iris Little Flower School

After a delicious lunch eaten surrounded by blooms and fellow flower enthusiasts, Nicolette gave a demo that was just as you would imagine.  Despite the late spring Nicolette and her team pulled together an amazing display of seasonal goodness for us to use.  It was hard to pick flowers for just one arrangement. If only time had allowed, days could have been spent amidst this beauty.

Kailla Platt Flowers Iris Little Flower School
Kailla Platt Flowers Iris Little Flower School
Kailla Platt Flowers Iris Little Flower School
Kailla Platt Flowers Iris Little Flower School

Certainly she is one of the major players out there in this new floral design movement, but none are so open and funny, so welcoming and lovely as Nicolette.  She is one of the best and yet she puts you at ease instantly.  Her eye for color is inspiring and her designs sing in three-dimension --- beautiful from every angle. 

Kailla Platt Flowers Iris Little Flower School
Nicolette's demo arrangement, featuring Calla 'Swallowtail'

Nicolette's demo arrangement, featuring Calla 'Swallowtail'

For my own arrangement I was taken captive first by this silvery blue Clematis with a darker, delicate edge.  This Clematis then whispered to be introduced to a beautiful Iris down the way.  With these two as my starting point I began gathering other beauties to invite to the party.

Kailla Platt Flowers Little Flower School
Kailla Platt Flowers Iris Little Flower School

This Iris is 'Imprimis' and like so many of the beauties selected for us had a wonderful range of mutable colors.  It had both cool tones and warm tones. I played the blue hints off the clematis and pulled in some Sweet Peas with the same darker edge, 'April in Paris' which smell amazing.  Then the warmth let me bring Iris 'Baboon Bottom' (such a sad name for a lovely Iris) and roses like 'Renee' and 'Cafe Latte', and then the russet pink of the little turk's cap Marathon lilies.  Columbine, grape stems with emerging leaves, Heuchera foliage, Ranunculus, Ninebark, Euphorbia, and Viburnum all mingled and played their part as back up to the larger blooms.

Kailla Platt Flowers Iris Little Flower School
Kailla Platt Flowers Iris Little Flower School
Kailla Platt Flowers Iris Little Flower School

I wish I had gotten a better photo against the black background, but I know Lesley Unruh's Photos will be stunners.  

Open enough for a bird to fly through...

Open enough for a bird to fly through...

It was such a wonderful day.  Workshops like these allow you to refuel and restore.  They let you lay down the burden of deadlines, budgets and expectations.  Hands, faces, and hearts in the flowers. Flowers, flowers, flowers -- thank you.

Kailla Platt Flowers Iris Little Flowers School

Summer Cutting Garden - inspired by the Floret Flower Farm Dahlia workshop

Blush still seems to be the queen of bridal palettes for 2017.  Blush means lots of flower lovelies like flouncy garden roses and the eternal diva, Dahlia 'Cafe au Lait'.  Beautiful neutrals make for gorgeous photos and compliment so many looks and themes.  Its all good.  I'm not complaining. But... If a bride comes to me and says "I'm getting married late summer and I'd like you to help me chose a color palette that sings of the season's golden light and warm evenings. Choose colors that will set your heart aflutter when you are designing with them." Well, I am ready for that amazing bride!

Gretchen O'Neil, fellow team member, lighting candles.  Table design by Becca Blue and floral installation by Sue McLeary.

Gretchen O'Neil, fellow team member, lighting candles.  Table design by Becca Blue and floral installation by Sue McLeary.

Last summer (2016) a huge dream of mine came true -- to go back to Floret Flower Farm and help with a workshop as a member of the now famous (in certain circles) Team Floret.  I went in August when the fields were bursting with Dahlias, Zinnias, Rudbeckia and so many other gorgeous blooms.  For the last day we filled bucket after bucket with sunset colors and our final dinner was awash in warm summer hues.

Now, as winter starts to loosen its grip and spring seems like a very welcome light at the end of the tunnel, its time to think about summer blooms and that dream bride I spoke of.  I'm planning on planting many of those same blooms that I enjoyed in August, because I absolutely love this range of colors.  Warm apricot, peach sherbet, butter yellow, amber, honey and touches of cherry and claret.  

Collage of some of my favorite blooms in this color palette. Many I am hoping to grow myself this summer.

Collage of some of my favorite blooms in this color palette. Many I am hoping to grow myself this summer.

Starting top row, left corner: Rudbeckia 'Sahara', Dahlia 'Labyrinth', Zinnia 'Giant Salmon', Scabies 'Fata Morgana' Middle row: Dahlia 'Crichton Honey', Nasturtium 'Gleam Salmon', Phlox 'Cherry Caramel', Chocolate Queen Anne's Lace, Bottom Row: Zinnia 'Zinderella Peach', Amaranth 'Coral Fountain', Apricot Mix Strawflower, Rose 'Caramel Antike'.

Erin Benzakein's demo compote arrangement from the final dinner.

Erin Benzakein's demo compote arrangement from the final dinner.

These colors could be amped up with the addition of more wine tones or softened with the addition of ivory.  I love the depth and warmth, the way the colors whisper back and forth and mingle. To me it evokes that magical light at the end of the summer when the days merge into evening so seamlessly that you hardly notice.

Photo by Chris Benzakein of the two large-scale urns wed created for the final dinner.

Photo by Chris Benzakein of the two large-scale urns wed created for the final dinner.

I have seeds for some of these and I am keeping my fingers crossed that my dahlia tubers from last year are going to make it. Others will be grown by local farmers, thank goodness. It seems fitting to add, as I dream big about my cutting garden, that starting seeds and digging dahlias is...well, it's hard work.  It takes a kind of time and sustained attention that is completely different from design work.  I never love my local flower farmers more than when I try and grow flowers myself.

Many of these seed varieties are still available in the Floret shop. Go see here.  And, Erin's new book  Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden is coming out!!! Pre-order it now because it will fly off the shelves.  I can't wait to get my muddy paws on it.

June in Gearhart with the Greens

Late June on the Oregon Coast can be, well iffy.  However, when this lovely couple, joined by friends and family, gathered in the bride's hometown of Gearhart, the sun shone and the day was damn near perfect.  A little extra wind was the only wildcard, and even that made for some stunning photos.  The wedding was photographed by Paige Jones and each image is truly beautiful.

In keeping with the coastal setting, the "flowers" were all greens.  This was perfect for the place, but also because the groom's last name, is Green!  It was such fun to gather and select a palette of greens rich in texture and color.  "Foliage forward" has always been a favorite mantra of mine, so this was a joy.  

I met the bride through her friend Amy, shown here all smiles and newly pregnant!  These two are themselves wedding photographers (Love Lit Wedding Photography) and I was thrilled and not just a little flattered when Kaitlin asked me to do her wedding flowers.  Her vision of simplicity and a celebration of the setting's spectacular natural beauty were exactly right.

The Greens-240.jpg

I added simple greens to the beautiful macrame backdrop made by Portland fiber artist Rachel Grimes of Be With Heart, and the Oregon Coast and Tillamook Head did the rest. 

Garlands ran the length of wooden farm tables and places were marked with seed packets and herb sprigs.  The bride's mom made the napkins to complete this charming and simple table setting. 

Cheers to the Greens! What a perfect celebration of two wonderful people in a place they love surrounded by their nearest and dearest.  It is indeed, Good to be the Greens! 

All photographs by Paige Jones Photography 

Abundance at the Floret Workshop

Flowers loaded up in the little white truck

Flowers loaded up in the little white truck

The June workshop was all about the queen of early summer - the Peony.  Grown locally by an amazing woman named Geraldine,  their lush beauty was combined with bucket after bucket of flowers from Floret's fields.  The abundance, beauty and sheer quantity of flowers was a tangible reminder of the generosity that was such a part of the whole weekend.

Coral Charms awaiting their debut at the final dinner.

Coral Charms awaiting their debut at the final dinner.

There are a lot of workshops out there these days.  I don’t doubt that they are all beautiful in their own way; they deal in flowers after all.  The amazing thing about Erin’s workshops is that they combine such abundant and heart-stopping beauty with practical, useful, and inspiring, content.  There is great substance behind all that floral beauty.  Floret’s team is welcoming and warm.  Their encouragement and support is all around during the workshops and follows after.  Attendees turn into dear friends in a matter of hours (or less) and become a network of fellow flower lovers whose voices stay with you long after you depart the Skagit Valley. It is hard to put into words the magic that happens in that flower filled barn with Erin and her team.  

photo by Heather Payne

photo by Heather Payne

As I wandered the barn taking in all the blooms I found myself drawn to the Sweet Peas every time.  We cut them out of the the field, but also from a greenhouse where they towered over our heads.

'Nimbus' 

'Nimbus' 

Designing my urn arrangement and low compote with all that abundance was a joy - tendrils, fruit, foliage and of course those gorgeous peonies! 

The final dinner together was a labor of love and its beauty and magic will long be remembered.  

My compote on the loveliest table for our final dinner

My compote on the loveliest table for our final dinner

photo by Heather Payne

photo by Heather Payne

Looking through the workshop photos and following the flower journey's of fellow attendees via Instagram keep the moody days of winter filled with light.

Flower Frogs

Frogs. Not the kind that jump, but the kind that hold flowers, are an indispensable tool in flower arranging.

dragon frog with shears.JPG

They have different names like "pin" or "cage". Some are only big enough to hold a single bloom and others will wrangle a large arrangement.  They can be used over and over and unlike floral foam are non-toxic.  I have a small collection.

frogs with hellebore.JPG

Some were given to me as wedding presents and others passed on to me from my grandmother's collection.  You rarely get to see them once they are put to work, but like so many pragmatic and useful tools they are beautiful and interesting just to look at.

Frogs.JPG

With an assist from some lovely Hellebore x orientalis out of my garden, I photographed a few of my favorites earlier this spring.

This guy - sort of a dragon turtle - was my grandmother's.  I have always thought it was wonderful to look at but never really used him.  Then it dawned on me that he is perfect for Hellebore.  Their downward tilted faces hide freckles, spots, streakes and ruffles.  With the habit of drooping soon after being picked, unless they are left to harden off a bit, they can be so tempting and yet often disappointing as freshly bloomed cuts.  But, cut short and perched on the back of this "frog" their lovely faces can be properly ogled.  Now, I am in search the perfect dish to hold water underneath them.

dragon frog 1.JPG
dragon frog 2.jpg
dragon frog 3.jpg

This one was also my grandmother's.  Those little hoops can be turned and twisted to hold branches and stems.  My grandmother was an amazing gardener and the arrangements and bouquets from her garden were inspired.  More about her later...

hoop frog.jpg

Hoke House Dinner

Winter at the Hoke House

Winter at the Hoke House

I love creating arrangements for events in people's homes.  I love choosing vases from their collection, walking through the spaces and talking about all the possibilities. This winter I really lucked out and had the chance to do flowers for a dinner party hosted at a remarkable home.  The Hoke House was designed by Skylab Architecture and built in 2007.  The house itself is amazing, and in this case it is matched by owners who have a particularly clear aesthetic.  Sometimes a house where everything is so carefully curated and displayed can feel stiff and impersonal.  That is not the case here.  They beautifully struck the balance between the art and furniture contributing to the whole vision and still feeling personal and inviting.  All the vases came from their collection.  Designing flowers to fill them was a creative joy.

In the front entry I used a stainless steel Michael Graves colander.  The house sits on a forested hillside surrounded by ferns and the damp, mossy goodness that is so Pacific Northwest.  I evoked that sense of woodland with ferns and lots of textural greens like Hellebore, Sarcococca, Epimedium and a curling tendril of Stauntonia vine.  Mini Cymbidium orchids and an air plant gave it a kind of tropical feel. 

Hoke House Entry

Hoke House Entry

Michael Graves Colander 

Michael Graves Colander 

The second arrangement was for a low table in the living room.  Here I used an iconic Alvar Aalto vase.  I loved the way the flowers fit and draped in its curved sides.  Using a muted palette and wanting it to feel like spring, which was not too far off, I used lots of green foliage, with white tulips and freesia, and soft blue-purple Anemones that weren't fully open.  And more maiden hair fern — they drape so beautifully and add such airiness.  

Aalto vase in Hoke living room

Aalto vase in Hoke living room

Hoke living room

Hoke living room

The Client had chosen to use white, ivory and antique gold as the color scheme for the dining room.  The table is quite narrow and so I decided to do a collection of flowers running down the middle in six small vases — three faceted ceramic ones and three metal. To contrast with the other two arrangements each vase had only one or two single kinds of flowers.  Anemone, calla lilies, tulips, Hellebore, Scabiosa pods, paperwhites and a few snowdrops I cut from my own garden.  It looked very clean and elegant against the warm wood of the table.

Length of dining room table

Length of dining room table

Hoke dining room detail

Hoke dining room detail

Hoke dining room and fireplace

Hoke dining room and fireplace

I can only imagine that the dinner and evening were as wonderful as the setting.  Cheers!

Floret Flower Farm Workshop

The rains have started, the fall leaves have long been turned to compost, and winter can be felt lurking about.  Even with a cup of tea and the anticipation of hellebore and snowdrops, it doesn't take much to persuade me to think back to the magical two days I spent at Floret Flower Farm.

 

Barnlight.jpg

When I first started thinking seriously about turning my love of flowers and design into a business, I spent hours cruising the internet for information and inspiration.  A handful of people kept turning up, and two women in particular.  Erin Benzakein and Amy Merrick.  It seemed every time I would stop and daydream over an image it belonged to one of them.  When I found out Amy  was coming out from Brooklyn, and they were going to hold a workshop at Erin's farm in Mt. Vernon, Washington I signed up with hardly a hesitation.  It was so close I could drive there and the timing was perfect. To say my expectations were high is an understatement.

Everything about that weekend was wonderful.  It was held at a historic farmstead in the Skagit Valley, just down the road from Erin's.  When we arrived we stood on the grass under huge poplar trees sipping wine and introducing ourselves as the sun sank.  Corn fields led our eyes out to the Olympic Mountains and swallows wheeled overhead.  The next morning we ate breakfast in the farmhouse; leaning against the porch railing or gathered around a large table.  Across the grass, a russet colored barn was our classroom.  That barn.  It was our setting and our place. Really, it was a member of the workshop.

Barninterior.JPG
Barntable.JPG

The first morning we spent walking the fields of Erin's farm.  She let us loose with clippers and buckets.  Dahlias and zinnias at their full glory, black Queen Anne's lace, Scabiosa in colors I'd never seen, and we could pick them!  We went a little crazy.  It was hard not to.

Zinniabucket.jpg
Truckfull.JPG
Geranium.jpg

Erin and Amy were so gracious and generous with their knowledge and experience.  I think Erin might get done in a half day what would take me two.  She really is as amazing as she seems.  Amazing and honest, and warm and so very encouraging.  Amy's enthusiasm and love for the material and craft of what she does was inspiring.  She shared tricks of the trade as well as insights into her own process.

I learned nearly as much from the talented and varied group of women who had come together that weekend to immerse themselves in an all out flower love fest.  We shared our joys and challenges as we worked and ate side by side.  The camaraderie continues across distance and timezones.  A full four months later and I can still hear all those voices cheering me on.

Erin.jpg

In the afternoon of the first day we made hand-tied bouquets.  It is hard to describe how beautiful they all were, so full of Erin's amazing blooms.  The colors warm and bright.  As the sun started to go down on our day, Laura Dart took our individual photos.  We grinned and beamed, each of us holding our bouquets with that fabulous barn as a backdrop.  What a day. 

Photo by Laura Dart

Photo by Laura Dart

Barnsunset.jpg

Day two found us back in the barn with flowers in a softer color palette.  The queen of our story today would be the Cafe au Lait dahlia.  A better prima donna could not be dreamed up.  We worked all morning on our footed compote arrangements, adding in crabapples and draping tiny clusters of grapes.  Then over lunch Amy wove the spell that would create our next endeavor.

tablecloseup.JPG

Together we transformed a section of the barn into a vine-draped, candle-lit grove.  The table was lined with our arrangements and each place set with elegant linens.  Anne Parker, with an assist from Nina Foster, outdid herself with dinner.  It was all so beautiful and so delicious.  Made more so that it was created by our own hands.  We sat together late into the evening.  We wore flower crowns on our heads and huge smiles on our faces.  The sunset was more fiery than the night before, and as if to pull out all the stops, a rainbow marked the sky on the other side of the barn.  If this all sounds a little dramatic, well it was, and magical too.

Foodtable.jpg
Barndinner.JPG
dinnergrove.JPG

Introductions

Who says fall isn't a time for new beginnings?   I am just about there in getting all this business stuff up and running. Behind the scenes stuff like memberships, appropriate licenses, and new rubber boots.  Then there is the stuff I can share and send out into the world. Things like my website, my soon to be done business cards and these! 

Postcard front.jpg

Postcards, and my first promotional material. I am mailing some and leaving some around in little stacks.  They are both an introduction and a call to think about how flowers (and wreaths, garlands...) can be part of the upcoming holidays.   So, here's to fall and new beginnings!