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Flower School


 


I want to start this blog today by thanking everyone for their kind comments and emails. I read every single one and they all make my day. Then I read them to my husband and say, “Jealous?” :-)

In this part of The Art of Entertaining, let’s talk flowers. My daughter, Gracie, doesn’t know it yet but I am enrolling her in weekend flower school here in Paris. She’ll thank me later. It’s part of her “education” in Paris. Flowers are the icing on the cake when it comes to entertaining. But for God’s sake, let’s do it right. If I see one more sliced lemon inside of a vase of daffodils, I’m going to kill myself. When it comes to flowers, I like to think outside the box but with some “decorum.”

First of all, I think it’s important to put some thought into the vase. By the way, don’t you hate this new fad of calling a vase a “vessel.” Call a spade a spade, call a vase a vase. I love using the unusual… wine crate, Moroccan tea glass, antique urn, Mercury glass cup, old French enamel pitcher, antique sterling silver trophy cup, loose tea containers, Chinese blue and white ginger jar, terra-cotta pot, old bucket, Delft tulipiere, antique cache pot, wicker basket, majolica, faux bois… just anything that does not shout “Clear Glass Vase from FTD!” I am not a huge fan of exposed stems. Take a look at these gorgeous "vases"...

 
 
 
 

 



I am also in love with asymmetrical flower arrangements. Take a look…

 
 
 
 
 
 


What I love the most is unusual accoutrements in arrangements. Orange branches, kumquat branches, strawberries and their leaves, rosemary, basil, lavender, peppermint, geranium leaves, cherry blossoms, magnolia branches, blackberry branches, artichokes, fig branches, olive branches, persimmons, fall leaves and fruit (used properly). Take a look…
 

 




Whenever I feel a little lost in my faith, I look at a flower and remember that there is a god. I mean, who else made that pink and green parrot tulip or black orchid or blue passionflower or night blooming jasmine!

I realize that flower arranging can be daunting. Here’s what I would do… Go to flower school. It’s important to know the basics and the tools of the trade…floral frogs, oasis etc. There are a lot of secrets to a good arrangement. If you are not confident in your flower arranging, flower school will teach you about texture, scale, asymmetry, depth, color combinations etc. (In terms of color combinations, it’s always best to let Mother Nature be your guide.) After that, you can make your own arrangements. Did you know that Carolyn Roehm went to flower school in Paris before she wrote her book, A Passion for Flowers? She did. She studied at the renowned florist Moulié Fleurs. However, my advice would be to go to the flower school in Paris of Catherine Muller, the protégé of famed Parisian florist Christian Tortu. If you are in New York, there is the inspiring Little Flower School in Brooklyn.

 
 


After you receive your “degree” from the flower school, my advice on this is to go to your local wholesale flower mart. You’re ready for it now. All big cities have one. My favorite is the New York City Chelsea flower market on West 28th St. This is the Mecca of flowers. My friend Diandra (and her reluctant driver) and I would go every week and load up on everything from magnolia branches, cherry blossoms, cut flowers, topiaries, succulents, even palm trees. We bought all of the Christmas garland, pine cones and berries there as well. Talk about a visual feast! You need to know how to navigate this place though. There is a great tutorial with tips on how to have a successful day at the New York City Chelsea Flower Market from gardenista.com. You can watch it HERE. In my opinion, the best shop at the Chelsea flower mart is Associated Cut Flower. Watch this little video with Carolyn Roehm at Associated Cut Flower shopping for parrot tulips and David Austin roses HERE. It is like a candy shop!

 
 



If you are not up to all of that, there are brilliant florist that you can visit to find atypical arrangements. In Paris, the most exclusive old-school Parisian “fleuriste” is called Lachaume on rue Faubourg Saint Honoré. Having been in existence since La Belle Epoque of the late 1800s, this is the secretive boutique that writer Marcel Proust would stop by daily to pick up his cattleya flower to decorate his buttonhole. Another favorite of mine in Paris is Odorantes on rue Madame in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. This ain’t your mama’s flower shop. This discreet little shop arranges its flowers by scent and it is nothing but the extraordinary. And of course there is always Dani Roses at my favorite Hotel Costes in Paris. They only sell roses and I am sure the staff spends half of their time wiping smudge marks off their windows from lookie loos like me.

 
 
 


My other favorite florist are Amy Merrick in Brooklyn. Think asymmetrical old Masters. Lewis Miller Designs of New York. Think Vogue and Givenchy. And also, Sarah Winward of Honey of 1000 Flowers. Think organic. And don’t forget my favorite florist in Los Angeles, Eric Butterbaugh. Think sarcastic.

Now, if you’re too lazy to go to flower school, if you’re too lazy to go to the flower mart, and if you’re too lazy to go to a florist there is a solution for you and it’s not a fat farm. Your miracle is called The Bouqs. This is an online sustainable eco-friendly florist. The concept is simple and you can order from the comfort of your tufted sofa with a vodka tonic in your hand. You can also order from the comfort of your hybrid Prius on your cell phone while you are in your kids after school car pickup line because there “is an app for that.” $40 flat fee for a not too shabby bouquet. They cut on the same day you order so the flowers last longer. The best part is that their farms are energy-efficient and offer living wages, health care, child care and adult education.






If you want to see more gorgeous flower arrangements, you can check out my Pinterest board “Fleurs” HERE.


 
That’s it for today. Stay tuned for the next Art of Entertaining. Hint: cluck cluck.





19 comments:

  1. The natural beauty here is overwhelming.. going to follow your board on P right now! Gorgeous!

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  2. on my way to P as well... so pretty these arrangements, thanks for the resources! xo Kit

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  3. Inspiring photos and text- As a seasoned 'floral decorator' of the table and altar your lovely photographs and encouragement to always always be open to learn more!

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  4. Dear Ellie,

    I used to walk past Associated Cut Flower on my way to work every morning just wishing I could stay there all day - the hydrangeas in particular always pulled me in...the size of small bushes and colors galore!

    I read about your blog on Habitually Chic this summer...it is now one of the highlights of my day! If only I had found it last Spring before my most recent trip to Paris...imagine the places I would have visited. They will have to wait until next time!

    Can't wait to read what you have for us next...

    With gratitude,

    Jennifer
    Princeton, NJ

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    1. Dear Jennifer, so glad you like the blog! I'm so jealous you lived near Associated Cut Flower! XO XO

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  5. When I first found you, I wanted to be your new best friend…well, for all the obvious reasons;) but also because you like everything I like (I know, a very mature sentiment;))…but now I want to be your daughter because I really, really, really want to go to flower school in Paris! O'k seriously you are such a good mom to bring this to her and I think its a great idea. Thanks for the heads up on the NYC options for flower school, my daughter is at Columbia for a couple of years and it would be a wonderful mother/daughter activity. xob

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    1. Dear Brenda, your daughter is at Columbia! Bravo! What a great idea to do mother/ daughter flower school! Look me up next time you are in Paris. XOXO

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  6. Thanks so much for linking to our video! A pleasure to be here!

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    1. Dear quintessence, the first day that I found your blog and video series I binge watched nearly every single video until my husband physically took the computer away from me. Then, I told him I hated him. I love your video series so much! And your blog is beyond fabulous and so is your Pinterest board. I think I just officially outed myself as your stalker. XO XO XO

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    2. Ha! Lovely to have found you as well!! xo

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    3. What?? Quintessence has a video series??? Are you kidding?? Another of my VERY favorite blogs!!!!

      I my never leave my computer again!!! My husband will pitch me new "air" into the pond (when we have one again!!!)

      XXOO

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  7. Dearest Ellie, " Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others; cannot keep it from themselves . " by James Barrie I love this poem and it suits you so very well. I am thrilled to have found you. You bring such joy to each day. With much gratitude and blessings to you. Warmest Regards, Pamela p.s. Flowers make our hearts dance !!!

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    1. Well that was an awfully nice thing to say about me, Pamela! Thank you. However, my husband begs to differ. :-) Thank you again for your kind words. XO X

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  8. Another wonderful post! Have you ever seen Zeze's in NYC???? It is a florist shop! Never in all my days......another place I almost had a heart attack when I saw it!

    I took a ton of pictures last time I was in NYC; I will post a blog.

    Google them. They are a divine couple....who have a country house in New York state and the chicest flower store I have ever seen!!!

    Thank you for your inspiration!!

    You are a wonder!!!

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  9. Hello!I found you from Penelope's Facebook page!I remember your AD in SANTA BARBARA magazine too!I think I actually called you about an item in the photo!!I will be in PARIS the 21,22, and 23........if you would like to meet for a cafe I would Love that as I will be by myself just wandering!I

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    1. Dear Contessa! So glad you found the blog. Would love to meet you. Any friend of Penny's is a friend of mine. So excited you are also going to go to Normandy. Love it there! I will check out your website right now. Looking forward to meeting you! XO XO XO

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  10. Amazing flower & their pictures.. Thanks for sharingBest Florist in Toronto

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  11. Great collection. i also decorated out side of my room like thisschool classes.

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  12. Oh my goodness! I am in love with all these flowers that have been shown in these photos. I really love flower bouquets. Usually I buy fresh flowers for my home and I use online Flower Delivery NYC services for that. They deliver fresh flowers very quickly.

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