Sunday, November 6, 2016

Into the Woods...and Parking Lots: Floral Design

One man's weeds For this arrangement, Brooklyn floral designer Amy Merrick collected shrub-rose hips from a road median, fennel flower from a friend’s garden and goldenrod from an abandoned parking lot. Photo: F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal, Floral Styling by Amy Merrick.

By Courtney Barnes          
WSJ, Nov. 3, 2016

Peering into posh storefront window along Old Bond Street in the late 1920s, Londoners surely didn’t expect to see urns spilling over with wild clematis gone to seed, hops and simple berry-covered autumn branches. But that is what then-budding florist Constance Spry had daringly arranged for Atkinsons perfumery. Mixing humble flora scavenged in the countryside with a modicum of shop-bought green orchids, she charmed passersby and changed the fashionable set’s perceptions of what a bouquet could be. Later, Spry would use masses of delicate cow parsley, aka Queen Anne’s lace, at the wedding of Lady Violet Bonham Carter’s daughter, Laura.

Today, Spry’s influence is newly relevant. As uniform, commercial bouquets yield to looser, more organic arrangements, a fresh crop of intrepid designers are finding scavenging alluring again.

Louesa Roebuck and Sarah Lonsdale, co-authors of “Foraged Flora” (Ten Speed Press), believe the current impulse to gather roadside vegetation is a natural offshoot of the trend toward eating seasonal, local produce that you might have even foraged yourself. Plants such as wispy wild fennel, stretching up to 12 feet in length and not typically sold in a florist’s shop, have a rarefied, wayward beauty that sets them apart from mass-grown blooms, said the authors.

“I’ve been bringing home strays—flora and animals—since I was four,” said Ms. Roebuck, a California-based artist who took a circuitous path to working with flowers professionally. In the early 2000s, she was hauling unusual grasses and bundles of fennel into her own boutique-cum-gallery space, hanging them beside clothes by avant-garde Belgian designer Martin Margiela. She refused to use out-of-season, imported flowers, partly because of her environmental ethos but also because flower-market offerings bored her.

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