Not long after florist Gayle Nicoletti designed the wedding flowers for Cupcakes and Cashmere’s Emily Schuman last spring, she held a workshop that focused on a more informal theme: how to make bouquets from the things growing in your backyard—or rather, in her backyard.
Ms. Nicoletti invited a group of 20 women to her Mill Valley, CA home the other day for a lesson in creating spontaneous flower arrangements. Here are some of her secrets:
Photographs by Kathleen Harrison.
Above: “Walk around your garden and snip flowers and herbs, and think of the arrangement you’re about to make as a physical representation of that garden—what grows together? What’s tall, and what’s short?” says Ms. Nicoletti. From her garden: scabiosa pods (R), decorative kale (L), and succulents, including her favorite echeveria ‘Metallica’ (“ I love the shape, like a rose, and that color —a hint of pink”).
Above: Ms. Nicoletti with a flat of Sagina subulata (Scotch Moss) that she bought at Green Jeans Garden Supply in Mill Valley; it’s widely available at nurseries. Ms. Nicoletti uses it to completely fill the surface of a planter to create a simple arrangement that looks like a tabletop lawn.
Above: A spool of bind wire, made in France and purchased at the San Francisco Flower Mart. A 70-foot spool of Bark Colored Wire is $8.49 from Afloral. Ms. Nicoletti uses a heavier green wire—such as Paddle Wire ($1.89 per spool from Afloral) to pierce the stem of the succulent; she twists the green wire like a pipe cleaner and attaches it to the viburnum stem.
Above: Dahlias from Ms. Nicoletti’s garden. They’re ‘Jersey’s Beauty,‘ an heirloom dahlia from the 1920s; bulbs are three for $39.50 from Old House Gardens.
Above: The finished bouquet, in a wide-mouthed mason jar, also includes roses, miller, and buddleia from Ms. Nicoletti’s garden. For beginners, Ms. Nicoletti recommends: “Keep it simple: limit yourself to two or three different flowers and two different foliages.”
Also on Gardenista: Small-Scale Gardening in San Francisco.