the death of a few glue guns

Being trained in using predominantly fresh flowers, hot temp glue guns were foreign to me in design. I did use them growing up with popsicle sticks and puffy paint wall hangings but never really mixed with floral design. I've slowly grown accustom to using a glue gun and now, in my dried designs, it's the most essential thing I use! Over the past year I've seen 4 literally blow up and start on fire. So today I finally stepped up and spent the big bucks on one more than $10.

Ugh ok, Im going to complain about them here. Does anyone really enjoy using a hot glue gun? I've gotten 3rd degree burns a few too many times and the little stringgies I have to pull of every petal drive me nuts! Oh how I miss my pocket knife... the only necessity I needed in fresh floral design.

It is warming up now to 380 degrees so I'm off to finish up some custom orders :)

pop back in for the winner of the Spring Giveaway friday!

DIY spring container planting

Spring is here in the North East but the nights are still cool and dip too cold to start planting with common summer annual flowers. My friend Julie and I have a container planting business, Fresh Art Plantings that I wrote about last post. We do container plantings, container gardening in the Short Hills, Millburn, Maplewood and Summit areas of New Jersey.

Here is a great do it yourself early spring container planting guide! We used mostly pansies which are the most common cold resistant flowers. Pansies come in all different colors and shades. We chose Delta Pure Light Blue, a burgundy color called Colossus Rose and Matrix yellow.

First pick out your container. I recommend a container with a drainage hole and adding a layer of loose medium size stones to the bottom before the soil to assure proper water drainage. Fill the container with soil to about 4 inches from the top.

Next, start a layer of 6 inch potted pansies. I do not recommend using plugs for pansies in container planting, the plants become too delicate by themselves are too small to work with. For this design I used 8, 6 inch potted pansies in each container. Pull the pansies out of their pot and gently loosen the roots and soil. Then place them in the first outside layer of the container as shown mixing in added soil and gently packing them in so they will not fall out of the container:

In the second layer I used the hardy white leaf accent plant Dusty Miller which we mixed with Bellisima Red Bellis. The dusty miller will continue to grow tall and fill in height (we used 12 plugs of dusty clustered into 4 patches of 3 plants). The Bellisima Red Bellis (I used 5 plants quart size each) are great cool weather pansy pals. These are in the daisy family with cute button flowers and also come in light pink and white. We chose the burgundy red to match the colors of the brick on our client's home:

Last, building upon the first two layers is a third of Crescendo Golden Primula. A primrose. I chose this as the center because of their height, bright sunny color and cool weather blooming.

Fertilizer like this continual release is great to get the best growth out of your planting. Sprinkle generously! :

The next design was at a side entrance of the house. In this one I used a boxwood shrub as the focal point:

First, plant the boxwood and loosen it's root ball with the boxwood's soil level even with the top of the container. Next add in the 6 inch pansies (in this one I used 8):

Lastly, add in the dusty miller plugs clustered in plants of 3 for more stability:

Tuck the dusty miller clusters in and about the pansies. I used 3 clusters of three in this design:

In a week or two, the dusty miller will take off and add another great texture to the planting.

For the front door plantings we used pansies, dusty miller and boxwood trees.

9 planters and 80 6" pansies later we were finished! I hope this helps to show you some ideas to add curb appeal to your home during these cold spring nights. I can't wait for the warmer weather to bring in more flowering options and trips to the growers. Don't worry you can come too :)

a trip to the greenhouse

I spent a sunny day yesterday working at another business that I run, Fresh Art Plantings, with a great florist friend Julie. We design lush container plantings and have lots of fun doing it. The early spring season has officially started. We headed off to one of our favorite greenhouse farms to stock up on frost resistant early spring flowers for a client.

We took a few wagon loads of pansies. Ultimate frost proof beauties.
We snagged two large boxwood trees too for our client's front door containers...
We walked the stone paths outside full of perennial flowers, shrubs and trees.
I noticed these beautiful blooming forsythia bushes wrapped tightly for landscapers to take to their new homes.
and this wonderful display of potted ranunculus.
my wagon of flores del sol supply goodies:
Inside the greenhouses the colors are so vibrant. It's bright. Large pots, narrow walk ways between rows of potted hydrangea, a stray cat. The large blowing fans are loud but provide warm breezes with hints of peat moss and Easter lilies.
Looking for something to do this weekend? Walk through a local greenhouse. Pick out a new plant and study it's name. It will rejuvenate you, I promise.

Next week I will post our DIY frost resistant container planting!



new york public library image 1253801
Ikebana 生け花, the Japanese word for arranged flower, is the ancient Japanese art of floral arranging. The Japanese have been mastering the art of flowers for centuries, roughly 600 years. Each placement the flower has a distinct meaning and purpose.

Ikebana focuses on minimalistic irregular design which are very refreshing and modern. Emphasis is placed on the natural line of a stem or curve of a leaf. It is organic in design using branches, dried materials, single blooms, shrubs, stones, and leaves. In fact the material used in a design is only limited by the arranger's imagination.

Illustrations are from a 1673 Japanese Book Rikka Zo found in the New York Public Library Digital Gallery:

rikka zo flower arrangement, (NYPL 1400964)
I was able to take an Ikebana class in college where I learned the different meanings of placement points such as heaven, earth and man. Through the years I have collected a few antique and vintage Ikebana design books and hope to do my best to accurately share with you different styles through this blog in a simplistic way. Ikebana is quite intense with many different ancient schools such as Ohara, Ikenobo, Kofu, Sho-fu-ryu, Sogetsu and Modern each with their own design style.

Japanese Women via 1890 practicing Ikebana

new york public library image 119458
There is a great spiritual aspect of Ikebana. It is practiced in silence, becoming one with the design and appreciating the beauty of nature often overlooked by a busy lifestyle. It has held the same prestige artistically as sand-painting, the tea ceremony and incense burning.

So today I am lightly focusing on the art and providing some images. In future posts I hope to delve into different styles, tools used and even Ikebana designs I will make. So stay tuned!

rikka zu flower arrangement (NYPL image 1400943)

japanese flower arrangement for beginners, susan powell


Floral Art of Japan, 1936
Japanese Flower Arrangement for Beginners, 1962
this weekend, seek out the new growth and feel the sun on your skin
illustrations from the lovely Olaf Hajek.

feliz primavera!
happy spring!

another one bites the dust

For many years now I've lived next to this florist. I've always payed attention to their creative plantings on the sidewalk and orchid displays in the window. How sad I was to see it up and close recently. It seems like many of the stores in our downtown area just cant hold up in this economy with high overhead and low demand. Florist have been hit especially hard. Flowers are indeed a luxury item.

It is because of this recession that I started flores del sol. Last spring my job as a part-time floral designer was eliminated due to the lack of demand. I had just recently had my second baby girl and so I decided to try and work from home instead. Thank heavens for etsy!

How is it in your town? I hope the mom and pop shops are surviving!

in like a lion

March is in like a lion here in New Jersey! I tried to venture out this weekend but almost washed away in the flooding. Hopefully this plentiful rain will nurture the soil for some lush green spring plants. How is it where you are? Beautiful and sunny? Until March is out like a lamb, here are some beautiful indoor greens for those still stuck inside.

plants! by sharon of cacahuete:
greenhouse at night no.4 by Jeremy Miranda

anthropologie march catalog page 79 in the greenhouse
terrarium phloam by litill

brian by woollypocket
from indoor (bentről) by myrtillis

what's in a name?

Billy buttons! So spring! Who knew such a little flower could have so many names? Billy buttons, billy balls, Australian bachelor buttons and drumstick flower. Their proper name: craspedia globosa or pycnosorus globosa.
each photo is linked to their source:

A little bit about billy buttons: They are a perennial wildflower of New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania. You can buy them as seeds to plant in the United States. These tall textured flowers would make a great addition to a garden. Depending on the zone you live in, the seeds can be perennial(grow back yearly) in the south or an annual (needs to be replanted yearly) in the more northern states. Best of all, once you've grown them, they dry easily because of their dense spherical shape.

Interesting fact: In my research I've found they may have been recently reclassified to the genus pycnosorus from the genus craspedia.

Don't forget to enter to win my spring billy button giveaway!

garden state weekend

How was your weekend? Mine was lovely. I went for a long walk in the park on Saturday and worked on a DIY moss cluster tutorial (coming soon). Finally it seems as though spring is around the corner! Garden State Vintage had a lovely weekend too. It was featured on etsy's blog, the storque, twice!

first in esty finds: down the rabbit hole in celebration of Alice in Wonderland:

and second, my favorite etsy blog by iheartmustaches Get The Look: Home Edition. This week it was Retro Renovation:

wow! fun huh. So the store is looking at little barren. I am off to rummage up some more finds!

sky planters

Have you seen these? Aren't they lovely? Boskke Sky Planters designed by Patrick Morris have turned household plants upside down and given them a new chance in the spotlight without cluttering up counter and floor space. Ingenious. This sounds so wonderful, especially for a small apartment dweller like myself.

The sky planters are specially designed to require less watering, they naturally filter the air around you and bring tranquility to your space. Snag some here.
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