Finding Rushmore on I-95

Herman Blume: What’s the secret, Max?

Max Fischer: The secret?

Herman Blume: Yeah, you seem to have it pretty figured out.

Max Fischer:  The secret, I don’t know…I guess you’ve just gotta find something you love to do and then do it for the rest of your life. For me, it’s going to Rushmore.                           From Wes Anderson’s Rushmore

My close friends and staff (they are really one and the same) know I am a bit of a Max Fischer. If you aren’t familiar with Max from the amazing Wes Anderson film Rushmore, he is an Energizer bunny of a character afflicted with a pretty serious case of ADHD and an even more acute bout of the “Carpe Diems.” Max loves doing so many things that he just does all of them; some with better success than others. But there is one thing that Max does with pure perfection and complete conviction-he goes to Rushmore. In his school, he has found his home, his kinfolk, his purpose. Driving along I-95 to a weekend conference of florist colleagues, I couldn’t help but think of Max and how we relate to each other.

Road trips are little windows of time that allow us to indulge in forbidden foods, listen to music too loud, push the pedal to the metal and chart our own course. You might venture off the GPS projected route to find the perfect scenic highway like Georgia’s coastal Highway 17. You might scratch an item off of your bucket list. (For me this is memorizing and successfully rapping the lyrics to my favorite Naughty by Nature songs. It’s going to take a cross country trip for that one.) You might have a moment of deja vu conjured by childhood memories of eating Christmas dinner in a Denny’s and sleeping in a velvet clad Knight’s Inn. But road trips can also offer solitary time for reflection and contemplation.

On this trip heading Southward to a conclave of design colleagues, I had one thing on my mind-is owning a florist the right thing for me? I’ve been truly lucky to have worked in many other fields besides the florist business-as a fundraiser, grant writer, drama teacher, actor, singer, job recruiter, ad salesperson for Over Fifty magazine, professional scotch taster (oops, that is in my next life). But during all these pursuits, the idea, or better yet, dream, of having my own florist sat on my shoulder whispering to me-a little bit angel, a little bit devil. Entering my seventh year of being a florist owner and progressing deeper into my 40′s, I often think about whether or not this is the right path for me. This weekend’s conference of the Southern Chapter of the American Institute of Floral Designers gave me a chance to answer that question.

The first day of any florist gathering is filled with stories from the front. Owning a florist is not an easy job. Florists compare wounds and battle scars with the zeal and largesse of WWII veterans. After the stories and one-up-manship settles down though, florists get around to the real heart of the matter-why we do what we do.

No floral designer kids themselves into thinking that being a florist is rocket science. We are not going to save the world with an artfully crafted bouquet of daisies. But in sharing our art, our craftmanship, we can make the world a little bit better. We can make a bride feel more beautiful and confident walking down the aisle. We can help a husband in the doghouse avoid a night on the sofa. And we can help a family find comfort and solace as they say goodbye to a loved one. We are there for the good times and the bad times and at the end of the day no one else can do what we do, regardless of how many grocery stores try.

That message, that we as florists are drawn to this work for the art and the artifice, for the rewards AND the sacrifice, resonated with my Max Fischer side. Rene Van Rems, AIFD, CFD, challenged us to connect to our customers with the full hi-test strength of our creativity. He reminded us that if we don’t, someone else will. People can buy flowers from a variety of sources-online, grocery stores, vending machines, gas stations. They are going to buy from a professional florist because they feel a connection to us-to what we do with flowers, to how we share our talents and ideas, to how we listen to their needs.

Surrounded by kindred spirits, I was able to put aside the demands of owning a growing company in the fast paced, numbers laden, profit driven world of retail to find renewed purpose in my work. The EG is more than a business; it is my family, my home away from home. And my customers, who are more aptly called my friends, know that. People know that I have the most talented team, i.e. family, around. They entrust us with their wedding day wish lists, their secret anniversary surprises, their most cherished memories during a time of loss. They come to us because we are quirky and energetic and saucy and passionate. They let us into their lives because they know that just as Max we have found that one thing that we truly, deeply, madly love to do and we wake up every day ready to do it bigger and better and maybe with an exploding helicopter (you have to watch the movie now!). So to my talented team, my amazing florist colleagues, and my valued customers and friends, thank you for helping me know that my little corner of the world, my English Garden, is and will always be my Rushmore.

Hope you enjoy these snapshots of the 2014 Southern AIFD Chapter’s Conference and the fun I-95 journey that got me there. And, I hope you too find your Rushmore!

Cydney

 

Southern Bound. A weekend in St. Simon's Island exploring with fellow floral designers the tie between nature and creativity offered endless inspiration and time for reflection.

Southern Bound. A weekend in St. Simon’s Island exploring with fellow floral designers the tie between nature and creativity offered endless inspiration and time for reflection.

 

What Happens with Pedro Stays with Pedro. Outside of  Vegas, South of the Border has to be one of the most electric spots in the country. Sinfully Southern,  you can't help but love a place with such a divine sense of humor.

What Happens with Pedro Stays with Pedro. Outside of Vegas, South of the Border has to be one of the most electric spots in the country. It’s an unofficial gateway to the South and a Disney bound rite of passage. Sinfully Southern, you can’t help but love a place with such a divine sense of humor.

Bright lights. Big Blooms. Stunning French tulips in a rainbow of colors showcase the amazing product coming from the California market. These tulips provided by Sun Valley are available year-round.

Bright lights. Big Blooms. Stunning French tulips in a rainbow of colors showcase the amazing product coming from the California market. These tulip used in designs throughout the weekend were provided by Sun Valley are available year-round now due to their expanded growing cycle.

Moons Over My Hammyness. No road trip is complete without a stop at Denny's. My new Savannah buddies had fun stories to tell me of the prom dresses and corsages from their shift the previous night.

Moons Over My Hammyness. No road trip is complete without a stop at Denny’s. My new Savannah buddies had fun stories to tell me of the prom dresses and corsages from their shift the previous night.

Fluffy Ruffles. Layer upon layer of petals in these gorgeous magenta gerberas bring a more formal feel to this playful flower. Featured in a simply chic Bridesmaid's bouquet in Rene Van Rems program and provided by Sun Valley Growers from CA.

Fluffy Ruffles. Layer upon layer of petals in these gorgeous magenta gerberas bring a more formal feel to this playful flower. Featured in a simply chic Bridesmaid’s bouquet in Rene Van Rems program and provided by Sun Valley Growers from CA.

It's been a long time since the Palmer welcomed guests on Hwy 301 but the beauty of it's aging facade extend an invitation to think of days gone by.

It’s been a long time since the Palmer welcomed guests on Hwy 301 but the beauty of its aging facade extends an invitation to think of days gone by.

 

The Music of the Spheres. Gray orbs contrast with a pave of orange Santana roses. Chihuly inspired glass platters by Womar Glass, roses by Royal Growers;  Flocked orbs by Knud Nielsen. From the presentation of Brooke Raulerson AIFD CFD

The Music of the Spheres. Gray orbs contrast with a pave of orange Santana roses. Chihuly inspired glass platters by Womar Glass, roses by Royal Growers; flocked orbs by Knud Nielsen. From the presentation of Brooke Raulerson AIFD CFD

Striking designs of yellow and white florals displayed in awesome elevated stands from Accent Decor. The room glowed with warm, inviting florals and candlelight.

Striking designs of yellow and white flowers displayed in awesome elevated stands from Accent Decor. The room glowed with warm, inviting florals and candlelight.

Banana-rama. The invitation said black tie, but we dressed to match the flowers! My fellow florist Carol Dowd, owner and lead designer of Botanicals Fabulous Florals in Southern Pines, NC. Carol is an AIFD board member and has big plans for how NC will play a role in future events for the organization.

Banana-rama. The invitation said black tie, but we dressed to match the flowers! My fellow florist Carol Dowd, owner and lead designer of Botanicals Fabulous Florals in Southern Pines, NC. Carol is an AIFD board member and has big plans for how NC will play a role in future events for the organization.

The Waterfall Effect-Greg Lumm, AIFD, CFD created a design of orchids & callas from Mayesh with dried materials from Knud Nielsen capturing the  line and movement that are the hallmark of an AIFD designer.

The Waterfall Effect-Greg Lumm, AIFD, CFD created a design of orchids & callas from Mayesh with dried materials from Gerry Gregg capturing the line and movement that are the hallmark of an AIFD designer.

Sticks & Stones Inspire Me-Greg Lumm AIFD, CFD, created this floral mobile from stacked driftwood that could easily have come from a neighboring beach (it came from Knud Nielsen). A palette of graduated pinks and greens peek through hinting at the rebirth of spring.

Sticks & Stones & Great Bones.-Greg Lumm AIFD, CFD, created this floral mobile from stacked driftwood that could easily have come from a neighboring beach (it came from Gerry Gregg). A palette of graduated pinks and greens peek through hinting at the rebirth of spring.

Need a little trim. The quirky name of this salon made me think of one of the design principles repeated throughout the weekend- "Give it a trim" meaning in design less is generally more. A design can be lush and full without being stuffed. A perfectly edited blending of materials and colors is a work of art.

Need a little trim. The quirky name of this salon made me think of one of the design principles repeated throughout the weekend- “Give it a trim” meaning in design less is generally more. A design can be lush and full without being stuffed. A perfectly edited blending of materials and colors is a work of art.

 

Southern Culture on the Grids-This triptych created by Brooke Raulser, AIFD, CFD, integrates the warm colors of a Southern sky with unique textural touches speaking to the South's rugged agrarian past. A perfect modern design rooted in the deeper story of our region. Featuring gorgeous florals from Royal Growers and super cool flocked lotus pods, branches and boards from Knud Nielsen.

Southern Culture on the Grids-This triptych created by Brooke Raulser, AIFD, CFD, integrates the warm colors of a Southern sky with unique textural touches speaking to the South’s rugged agrarian past. A perfect modern design rooted in the deeper story of our region. Featuring gorgeous florals from Royal Growers and super cool flocked lotus pods, branches and boards from Knud Nielsen.

 

If These Walls Could Talk-St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church along Georgia's coastal highway. Its weathered tabby walls and patinaed metals speaks to the rich history of the freed slaves it was built to serve.

If These Walls Could Talk-St. Cyprian’s Episcopal Church along Georgia’s coastal highway. Its weathered tabby walls and patinated metals speak to the rich history of the African American community it was built to serve.

Gotta love the B-side. Sometimes the B-track is the real gem. These battered shells I picked up on St. Simon's beach revealed glistening layers of color on the reverse evoking thoughts of fluid glass art.

Gotta love the B-side. Sometimes the flipside is the real gem. These battered shells I picked up on St. Simon’s beach revealed glistening layers of color on the reverse evoking thoughts of fluid glass art.

 

The Mother-of-Pearl rose from Royal Growers is the perfect blending of "blush & bashful." Softly peach with a color graduation that hints at antique lace.

The Shell Seekers. The Mother-of-Pearl rose from Royal Growers is the perfect blending of “blush & bashful.” Softly peach with a color graduation that hints at antique lace.

 

An amazing design that truly captured the concept of the design conference-Where Nature and Creativity Collide. The driftwood contrasted with vibrant flowers evoke thoughts of the South-an aging tobacco barn against an explosive summer sky; an aging tabby church with brick and stone details; a walk through an ancient forest dappled with vivid rhododendrons

An amazing design that truly captured the concept of the design conference-Where Nature and Creativity Collide. The driftwood contrasted with vibrant flowers evoke thoughts of the South-a well-worn tobacco barn against an explosive summer sky; an aging tabby church with brick and stone details; an ancient forest dappled with vivid rhododendrons. Wood elements from Gerry Gregg

 

Not what Lynn Anderson had in mind. You can't drive through SC without satisfying your pyro-cravings. This seemed like the perfect option for a florist. Pretty sure you will see this paired with the Lynn Anderson tune on a future FB post.

Not what Lynn Anderson had in mind. You can’t drive through SC without satisfying your pyro-cravings. This seemed like the perfect option for a florist. Pretty sure you will see this paired with the Lynn Anderson tune on a future FB post.

 

Blast Off. Speaking of explosive color...Rene created an incredible orange and purple bridal design in a faux (in the South that's fox) hand-tied style.

Blast Off. Speaking of explosive color…Rene created an incredible orange and purple bridal design in a faux (in the South that’s fox) hand-tied style.

Gorgeous azaleas and dogwoods were in full bloom all along I-95 from Florence, SC on down south. It's impossible for a Southern designer not to incorporate the vivid colors of our region into design.

Gorgeous azaleas and dogwoods were in full bloom all along I-95 from Florence, SC on down south. It’s impossible for a Southern designer not to incorporate the vivid colors of our region into design.

The marvelous  Brooke Raulerson, AIFD, CFD, showcasing an ombre  presentation of amazing roses from Royal Growers designed in hip aqua ceramics from Accent Decor. The design was featured during her presentation on current trends and selling to a younger market.

The marvelous Brooke Raulerson, AIFD, CFD, showcasing an ombre presentation of amazing roses from Royal Growers designed in hip aqua ceramics from Accent Decor. The design was featured during her presentation on current trends and selling to a younger market.

A dramatic tablescape of designs in a series of sizes and scales showing drama with vintage touches inspired by a "David Tutera-esque" palette of blush and pinks. Designed by Brooke Raulerson and featuring florals from Royal Growers, dried accessories from Knud Nielsen and glassware from Accent Decor.

A tablescape features a blending of vintage touches with a bit of bling inspired by a “David Tutera-esque” palette of blush and pinks. Designed by Brooke Raulerson AIFD CFD and featuring florals from Royal Growers, dried accessories from Knud Nielsen and glassware from Accent Decor.

 

Pick Up Sticks. A whimsical design of  branches and cheery yellows shows the avant garde approach of the conference's design sessions.

Pick Up Sticks. A whimsical design of branches and cheery yellows shows the avant garde approach of the conference’s design sessions.

 

Blooming Buddies-It was great to work one-on-one with Rene Van Rems, AIFD, CFD, and Carol Inskeep, AIFD, CFD in a workshop on advanced techniques and mechanics. They are wunderkind of design!

Blooming Buddies-It was great to work one-on-one with Rene Van Rems, AIFD, CFD, and Carol Inskeep, AIFD, CFD in a workshop on advanced techniques and mechanics. They are wunderkind of design!

A Rushmore Moment: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it10XM_zmwI

 

 

 

If I Had a Hammer….

“If I had a hammer,
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening,
All over this land.”

Pete Seeger couldn’t have written a more perfect tune for the English Garden crew. Give us a hammer and we will get to work! We love our tools and not just the clippers & knives you might expect. Hammers, miter saws, sanders, screw drivers-we are as comfortable with a drill bit as we are a pair of florist shears. It’s not every day that we get to whip out our arsenal of super charged equipment, but when we do, great results are on the drawing board or should we say drafting table.

From large scale projects like 32 foot long custom tables and industrial chic chandeliers to more delicate or detailed items like petite wooden flower girl boxes or custom client portraits, the EG team has tackled a wide assortment of “non-floral” design tasks. When clients require a custom item or are looking for a stand-out detail that something “off the rack” cannot provide, my amazing team and I flip out our sketch pads and brainstorm. Truly “outside the box” ideas (and sometimes a little chaos) ensue. Lauren, Lacey and Renee joke that I’m really a frustrated architect/builder and I would just as soon have a circulating saw in my hands as flower. They are probably right on that count, because I jump at the opportunity to assist any time a client wants to incorporate a piece of furniture, an off the wall element or a “found object” into an event.

Merging architectural pieces, custom containers and unexpected details with beautiful flowers has become a hallmark of our larger scale corporate events and many weddings as well. When trade flower designing for hammering, sanding & painting, the entire EG team is part of the crew. Lauren loves to stain, paint and spackle and is known to literally wear her materials. She’s our resident messy Marvin but the end results are nothing shy of stunning. Amanda B. grew up working with her father’s contracting business so she is something fierce with a nail gun. I always enjoy accompanying her on trips to Lowe’s or Home Depot because she generally tells the staff there how she’s going to do it better. Gene, Nikki, and Elva love handling intricate details like custom painting, calligraphy and antiquing while Renee and Irma are masterful at hammering out the logistics of our custom container concoctions. Amanda H. and Gary are ready and willing to zip all over town hunting for quirky finds at flea markets, antique and thrift stores (and the occasional music store). My sister Lora, an amazing graphic designer, sculptor and visual artist, gets roped in on many occasion assisting with the creation of custom art pieces, backdrops and intimate design details like table numbers and place cards. And don’t think that Lacey is afraid to get her hands dirty. She’s ready to and willing to roll up her sleeves and assist on every project, but it is her uber organizational skills that keep all projects on track and most often under budget. I am always amazed at how a simple sketch I’ve doodled at a meeting can evolve into a fully realized work of art in the hands of my talented team.

So, check out this fun gallery of our “non-floral” designs. Feel free to listen to Pete’s awesome song as you do, unless you prefer Johnny & June’s cover!

Enjoy!                                                                                                                              Cydney & Vivienne

 

For Your Listening Pleasure-                                                                                     Pete Seeger’s If I Had A Hammer                                                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWUSM_KJF_E

Johnny & June Carter Cash’s If I Had A Hammer                              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdXDd0PZYtY

For Your Viewing Pleasure

A Tisket A Tasket, A creativity basket. The staff at Lowe's & Home Depot know us by name and seem consistently amused with our projects & inventions.

A Tisket A Tasket, A creativity basket. The staff at Lowe’s & Home Depot know us by name and seem consistently amused with our projects & inventions. The split rail fencing in this picture became candle filled table runners.

A MOMA-ntous Event-For a corporate art event at a Triangle modern art museum, we constructed a large scale gallery wall constructed to showcase Warhol inspired custom employee portraits

A MOMA-ntous Event-For a corporate art event at a Triangle modern art museum, we constructed a large scale gallery wall constructed to showcase Warhol inspired custom employee portraits

Making A Mark-Rustic chalkboard table runners offer a fun interactive twist to a holiday table

Making A Mark-Rustic chalkboard table runners offer a fun interactive twist to a holiday table

 

Look Ma, no hands! Lauren relishes in her painting fun as she puts finishing touches on "antiqued" farmhouse doors.
Look Ma, no hands! Lauren relishes in her painting fun as she puts finishing touches on “antiqued” farmhouse doors.

 

Dinner is Served...A close-up view of the striking 32 foot modern table built for EG by our friend Tim DeGeus reveals a fun twist-a custom table runner featuring the company's logo crafted from galvanized HVAC ductwork.

Dinner is Served…A close-up view of the striking 32 foot modern table built for EG by our friend Tim DeGeus reveals a fun twist-a custom table runner featuring the company’s logo crafted from galvanized HVAC ductwork.

 

Three's the Charm. A triptych style art piece created by Lora is a playful take on the EG logo.

Three’s the Charm. A triptych style art piece created by Lora is a playful take on the EG logo.

By the Light of the Silvery Industrial Shelving-An innovative take on industrial products results in a stunning 16 foot long chandelier featuring hanging glass votives and colorful LED votives. Suspended above a custom 32 foot table the effect is stunning.

By the Light of the Silvery Industrial Shelving-An innovative take on industrial products results in a stunning 16 foot long chandelier featuring hanging glass votives and colorful LED votives. Suspended above a custom 32 foot table the effect is stunning.

 

 

 

 

 

Purple People Pleaser. An oversized oval table built to accommodate 12-15 guests is finished in a rich shade of aubergine to complement a range of purple florals and mercury glass accessories.

Purple People Pleaser. An oversized oval table built to accommodate 12-15 guests is finished in a rich shade of aubergine to complement a range of purple florals and mercury glass accessories.

How many EG employees does it take to change a light bulb? Quite a few it appears. Installing a large scale candle chandelier for a dinner at downtown Raleigh's CAM.

How many EG employees does it take to change a light bulb? Quite a few it appears. Installing a large scale candle chandelier for a dinner at downtown Raleigh’s CAM.

A custom bar constructed for EG by our wonderful friend Stephen Coppedge utilizes a wonderful interplay of unexpected materials for an industrial chic look

A custom bar constructed for EG by our wonderful friend Stephen Coppedge utilizes a wonderful interplay of unexpected materials for an industrial chic look

 

Are you green with envy? Lauren applies layers of color to standard doors during the antiquing process. She wanted to take these home and install them at her house.

Are you green with envy? Lauren applies layers of color to standard doors during the antiquing process. She wanted to take these home and install them at her house.

 

 

Bedknobs and broomsticks...An assortment of antique staircase spindles and bed posts are transformed into rustic stands for elevated floral designs.

Bedknobs and broomsticks…An assortment of antique staircase spindles and bed posts are transformed into rustic stands for elevated floral designs.

Up, up and away. A colorful collage of lanterns and orbs in a mix of vibrant hues is a dramatic installation for a corporate event.

Up, up and away. A colorful collage of lanterns and orbs in a mix of vibrant hues is a dramatic installation for a corporate event.

 

Suspended animation...hanging custom fabric banners created for a corporate event. We all flipped a coin to see who got to use the lift!

Suspended animation…hanging custom fabric banners created for a corporate event. We all flipped a coin to see who got to use the lift!

Distressed wooden table runners created by Lauren contrast beautifully with hand thrown pottery and antique linen napkins, the latter found on one of my flea market excursions. Lauren also brought tobacco from her parents' farm to pair with a bevy of NC grown florals.

Distressed wooden table runners created by Lauren contrast beautifully with hand thrown pottery and antique linen napkins, the latter found on one of my flea market excursions. Lauren also brought tobacco from her parents’ farm to pair with a bevy of NC grown florals.

On the drawing board...creating beautiful palettes of paint and materials is one of our favorite parts of the design process

On the drawing board…creating beautiful palettes of paint and materials is one of our favorite parts of the design process

You better not get out of line when Lora's on the job. A trip to Lowe's or Jerry's Artarama with my baby sis is always a walk on the wild side.

You better not get out of line when Lora’s on the job. A trip to Lowe’s or Jerry’s Artarama with my baby sis is always a walk on the wild side.

An arbor crafted from willow branches and miles of flowing ribbon creates a beautiful ceremony setting with a fantastical touch.

An arbor crafted from willow branches and miles of flowing ribbon creates a beautiful ceremony setting with a fantastical touch.

 

 

UGG Protection. Lauren suits up for one of her infamous painting projects.

UGG Protection. Lauren suits up for one of her infamous painting projects.

 

Is this the EG or the Woodwright's Shop? Amanda B. cut her building chops working with her dad and employs them on all types of EG projects.

Is this the EG or the Woodwright’s Shop? Amanda B. cut her building chops working with her dad and employs them on all types of EG projects.

 

 

Elva in action creating custom chalkboard table runners for a holiday party

Elva in action creating custom chalkboard table runners for a holiday party

A sleek white wooden table is the perfect foundation for a vivid setting of red and teal accessories and crisp white florals.

A custom table in a sleek modern white finish is the perfect foundation for a setting of vivid red and teal accessories and crisp white florals.

 

 

 

Tis’ The Season-Wedding Season

The sun’s peeking through with glimmers of hope that snow has passed. Birds chirp a happy tune at the passing of the cold. Cherry blossoms tease us with their rosy blush. These signs can only mean one thing. It’s spring, right? Well, almost, that comes on March 21st, but for those of us in the wedding industry it is the beginning of “The Season”.

Engagements announced at Christmas and Valentines result in a frenzy of phone calls to book vendors for summer and fall weddings. Brides with Pinterest boards and inspiration albums begin their vendor search with visions of a perfect wedding day. And at the English Garden, we’ve been taking our vitamins and sharpening our design tools in hopes of matching the boundless energy and enthusiasm of our amazing brides-to-be.

At The English Garden, we do a lot of weddings. It’s become what we are known for, so much so in fact, that a friend quipped to me the other day that my staff and I are the “Wedding Queens” of the Triangle. Now this is also the friend who tells me I’m having a good hair day when my cowlick is standing four inches off my head and that my bottom looks smaller when I am obviously wearing my “Mom” jeans, but I’ll take her wonderful sobriquet as the great compliment to my staff that it is. Royalty or not, my staff is amazing and I believe that they are the most talented and knowledgeable around and they LOVE doing weddings.  But for me, hearing the term “Wedding Queen” while wonderful is still a bit foreign & surprising and something I feel is more akin to calling Ebenezer Scrooge the “King of Christmas.”

Just like Ebenezer didn’t always understand the true meaning of Christmas, it has taken me awhile to learn just how much our level of service and care and attention means to our bridal clients. When I opened The English Garden, I didn’t set out for it to be wedding central. I grew up in a florist where funeral sprays outnumbered bridal bouquets 3 to 1. I in no way considered wedding flowers my bailey-wick, as a matter of fact, I didn’t much care for weddings. My close friends and family know this, but most people don’t know that my wedding day was more akin to a SNL skit than a day to record in the family album. Our conservative families didn’t see the need for formal, large wedding as we had lived together many years and it was Warren’s second wedding. So, my childhood vision of a simple ceremony on a country farm was traded for a harried “production” number in Vegas complete with a German Elvis clad in a translucent jumpsuit, a bumbling minister in a double knit brown leisure suit, towering bouquets of silk flowers, and piped in Hooked on Classics Muzak. Topped off with the fiasco of changing into my wedding dress in the middle of the afternoon on the Vegas Strip while our possibly tipsy limo driver treated us to a rousing rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing’”, my wedding day generated more guffaws than ahhhhs.

Overwhelmed by the frenzy of a whirlwind wedding, I failed to put the brakes on to make sure our wedding day reflected the things my husband and I love. As a love struck bride relieved that I was finally getting hitched, I didn’t feel entitled to ask for my favorite things-a bridal bouquet of Easter lilies and freesia, a bluegrass band playing Into the Mystic, an endless supply of banana pudding for dessert.  Thirteen years later, I can certainly find the humor in my wedding day mayhem, but I’ve also found the poignancy of those “lost” choices and that has become an unexpected source of inspiration and solace. I realize that I’ve been given a “second chance” to make wedding dreams come true by having the opportunity to help brides and grooms create beautiful and meaningful weddings.

My talented team and I work tirelessly to help a couple find their design “voice” in crafting decor that is about their style, their vision and their budget. We ask the easy and hard questions-”What do you like? What do you not like? What is most important to you? What would be your dream wedding? What can you live without if budget becomes an issue?” We work with a couple every step of the way to ensure that every detail is not only covered but perfectly so. At the end of the day, our goal is to help a couple select floral and decor elements that align beautifully with their vision and within their budget.

In 2014, we will design flowers for our 1,000 bridal couple. Seven years ago when starting my business, I could never have envisioned arriving at this milestone. I don’t know if this makes us the “Wedding Queens” of the Triangle or not, but I’m truly honored that so many couples have extended an invitation to us to share in their walk down the aisle.

To read our reviews please visit our Wedding Wire site here

Sarah + Don

Sarah + Don

Meredith

Meredith

Travis

Travis

Nicole

Nicole

Katrina + Brent

Katrina + Brent

nancyray-megmatwed-3002

Lauren + Derek

Lauren + Derek

Kate

Kate

Melissa

Melissa

Stephanie + Bridal Party

Stephanie + Bridal Party

Tracy+Bridal Party

Tracy+Bridal Party

Carly

Carly

Mary Cameron + Brian

Mary Cameron + Brian

Janet

Janet

Lauri + Aaron

Lauri + Aaron

Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s the night before another Valentine’s Day at the English Garden. This year, it’s a rollercoaster ride of ice, snow, adrenaline and strategic delivery plans. It’s my 8th V-Day as the owner of my own florist. My first 33 Valentines were spent in my parents’ flower shop. I’d like to say that I’ve come to my senses and am now writing my great American novel from a tropical beach somewhere, but no, I’m still burning the midnight oil in the family industry. But after all these years around roses and balloons and teddy bears, I can say that one thing has changed- my appreciation of just what a Valentine is.Growing up in a florist, Valentine’s always meant long days with little sleep and lots and lots of roses. Flowers were the family biz and it took all hands on deck to ensure a successful holiday. Aside from de-thorning roses and tying countless bows, Valentine’s Day held little meaning for me, as my family, for religious reasons, didn’t celebrate it or any other traditional holidays. I didn’t grow up exchanging Charlie’s Angels and Scooby Doo Valentine cards with classmates or wishing that the cute boy in class would give me a box of sweetheart candy or maybe if I was really lucky- a rose in a budvase.

Of course now at 41 years of age, I’ve celebrated quite a few Valentine’s since my first one at age 18 when my college boyfriend Andrew gave me a teddy bear and a beautiful bouquet of roses from OuiBits Flower Shop (where I worked when not attending classes.) Each one has been special and sweet and the holiday has grown in meaning each and every year. So restless after a 16 hour day at the florist and wide awake from the anxiety of hoping that every order delivered tomorrow is perfectly executed and joyfully received, I’m sitting with my laptop and a very conservative pour of scotch thinking about what Valentine’s at the midpoint of my life means to me. I might not have arrived at the perfect definition, but I think it’s a start.

A Valentine Is……

 

Having a perpetual ray of sunshine in your life like my amazing Vivienne

Having a perpetual ray of sunshine in your life like my amazing Vivienne

Having a real firecracker for a Mom

Having a real firecracker for a Mom

The people in your life who help you get your groove on

The people in your life who help you get your groove on

 

Finding an ally who can be your greatest cheerleader and your truest critic and do both with honesty & love.

Finding an ally who can be your greatest cheerleader and your truest critic and do both with honesty & love.

That pal that thinks you look smashing with a chocolate moustache.

That pal that thinks you look smashing with a chocolate moustache.

 

Friends who are blond & dangerous

Friends who are blond & dangerous

 

A daughter so incredible that you wish you had more than one life time to spend with her

A daughter so incredible that you wish you had more than one life time to spend with her

Building a successful company that feels more like a family than a business

Building a successful company that feels more like a family than a business

A friend who calls you Rita just because you like it

A friend who calls you Rita just because you like it

Knowing that adorable couple who help you know the meaning of "smitten"

Knowing that adorable couple who help you know the meaning of “smitten”

Celebrating winter's last hurrah (we hope) with fellow snowbunnies

Celebrating winter’s last hurrah (we hope) with fellow snowbunnies

That member of your team who selflessly shares her talent & on occasion her perfectly cooked lunch.

That member of your team who selflessly shares her talent & on occasion her perfectly cooked lunch.

People who find common ground and friendship over a perfect slice of cheesecake

People who find common ground and friendship over a perfect slice of cheesecake

 

Finding that friend who helps you build the perfect playlist.

Finding that friend who helps you build the perfect playlist.

That member of your team who never misses a detail.

That member of your team who never misses a detail.

Furry pals whose only requirement for undying love is bacon

Furry pals whose only requirement for undying love is bacon

Someone to play dress up with

Someone to play dress up with

 

A girlfriend who is worse at holding her liquor than  you are

A girlfriend who is worse at holding her liquor than you are

Finding colleagues that you want to break bread & do business with.

Breaking bread and doing business with people you both like and trust

 

A colleague, running buddy, fellow mom who challenges you to be better at everything you do

A colleague, running buddy, fellow mom who challenges you to be better at everything you do

Girlfriends who make you feel hip

Girlfriends who make you feel hip

 

A buddy who prefers a trip to the pumpkin patch over the spa.

A buddy who prefers a trip to the pumpkin patch over the spa.

 

Loved ones who make you feel on top of the world even when you're not looking out at Paris from a ferris wheel

Loved ones who make you feel on top of the world even when you’re not looking out at Paris from a ferris wheel

An amazing Dad who isn't afraid to get in touch with his inner Taylor Swift.

An amazing Dad who isn’t afraid to get in touch with his inner Taylor Swift.

 

A sister who makes you look beyond the horizon to see the world for all that it can be.

A sister who makes you look beyond the horizon to see the world for all that it can be.

Friends who help you discover your inner cowgirl.

Friends who help you discover your inner cowgirl.

 

That buddy who can change a tire, nail a board and always come to your rescue

That buddy who can change a tire, nail a board and always come to your rescue

A superwoman friend who drags you to her 5:30 am cycling class and then meets you for dinner & drinks the very same evening.

A superwoman friend who drags you to her 5:30 am cycling class and then meets you for dinner & drinks the very same evening.

 

Scenes from A Wedding Show

I don’t get a lot of chances to spend Sunday with my glamorous & talented team. This past Sunday was an exception as Lauren, Lacey, Renee, Nikki & Mariela joined me for the 2014 Carolina Inn Bridal Showcase. The English Garden team was honored to be a featured floral vendor for the fourth year in a row.

The Showcase was held at the beautiful historic Inn on Sunday, January 26th. The day, carefully orchestrated & planned by the amazing Carolina Inn team led by Heidi Werner, gave brides the opportunity to meet seasoned vendors from throughout the Triangle. Florists, bakers, photographers, make-up artists, deejays, lighting specialists, stationary experts, you name it and the show had it.

Brides also enjoyed the chance to see the latest bridal fashions in a beautifully produced runway show. This year the show included expert advice from some of the industry’s best including Joe Bunn of Joe Bunn DJ Company, Megan Gililkin of A Southern Soiree, Christobal Perez of Azul Photography and Erin McLean of Erin McLean Events.

It’s always a blast for us to put together our booth design. This year the EG team designed a gorgeous display that showcased a vibrant palette of pink florals paired with champagne and aqua linens. Lora Stocker of Stocker Designs created a striking backdrop for us showcasing our logo in vivid teal which contrasted with our pink florals perfectly.

As you know, we are true flower fanatics and would include one of every variety cultivated if room permitted. We wanted this year’s display to emphasize not only our love of flowers but also our team’s incredible knowledge of wedding design. With a combined 100+ years experience among our ten member design team, we are a design powerhouse. And did we mention that (except for Gene & Jimmy) we do it in heels!

Our showcase display for 2014 featured a bounty of beautiful blooms from an array of our favorite vendors including Hardin’s Wholesale, Florabundance, Nelson’s Blooms, Mayesh-California and Virgin Farms. It was great to see a couple of our vendors pop in at the show to wish us their best and check out our finished booth.

The 2014 show was a wonderful experience for the English Garden team. Special thanks to the Carolina Inn team and to the incredibly talented Triangle wedding vendors featured. You inspire us to be our best and we are honored to be in your company.

And, last but certainly not least, kudos to my design team of Renee, Lauren, Lacey, Irma, Gene, and Pam assisted by our set-up team of Mariela, Nikki, Austin, Jimmy and Gary who braved cold temps and a 6:30 am start to ensure we were “dressed” in our Sunday best! I couldn’t do it without you!

We look forward to hearing from the beautiful brides-to-be that we met on Sunday. For those of you who couldn’t make the show, enjoy this snapshot of our wonderful day!

All the best,

Cydney

Lacey has been an integral member of the EG team for almost three years,. With her background in event management & planning, Lacey was a perfect addition to the EG team. With her creativity & flower knowledge, it's hard to believe she hasn't always been in the florist business. Brides love her out of the box ideas, practical suggestions and her uber organizational skills.

Lacey has been an integral member of the EG team for almost three years. With her background in event management & planning, Lacey was a perfect addition to the EG team. With her creativity & flower knowledge, it’s hard to believe she hasn’t always been in the florist business. Brides love her out of the box ideas, practical suggestions and her uber organizational skills.

 

Our very own EG bride-to-be, Lauren, who will become Mrs. Becton in May! Lauren has been with EG since almost the beginning. Funny to think that my senior employee is young enough to be my daughter! Lauren is an incredible designer. Clients love her whimsical style and value her fastidious attention to detail.

Our very own EG bride-to-be, Lauren, who will become Mrs. Becton in May! Lauren has been with EG since almost the beginning. Funny to think that my senior employee is young enough to be my daughter! Lauren is an incredible designer capable way beyond her years. Clients love her whimsical style and value her fastidious attention to detail.

 

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The adorable & talented Nikki, who manages social media & classes for EG, models a lovely design of all white florals with pops of inky centered anemones. Nikki says she would LOVE to carry a bouquet like this on her wedding day. Hint, hint Jason!

Lauren & Mariela pose for a quick picture before a bevy of brides arrive at the Carolina Inn Wedding Show. This was Mariela's first wedding show with the EG team and she was a rock star! Mariela manages all of our flower inventory as well as assisting on wedding & event installations.

Lauren & Mariela pose for a quick picture before a bevy of brides arrive at the Carolina Inn Wedding Show. This was Mariela’s first wedding show with the EG team and she was a rock star! Mariela manages all of our flower inventory as well as assisting on wedding & event installations.

 

Our stunning floral display showcasing a bevy of pink florals from our favorite floral vendors. We are real flower nerds, so we truly enjoy an opportunity to show off all the blooms we love!

Our stunning floral display showcasing a garden of pink florals from our favorite vendors. We are true flower fashionistas, so we savor an opportunity to put the blooms we love on the “runway!”

 

Orchids Oh My! These rosy pink cymbidium orchids lend a sleek shape & a hint of tropical flair to any palette.

Orchids Oh My! These rosy pink cymbidium orchids lend a sleek shape & a hint of tropical flair to any palette.

My beautiful team! From LtoR: Lacey, Renee, me, Lauren. We're Blonde & Dangerous, with flowers that is!

My beautiful team! From LtoR: Lacey, Renee, me, Lauren. We’re Blonde & Dangerous, with flowers that is! Renee is our ROCK! She keeps everything moving along in the design room and does so with incredible style & panache. A lifelong florist having grown up in her Mom’s shop, she possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of flowers and is masterful at helping brides develop sumptuous floral palettes. She is a wonderful mentor to our entire design team turning every day into a hands-on workshop; that is in between her regaling us with stories of her latest Living Social or workout class find.

Our amazing graphic designer Lora Stocker of Stocker Designs created this custom backdrop for us showcasing our fun logo (which she also created). Our super talented designer Gene, who is also our resident handy-man, created the floral pave of hot pink carnations and Attache roses highlighting the triptych effect of the artwork.

Our amazing graphic designer Lora Stocker of Stocker Designs created this custom backdrop for us showcasing our fun logo (which she also created). Our super talented designer Gene, who is also our resident handy-man, created the floral pave of hot pink carnations and Attache roses highlighting the triptych effect of the artwork.

Lush garnet roses from our rose specialist Gary Nelson at Nelson's Blooms contrast beautifully with graduated pink blooms.

Lush garnet roses from our rose specialist Gary Nelson at Nelson’s Blooms contrast beautifully with graduated pink blooms.

Plum Perfect! A beautiful blending of orchids, peonies, roses, hyacinth, scabiosa, and fun "chocolate" Queen Anne's lace showcasing the full range of pink florals.

Plum Perfect! A beautiful blending of orchids, peonies, roses, hyacinth, scabiosa, and fun “chocolate” Queen Anne’s lace showcasing the full range of pink florals.

One of our signature items, perfect for a rustic wedding. Hand-lettered birch boxes dressed with pretty floral and ribbon touches for an adorable Ringbearer & Flowergirl

One of our signature items, perfect for a rustic wedding. Hand-lettered birch boxes dressed with pretty floral and ribbon touches for an adorable Ringbearer & Flowergirl

A gallery worthy boutonniere composed of delicate textural elements including heather and dusty miller.

A gallery worthy boutonniere composed of delicate textural elements including heather and dusty miller.

 

Dynamic duo of boutonnieres featuring a flawless anemone bloom and a delicate pink majolica spray rose.

Dynamic duo of boutonnieres featuring a flawless anemone bloom and a delicate pink majolica spray rose.

Hot Pink Mama! Love these gorgeous Canadian gerberas from our great friend Wayne at NC's largest floral wholesaler Hardins.

Hot Pink Mama! Love these gorgeous Canadian gerberas from our great friend Wayne at NC’s largest floral wholesaler Hardins.

 

Graduated shades of pink glow in the light of an eclectic candle display.

Graduated shades of pink glow in the light of an eclectic candle display.

We promised you a rose garden. All visitors to the EG booth received a fragrant pink rose. We featured hot pink Attache and light pink Titanic and Anna varieties from our incredible vendor Hardins. Of course, our adorable sales rep, Wayne Giles, selected only the best for us!

We promised you a rose garden. All visitors to the EG booth received a fragrant pink rose. We featured hot pink Attache and light pink Titanic and Anna varieties from our incredible vendor Hardins. Of course, our handsome sales rep, Wayne Giles, selected only the best for us!

 

Yum! Gorgeous plummy pink ranunculus from our "Miami connection" Joe at Virgin Farms.

Yum! Gorgeous plummy pink ranunculus from our “Miami connection” Joe at Virgin Farms.

A luscious palette of pinks perfect features rice flower, roses, peonies, and sweet pea.

A luscious palette of perfect pinks features rice flower, roses, peonies, and sweet pea.

Showstopping white anemones from our friend Jenna at Florabundance in California. Paired with an assortment of white blooms and textural accents and finished with a fun sash of chevron burlap.

Showstopping white anemones from our friend Jenna at Florabundance in California. Paired with an assortment of white blooms and textural accents and finished with a fun sash of chevron burlap.

Pink perfection. Gorgeous Sarah Bernhardt peonies from our wonderful sales rep Laura at Mayesh-California.

Pink perfection. Gorgeous Sarah Bernhardt peonies from our wonderful sales rep Laura at Mayesh-California.

The Perfect Accessory

When a saucy group of fashionistas like the EG ladies works together daily, there WILL be talk of fab shoes, handbag finds and sales!

Lauren, Cydney & Lacey are all smiles at a holiday event

Lauren, Cydney & Lacey are all smiles at a holiday event

Lauren & Renee "accessorizing" with a floral garland for a photo shoot.Lauren & Renee “accessorizing” with a floral garland for a photo shoot.

Nikki brightens our day with her fun sense of styleNikki brightens our day with her fun sense of style

Renee is always sporting some amazing handmade jewelry find. Lauren keeps us current with cocktail dress styles as she plans for her spring wedding. Lacey is our scarf girl & has a degree in how to “tie-one-on.” Nikki, Irma & Mariela are the hair experts arriving nearly every day with a fun twist or new do. And Cydney is the Imelda of the group with a shoe obsession that ranges from duck boots to D’Orsay pumps.

The EG ladies know how to accessorize and bring that same “fashion” sense to their design of beautiful wedding bouquets. We like to think that a bridal bouquet is the finishing accessory to a perfect wedding day look. It should be just enough but not too much. Elegant and classic but with a modern sensibility. Perfectly proportioned and as comfortable to carry as an your favorite old jeans are to wear. Every bouquet crafted for a bride is unique. No two are alike and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Viv, the youngest EG diva, loves playing with her mom's shoe collection

Viv, the youngest EG diva, loves playing with her mom’s shoe collection

Even when a bride walks in with an inspiration picture proclaiming, “I want this bouquet”, we work with her to make even subtle tweaks and changes to ensure that the bouquet is distinctly hers. During an initial consultation, we discuss with a client the types of flowers she likes, the style and size of bouquet she envisions carrying and how she wants her bouquet to complement her dress. BUT to truly personalize her bouquet, we will address other details like what sentimental elements can be incorporated into her bouquet-maybe an heirloom pin or a favorite floral element; how the bouquet will be finished and banded; how the bouquet will photograph and the list goes on. We also like to gain a sense of the bride-to-be’s personal style so that we will create for her a bouquet that feels like a natural extension of who she is. If possible, we create a mock-up of the bouquet in advance for a formal portrait session so that the bride can get a full idea of how all the elements-hair, make-up, jewelry, flowers-will come together on her big day.

The past wedding season brought us a bevy of amazing brides with a runway full of sump·tu·ous bouquets. Here are but a few of our favorites ranging from classic to quirky, romantic to edgy. Enjoy this fashion spread and when you are ready to plan your big day, let our talented team help you accessorize!

A gorgeous mounded bouquet of hydrangea, large Canadian gerberas and ranunculus in graduated pinks. Scabiosa pod & helleborus contrast with the dark centers of the gerberas.

A gorgeous mounded bouquet of hydrangea, large Canadian gerberas and ranunculus in graduated pinks. Scabiosa pod & helleborus contrast with the dark centers of the gerberas. Lauren Mann Photography

 

 

It's all in the details. A sweet banding of vintage lace and a keepsake flamingo pin also incorporated into the Mothers' florals capture the bride's love of family.  Elizabeth Cayton Photography

It’s all in the details. A sweet banding of vintage lace and a keepsake flamingo pin also incorporated into the Mothers’ florals capture the bride’s love of family. Elizabeth Cayton Photography

 

A monobotanical presentation of white phalaenopsis orchids is dramatic in and of itself. When designed with a strong architectural line and paired with the simplest accents of willow and lily grass the bouquet transcends the classic cascade & becomes an unforgettable accessory. Photo by Dennis Kwan

A monobotanical presentation of white phalaenopsis orchids is dramatic in and of itself. When designed with a strong architectural line and paired with the simplest accents of willow and lily grass the bouquet transcends the classic cascade & becomes an unforgettable accessory. Photo by Dennis Kwan

 

Luscious purple blooms are perfect for a summer garden wedding. Purple can be a tricky color to photograph; incorporating a range of purple tones and subtle hints of light green and gray keep the design vivid and bright. Photography by Megan Kime.

Luscious purple blooms are perfect for a summer garden wedding. Purple can be a tricky color to photograph; incorporating a range of purple tones and subtle hints of light green and gray keep the design vivid and bright. Photography by Megan Kime.

Accents of feathers, glittery branches and beads capture the bride's wish for a winter wonderland feel. Keeping the palette soft and neutral  in graduated shades of white, ivory and light gray ensures the look is sophisticated and classic.

Accents of feathers, glittery branches and beads capture the bride’s wish for a winter wonderland feel. Keeping the palette soft and neutral in graduated shades of white, ivory and light gray ensures the look is sophisticated and classic.

An all white bouquet is unparalleled in its elegance. Incorporating a range of white tones gives the classic design a modern twist while preserving the timeless feel. When selecting a bouquet for a gown with intricate details of lace and beading, a simple color palette offers the perfect finishing touch. Photo by Lauren Mann

An all white bouquet is unparalleled in its elegance. Incorporating a range of white tones gives the classic design a modern twist while preserving the timeless feel. When selecting a bouquet for a gown with intricate details of lace and beading, a simple color palette offers the perfect finishing touch. Photo by Lauren Mann

A soft, subtle color study in peaches and blush tones with subtle contrasts of pale green, gray and blue. Designed for an early fall wedding the textural accents make a lighter palette perfectly at home in the season. Photography by Blue Barn

A soft, subtle color study in peach and blush tones with subtle contrasts of pale green, gray and blue. Designed for an early fall wedding the textural accents make a lighter palette perfectly at home in the season. Photography by Blue Barn

Bold contrasts in color interpreted in a modern handtied bouquet featuring a simple floral palette of peonies, orchids, tulips & ranunculus. Beaded accents offer a signature touch. Photography by Ellen LeRoy.

Bold contrasts in color interpreted in a modern handtied bouquet featuring a simple floral palette of peonies, orchids, tulips & ranunculus. Beaded accents offer a signature touch. Photography by Ellen LeRoy.

Few accessories equal the drama of a boldly hued cascading bouquet. Lilies, orchids, and callas in sumptuous hues of purple and plum create an unforgettable design.

Few accessories equal the drama of a boldly hued cascading bouquet. Lilies, orchids, and callas in sumptuous hues of purple and plum create an unforgettable design.

Vibrant yellow speaks to the joy found on a wedding day. The unexpected twist of football mums in the bouquet offer fullness and texture paired with roses, ranunculus and craspedia. Kelly Martin Photography

Vibrant yellow speaks to the joy found on a wedding day. The unexpected twist of football mums in the bouquet offers fullness and texture paired with roses, ranunculus and craspedia. Kelly Martin Photography

Wispy hints of babies breath correspond to the delicate lace details of the bride's gown. Garden roses, Queen Anne's lace, and hydrangea create a perfect bridal palette. Perry Vaile Photography

Wispy hints of babies breath correspond to the delicate lace details of the bride’s gown. Garden roses, Queen Anne’s lace, and hydrangea create a perfect bridal palette. Perry Vaile Photography

An elegant gathering of blue, green & white florals Photo by Lauren Mann

Sweetly Southern. An elegant gathering of blue, green & white florals with an emphasis on hydrangea and roses is a beautiful look any time of the year. Photo by Lauren Mann

Just Tee-sing

For fashion-forward blooms, you know the English Garden team is tops, but did you also know that we are forward thinking, trend-setting fashionistas as well. Equipped with some neat graphics a la Lora Davis Stocker of Stocker Designs and Amanda Coppedge of I Do Design and a little word play from Cydney, the EG team has created a closet full of must-have tees suitable for any occasion.

Lauren sports her tee for some happy crafting

Lauren sports her tee for some happy crafting.

Actually, we aren’t ready for New York fashion week, but we do have a great time creating fun, seasonal tees to promote The EG and our love of flowers. The way we see it, if a tee shirt can commemorate crazy spring break antics, craft beer and rock bands, one can certainly extol the values of buying flowers.

One of our most popular shirts yet! We had a lot of takers for this one. Wink, wink!

One of our most popular shirts yet! We had a lot of takers for this one. Wink, wink!

Each year we create several tee shirt designs either for a specific holiday like Valentine’s Day or St. Patty’s Day (our favorite) or for a favorite season (we love fall!). Our tees used to be a staff thing, but our groovy designs caught on so now we do tee giveaways for our favorite customers, at our classes and for vendors. It’s always a fun surprise to see someone sporting a shirt out about town. And the fashion choice pays off; we are pretty certain more than one of our handsome single firemen has gotten a phone number or two from donning an EG shirt.

A fun 2012 Father's day shirt

A fun 2012 Father’s day shirt.

We couldn't keep these around; Pretty sure this shirt had something to do with the baby boom of 2012 We couldn’t keep these around. Pretty sure this shirt had something to do with the baby boom of 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

We spread beauty and joy with this fun spring design.

We spread beauty and joy with this fun spring design.

For fall, Lora is perfecting a couple of on-point holiday designs. A tee for our design series featuring our “Pretty Girls with Knives” catchphrase is up next. If you’d like an EG tee or have a cool design idea, send us a message at info@englishgardenraleigh.com. If you have a fun picture to share of you sporting an EG shirt, please tag us on Facebook or Instagram.

“Sight To Behold” Visit

The EG crew was busily designing away this afternoon when we got a fun surprise visit from Fraser Orr, owner of our fantabulous, amazing vendor Hardins Wholesale.  We carry on a healthy phone and email relationship with Fraser and our topnotch sales rep, Wayne, discussing flower and product shipments at all times of the day, but we don’t generally get to see either of them as Hardins is located in the metropolis of Liberty and we are in Raleighwood.

The beginnings of a beautiful altar design with Hardins florals & glassware

The beginnings of a beautiful altar design with Hardins florals & glassware

Fraser dropped in to check out this week’s controlled chaos at the EG (let’s just say it is wedding & event central). With eight designers and five master preppers working away, the EG was a sight to behold. We’re thinking Fraser was impressed and hopefully approving of how all the gorgeous Hardins floral product was looking in our designs.

We talk a lot in our blog and on social media about our favorite local farms and about the specialized vendors who ship us product from all over the place-Alaska, Israel, Holland, Apex (got to plug our Carolina farms!). But the pillars of our industry don’t always get the kudos they deserve. Hardins is one of those pillars. Since 1934, Hardins has served the Carolinas and beyond with incredible flowers and a wide range of floral supplies.  As our industry has evolved into a system of specialized vendors offering narrow, focused product portfolios, there are few vendors left who can essentially cover all of a florist’s needs. From flower foam to fragrant freesia, Hardins is a florist’s one-stop-shop.

A colorful, sophisticated design by Renee utilizing an array of Hardins' products

A colorful, sophisticated design by Renee utilizing an array of Hardins’ products

On a weekly basis, Hardins provides us with amazing fresh flowers, operational supplies and an ever expanding selection of vases and gift items.  Our principal sales rep, Wayne (who also happens to be a pool shark), works closely with Lauren and Renee in sourcing the very best product for our daily, wedding and event work.  With a few clicks of a mouse or a quick phone call, Wayne can procure peonies from the Midwest, tulips from Holland and orchids from Hawaii. And when we need some fun ribbon choices and whimsical balloons Wayne can help us with those selections too. Fraser is working with us to expand the scope of our product offerings while streamlining our shipping methods to ensure that product remains in cold chain during shipping and handling. We are also working with Fraser and his principal buyer Paul to incorporate a broader range of local and seasonal products sourced through Hardins in the designs featured in our class series.

We couldn't love Wayne more! He is the best and treats us like we are his one and only customer. Nikki snapped this picture with him during a flower pick-up

We couldn’t love Wayne more! He is the best and treats us like we are his one and only customer. Nikki snapped this picture with him during a flower pick-up

Check out some of the beautiful Hardins’ blooms chillin’ in our cooler this week. Better yet, call us and place an order for a gorgeous bouquet! To learn more about Hardins, check out their facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hardins-Wholesale-Florist-Supply/126682724079755 .

More About Hardin’s Wholesale From Fraser Orr

Hardin’s Wholesale Florist Supply, a wholesale distributor providing a complete source for all your floral needs. Our commitment is to provide unsurpassed service and the highest quality products.
Our commitment to the best customer service and a wide range of availability translates to one stop shopping for your needs and convenience. We are a complete service company, providing the highest quality blooming and green plants, fresh cut flowers and greens, pre-made arrangements, along with a complete line of floral supplies. We offer rapid turn-around time for orders, which makes us the obvious choice for the products you need.
At Hardin’s, your satisfaction is our goal. Your sales representative will be happy to discuss quantity discounts with you. Cut flowers and plants have volatile pricing, so please call or email us for current prices.

Perennial fall favorites-orange lilies from Hardins weekly lily assortment

Perennial fall favorites-orange lilies from Hardins weekly lily assortment

Hardin’s opened for business in 1934, when Myrtle Hardin began growing flowers in her yard and making her own floral arrangements. We began with a woman’s love of flowers and have grown to become the Carolina’s largest complete source for cut flowers, potted plants, pre-made arrangements and floral supplies.

Love this Carolina grown Sweet William from Hardins

Love this Carolina grown Sweet William from Hardins

Hardin’s state-of-the-art 80,000 square foot headquarters includes a warehouse for floral supplies, 4,000 square feet of cut flower cooler space, a 6,000 square foot designer showroom, an 8,000 square foot greenhouse, and a pre-made arrangements department. The entire inventory includes over 14,000 items, 250 plant varieties and 150 cut flower and green varieties. Our fleet of trucks travels covers a 250-mile radius, within the states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. We also ship throughout the United States.

Vibrant purple lisianthus and gorgeous pink roses add pop to any bouquet

Vibrant purple lisianthus and gorgeous pink roses add pop to any bouquet

Wispy petals of perfection in seasonal Hardins mums

Wispy petals of perfection in seasonal Hardins mums

Just another day at the EG.

Irma creates a vibrant summer design for an evening dinner reservation.

Irma creates a vibrant summer design for an evening dinner reservation.

“This looks like so much fun!”  “You must love what you do!” “This place is like a reality show!” That’s right, Duck Dynasty has nothing on us. Every day at the English Garden brings a buzz of activity and fun, interesting projects. Phones ringing, flowers arriving, designs being created for delivery, brides coming in to discuss flowers for the “Big Day”, customers dropping in for a quick bouquet. What seems like routine to us probably looks like a party OR circus to anyone else. Party or circus, it is always fun!

So what is an average day like at the EG? First thing in the morning, Lauren, Lacey and Marlene juggle phones, emails, and any follow-up from the previous day while Irma preps for the day’s orders. Linda keeps things humming along in her role as number cruncher and office coordinator extraordinaire. As flower shipments start arriving, things kick into high gear with Mayra processing and sorting flowers as quickly as they come in the door. Most of our flowers arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday but we receive product daily so managing the care and handling of these delicate blooms is a big job. Deliveries come from local growers and vendors but many days, like today, we will also receive shipments via FedEx, UPS and Southwest at the airport. In today’s arrivals, we had sunflowers from Amy Conrad’s local farm, hydrangea and roses from our friends at Bella Fiore, amazing dahlias from Mayesh-California, gorgeous gladiolus from Hardin’s Wholesale, and peonies from one of our favorite Dutch growers.

As orders are placed and bouquets are created, the delivery system kicks into high gear. Daily deliveries take our drivers to all corners of the Triangle and our crew of Kent, Joe, Chris, Mike and Gary put the “petals” to the metal to keep our clients happy. It’s always fun to see what the day will bring and just what sweet message will accompany a bouquet. Today’s deliveries ran the gamut from lasting love to moving remembrances-flowers for a 30th anniversary celebration in Raleigh; beautiful sunflower designs for a Cary Academy event; memorial flowers to Durham and business gifts to Chapel Hill.

While our designing divas-Irma, Lauren, Renee, Elva and Judy- and fella-Gene, work their flower magic, Lacey is busy as a bee coordinating design ideas, budgets and logistics for our beautiful brides! With a background in event and hospitality management, Lacey is a master at juggling the many components required for flawless wedding florals. Today’s calendar saw her sharing design ideas with a 2014 bride, finessing last minute details for an upcoming October fete and meeting offsite for a design mock-up with a fabulous bride and her parents at one of our favorite venues-The Renaissance.

By 5:00, the designs are out the door, the flowers are tucked away for a night in the fridge, the i’s dotted and t’s are crossed in proposals, and the shop is ready and set for another busy day. Want to see a busy day in action, drop by anytime! Our EG friends have an open invitation to the party.

 

On the double! Kent loads vibrant summer bouquets for a Cary event.

On the double! Kent loads vibrant summer bouquets for a Cary event.

Brown-eyed girl! Gorgeous sunflowers from our pal Amy Conrad of Conrad Farms.

Brown-eyed girl! Gorgeous sunflowers from our pal Amy Conrad of Conrad Farms.

Lauren roughs in a base for a Maid's bouquet for a weekend wedding

Lauren roughs in a base for a Maid’s bouquet for a weekend wedding

All in the details. Linda is a smooth operator as she reviews event details and product orders.

All in the details. Linda is a smooth operator as she reviews event details and product orders.

Straight from the Farm

If you’re raised in the South, you’re always a child of summer. Lazy strolls combing the beach for shells and sandfiddlers, seed spitting contests after devouring a melon from the garden, cheering on your favorites at the ballpark. Southern memories are often most deeply rooted in the sights, sounds and sweat of long summer days. At the florist, summer brings memories of helping Mom gather everything from zinnias to zucchini from our garden; that is until a giant black snake foiled any return trips to harvest homegrown goodies. I remember our rose garden at the old farm house we lived in and the vivid colors of my Granny B’s gerberas framing her summer patio. Bountiful flowers from some of our favorite NC growers help keep those memories “fresh picked.” We love creating beautiful bouquets from the amazing blooms abundant in Carolina’s summer gardens.

Local growers such as Amy Conrad with the Triangle’s Conrad Farms, the friendly folks at Castle Hayne Floral Growers, and the Curtis Family at Curtis Flower Farm offer amazing summer blooms such as sunflowers, Sweet William, fresh basil and rosemary, celosia, and zinnias. Independent flower growers are experiencing a resurgence in NC as a focus on sustainability and organic farming comes to the forefront. The Carolina growing season brings tulips in the spring, peonies in early summer, sunflowers through the warm months of July and August and a bounty of interesting textural foliages, berries and florals through the fall and winter.

The area’s independent flower growers have seen interest in their products move beyond weekend booths at farmer’s markets. At the English Garden, we make a concerted effort to share with our customers information about where and how our flowers are grown. Frequent visitors to the shop have come to request Thai basil and sunflowers from Amy’s garden because they appreciate the long vase life and greater quality that local cultivation brings. A few of our tulip enthusiasts count down the months to when Castle Hayne’s tulips are available each spring; one customer even asked to purchase a few of the company’s stock bulbs so she could add the striking yellow French tulip variety to her garden.

Riding the wave of the locally grown trend, NC flower farmers have seen demand for their products grow exponentially over the past few years. Outside of the normal growing season, many farms are now cultivating product throughout the year in expanded hothouse facilities. Amy Conrad added vibrant anemones and ranunculus grown in her new hothouses to an already diverse spring menu of blooms. Castle Hayne harvests jumbo snapdragons throughout the year and flawless tulips well beyond the spring months. While NC florists are still the first to snap up Castle Hayne’s gorgeous blooms, florists throughout the country are now loyal supporters of this Carolina farm proving that a domestic grower can compete with the major farms in South and Central America.

During the summer months it is not unusual for our coolers and studio to be filled to capacity with NC grown florals and foliages. We are keeping our eyes out for a NC grower of anthuriums, orchid blooms and birds of paradise, so some products still have to travel across the country or the “pond.” But when shipments of flowers arrive from Hawaii, Holland or father afield like Israel and Japan, we love pairing those exotic finds with indigenous, heirloom blooms for amazing combinations. A hint of basil tucked into a gathering of Dutch blooms lends unexpected fragrance and texture while vibrant rudbeckia takes on a tropical appeal when paired with Hawaiian blooms.

Come by the studio to handpick your own bouquet or have Irma or Lauren gather goodies from our “garden” for a custom design for you. Check out our summer and fall class schedule for design workshops focusing on local botanicals. We would love to help you create cherished summer memories. 

Delicate apple green lisianthus from Conrad Farms

Delicate apple green lisianthus from Conrad Farms

An array of textural summer finds from Conrad & Castle Hayne Farms. Sweet William, ageratum and celosia.

An array of textural summer finds from Conrad & Castle Hayne Farms. Sweet William, ageratum and celosia.

A colorful crop of Carolina grown zinnias

A colorful crop of Carolina grown zinnias

Sunshine from the field. Golden rudbeckia is the definition of happy.

Sunshine from the field. Golden rudbeckia is the definition of happy.