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.

 

 

 

Women in Bloom….

“You are here and warm 
But I could look away and you’d be gone 
Cause we live in a time 
When meaning falls in splinters from our lives 
And that’s why I’ve travelled far 
Cause I come so together where you are 

And all of the things that I said that I wanted 
Come rushing by in my head when I’m with you 
14 joys and a will to be merry 
And all of the things that we say are very 
Sentimental gentle wind 
Blowing through my life again 
Sentimental lady 
Gentle one “-Sentimental Lady by Bob Welch, A 70′s One-Hit Wonder!

The lyrics from the great 70′s hit, Sentimental Lady, were written to be the perfect love song. Bob Welch, the writer and singer, gave it a lilting rhythm and a chorus you can’t help but hum along to.  It’s a song with a catchy hook that could easily be chalked up to a one-hit wonder. But if you listen closely to the lyrics you find a meaning that transcends simple pick-up lines and a disco beat. When you think of the words applied to the friends and family who inspire you and touch your life, this little ditty possesses a real poetry. It’s the evolution of those friendships, the rich beautiful patina that those relationships gain with time, in which we find our truest, strongest selves. To quote Mr. Welch, we are able to “come so together where you are.” I don’t know if there has ever been anything truer written about the people who inspire us and the power of those friendships.   

That song has been on my mind a lot this month as the world celebrated Women’s History Month. (I’m a sentimental kind of girl anyway). March brought more than crazy weather; it ushered in Viv’s first experience with “girl drama” at school. I thought it was ironic that in a month celebrating the accomplishments of women, I was trying to mend my daughter’s broken heart with stories of the real meaning of friendship. It’s hard for her to know at ten years of age when thoughts are of the latest toy, the cutest dress, the silliest boy, that with time none of that matters and your “gal pals” become your real source of power, your “Tara”, your strength.

So, while Hillary has campaigned, celebrities have marched on the UN, naked women have stormed the Louvre, and aspiring actresses have cried and laughed their way through yet another production of The Vagina Monologues, the English Garden ladies and I have talked with Viv about the women who really make the world go ’round. The moms, wives, partners, single ladies, friends, teachers, co-workers, running buddies, artists, gurus, entrepreneurs, volunteers who quietly and without any need for attention make the world, our world, a better place.

As March bids adieu and Women’s History Month comes to a close, the EG girls would like to give a “shout out” with that little 70′s ditty to the ladies who touch our lives. The women we are sentimental about. You are our friends, our family, our constant inspiration, our pick-me-up on a down day, our reason to race to the finish line, our hand-holders, our secret keepers, our dreamcatchers, our shoulders to cry on, our pillars of strength. You are our heroes and we celebrate you- with a little floral flourish, of course. Thanks for being part of our history. And remember, whether you need a daisy for your hair, a bouquet for your walk down the aisle, or a sunflower to brighten your day, we are here for you and are always your greatest fans!

With love and admiration, 

Your English Garden “Soul Sisters”-Cydney, Lacey, Lauren, Renee, Irma, Mariela, Nikki, Valerie, Amanda H., Amanda B., Pam M., Elva, Judy, Pam H., AnnMarie, and the amazing Viv!

The Women Who Inspire Us (as told in the language of flowers) 

Lavender-Virtue. Lora Davis Stocker is the George Washington of little sisters. She cannot tell a lie. She lives her life with an honesty that so often seems absent from our quick time, soundbite world. She'll tell you when you look radiant and level with you when your jeans are more than a little tight. She's addicted to old movies, crazy about Robert Wagner and attends African dance class once a month. In her art as she is in her life, Lora is virtuous and true and authentic in a way that touches all those who know her.

Lavender-Virtue. Lora Davis Stocker is the George Washington of little sisters. She cannot tell a lie. She lives her life with an honesty that so often seems absent from our quick time, soundbite world. She’ll tell you when you look radiant and level with you when your jeans are more than a little tight. She’s addicted to old movies, crazy about Robert Wagner and attends African dance class once a month. In her art as she is in her life, Lora is virtuous and true and authentic in a way that touches all those who know her.

The Gladiola-Strength of Character. Jo & Jan Faircloth. Brilliant, funny, "gun-totin'" (literally). This dynamic duo, these wonder twins define sisterly love. Jo's endless devotion to her sister as Jan battles cancer. Jan's unyielding fight to kick cancer's a**. We dare you to show us a greater display of character and strength.

The Gladiola-Strength of Character. Jo & Jan Faircloth. Brilliant, funny, “gun-totin’” (literally). This dynamic duo, these wonder twins define sisterly love. Jo’s endless devotion to her sister as Jan battles cancer. Jan’s unyielding fight to kick cancer’s a**. We dare you to show us a greater display of character and strength.

Iris-Inspiration. Pat Wilkins has inspired class after class of Junior League recruits with her great gifts of leadership, kindness and selflessness. Pat's vibrant personality lights up a room and her organizational skills light up fundraisers across the Triangle ensuring the  success of events like A Shopping Spree, The Inaugural Ball & Band Together. Raleigh would not be the same without Pat's leadership. Running for Mayor soon, we hope!

Iris-Inspiration. Pat Wilkins has inspired class after class of Junior League recruits with her great gifts of leadership, kindness and selflessness. Pat’s vibrant personality lights up a room and her organizational skills light up fundraisers across the Triangle ensuring the success of events like A Shopping Spree, The Inaugural Ball & Band Together. Raleigh would not be the same without Pat’s leadership. Running for Mayor soon, we hope!

Edelweiss-Courage. Clara Cloaninger Guy-Entrepreneur, mom/chef/designer/trendsetter who shows Martha Stewart how to do it. Clara doesn't let a little thing like cancer stop her. She runs harder & faster & farther showing her little girls true Girl Power. For Clara, C means nothing but Courage.

Edelweiss-Courage. Clara Cloaninger Guy-Entrepreneur, mom/chef/designer/trendsetter who shows Martha Stewart how to do it. Clara doesn’t let a little thing like cancer stop her. She runs harder & faster & farther showing her little girls true Girl Power. For Clara, C means nothing but Courage.

Star of Bethlehem-Hope. There are news breakers and news makers. Pam Saulsby is both. One of the Triangle's most trusted TV personalities, Pam's delivery of even the most unsettling news is done with a signature style that's a bit Oprah and bit Walter Cronkite. When she comes into our living rooms, we know she is our friend and she is going to do more than just give us the facts. She is going to give us hope. And if you think her magical voice is great on the news, you should hear her on stage belting out a tune.

Star of Bethlehem-Hope. There are news breakers and news makers. Pam Saulsby is both. One of the Triangle’s most trusted TV personalities, Pam’s delivery of even the most unsettling news is done with a signature style that’s a bit Oprah and a bit Walter Cronkite. When she comes into our living rooms, we know she is our friend and she is going to do more than just give us the facts. She is going to give us hope. And if you think her magical voice is great on the news, you should hear her on stage belting out a tune.

Basil-Good Wishes. We had to incorporate something floral & food inspired when talking about Katrina Ryan. The Triangle's Cake Boss!, Katrina creates amazing treats for her clients filling their celebrations with good wishes & happiness. She brings these same gifts to the lives of her friends and colleagues. A mentor, a friend, an inspiration. Being Katrina's friend is one sweet treat.

Basil-Good Wishes. We had to incorporate something floral & food inspired when talking about Katrina Ryan. The Triangle’s Cake Boss!, Katrina creates amazing treats for her clients filling their celebrations with good wishes & happiness. She brings these same gifts to the lives of her friends and colleagues. A mentor, a friend, an inspiration. Knowing Katrina is one sweet treat.

Myrtle-Emblem of Marriage, Love. Jenna Parks Olender is in the wedding business. As co-editor of one of the region's best and brightest mags, Southern Bride & Groom, Jenna has her finger on the pulse of what brides want. That Jenna is in the "love" business comes as no surprise to those who know her. The unabashed way in which she shows love for her family, friends & life makes her more than a little quotable on the subject. Jenna's amazing & that news fit to print!

Myrtle-Emblem of Marriage, Love. Jenna Parks Olender is in the wedding business. As co-editor of one of the region’s best and brightest mags, Southern Bride & Groom, Jenna has her finger on the pulse of what brides want. That Jenna is in the “love” business comes as no surprise to those who know her. The unabashed way in which she shows love for her family, friends & life makes her more than a little quotable on the subject. Jenna’s amazing & that news fit to print!

 

Wisteria-Steadfastness. In our fast paced world, friends come and go, but not Josette Smith. Follow her on Facebook and you will quickly observe that her friends today are friends of a lifetime. She is loyal, true and steadfast. She speaks her mind personally, professionally AND politically for sure, but she does it with a grace and humor and honesty that is the hallmark of a true friend. No buddy of Josette's will ever walk through a party with toilet paper on their shoe.

Wisteria-Steadfastness. In our fast paced world, friends come and go, but not Josette Smith. Follow her on Facebook and you will quickly observe that her friends today are friends of a lifetime. She is loyal, true and steadfast. She speaks her mind personally, professionally AND politically for sure, but she does it with a grace and humor and honesty that is the hallmark of a true friend. No buddy of Josette’s will ever walk through a party with toilet paper on their shoe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delphinium-Boldness. Now, Judy will probably go tisk, tisk when she sees this, but she will just have to deal with it. Bold, beautiful, brainy-Judy is a triple threat and more. A talented floral designer, loving mother & wife, loyal friend, she entertains with her witty blog and her engaging repartee. She can talk politics as easily as party planning and she greets life with a boldness we envy & applaud.

Delphinium-Boldness. Now, Judy will probably go tisk, tisk when she sees this, but she will just have to deal with it. Bold, beautiful, brainy-Judy is a triple threat and more. A talented floral designer, loving mother & wife, loyal friend, she entertains with her witty blog and her engaging repartee. She can talk politics as easily as party planning and she greets life with a boldness we envy & applaud.

 

 

 

Daffodil-Regard. First, let us say that Beth Hemphill IS a Wonder Woman. She didn't send us a picture & we had to include her. Regard equals attention & care and that is just what Beth brings to her role as a mother to her brilliant daughters, her work and her friendships. Every conversation starts with "How are you?" and ends with "Take Care of Yourself." Beth is one of the most wonderful people we know and you should see what she can do with a lasso. Send us a picture Beth!

Daffodil-Regard. First, let us say that Beth Hemphill IS a Wonder Woman. She didn’t send us a picture but that won’t keep us from including her on this list. “Regard” equals attention & care and that is Beth’s hallmark- as a mother to her brilliant daughters, as a trusted cornerstone of a thriving company and as a caring, constant friend. Every conversation starts with “How are you?” and ends with “Take Care of Yourself.” Beth is one of the most wonderful people we know and we are pretty sure she’s wicked with a lasso. Send us a picture Beth!

Morning Glory-Affection. Spend 10 seconds around Kim Thomasson and you will wonder how anyone could possibly love life and family more. She possesses an affection for her children, husband and family that is contagious.  Kim works to preserve NC's farming tradition while ensuring her children have the opportunity to pursue their dreams in life. Grounded, confident, a woman of faith & purpose, we can't help but feel affection for this incredible lady.

Morning Glory-Affection. Spend 10 seconds around Kim Thomasson and you will wonder how anyone could possibly love life and family more. She possesses an affection for her children, husband and family that is contagious. Kim works to preserve NC’s farming tradition while ensuring her children have the opportunity to pursue their dreams in life. Grounded, confident, a woman of faith & purpose, we can’t help but feel affection for this incredible lady.

Holly-Domestic Happiness. If you've ever visited Anna Reed at home, you know the definition of a happy, inviting home. Gracious, stylish, loaded with charisma, Anna embraces her role as  mother with a zeal Betty Crocker couldn't match. While juggling graduate studies, she balances her duties as a mom to two young children and as a busy volunteer with an aplomb only a Southern Gal could possess.

Holly-Domestic Happiness. If you’ve ever visited Anna Reed at home, you know the definition of a happy, inviting home. Gracious, stylish, loaded with charisma, Anna embraces her roles of mother & homemaker with a zeal Betty Crocker couldn’t match. While juggling graduate studies, she balances her duties as a mom to two young children and as a busy volunteer with an aplomb only a Southern Gal could possess.

Geranium-Comfort. Denise Doll is a pet's best friend. Blessed with an innate sense of how to care for animals,  Denise has built a thriving business by treating her four legged clients like top dogs. She might be a pet whisperer but the comfort she brings to others especially in times of loss speaks volumes to her character.

Geranium-Comfort. Denise Doll is a pet’s best friend. Blessed with an innate sense of how to care for animals, Denise has built a thriving business by treating her four legged clients like top dogs. She might be a pet whisperer but the comfort she brings to others especially in times of loss speaks volumes to her character.

Apple Blossom-Promise. Amelia Harms might be the next Diane Von Furstenberg or the next Kate Spade. She is a clothing & textiles designer with immeasurable talent & promise. But it is the selfless way in which she shares her talent with others & her community through that will make her a cover story. Remember to send us samples Amelia when you are in the pages of Vogue.

Apple Blossom-Promise. Amelia Harms might be the next Diane Von Furstenberg or the next Kate Spade. She is a clothing & textiles designer with immeasurable talent & promise. But it is the selfless way in which she shares her talent with others & her community that will make her a cover story. Remember to send us samples Amelia when you are in the pages of Vogue.

Ranunculus-Radiance. Brittany Ruch-Interior Design Maven & one uber cool chic. Her  radiance & zest for life are transformative and she brings these traits  to her work helping her clients (who quickly become friends) turn houses into warm, welcoming homes.

Ranunculus-Radiance. Brittany Ruch-Interior Design Maven & one uber cool chic. Her radiance & zest for life are transformative and she brings these traits to her work helping her clients (who quickly become friends) turn houses into warm, welcoming homes. Blonde or ginger, Brittany is our go-to when we want to feel happy and vibrant and radiant.

Freesia-Spirited. Patty Robinson is as groovy & cool as any woman could dream of being. Whether styling events for Wake Tech or cookin' up tasty trouble in her kitchen, Patty is a force, a spirit, to be reckoned with, especially when partnering with her adorable "mini-me."

Freesia-Spirited. Patty Robinson is as groovy & cool as any woman could dream of being. Whether styling events for Wake Tech or cookin’ up tasty trouble in her kitchen, Patty is a force, a spirit, to be reckoned with, especially when partnering with her adorable “mini-me.”

Gardenia-Joy. The One Who Keeps Us In Stitches-Margareth Galardi. Mom, volunteer, domestic goddess, friend-Margareth's outlook on life is one of pure joy and endless laughter & happiness.

Gardenia-Joy. The One Who Keeps Us In Stitches-Margareth Galardi. Mom, volunteer, domestic goddess, friend-Margareth’s outlook on life is one of pure joy and endless laughter & happiness. She’s the first to come to your rescue and the last to leave when the dishes need to be done after a party. Loyal, true, trusted. Women like Margareth come along once in a lifetime. We are glad she came along in ours.

Daisy-Hope & Innocence. My Glorious Ray of Sunshine Vivienne. I'm so looking forward to seeing the woman you become and watching you make history.

Daisy-Hope & Innocence. The Glorious Ray of Sunshine- Vivienne. We are SO looking forward to seeing the woman you become and watching you make history whether it’s as an artist, a civil rights crusader, the Prime Minister of Japan. Whatever you do, you will be amazing! May your heart continue to be filled with hope and innocence and joy. And always remember that yesterday, today, and tomorrow your Mommy loves you ever after.

 

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

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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The arrival of December ushers in a flurry of things-shopping ’til you drop, capturing the perfect picture of your little star at the school pageant, dodging flirty co-workers hanging out under the office mistletoe. For those in the florist business, the month brings a bounty of wintery wonder and marks one of the most specific changes in design. Celebratory rainbow colors, inviting autumnal hues, cutesy pinks and purples are all pushed aside for a generous serving of holiday greens, reds and whites. Though not fully capitalizing on the color wheel, this wintery palette features fabulous textural and varietal diversity. Beyond the iconic poinsettia, the winter floral palette features varieties such as paperwhites, thistle, amaryllis, tulips, hydrangea, holiday cactus, dianthus, and eucalyptus just to name a few. Paired with seasonal flourishes of cedar, Fraser fir, pine cones and berry varieties like ilex and pepper berry, the florals of winter tell a magical story. Drop by the English Garden studio to check out the unexpected bounty of winter. Our talented design team can help you create the perfect bouquet for a seasonal gift, family dinner, or holiday party.

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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