Every Saturday of the summer, couples across the country will say “I do” while holding fresh flowers that were grown with love and harvested by hand from a local flower farm or a designer’s own cutting garden. Previously confined to forward-thinking designers and farmer-florists, the concept of incorporating local, seasonal blooms into one of life’s biggest celebrations is much more mainstream these days, thankfully. From big city soirees to the smallest, most intimate ceremonies, seasonal blooms are part of celebrations in many meaningful and creative ways.
I recently reached out to some of the most talented floral designers in the industry to discuss new ways they’re incorporating local flowers into their work. Today, I’m re-connecting with Holly Chapple to chat about seasonal floral design and her new product line which is transforming the way local flowers can be incorporated into special events. [Read more about Holly in my previous Farmer & the Florist Interview].
But first, a little bit about Holly if you aren’t already familiar with her work: Holly is one of the most influential designers and instructors in the floral industry. She creates gorgeous floral designs for hundreds of elegant weddings in the Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. area as well as numerous destination weddings each year. Her work is regularly featured in major bridal magazines, and she is renowned for her ingenious armatures and mechanics used to support large-scale floral installations.
A gifted gardener and passionate supporter of the seasonal flower movement, Holly regularly incorporates foliage and flowers from her own cutting garden into her designs and also offers a “From the Garden” bouquet package to her clients wanting seasonal blooms. Holly has taught floral and event design workshops all over the world and is currently working on a comprehensive online design course that is sure to be incredible.
In 2015, Holly and her husband Evan opened Hope, a flower farm which also serves as a beautiful bed & breakfast and event center for Holly’s many design workshops as well as an annual retreat for designers, Flowerstock.
Holly has always been on the cutting edge of design, but her latest innovation is poised to totally transform the floral design industry.
Here’s the backstory: Florists have been using flower foam to create floral designs for decades. These dense green bricks of foam hold water, provide support to stems, and serve as the base for bouquets in shallow vases or bowls. But foam has fallen out of favor with many designers for lots of good reasons. First and foremost, foam creates a lot of waste that cannot be composted and doesn’t decompose. In addition to not being very environmentally friendly, another big detractor is the fact that foam makes bouquets look excessively formal and “stiff.” Plus, some flowers, including many of the more delicate seasonal blooms, don’t last long when inserted into foam or can’t be inserted into foam at all because their hollow stems become clogged, impeding water uptake.
The shift towards loose, organic bouquet shapes using seasonal flowers has meant that many designers, myself included, typically use chicken wire in the base of vases, compotes, urns and other vessels (like this edible infused bouquet) instead of foam in order to provide support for the stems. For years, cutting chicken wire and crumpling it up to insert it into compotes has been part of the process of creating bouquets, including virtually every design featured in Cut Flower Garden. Until now.
Holly has partnered with Syndicate Sales to manufacture a lightweight, reusable plastic armature, called a “pillow,” that fits into compotes and other vases. This ingenious product provides similar stem support as chicken wire, but without hurting your hands with the time-consuming task of cutting and shaping wire. This is, no question, the best new product on the market for floral designers. Goodbye foam and so long cutting chicken wire. Hello, fast, easy, natural looking arrangements!
The flowers “live longer and respond better directly to water. Foam actually blocks the stem and reduces water flow. We are no longer fighting to insert stems into the foam,” Holly explained. “Stems that typically wilt are holding happily directly in water.”
The pillow has changed the way Holly and her team deliver, install and re-water centerpieces for big events. She also notes that the pillow has the potential to totally transform daily floral deliveries from traditional flower shops. Consumers will be able to “easily refresh the water without destroying the design,” she noted, “plus direct access to clean water will prolong the overall vase life of the flowers.”
Holly’s other new innovation is an armature called an “egg” which provides support for flower stems in wide, organic handheld bouquets and other cascading shapes. The image above utilizes the armature to support fresh flowers harvested from Holly’s farm.
To check out Holly’s complete collection of design mechanics and supplies, be sure to see the Syndicate catalog (Note: Holly’s “egg” and “pillow” design mechanics come in cases of 12 and are available exclusively through wholesale floral supply distributors).
With the introduction of these new mechanics, Holly is literally reshaping the seasonal flower movement with her unmatched ingenuity and design expertise.
Learn more & connect with Holly: