A new season for bouquet-making

Spring is nearly here, and that means The 50 Mile Bouquet’s publishing date is also nearly here – April 1st! If, like us, you can’t wait for its arrival, we encourage you to pre-order a copy right now.

As we wait for that exciting date, it doesn’t mean that this blog will be silent. We want to continue sharing stories and resources for the local floral community, including the people, designs and blooms that inspire!

Lush, textural, local and seasonal – look closely, so you don't miss a single detail of Kelly's work.

I’ve been wanting to introduce Kelly Sullivan for weeks, ever since we got together right after the holidays to talk about Botanique, her Seattle-based studio floral design business. Kelly and I met briefly at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in 2011, and she followed up in December to let me know she had launched her business. The tag line is charming: Overwhelmingly Beautiful Flowers. Since it’s early in the season, I asked Kelly to share photos of her work to include here. You will enjoy every delicious detail, I’m sure.

There are so many things that impress me about this young woman. Not only is she a floral designer, she’s a garden designer, landscaper and garden coach. Late last month, she spent two days as a student in the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market “Growers School,” where she gained new-found knowledge from our region’s top flower farmers, adding yet another set of skills to her business. Now, Kelly’s big news is that she’s launching a weekly bouquet subscription service for Seattle customers in April. You can read more about Botanique Seasonal Subscription here.

Yum, yum, dripping with gorgeousness!

The bouquets will be made of local flowers, those that come straight from Kelly’s own cutting garden in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood, as well as those from growers at the Seattle Wholesale Growers Market. She envisions that the weekly arrangements will be inspired by whatever’s available. “It’s like the chef’s special at a restaurant,” Kelly says. “People will get whatever’s looking best that week.” The bouquets will be sold in 8-week subscriptions for $385. That’s a pretty great deal for eight weeks of luscious arrangements that brings you enjoyment. Check it out!

While she’s still young, Kelly is actually already on her second career. She trained and performed as a modern dancer after college. Dance, in fact, has a great influence on her floral designs. “When people ask what defines my style, I’ve realized recently that it’s ‘movement,’” she says. “Movement is like choreography. When I compose a bouquet, it always has movement – from vines and stems.”

A lavish, still-life – it almost looks like a painting!

Movement adds energy to her otherwise lush design style. Kelly isn’t interested in producing perfect, symmetrical arrangements. “When I design, that’s when the gardener in me shows up,” she says. “I love foliage, berries, wild elements. I love interlocking stems, unusual edibles like tomatillos and dill; seedpods from crocosmia and astilbe.” What you see in her vases looks and feels alive (I guess that’s the dancer showing up, right?).

Whether she’s creating wedding flowers or designing a cutting garden for a landscaping client, Kelly is motivated by a passion for flowers. “I just realized that I’m obsessed with flowers,” she confides. “I’m always trying to sneak in a cutting garden at my clients’ and last year I planted a huge cutting garden where I live – we took out a huge amount of lawn to make it.” Right now, she’s awaiting parrot tulips, muscari, daffodils and hellebores – spring beauties just now emerging in Seattle gardens.

There's a whimsical side to this designer, who uses hot peppers in bouquets, right along with flowers.

To Kelly, when you grow your own ingredients you can’t help but notice the seasonality of each flower. “If it’s growing right there in your garden, it’s impossible not to want to pick it and arrange it,” she points out.

The new season will be a busy one for Kelly. Not only is she launching the bouquet subscription service, she’s handling several weddings and continuing with her cutting garden design business. I’m excited because Kelly has agreed to design a cutting garden for me to incorporate in my backyard (photos to come, I promise!).

“I’m just going to let this business grow by sticking to the things I believe in,” she says, beaming. “And that’s creating gorgeous, exquisite designs from local flowers.”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Francoise Weeks March 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm

Kelly is so talented! I wish that many will sign up for her wonderful service.

Diane Szukovathy March 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm

This is just fabulous. Everything about Kelly’s work is quality. Her subscription is a bargain!

Karen Plarisan March 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm

In October I took a course from Francoise Weeks in Portland and Kelly was in it learning things for the first time. I remember saying to her, “I would want to hire someone just like you!” I knew she would be a success. Her enthusiasum is so contagious that I’ve started my own organic cutting garden here in Roseville, California, having just planted old fashion roses! Can’t wait.

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