Los Angeles area, organic flower farmer, Tara Kolla, of Silver Lake Farms playfully demonstrates the dedication, moxie and hard labor that ultimately transformed this rock-hard piece of ground into a fertile, flower growing plot.


Three Uniquely SoCal Stories: Organic Flower Farming, a Floral Boutique and DIY Floral Design Workshops

In the tangible, physical world, there are limits to pretty much everything. Certainly there are limitations to books, to what can done between the front and back covers, what can be gathered, included, shared. As we move closer and closer to our April publication date, we are acutely aware of this reality, knowing that not every one of those stories we have discovered and fallen in love with will manage to find its telling within our pages. This awareness, in turn can occasionally create a sense of discomfort that I suspect every sincere storyteller must work around and through many times over the course of a storytelling life. How do we do right by these stories we’ve been offered, how do we make good in our telling of them? And how do we decide which ones we can tell now and which must wait for another, later opening?

Ariana Lambert Smeraldo with one of her beautifully packaged bouquets of fresh, organic peonies in Lily Lodge, her chic, Hollywood boutique.

Corollary to this deadline-induced awareness is the clarity that sometimes appears, informing the tellers, if you will, that there are a few holes in the weave of this larger piece of fabric, that perhaps they need to head back out there on the road to gather a few more threads. These holes may be topical, or merely regional in nature, but they can suddenly seem pretty essential to the overall integrity and structure of the larger tale, when that story begins to take its shape, absent them.

And so, as we looked at all we have collected, thus far, over nearly four years of gathering images, interviews and many friendships, it occurred to us that to do the larger, 50 Mile Bouquet story justice, we really needed to include some examples of the local, sustainable floral magic that is happening in the Southern California/Los Angeles area. The three stories that seemed to cry out to us most emphatically were as different from one another as night is to day, and yet they all center around strong, smart, beautiful women and local, seasonal and sustainably grown flowers. We’re really excited for the chance to get you better acquainted with flower farmer Tara Kolla, floral designer Ariana Lambert Smeraldo and event designers and floral design instructors Bess Wyrick and Ivie Joy Agustin. Here are just a few early peeks at the delicious visual bounty our time with them yielded us. We hope you’ll want to know more, and that you’ll order the book to read each of their stories in depth.

Stay tuned . . .

Bess Wyrick and Ivie Joy of Celadon and Celery: These two delightful forces of nature are based in New York City but offer and teach their wonderful floral design classes on both coasts, as well as producing designs for major events, virtually anywhere.


At the end of a most wonderful day . . . the unofficial graduation picture for a very talented Celadon and Celery floral design class. (Yes, that's my pal and book partner, Debra Prinzing there on the far right. What better way to research their story than to participate in one of their workshops?)

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen Chapman November 11, 2011 at 4:47 pm

I never tire of your prose or your storytelling images. I slow down to savor each nugget – a gift in itself.

David Perry November 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Karen, you’ve made my day. Thank you.

compostinmyshoe November 16, 2011 at 5:30 pm

The photos are totally gorgeous. The first one is the ultimate portrait.

Amy Hall January 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Love your stories and gorgeous pictures. Sounds like your book is coming out soon? Bet it would be just lovely. Love the peony flowers Ariana Lambert is holding on the photo. I love peonies!

Valerie Fatchett April 15, 2012 at 9:55 am

I just found your blog/site and am blown away. I love the picture of Tara Kolla, now that’s a lady with a purpose! I love taking pictures of my yard and flowers, all of them are lovely, now I need some wise prose to go with them. You are an inspiration. I’m going to find your book. God’s continued blessings to you.

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